Tags

, , ,

Early in my seminary studies, a number of individuals challenged me as to whether or not the War on Terrorism was actually biblical. This message is associated with that study. I thought it fitting on this day as we memorialize those who gave their lives to preserve our freedom, that we look at that provision, biblically. This is not an all-encompassing study, but one that is born from scripture. This is a study on freedom and its cost. Freedom and liberty being the first tenets of the United States of America.

Remember them. There will be more.

Remember them. There will be more.

Please turn to Hebrews 9 and verse 22. Many would not realize that freedom (the actual state of existence being unshackled or uninhibited in life) does exist in scripture. This is because many believe religion is inhibitive. Religion is just a load of “cannots.” Following the “cannots” of your particular faith or religion gets you to your heaven. God Himself is free, and we are commanded to become more Christlike every day. Therefore, true freedom is found in our becoming more Christlike. Christianity is not inhibitive, but liberating. We claim Christ as our Savior as Christians; therefore, we should actually be freer, not constrained in our Christianity.

Hodges wrote,

the writer was thinking of the system as a whole, and the ritual of the Day of Atonement that pertained to the totality of the nation’s sins.[1]

In one verse (Hebrews 9:22), we are moved from the beginning of scripture under the Old Testament covenants to the New Covenant and the New Testament. The power of God is meted out as Christ willingly “gave up the ghost” (Mark 15:37) and His precious blood is shed for the remission of our sins. There is a specific testimony for today in the power of God and the blood atonement of Christ.

We should look at the Old Testament. We must start in the beginning and follow the instruction of scripture through. We will actually see from the Garden of Eden through to the cross at Calvary that freedom is provided in one fashion. Freedom comes at a very precious price. Freedom, what we thrive on here in our nation, is not free at all. Freedom has a cost, a very deep, and rich price tag.

The Bible does not only record what we are called to maintain in our physical lives, as we rub elbows with folks each day. Our scriptures also call us to a spiritual purity, a condition commensurate with what we will attain in heaven (Matt 5:8). We are to practice here so we are not so shocked when we get there. Another thing we are to practice is freedom. Here on earth, brave men and women have given themselves throughout time for this freedom, both spiritually and physically. Spiritual and physical freedom have the same price tag.

I. Old Testament Freedom Price (Heb 9:22a).

A Tim’s translation of this passage reads,

And almost all things are cleansed with blood according to the law.

We will look at what the “almost” qualifier with respect to “all things.” We will consider some of Law of Moses and discover what is purged with the blood.

A. Spiritual freedom (Gen 3:21).

Adam and Eve were chained to the world. They were in a position now, having sinned, that they had nowhere to go. Thorns and thistles now inhabited their perfect Eden. Adam also faced the fact that the land would not produce for his livelihood without his hands tilling the ground. Yet, they looked around and this lush garden had now turned into a dangerous and strange jungle. Think about it. The jungle was lush, filled with fruit and water just waiting for consumption. Open areas to run and frolic in were perfect glades. Dense areas where vegetation and fruit grew were perfectly groomed. At any point one could taste a leaf, pluck a flower or smell fragrance without concern.

Now, in this new jungle, little daggers and spears, the thorns and thistles now covered the paths. Strange flowers grew that are poisonous to man: poision ivy, and oak, lilacs, azalea, oleander and everything else. Every step may have brought about a stabbing pain, or searing jab. We can hardly conceive how Adam and Eve may have seen life. Where once they could frolic and run through the lush greenery without concern, they now had razor grass and prickly bushes. Right where they sat, unclothed, exposed to the foliage, they were imprisoned. They could not move without risk of injury. They could only watch as these bushes appeared or grew from nowhere before their very eyes. God takes the initiative to care for His creation. He exercises his power to fashion clothes from the skins of animals. He exercises His power to shed blood; the power of God and the shedding of blood for the first freedoms from a sin stricken world.

God, therefore, took the first life, an animal, in order to provide some freedom from the dangers on earth. He spilt blood to provide redemption from their shameful sin. Therefore, the power of God shed blood and provided coverings for and freedom to Adam and Eve physically.

These are the two things required for freedom – power and blood. The power of a mighty army and the shed blood of soldiers on the battlefield does the same for our nation. Our challenge is that God only has to do it once for all time. We live in a fractured world and have to continue to exercise great power and shed precious blood.

How do we know God took the life of this animal? We only need to look at Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were taught by someone the proper sacrifices. Able gave one; Cain did not. The freedom provided to Adam and Eve through the shedding of this animal’s blood and the skin of the animal is both physical and spiritual. Physical for the new dangers they faced and spiritual to relieve them of the shame of their sin.

Abel provided the proper sacrifice. The only instruction before his sacrifice for sin is here, where Abel’s mother and father see the shedding of blood for their freedom. It is somewhat an argument from silence, however the only way Abel could know what a proper sacrifice was, is if he were told by his parents. Equally, the only way Adam and Eve could have known, was if they were instructed by God the Father Himself. Everyone on earth needs freedom from the bindings of sin. Jesus, the perfect sacrifice provided that freedom.

God exercised His power and shed blood first to redeem Adam and Even from their sin, and secondly to free them from the dangers surrounding them physically. This freed them from the imprisonment of their sin, and the imprisonment of the earth.

God has provided an atonement for the sins we committed to cleanse us as no other sacrifice could before. This cleansing gave us freedoms and access to heavenly places, to the Holy of Holies. This is why the curtain rent from top to bottom. We no longer need the Old Testament priesthood; by the power of God we are free to enter through the sacrificial blood of Christ.

Therefore, the power of God and the shedding of His blood give us spiritual freedom in Christ Jesus, and access spiritually to the God of heaven through Him. Not only does God require shedding blood for our spiritual freedom, He established a pattern for our physical freedom as well.

B. Physical freedom (Deut 6&7)

As the Israelites entered the promised land, God wanted Israel to remain pure in their new land. He was giving them a second lease on life by freeing them from the bondage of Egypt. God wanted to maintain their purity on earth, maintain their physical freedom from idolatrous temptations and the evil influence of other societies. All through Deuteronomy chapter 6, God describes how He wants the Jewish people, their children and their grandchildren to remain pure from outside influence. In verse 14, God specifically warns against the influence of other gods. They are to do this by teaching these godly precepts to their children (v7); they shall keep His commandments (v17), do what is morally right (v18), and drive out enemies that are not God’s children (v19). Also by remembering what it was like to be enslaved (v21). The Israelites were to always be in remembrance that it was the power of God and shedding of the lambs blood on the lintels that freed them from the bondage in Egypt. This same power freed them to worship and be with God in the wilderness as they were miraculously cared for with manna, water, clothing, and military victories.

In Chapter seven verses 1-2, we find the limit to which God is willing to go. He wants all the people that are in the land that is now given to Israel annihilated. He wants them eliminated, obliterated. This is so that Israel is not tempted to contaminate themselves (v3). In many ways this is a microcosm of what will take place at Armageddon, the elimination of the godless so that the godly can live in peace, dedicated to God, freed from earthly temptation to godlessness. If you think this is an isolated incident, God Himself wiped out all of Jericho by toppling the walls. No one survived except Rahab and those in her home. Moreover, the reason Rahab and those with her were spared, is the same reason you can be spared eternal damnation: belief. A faith in God’s power that the shed blood of His Son to spare your life physically and spiritually provides you freedom from death and eternal damnation. Rahab and company were saved out of faith and belief in the power of God, which preserved their singular home while all of the rest of Jericho, fell. God’s power is awe inspiring.

God provided for our spiritual and physical freedom in the Old Testament. In doing so, He began a pattern we see taking shape in our world today. Blood must be shed for both. All we need to do is believe. Believe God will preserve His chosen people at all costs. He puts this same effort forward in every aspect of life, including your salvation. This cost Him the physical life of His Son on the cross at Calvary for our sins. For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him can have everlasting life. He gave His Son for our freedom. God exercised the power of His judgment on his own innocent Son and permitted man to shed that precious blood so you and I could be free.

Both physical and spiritual freedom come at great price. Great power must be unleashed and blood must be spilt. Not only does the Old Testament provide for spiritual and physical freedom, the New Testament maintains this pattern.

II. New Testament Freedom Patterns (Heb 9:22b).

Again a “Tim’s Translation” is in order for the second part of our verse. Follow with me now beginning with the word “and” in your King James Version.

“and without shedding of blood he (the one purified) receives no remission.”

We have covered much of this section of the verse already with our study on shedding of blood. Therefore, we will concentrate on the word translated “remission.” This Greek word, “aphesis,” means to set free or liberate, release. Aphesis is used 17 times in 16 verses. It is translated remission, forgiveness, liberty, deliverance and pardon. The predominant sense is to lawfully remove guilt, provide freedom from a constraining conscience or pending judgment that resulted from unlawful activity.

In Mark 1:4 John the Baptist was preaching baptism for aphesis. This freedom comes from profession of faith. To forgive, therefore, means essentially to remove the guilt resulting from wrongdoing, therefore releasing the offender from the captivity of emotional and spiritual strain of sin. Thayer records this meaning as a release from bondage, or imprisonment such as in Luke 4:18 where captives are released.[2] In these two senses, we find spiritual and physical freedom to worship. We are released from spiritual bondage to worship and provided physical freedom to do so.

God provides freedom from all your sins. All we need to do is believe in His provision for the freedom of those sins. Let’s look at this provision of freedom.

A. Spiritual freedom (Matt 26:28)

The first thing God is always concerned about is our spiritual wellbeing. Many wonder where they might stand before God. God wants us to be able to stand before Him. The only way is with Christ. In Mathew 26:28 we read:

“For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission (aphesis) of sins.”

This is given us at the Last Supper, where Christ takes the cup and the bread and presents a specific pattern by which we are to remember Him. This also displays for us the reason for His crucifixion. Christ will be punished for us, crucified for us, beaten for us, shed His blood for us, and take all our sins on Himself. Christ will suffer the full weight of God’s wrath on His own body on the cross.

In Acts 2, Peter is preaching a sermon calling for his brothers and sisters in Judea to recognize that they have crucified Christ on the cross. He is preaching Christ to them, imploring them to recognize the messianic position of Jesus of Nazareth. Peter asks them to see, understand and believe in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the remission of their sins. He specifically calls for this repentance in verse 38. Peter calls for change, for a turning from the law to the liberation in Christ. Freedom provided in the one pure sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross. This exhortation resulted in the salvation and baptism of some 3000 souls.

B. Physical freedom (Luke 4:18)

The picture presented in this scripture is where Christ returns to His home in Nazareth and is invited to preach in the synagogue. He opens to Isaiah 61 and reads specifically about Himself, the Messiah, being provided to free people from their captivity in the law. God’s Son was specifically called to, designed and provided for this service. Barnes notes,

This is a figure originally applicable to those who were in captivity in Babylon. They were miserable in this captivity. To grant deliverance to them and restore them to their country—to grant deliverance to those who are in prison and restore them to their families—to give liberty to the slave and restore him to freedom, was to confer the highest benefit and impart the richest favor.[3]

This is paying the full price in order to provide pure freedom without any attachments; God’s greatest gift to mankind. Christ tells His audience that He is the Messiah, the one sent by God to provide for their spiritual and physical release. The terms used in this verse are military in nature. The overtaking by spear, and release by the same. Christ with the sword of the Word of God will return and eliminate the enemy physically and spiritually. Christ with the atonement of His blood has already provided for our spiritual release. All you need to do is believe. Believe your are a sinner who needs salvation, believe Christ provided for that salvation, and believe He lives today actively interceding on your behalf as the perfect Priest we mentioned earlier. This faith then, opens your life to a physical freedom of not being bound to this earth. Your home, in Christ, is in Heaven, and you are now free to serve God without concern for the things of this world. You are free to serve spiritually and physically.

As a chaplain, I knew that a commander with men and women at peace with their eternal destiny are his greatest asset. They know where they stand with God and are comfortable in any circumstance having to face God. In a command of this caliber, there is no concern for person, only concern for duty before your God and country. Where do you stand?

Consider this: have you accepted Christ’s gift, His freedom? Do you fear death, or death of a loved one? You can be free from that paralyzing fear (2 Timothy 1:7). You can be free from the fear of the world and given over to the freedom of God and His kingdom. It is available now. Spiritually, a permanent freedom is provided already. If you accept Christ today, you can be spiritually free. With this freedom comes a great physical freedom from the shackles of this world. You can be free today if only you take Christ for what He is, a living God who already paid the price for your freedom.


[1] Walvoord, John F., Zuck, Roy B. The Bible Knowledge Commentary/ New Testament, Hebrews by Zane C. Hodges. Victor: Colorado Springs, 2004, p 802.

[2] Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, By Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D. Public Domain. Formatted and hypertexted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 1.1

[3] Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, Public Domain, Derived from an electronic text from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, http://www.ccel.org Formatted and corrected by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 1.0

Advertisements