Celebrating Your Freedom in Christ

A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH, Sunday, June 19, 2022.

For the “Live in Church” audio version of this message, select here.

Well, today is Father’s Day, and it also happens to be Juneteenth.  Now, this may or may not be the first ever message talking about both of these events at the same time, but allow me to put together my theme for this message by expressing the importance of recognizing a very important aspect of our maturity in Jesus Christ.

This is a message about freedom.

Now, you may be scratching your head and saying to yourself, “What does Father’s Day have to do with freedom??” Since I’ve said many times that “words mean things,” let’s get the dictionary definition of freedom:

Freedom, a noun, is (1) the condition of not being in prison or captivity, and (2) the condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance. 1

This definition applies very specifically to not being restrained or being held against your will, but let’s take this further and consider the following:

True freedom is when your attitude and life perspective represents the stillness of God’s peace and His loving presence in spite of your personal circumstances.

This goes far beyond the physical state of being in jail or the experience of servitude.

Let’s look at this example from Scripture to build the case for what freedom truly is. Here is the story of the Philippian jailer and his encounter with Paul and Silas.

Acts 16:25-34 NLT

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.

Note that the behavior of Paul and Silas in prison was markedly different than the attitude of the jailer.  Paul and Silas were singing hymns and songs at midnight.  The jailer was a free man but he was actually in mental captivity.  He was ready to kill himself out of humiliation when he thought the prisoners had escaped.  Two completely different mindsets.   It was only when the jailer recognized that Paul and Silas were much, much different than other prisoners, and I believe that he had an incredible encounter with the Spirit when he recognized that Paul and Silas had the message of salvation for his life.  He took Paul and Silas home with him and when he accepted Jesus, he and his household experienced true freedom in Jesus Christ.

I’ll repeat again our enhanced definition of true freedom:

True freedom is when your attitude and life perspective represents the stillness of God’s peace and His loving presence in spite of your personal circumstances.

This freedom centers on a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Listen to this dialogue between Jesus and members of the crowd, made up of both believers and unbelievers:

John 8:31-36 NLT

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

So, it is clear that many are confused as to what true freedom really is.  There is the physical aspect of being in jail or being a slave, and there is the mental approach that a relationship with Jesus Christ is a relationship of freedom.  A life of sin is a life bound in captivity.  We are slaves when we are in sin because we are caught in a stronghold of disobedience to God.  In Christ, we are free because we are no longer slaves to sin.  Jesus paid the penalty of sin for us.  All that we needed to do was believe in Him and His power over sin and death, and, as a result, we experience the freedom that only He can give to us!

As we are free in Christ, we need to live in such a manner that we are indeed free.  We do this by loving Jesus and obeying His commands.  The Spirit guides us beyond those moments when we are tempted to sin.  We are not to give in to the flesh.

Galatians 5:1, 13 ESV

1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Peter 2:16 ESV

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

The Philippian jailer learned how to live in freedom once and for all.  It is because he learned the truth about eternal life in Jesus.  It is a freeing experience when we see God’s goodness in our life.

So, what does this freedom have to do with Father’s Day and Juneteenth?  Juneteenth may be a little more obvious, but how about Father’s Day?

Father’s Day is a celebration of true fathers in the same way that true believers are in freedom.  A father who understands the principle of loving his wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25) will live in the same manner that Peter called the believers to live in spite of difficult circumstances.

1 Peter 3:7 NLT

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Did you catch that?  An “equal partner in God’s gift of new life.”  A father recognizes his role in the home and reflects the love of Christ in everything that he does for the family.  Even the Philippian jailer seemed to understand this very thing as he was the leader of his home, and then became the leader of his home as a servant of Jesus Christ.

For those fathers who seem to think that this is not important or not a big deal, remember that God is looking for men to step it up all the time.  God wants not just fathers, but all men, to live not selfishly but in a selfless manner.  He wants to see fathers as servants for Him—not in a sense of drudgery—but in a heartfelt, self-sacrificing love for Jesus Christ.  He wants men who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His direction.

2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Father’s Day is a celebration of the husband who loves his wife and family.  It is not a celebration of fathers who aim to readily populate the earth without any sense of responsibility.  We are to uphold all fathers who understand the concept of freedom in Jesus and who want to live for Christ in good times and bad.

We need this leadership in the family more than ever today.

Juneteenth is also a celebration of freedom.  For those of you who aren’t completely aware of what it represents, June 19, 1865 was the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to proclaim that more than 250,000 people in slavery were now free due to an executive decree.  It occurred two and a half years after the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Thirteenth Amendment legally ended the practice of slavery in the United States in 1865.  This is how June 19th became known as “Juneteenth”.  The former slaves immediately began to celebrate this day and within a few years, due to migration, African Americans were celebrating in other states, making it an annual tradition.  It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States as well as the acknowledgment of freedom. 2

As a people, I think it is safe to say that we are always looking for reasons to celebrate.  Juneteenth is an appropriate reason for everyone to celebrate freedom, but let’s remember that even when people were in slavery or some form of servitude, those who recognized the importance of following Jesus, by definition of the relationship with him, were already “free” in Christ.  Now, you can believe me or choose not to believe me, but I challenge everyone to consider that a person who is free in Jesus Christ is a mature believer who understands this truth.  The Bible gave prudent advice on how a master and slave or servant were to live and carry on as servants of Jesus Christ.

Masters were to not rule harshly over their slaves and were to fear God (Leviticus 25:43; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).

Slaves were instructed to live before their masters as slaves to Jesus by doing the will of God and living for Him (Ephesians 6:6).

Let’s be clear about something that isn’t mentioned often enough.  The Bible does not openly condone or condemn slavery.  The Bible DOES deal actively and openly with addressing the human condition—our human reality, which is our propensity to sin.  We are fleshly people.  All are sinners and cannot measure up to God’s glory (Romans 3:23).  Slavery was (and still is) in the world because we live in a fallen world.  Satan will always try to dissuade people from following the Bible because, in their reasoning, the Bible does not come out and condemn slavery. 3  God, in fact, does not promote slavery because He hates it.  He hates sin.  The slavery of blacks in the United States is only one pinpoint of the world history of slavery.  It has always been in existence because of the condition of man.  What is human trafficking but another form of slavery?  What is sex trafficking but another form of slavery?  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Jesus gave His life for all of us because of our dreadful human condition.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT

9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,

    and desperately wicked.

    Who really knows how bad it is?

10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts

    and examine secret motives.

I give all people their due rewards,

    according to what their actions deserve.”

“All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”  —C.S. Lewis 4

In contrast, the reward for those who believe in Jesus goes far beyond their present physical state.  Can you see this, as well?  Those who often profess to be free are actually slaves to sin because of their disobedience.  Those who live as servants indeed live in freedom because they look to Jesus and only to Jesus.  They recognize that serving Jesus is a model of Jesus’s servanthood during His ministry on earth.  He was obedient to the Father because He knew what was at stake.

Matthew 20:25-28 NIV

25 Jesus called them (the disciples) together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The people who experience the greatest freedom are those who are servants of Jesus Christ.  The freedom is evident because of what Jesus did on the cross.

Romans 6:22 NLT

But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.

Do you see how without Jesus Christ, celebrating any sort of freedom is an effort of futility?  You can search the earth for freedom and truth, but your search is ultimately futile without Jesus in your life.

We indeed have a reason to celebrate.

We celebrate freedom, but not just for freedom’s sake. 

We celebrate the freedom of a new life in Jesus.  It should be our approach to anything and everything that we do, and it’s because while we are free in Jesus, we are here to live for Him and to serve Him.

Romans 8:1-2 NLT

1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

We can celebrate because we have the freedom of eternal life in Jesus.  It’s an incredible gift of God’s grace.

Copyright © 2022 Melvin Gaines

1 The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition. (n.d.). Freedom – definition. Wordnik.com. Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://www.wordnik.com/words/freedom

2 Wikipedia contributors. (2022, June 16). Juneteenth. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:41, June 17, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Juneteenth&oldid=1093431487

3 Chery, F. (2022, February 13). 25 important Bible verses about slavery (slaves and masters). Bible Reasons | Bible Verses About Various Topics. Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://biblereasons.com/slavery/

4 C. S. Lewis (2003). “A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis”, p.109, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Categories Christian Studies, Christianity, message, Sermon, The BibleTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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