That’s Freedom!

SERMON,  Sunday July 2, 2017, St Petri.

4th Sunday after Pentecost (A) (Pastor Adrian Kitson)

Romans 6:12-2312 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.

http://stpetri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/20170702_message56.mp3

“You may be an ambassador to England or France You may be the heavyweight champion of the world You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls. You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody, It may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody, It may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”.

Words of Bob Dylan; Poet for a generation just before my time.

Bob was right. He must have read Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome.

In Romans, Paul tackles the problem we Christians have with our freedom: the challenge of actually living out our freedom in Christ while still having to cope with the old ways within us.

Paul is asking how on earth do we as people set free from self and evil and even death deal with the pull of sin and the Evil one to avoid responsibility, take the easy option, suit ourselves more than serve others, that still exists in and around us.

So Paul asks, Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1).

You may have come across this: “I am baptised. I am ‘free”. I can live the way I want. If I get it wrong because I mean to or I don’t, it does not matter because God is gracious and I will be forgiven. The more I do my own thing, even getting it wrong, the more God’s grace happens. I am doing God a favour!

“Not on your Nelly! Cries Paul. All of that is not God’s freedom. That is ‘self-freedom’ and actually, is no freedom at all, merely “self-serving”.

All of this old way was dead and buried with Jesus in your baptism into his righteousness. You have been raised to a new life of self-giving to others and the Lord. Going back to the old place once you have moved away makes no good sense. Why would you give up life forever in the new place of acceptance, love and light to go back to that old place where your pension is death? But ….

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?

Does freedom in Christ mean no rules, now law, no Old Testament, no boundaries at all? Is any talk of sin, the 10 Commandments, and death and the evil one just being ‘negative”? Some think so.

Many people tend to believe that ‘freedom’ is the absence of responsibility, or “doing what we like”. Freedom is living life without the constraints of the work place, the school rules, the rules of grammar, the rules of the road, free from the teaching of church or school or parents, free from having to comply to anything or serve anyone.

Freedom is believing what you want, living the way you want. Freedom is partying until dawn all weekend – no rules, no responsibilities, no accountability…..

But this belief about freedom is deeply flawed. Paul says,

“You are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (17).

Remember Bob. “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord…”.

The reality we live with is not whether we will be follow something (or someone), but what (or who) we will follow.

The understanding of freedom as “not being a servant to anyone or anything” misleads us into believing that, if you are lucky or strong or bold or beautiful and powerful enough, you can live absent of any obligations, any commitments, any requirements whatsoever.

This does not end well for anyone. I am thinking of the three most evil world leaders of the 20th Century; Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pott. I am thinking of that rock star or sports star totally self-absorbed and self-destructing, teaching the young to do the same. I am thinking about extreme people on both sides of difficult issues who cry “freedom of speech” as long as your speech agrees with me!

God’s freedom is not like our view of freedom. God’s freedom is not escaping obeying or serving him or others. Freedom in Jesus is freely obeying and serving with true joy.

If it is true that to be truly free in the grace and love of God in Christ, we have to serve somebody or someone, then the question is will you serve? Who will you willingly follow; your old passions or Jesus’ new righteousness; out of control self or self-control? Will you follow self-focussed ambition or the honour of the friend and stranger? Will you follow the promises God made to you and you have made to him, or believe yourself exempt from those requirements now?

To help us, Paul invites the Christians in Rome — and by extension all of us — to consider that it is not whether to be obedient or free, but rather to what we will be freely obedient.

“Freely obedient” – Freely serving with joy. Isn’t that really living? Isn’t that being as Jesus really is – the one who gave up his power by becoming one of us for love and for our future rightness and peace with him? (Philippians 2). Isn’t it better to be freely obedient to the Lord? Freedom is not the absence of serving, true freedom is so free that you wholeheartedly serve with joy!

But how do we live like that? Where does the ability come from?

Surely from the One who comes to us not be served but to serve us. Jesus serves us with everything he has got. He makes it possible by his serving of us – all out of an enormous heart of love and kindness to us..

Paul suggests the Lord we gladly serve, first serves us in three places.

1), Baptism, the place where God names us as God’s own children (Rom. 6:1-11) and not because of what we have attained, accomplished, bought, or achieved, but simply because God has chosen to love us and adopt us as God’s own.

2) Christian community, the company of believers were baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection (6:3-5) and that gathers to receive, remember and rehearse the promises of God and encourage each other in lives of righteousness.

3) Prayer in the Holy Spirit, which draws us more closely into relationship with God and neighbour and serves to remind us that we are, indeed, God’s own children (see 8:14-17).

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls. You’re gonna have to serve somebody, It may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”.

Yes. It is true but it is no weighty burden when we trust that the Servant King is serving us with the will and the ways to freely serve as we are served.

We are so free that we are freely obedient to his word as we gladly serve everyone.

That’s freedom.

Friends, live in it.

Know your baptism

Live in a local church who serve others

Pray, sing and hear.

That’s freedom.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Where or with who do you sense the most freedom in your life?

Speak of a time when you experienced the freedom of your sin forgiven and shame lifted.

In Romans 5 and 6, paul uses a particular kind of way of bringing out what it is to be a Christian. he uses a question that people have and then shows how that question is worked out in the light of Jesus’ forgiveness and new life (Rhis righteousness).

Thumb through chapters 5 and 6 and see if you can locate some of those questions he asks. They usually begin a whole new section in our English bible – so they ar easy to spot!

Romans 6:1 is one of these.

Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1).

See if you can summarise WHY this is a definite no!

Out text is a response to a slightly different way to ask the similar question – a question about how live our our freedom.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? (Romans 6:15)

If we are free in Christ by virtue of our baptism into his death and resurrection to new life (his righteousness) then can we just live any way we want?

Again the answer is a definite no. Can you follow Paul’s reasoning in our text? have a go….

in the end we get to what true freedom in Jesus’ forgiveness and new life is – serving. ‘

“…..it is not whether to be obedient or free, but rather to what we will be freely obedient”.

“Freely obedient” – Freedom is not the absence of serving. True freedom is so free that you wholeheartedly serve with joy!

But then Paul knows that this is not always easy. in fact by ourselves without any help from God we will fail in this and lock ourselves up again in a self-made prision of self-focus, self- serving life. So he gets practical.

There are three things that we turn to for the power to freely serve in joy. Have a look at these in the text and look up the additional texts quoted here.

1), Baptism, the place where God names us as God’s own children (Rom. 6:1-11) and not because of what we have attained, accomplished, bought, or achieved, but simply because God has chosen to love us and adopt us as God’s own.

2) Christian community, the company of believers were baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection (6:3-5) and that gathers to receive, remember and rehearse the promises of God and encourage each other in lives of righteousness.

3) Prayer in the Holy Spirit, which draws us more closely into relationship with God and neighbour and serves to remind us that we are, indeed, God’s own children (see 8:14-17).

This is why I believe that the local Christian church is the hope of the world in which we live. These three gifts are on display and in action any given time Christians of all denominations gather in Jesus’ name to listen, learn, and pray.

Instruction: What have you learnt about God and yourself?

Confession: What do you need to confess and receive God’s forgiveness for?

Thanks: What do you want to give thank to God for as a result of hearing this Word.?

Supplication: Pray for yourself, family, church, friends and even enemies as a way of serving them in the freedom you have in Christ.

#freedom #Pentecost4A #Romans61223 #serving

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