Sunday, September 29, 2013

Christian Liberty

Nigerian Independence
Happy Independence Day, Nigeria!
Second Corinthians 3:1-18
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.  For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech —   unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains un-lifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 

Hurray, Nigeria is one year older this week!. In the spirit of the celebration of our freedom, today's message is on Christian Liberty.

Liberty can be defined as a condition that is apposite in meaning to slavery or forced subjection whether physically, materially or spiritually. 

In the Old Testament the concept of liberty is used basically to refer to the physical freedom of slaves as used in Leviticus 25:10. “And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.” (NKJV) Thus slaves are declared free on the fiftieth year or the Year of Jubilee (Ezekiel 46:17; Jeremiah 34:8-17). Liberty is also granted to Hebrew slaves on the seventh year, or to a slave as a result of injury or even at his/her death.

In the New Testament there is reference to those who are physically free as opposed to those who are in bondage (Slaves) .First Corinthians 7:21-22: “Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.  For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave.” (NKJV). But a great reference is made to the Christian who has his political and social freedom but still referred as enslaved in Christ.

There are also those who are slaves to Satan because of sin. Christ referred to the Jews as slaves to their father – Satan in John 8:31-34 as follows: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, 'You will be made free'?"  Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.(NKJV)

In Christ there are slaves who indeed are at liberty and there are free men who are indeed slaves. When we talk of Christian liberty we are talking of spiritual liberty.

How is this obtained?  Christian liberty is obtained only through Christ Jesus. Christ’s interpretation of Isaiah 61:1 leaves no one in doubt that He as the promised Messiah will bring to sinners deliverance from sin.  "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; (NKJV) This idea is amplified in Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (NKJV) In Romans 6:18 we read that the Christian is declared freed from the slavery of sin by Christ’s death. In John 8:32, 36 Christ and His word of truth are set forth as the means by which the sinner is really made free.  Again in Romans 8:2 we read the authority of the life-giving Holy Spirit has made the sinner free from the authority of sin, and it is the same Spirit who frees men so that they may know the Lord and His word.

Does Christian Liberty Mean Licence To Do Whatever You Like? In other words: What are the Demands of Christian Liberty?  Having been liberated by Christ from the penalty of sin, the Christian is challenged to employ this liberty properly in Christian living. He is not to use it as an excuse to satisfy unchristian sinful desires but he is by love to serve others (Galatians 5:13 cf 19-21). The world should see that the Christian’s freedom in Christ does not result in sin but issues in good works (First Peter 2:15-16). The Christian is to consider the conscience of another in his exercise of his Christian liberty (First Corinthians 10:29). A divine means by which the believer’s life is influenced to godly living is the perfect law of liberty, the Word of God (James 1:25; 2:12)

What if I misuse my Liberty? Let us read together from Second Peter 2:19: “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage”. (NKJV)  You can become a slave of Christian liberty. I once told someone: “The Christian liberty has been withdrawn and replaced with Christian bondage.” This is because it has been misused. This was the problem of the Corinthian Church and the Galatian Church. I believe it is the problem of the Church today. How are you using your Christian liberty?

The supreme liberty shall be given to the Christian at the Second Coming of Christ when he will be given a glorious freedom from the effects and presence of sin. See Romans 8:21: “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”

Dear brothers and sisters, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage”

God bless you all.

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