Reformation—Observed (Jn 8, 31–36)

Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

If the Son sets you free, you’re really free.

INI AMEN.

We have something in common with Jews in John 8. “We’ve never been enslaved to anyone.” Sure, they’d forgotten about Egypt and the Exodus, about all the problems with the Philistines in the books of Judges and Samuel and Kings, about the Assyrian and Babylonian empires from Kings and Chronicles and most of the prophets, and apparently about the Romans who were ruling them in Jesus’ day! But we can say the same thing today truthfully, honestly, in a worldly sense.

We prize freedom (“liberty”), but the problem with that worldly freedom is that it has nothing to do with the freedom Jesus gives. Freedom in the world means to do whatever you want, live however you want, and anyone or anything that gets in the way of what you want to do, what you want to say, what you want to be is bad and evil.

Jesus has a different understanding of freedom. Jesus’ freedom doesn’t have to do with all those sorts of outward things that worldly freedom is worried about. Jesus’ freedom is a completely different sort of freedom. His freedom is eternal, not temporary. Jesus’ freedom is all about saving us from us! Because Jesus’ freedom involves our greatest problem: our sin.

((2. Sin is slavery.))

“Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” Jesus sums up our problem. We’re slaves to our sins. We do them daily and much. Those who say they don’t have sins are “deceiving themselves” (1 Jn 1:8) and “calling God a liar” (1 Jn 1:10), Jesus a liar. Because He actually says that if you commit sin, any sin, that means you’re a slave to your sin.

If you think your sin isn’t really that big of a deal, then why did Jesus have to die? If it’s not that bad, why’d He give us so many ways to deliver His cross-won forgiveness? Baptism, preaching, His Word, Holy Absolution, the mutual forgiveness between Christians, and even the Supper of His body and blood. Clearly, sin is a big problem! But what does it mean that you’re a slave to sin?

It means you sin! It means you like to sin. You shouldn’t, but you do. Now, you may not like it afterwards, but the only reason you keep sinning is because you like it! It makes you feel good on some level.

Slave to sin also means you don’t actually care that you sin. You should, but sadly you’re not really all that sorry. If you were, you’d actually stop. And you should actually stop sinning, stop winking at it, stop shrugging it off as no big deal. That’ll put you in hell.

Slave to sin means you try to make up for it later. Sure, I shouldn’t gossip, but at least I go to church. I shouldn’t skip church, but at least I’m a pretty good person to those people around me. That’ll put you in hell, too.

Slavery to sin means we abuse Jesus’ forgiveness. We take the sins back from Him and keep doing them. Using forgiveness to sin is like going to AA so you can keep drinking.

Slave to sin means you’re separated from God. Cut off from Him. “A slave doesn’t remain in the house forever,” Jesus says. He draws you to repentance, but He’ll let you have your sins, instead of Him. Just what you want! Just how you act. The Bible is full of examples of the LORD Jesus doing exactly that.

Slave to sin means you’re cut off from your neighbor. It’s why we grow tired of putting others first. It’s why we get frustrated with other people, even when they’re our spouse, our children, our closest family and friends.

Slave to sin means we’re selfish. Neighbor last. God second. Me and what I think is important first. All that sin is a big problem. Enslaved to sin, you won’t remain in God’s presence forever. He’ll cast you out. He really will. Don’t want Him or His Gifts or the neighbor’s He’s blessed you with to love and serve, well, then, as Jesus puts it elsewhere, you get “outer darkness,” (hell)–you all alone, just you by yourself forever.

((1. Jesus sets you free from your sin.))

Jesus came to free you from all that. Jesus sets you free from your sin. He took your sins as His own. He carried your slavery to sin. “He became your sin,” as Paul says. He shed His blood for your sins, died for them on Calvary. His death and His blood aren’t empty things. “There’s power in the blood!” Freedom! Forgiveness! Eternal redemption! Everlasting life!

Jesus became your sin so that you would become the righteousness of God in Him. He became your curse so that you would be blessed, saved. He was abandoned, left alone, in the darkness on Good Friday in your place. “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” He sets you free forever! The blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sins, and so you are eternally cleansed. “The Son remains forever, so if He sets you free, you’re really free.”

But Jesus also makes sure His eternal, cross-won freedom is delivered to you now. “When you remain in My Word, you’re truly My disciples, and you’ll know the Truth,” and He will set you free. Jesus would set you free, give you His freedom, forgive you from your sins “in the present time,” as Paul says in Romans 4. He delivers that forgiveness to you in His Word and Gifts. There He frees you because only when He removes sin is it truly gone for good.

Yes, Jesus is the one who sets you free. You don’t set yourself free. He doesn’t set you free, and then expect you to put in your own effort. Jesus and you don’t make you free. Jesus makes you free! Free from your sin. Right now He does it. In His Word and Gifts He does it. Today, He does it again for you.

((Conclusion.))

That’s what Jesus is all about (setting you free), and that’s exactly what He does. Here and now He does. Today! JESUS REALLY SETS YOU FREE FROM YOUR SIN NOW. Our problem is we like to take our sin back. We like to keep doing them. We like to keep making up for them. And then we wonder why our relationship with God isn’t what we know it should be. Slavery! We like to judge others for theirs, but hang on to ours. And then we wonder why we have problems with people around us. Slavery!

When we’re slaves to our wants and our sins, when we’re being selfish, we avoid Jesus’ Word and Gifts. When we’re slaves, we don’t live in His forgiveness because that would mean we’d be different. He would change us, free us! Define us, our words and actions so that they are free from sin (forgiven), so that we live and act in forgiveness and not sin. True freedom.

Jesus really sets you free. All your slavery doesn’t define you. Not according to Jesus. You’re free. Set free! JESUS REALLY SETS YOU FREE FROM YOUR SIN NOW. Right now! It’s not freedom to be selfish. That’s worldly freedom. He frees you from that. Makes you His own. Makes you His disciple through Holy Baptism and His Holy Word. You’re free. Actually free. Actually forgiven. You really are! His death and resurrection, His Baptism, His Absolution, His body and blood all say that you are. That’s how Jesus makes you free! Eternally free. And now that you’re that free, what are you gonna do?

INI AMEN.

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