Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we thank You for blessing us with Christian freedom. Without the freedom of conscience none of us would ever reach the height of human potential that You created us with. And without Your perfect love, holiness, and forgiveness our freedom would be fake, false, and a bitter illusion. So, all our blessings stem from our faith in You. May we always use those blessings wisely and give credit where credit is due—to You alone be the glory! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO TRULY HAS SET US FREE!
TEXT: Deuteronomy 11: 18-21, 26-28 and Romans 3: 21-25, 27,28
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Western culture, our culture, has dominated the world over the past 2000 years. Why is that? I believe it is so because of the influence of Christianity. Think about it. Western culture has spawned almost every technological advance over that time span. Modern transportation, medical care, scientific discovery, computers, aerospace, biotech—almost everything we take for granted has come out of the Western world, our world. Even today with the rise of China and India, non-Christian countries, what do we see? By and large they have simply adapted and/or high-jacked Western innovation and cloned it. They seem incapable of inventing something totally “new” on their own. Why is that? Again, I believe it can all be traced back to Christianity. Let me explain.
Ideas and religions, which are unified forms of certain ideas, shape and mold the people that are exposed to them. Ideas ultimately control us. That’s why religious ideas are so vital to all humanity. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and all other religious systems of thought apart from Christianity teach that there is so sort of god out there who demands our allegiance to him. They teach that humans are just cogs in his grand machine. And thus human achievement and innovation, human freedom to soar to new levels of understanding and advancement, those concepts are foreign to their thinking. All these other systems of thought may talk about a glorious afterlife, but your life here and now is just something you need to get through because you’re not truly free to do anything else.
However, Christianity teaches us that we humans are unique, special, and important to God. That’s why He created us. It teaches that we have the freedom to exercise our will and create new and exciting things! It teaches that the cosmic God has unleashed almost unlimited potential in and through us. Yes, it teaches that we have the power to make God smile. Because of this freedom Western culture has been the hotbed of all human advances for over 2000 years. When God gave the children of Israel, the visible O.T. Christian church, His list of do’s and don’ts, He was really giving them freedom. Freedom to either follow Him and thus reach their potential, or freedom to walk away from Him and fail. Listen to Moses’ words once again: “See, I am setting before you a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.”
Of course, we know the rest of the sad story. They exercised their freedom wrongly in trying to glorify themselves instead of their Creator and thus lost their freedom to sin. And such sin caused them to wander aimlessly in the desert for the next 40 years. Yes, sin causes all humans to wander aimlessly through life guilt-ridden and fear-driven. But, then in pure love God gave them and us another chance at true freedom! He sent Christ to win our freedom back! He sent Christ, His only Son, to be perfect for us, to die for all human sin, and to inspire in us a faith-driven sense of purpose. Because God loves us purely and totally in Christ, our aimlessness has been replaced with purposeful joy! We’re free to live for something bigger than ourselves. We’re free to use our Godly gifts to honor Him and uplift all those around us. We’re also free to influence the entire world for the better. We’re free to make a difference. And thus, Western culture has made a difference. And just like Moses said: when used in accordance with God’s will it has been a blessing and when used against His will it has also been, at times, a curse.
All this leads us to study these two texts with this thought in mind:
FREEDOM GIVEN, FREEDOM LOST, FREEDOM REGAINED
God’s Law, His eternal directives for this world, has three distinct functions. First, to show us our individual sins. This is the “mirror” function. Second, to keep us away from trouble out of fear over the consequences of sin. This is the “curb” function. And thirdly, to provide the Christian with a guide for living a life free from guilt and shame before God. This is the “ruler” function. In our O.T. lesson Moses addresses the latter. Blessings like a clean conscience and the freedom to live guilt-free for God’s infinite glory will be ours if, if, we keep our pride in check and don’t second-guess Him; if we live within His set of parameters out of love and thankfulness. Of course, neither the children of Israel, nor any human being, can do that on their own. And thus freedom given became freedom lost. It was that way for Adam and Eve, it was that way in the O.T. and it is that way for each of us. And with that lostness comes a whole host of problems. With that lostness everything revolves around individual wants, needs, and desires. Such is the nature of pride. It is finally all about “me.” And thus whole societies and nations that do not know about Christ have nothing to live for other then themselves. They don’t care about doing for others, or showing altruistic love for others, or advancing another’s life. If you don’t respect God’s love shown to us in Christ by which He proves His love for all souls, you will never try to achieve or do anything which respects that person or that soul.
Freedom given soon became freedom lost. Aimlessness and floundering through life became the norm for both individuals and their countries. Apart from knowing the Triune God and wanting to achieve for His glory, freedom became a dirty word replaced by authoritarian cultures in which the status quo predominated, in which there was no incentive for advancement, all because people knew nothing of freedom.
But then God gave us freedom once again. He gave it not in the form of dictates because that had failed. We had corrupted it. So, He gave us freedom in the form of pure love shown in the suffering and death of Christ. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known…This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
God’s righteousness, or rightness, won by Christ through His perfect life, death, and resurrection has been given to us humans freely by the Godly gift of faith. Thus, we are now free! We now are filled with a love for God and for our fellow humans. We’re now free to show forth and use the many gifts that gave us when He originally created us. We’re free to live not just for ourselves but for something greater—for Him! Furthermore, as individuals and as a nation and a whole culture, we’re free to use our minds to innovate, create, and achieve seemingly impossible things! Western culture has done so over the past 2000 years only because of this wondrous, God-wrought, influence. Yes, in spite of our sins, Godly freedom and the blessings it brings to all still shine forth. So, my friends, glory in that freedom and give all credit where credit is due—To Him Alone! Amen