07-05-2020: A Life of Independence

John 8:31-32

Summary: A message to focus on our freedom in Christ.

John 8:31: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

I. Introduction.

Yesterday and today many people are celebrating Independence Day in a variety of ways.

Many have taken extra time off from work and are traveling. Some are taking a special opportunity to visit family. Others just stay home and perhaps watch the John Wayne marathon on TV. There is a lot of BBQ going on all across the country. There are fireworks, parades and all kinds of celebrations which have become tradition in the US.

We celebrate this holiday because of what happened in 1776. We celebrate the actions of people we only know about because of books. We celebrate the actions of people that lived without electricity – without regular mail service – without Super Wal-Mart – no cell phones, computers, TVs – and no electricity. What a stark existence to be willing to fight for. We celebrate that these people had the gumption – or gall – or courage to break the existing hold of Europe on these wilderness colonies that had struggled to survive and were being choked by rules – over taxing – and unfair burdens by the king of England.

They were pretty specific in the declaration of independence. If you read through the document you find oppression – abuse – removal of rights – false justice and punishment. You find a precisely stated set of charges against the king and their justification for separation from the rule of a king. Their charges are that the king is not fulfilling his responsibility to be a protector of the people and worse that he is abusing his distant subjects. Their declaration was to break free of the strangle hold of a tyrant.

II. The Declaration.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friends, the Declaration of Independence has been and continues to be the model for freedom around the world. America is the longest surviving democratic republic because of the principles that are recorded in this document. There is a reason that over the past 244 years that millions of immigrants have come to our shores.

The American dream is fundamentally about the principle of freedom! But make no

mistake – the American dream of freedom was birthed by those who were seeking religious freedom – people who had been persecuted and driven from their homes came to America to freely practice their religious faith.

You will find references to the God that they worshipped four times in the words that I read for you this morning and it is evident that these men traced their rights to this freedom – not to a human government or an earthly monarch but to the Creator and Supreme Judge of the universe. We could learn a lesson from their acknowledgment.

I. The Prescription for Freedom (31).

Jesus offers a prescription for real freedom to every man and woman. This freedom may be realized by believing in Jesus. And what are the elements of belief?

A. Assent to the Truth.

What do I mean when I say that belief includes an assent to the truth? It means that we agree that God is the source of all truth and we agree with God about the scope of the truth.

It is the truth about us – “for all have sinned” that “the wages of sin is death” – and that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

B. Acceptance of the Truth.

There is an Acceptance of the Truth – John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

Implicit in the idea of assent or agreement is that when we truly agree with the truth – we will also apply the truth.

John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

C. Abiding in the Truth.

We are to abide in His truth. Future loyalty to His teaching will prove the reality of your present profession. So, the conclusion of this future condition is put in the present tense –  – As then – so now.

We accept church members on profession of trust in Christ. Continuance in the word – teaching – proves the sincerity or insincerity of the profession. It is the acid test of life.

John 15:3 – “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”

It is not enough to receive God’s truth – we must retain and walk in it. And it is only when we receive the truth – love it – keep it – and walk in it – that we are the genuine disciples of Christ.

II. The Person of Freedom (32a).

Jesus is the only way to real freedom.

John 8:36 – “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

(Ill) Two middle-aged couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of the men asked the other, “Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?”

“Outstanding,” Fred replied. “They taught us all the latest psychological techniques, such as visualization, association and so on. It was great. I haven’t had a problem since.”

“Sounds like something I could use. What was the name of the clinic?”

Fred went blank. He thought and thought, but couldn’t remember. Then a smile broke across his face and he asked, “What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?”

“You mean a rose?” “Yes, that’s it!” He turned to his wife,“Hey Rose, what was the name of that memory clinic?”

In Psychology, memory is an organism’s ability to store – retain – and recall information and experiences. In the Bible – the Greek word to remember is “aletheia” (“AL-EH-THEE-YAH). “Aletheia” literally means to “not forget.” And in the KJV and many other translations of the Bible – the word “aletheia” is also translated as “truth.” So, truth – in the Bible – literally means to not forget. To know the truth means to remember.

You should know that there are three things that Scriptures tells us about the validation of the truth about Our freedom.

A. The Truth Proclaimed.

The Truth is Proclaimed.

John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

B. The Truth Personified.

The Truth is personified.

John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

C. The Truth Perceived.

And the Truth is perceived.

John 7:17 – “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

III. The Promise of Freedom (32b)

Without Jesus we are not free from this world. William Cowper; “He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, And all are slaves beside.”

(ILL.) Back in the 80’s Ann Landers wrote about her experience as a newspaper “answer lady.” People would write to her with their problems and ask advice on how to deal with their children, their spouses, their bosses, etc.

In her book, Landers explained that one of the most difficult things that people struggled with is guilt and shame. “I’ve received letters brimming with self-recrimination – letters that prove no punishment is so painful as the self-inflicted kind. Here are a few examples:

‘I let my boyfriend go too far. Now, when he sees me, he looks the other way. I’m so ashamed of myself I could just die.’

‘I threw a dish towel in my mother-in-law’s face. She was trying to be helpful and I lost my temper. I hate myself.’

‘I got caught cheating in a history exam today. All the kids know about it. I feel rotten.’”

(“The Ann Landers Encyclopedia A to Z”)

No matter how many freedoms our nation gives us – it cannot give us the freedom from the shame and guilt imposed upon us by our sins. Hazel Felleman wrote a poem about this:

“I wish there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again

Where all our mistakes, and all our heartaches

And all our selfish griefs

Could be cast like a shabby old coat at the door

And never be put on again”

A. From the Penalty for Sin.

With Jesus we are free from the penalty of sin. There is a place called “the land of beginning again” and it is the place that Jesus has bought and paid for with His own life’s blood and you can have title to a plot – when you believe on Him.

When you do you will be freed from the guilt and shame of your sins – you will no longer be under the penalty of sin but you will have the peace that only Jesus can give. The penalty is “death” but the gift is “life!”

(ILL.) A man named Bono is the lead singer of a popular rock group U2. He once made this observation:

“At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know: what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics-in physical laws-every action is met by an equal or an opposite one… And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . . Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”

Now, I don’t know if Bono is a Christian – or if he claims to be one… but he’s nailed this.

God will forgive us our sins – not because we deserve it – or have done enough good to outweigh our sins. God will forgive us for only one reason: He loves us!

B. From the Power of Sin.

With Jesus we are free from the power of sin. No man is truly free – but he in whose heart the power of sin is destroyed – and who has received the Spirit of adoption – through which he cries – “Abba! Father!”

Romans 6:16-18 – “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (truth) 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

(ILL) The famed psychiatrist Karl Menninger once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75% of them could walk out the next day.

c. From the Presence of Sin.

With Jesus we are free from the presence of sin. Is there ever going to be a time when sin is not going to be a problem, when we will be totally and completely free from all of the consequences of sin?

The answer is yes! There is not sin in heaven my friend and that means that all those who love Jesus and have already passed on have entered a place where there is no hint, hurt or haunt of sin and they wait and worship for all those who will join them by faith in Jesus.

IV. Conclusion.

True freedom and independence come when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior – He is the source of truth. All truth resides in Him – There is no truth besides Him – He is God and if you want to know God you must come to Jesus for “no man comes to the Father but by Him.”

Proverbs 28:13 – “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

As we think about our freedom today, let’s remember that we are freed from the power of sin so that we can fully submit to God and to fulfill God’s Will in being a slave for Christ. Christian freedom is never to be understood as freedom from responsibility toward others. In Christ, we don’t have “freedom from.” We instead have, “freedom to.” Freedom to commit ourselves fully to each other, to become a slave for each other, to love each other as Christ loved us.

This and every July 4th holiday, I hope we will enjoy the freedoms that have been given us through the blessings of citizenship in the United States. But even more, I hope we will enjoy the freedom given us through Christ, for that is the more important freedom. It is a freedom that is a radical submission – to the Will of God and to our sisters and brothers.

Martin Luther said, “A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.” I would add to that: “A Christian man or woman is the bravest and fiercest warrior for Christ because they fear no one except God.”

On this Independence Day, I pray that we may work to make Christian freedom the ideal for which we strive.

Let us pray – Gracious God – we thank you for all your many blessings. 

  • We thank you for our great country and the freedom it gives us. 
  • We thank you for our founding fathers who developed an idea that has carried on for so many years, affected so many, and pray that it will continue to do so.
  • We thank you for the many men and women – all patriots – who sacrificed their time, their comfort, their bodies, and their lives for the price of that freedom we so enjoy today. 
  • We thank you for those warriors – patriots all – who have been wounded and will remain wounded their remaining lives.  Give them the determination to overcome their disabilities and the courage and stamina to be productive citizens in their own way while feeling the gratitude of their nation and their fellow Americans. 
  • We uplift all patriots – past, present, and future – who serve so diligently and so sacrificially. 
  • God bless all who have worn the uniform of this great nation, and may God bless most of all – – “…those who gave that last full measure of devotion.”
  • We thank you for their families as they await the footsteps of their precious soldier, Marine, sailor, or airman and those who will never hear those footsteps again. 
  • We ask your blessings on those who would send our military into harm’s way – let them lead decisively but with the knowledge and understanding of how precious is human life. 
  • Lastly, Father, we ask that the sacrifices of our military never be in vain – that this great country will always represent freedom for the oppressed and stand as a testament only to your glory and honor. 

In all these things we pray, and in the name of our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ – who taught us the true meaning of sacrifice – Amen.   

“A Life of Independence”

John 8:31-32

 Summary: A message to focus on our freedom in Christ.

I. Introduction.

II. The Declaration.

III. The Prescription for Freedom (31).

  1. Assent to the Truth.

B. Acceptance of the Truth.

C. Abiding in the Truth.

IV. The Person of Freedom (32a).

A. The Truth Proclaimed.

B. The Truth Personified.

C. The Truth Perceived.

V. The Promise of Freedom (32b)

A. From the Penalty for Sin.

B. From the Power of Sin.

C. From the Presence of Sin.

VI. Conclusion.