Our vision at RCC is to be a loving and authentic Christ-centered family bringing hope, freedom, and purpose to our local and global community. Of the three words we use to describe what we want to bring to those around us—hope, freedom, and purpose—let’s focus for just a moment on that word freedom. Romans 8 is a powerful chapter in the New Testament. There’s so much that Paul says in those 39 verses, and he makes sure to start the chapter off with a bang. He talks about freedom.
In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia; fell to the Union Army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and crowded around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln’s army had set them free. According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the crowd around him and said, “My poor friends, you are free…free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it…Liberty is your birthright.”
How about we take a moment and crowd around Jesus because he has set us free. Jesus has set us free! We are as free as air because we are no longer a slave to sin. In fact, let’s cast off the name slave and trample upon it because of the freedom that is ours in Christ.
Have you ever had the good fortune of watching a child take a basketball and desperately try to make a basket? The rim is 10 feet in the air, and that child may only get the ball five feet in the air. And the more they try what happens? Rather than the ball going higher it actually goes lower. They ware themselves out pretty quickly. But then a parent comes to the rescue by scooping up the child, holding them high in the air, and the little one shoots and makes the basket. Sometimes we need rescued because we can’t do it on our own.
Paul begins Romans 8 by letting us know that the freedom we have from sin is not something we can achieve on our own. We need to be rescued. Here’s what Paul says: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1&2, NIV) Now that’s freedom! Paul says that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. And it’s not just that we’re not condemned but we’re set free from the guilt and the power of sin!
Look at what Paul says just a few verses before Romans 8: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:15—20, NIV) Paul expresses a lot of confusion and conflict here, doesn’t he? “I do not understand what I do. What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” He realizes that sin is living in him. But then just a few verses later Paul gets into Romans 8 and he finds confidence and peace because of Jesus. He might do what he doesn’t want to do, but guess what? Because of Jesus there is no condemnation!
Have you ever done things you hate? Just give it a little thought.
–Gossiped about someone behind their back.
–Told a lie.
–Looked at someone of the opposite sex with a lustful heart.
–Intentionally tore someone down to make you look better.
–Let anger get the best of you.
–Dished out bitterness or revenge against someone who hurt you.
–Had jealousy for someone else’s success.
–Judged someone’s actions while ignoring your own.
Let’s be honest. We all have sin living in us. We all do things that we don’t want to do, but because of Jesus we are not condemned. And let’s be clear while we’re being honest. We’re not condemned because we don’t deserve it. We definitely deserve it. We’re not condemned because Jesus himself bore the condemnation for us. We’re not condemned because our identity is found in him. We’re set free from the guilt and the power of all the stuff we do that we hate simply because Jesus died for you and me. Take a look at verse 3 in Romans 8, Paul says: For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. (Romans 8:3, NIV) God is the one who created a way for us to escape condemnation and be set free. He reached down and delivered His one and only Son to accomplish what we’re not able to accomplish ourselves. He rescued us!
So take a moment today and crowd around Jesus because he has set you free. You are as free as air because you are no longer a slave to sin. Go ahead…cast off the name slave and trample upon it because of the freedom that is yours in Christ.
No longer a slave,