The Scripture lessons for October 30 were Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28 and John 8:31-36. The theme for the day was “We’re Set Free for Free.” It was Reformation Sunday and Pastor Krause focused his message around the Gospel and the Epistle lessons for the day.
In John 8:32 Jesus states “the truth will set you free.” Pastor Krause began his message stating that some people find this message offensive for it suggests that we are or that we have been enslaved. The Jews with whom Jesus was speaking found Jesus’ words offensive, and they demonstrated their limited understanding by responding “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” (Jn 8:33) Jesus, then sought to stretch their understanding and definition of slavery and told them “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (Jn 8:34).
Probably all of us in varying degrees are enslaved to sin. There are obvious sins which can and often do enslave: excessive use of alcohol, illegal use of drugs, pornography, rage and bitterness to name a few. There are also less obvious things which can become sin for us when or as they enslave us: works, finances, relationships (including family), TV, computer, the list goes on and on. These are things that are not sin in themselves, but when or as they enslave us they impose upon us unhealthy and ungodly expectations and demands, and they replace God as the center of our lives in, through and around whom all else is to revolve.
Pastor Krause compared being enslaved to any of the above listed things with being a slave to God, the only one to whom we ought to be slave. It is a paradox, but Pastor told us that when God is our master it is then, and only then, that we are really free. St Paul tells us in Roman 6:15-23:
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin…. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin…. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Pastor then reminded us that we cannot become free from sin on our own. We need a greater power. We need Jesus. In our Gospel lesson Jesus told the crowd and He tells us today “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn 8:36).
Pastor then moved us into the Epistle lesson and talked about how we have been justified and made righteous. God justifies and frees us not by overlooking or by excusing our sin. If He did that, He would not be a just God and a God of justice. God justifies us by settling the accounts against us. He frees us from the sin that laid claim upon us by buying us back (redeeming us) and making us righteous through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. St. Paul writes:
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Romans 3:22-25 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Having been freed from slavery to sin, we are now free for a new life of righteousness.
Romans 6:11-14 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Question for Reflection:
As a freed person what can and will you do today to present yourself to God alive from the dead and your body as an instrument of righteousness?
(All passages are taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted – highlights and italics are added)
Chime in with your thoughts and questions in the comment section!