Charles Stanley - Real Freedom
Freedom, that word is very motivating, very reassuring. It's a precious word. It's a word that everyone wants to feel deep down in their heart, no matter who they are. It is a word that causes revolution. It's a word that brings people together in marriage, when they really realize what true genuine love is all about, they're free to give themselves to one another. Where does freedom fit in your life? Do you want to be financially free? Do you want to be politically free? What does freedom mean to you personally?
Well there are many people who are very wealthy, but they're not free, who hold high positions, but they're not free. See, freedom isn't wrapped up in things that you and I are able to pursue in life and achieve. Freedom is wrapped up in an idea. It says something about who we are, what we believe and how far we're to go to make that freedom available to somebody else. I don't know what it is in your life that's causing you to feel that you're not free. But maybe in this message, if you listen carefully, you'll discover what that is. Because my prayer for you is that you'll be free; that God will set you free to be the person He created you to be and achieve those things in life that He wants you to achieve.
So, when Jesus began to talk about freedom, believe me, their ears were open, their eyes were open, their hopes were open, because that's what freedom is all about. It's all about hope also. So I want you to turn to the eighth chapter of John, very familiar chapter in the scripture, and in his conversation with his listeners, he wasn't saying, This is how to be saved, but once you are saved by the grace of God, here's what you do, and that is, listen to what he said. In the eighth chapter beginning in verse twenty-eight, "Jesus said, 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.'" Don't you wish you could say that? "'I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.' And as He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him".
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'" Notice what He said. He said, "'If you continue in My word,'" that's the Word of God, "'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'" What truth? What is the truth that makes us free? And that's what I want to talk about in this message.
Now it's very clear in the Scripture why Jesus came. He tells us there are three reasons, primarily, of why He came. Number one, He says He came, "to seek and to save that which is lost". Came into the world, giving His life on the cross and paying our sin debt in full in order that you and I might be saved and be the children of God. A second reason He came, the Scripture says that you and I, "might have life and have it abundantly". That is, not just enough for us to be saved. And I meet people all the time who say, Well, I'm saved, as if that's the end of the Christian life. It's not. But He came that we might have life more abundantly; and that is life that's full; fulfilling; where we discover the will of God; we discover the ways of God; we discover God in a very personal intimate way and realize that He is intimately involved in every single aspect of our life. And then He said He came for another reason: "To set the captives free".
So the part that I want us to deal with in this message is that whole idea of setting the captives free. And if I should ask you today, So what are the things that captivate us? What are the things that cause us to live in captivity all of our life? One of those things, for example, is error that we've been taught. There are many people, for example, who do not believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation; and so they're always looking for this and looking for that and looking for the other and trying to figure out what is the best way to go. You know what they are captive to? The confusion of error that they've heard somebody teach or imply. Likewise, there are those who believe that they are saved by their good works. Well, that's a captivity and I'll tell you why. How many good works? Can't answer it. Which good works? Can't answer it. Whose good works? You can't answer it.
And so if you're continually grappling with those answers and there are no answers, you're not free. For example, those who believe that you are accepted in God's eyes by your performance. Well, what performance? How good do I have to perform? Who am I to compare myself with? And so, they go on and on and on living out their life trying to perform well enough to please God, or to get Him to love them. That's not freedom. If I'm trying to convince God to love me by my performance, I'm captive. Then of course, I think about people who are captive to evil habits. There are people, for example, and some of these may hit you that you say, Oh, I don't really think that's important. But yes it is. There are people who are captive to lying and deception. There's something in them; they just can't be honest. And the reason they can't be honest is their fear of rejection. They just can't be honest and so they go through life being very deceptive.
Listen, it's a form of captivity because many people grow up doing it. And all of their life, you can't ever really tell whether they're telling the truth or not. Then of course, there's sexual immorality. Everywhere you turn today, it looks like sexual immorality is coming to the forefront. And so people say, Well, I want to be free. I want to be sexually free. Listen to me carefully. What most people mean is I want to be free to exercise my sexuality in whatever way, whatever means I choose to. That's not freedom, that's captivity. And many, many people if they were honest would say, You know, I don't really have freedom. I'm driven, driven, driven, captivated by ideas, by lusts that absolutely would destroy me if I allowed it to. That's not freedom, that's captivity.
So, do any of these things happen to be those issues that you have to deal with in life? Well, the most elusive one of all is not any of these. The most elusive of all of them is this. Those captivating feelings we have; those emotions that we have that oftentimes destroy people. So think about it for a moment. What are the kinds of emotional bondage that any one of us can have in our life that can devastate us on the one hand or keep us down? There are many people who, have lots of abilities and talents and skills and the reason they don't move forward in life is because they're captured. They are imprisoned by a spirit of fear. I'm afraid I'll fail. I'm afraid I won't do it the right way. I'm afraid of what people will say. And so fear dominates their life. They will tell you they're absolutely free, but they're not free. Then of course, there's false guilt that people have.
Once you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you're free. You're no longer guilty. And somebody says, Well, I've repented of that sin. It happened long time ago. And yet, when I get down to pray it keeps coming up. Somehow it just keeps popping up. And I know I've repented. I know I've asked God to forgive me, but somehow it keeps popping up. And oftentimes that is a false sense of guilt. And so what does it have? It has you incarcerated, that no matter what you do, those guilty feelings suppress your joy and your peace and your happiness. And you say, Well if I could just get rid of that. Then there are people who, for example, who live continuously in worry and anxiety. Suppose this happens to my children. Suppose this happens to me. Suppose I lose my job. Suppose, suppose, suppose, suppose. And they work themselves into a cellblock, so to speak, of what? Uneasiness, uncertainty, and fear and wonder what's going to happen in their life.
Until you're able to deal with that, it'll keep you bound. And many people full of anxiety, full of fear, maybe because the way you grew up and how you were treated. And so, they say, Well you know what? I've felt this way all my life. That doesn't mean it's the will of God. And then, the feeling that you never can please God. And there are people who say, You know what? I just can't please God. I've repented and I've done this and I've been baptized twice. I've been to three; I've three different denominations and I've tried to tithe and I can't, I don't know how to please God. That's because you don't know who He is. He isn't what you run around trying to please Him. He wants you to let Him be in you what He desires to be in you.
Then, one of the worst is unforgiveness. That is total captivity. When you cannot forgive someone else for what they've done to you, that is a form of captivity that'll drive, listen, it'll drive you and impact you in every single area of your life. You can't have an unforgiving spirit and harbor that. Because you see, you say, Well, I have, I have this unforgiving spirit. No, this unforgiving spirit has you. And you must be willing to deal with it and you can deal with it and you can be set free no matter who you are. You see, none of these things fit who we are. When you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, I want to show you in a few moments what He did for you, so they don't fit. If they don't fit, then I'm responsible for dealing with them.
So let's think about that for a moment, and that is simply this. These things being true, what is the truth that sets us free? Cause if you don't answer this question, you we're wasting our time. What's the truth that sets us free? Well, watch this carefully. First of all, the truth about our salvation, that you and I trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior for the forgiveness of our sins, based on one thing, His death at Calvary, which atoned for all of our sins, past, present and future. Therefore I'm not going to be lost after I'm saved. That is, all of my freedom is based on a personal relationship with Him because, listen, He is the freedom-maker. He is the one who sets the slaves free. And the second one is this. That is, the truth about our position, because you hear what I just said all the time. What is your position now that you've trusted Christ as your Savior? We're talking about our position, scripturally. Beforehand you were enemies of God.
Now the Scripture says you're children of God. Once you were guilty but now you're forgiven, forgiven child of God. Once you walked in darkness, not knowing what was going on. Now you walk in the living light of the Son of God. Once you were dead in trespasses and sins, and now you are spiritually alive. All of those things God has done in your life and does do in our life when we come to Him as our Savior. And He begins to work in our life, setting us free of everything and anything. Listen, it's the will of God to set you free of anything and everything that hinders His will and purpose and plan for your life. He's willing to dig as deep into your life and deal with things back there that have been there since you were a kid. He wants everything out of our life that hinders His awesome will and purpose and plan for life.
And think about, this is our position. We are children of God for whom God has a will and a purpose and a plan. That's who He is. And if I'm going to be set free, I've got to understand that not only am I saved, but this is my genuine, spiritual, godly, divine position, the things we just mentioned. So, likewise, what are my possessions? Now that I'm a child of God, I do possess some things and so do you. For example, and I want to turn to this passage. This is one you may not know that's easy; but in Second Peter, listen to what he says. And oftentimes, people will read right over this verse. But he says, for example, in verse three, chapter one, "Seeing that His divine power," watch this now, "Seeing that His divine power," He did it, "has granted to you," not going to. Once you're saved, this is, "granted to you everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence".
Now listen, "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust". Look at that. Here's what happens. This is the reason you and I can be free. We trust Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, have a different position; different possessions in life. And he says one of the things He's given us, He's given us His nature. We, listen, we have the privilege and the power to live godly in Christ Jesus because we have the nature of God within us. And if you'll notice, he also says He's provided everything we need to live a godly life. If I want to be free, it starts with Jesus. If I want to be a free person, then I must begin to claim what is mine; claim who we are in Christ; and claim what we have in Christ; and walk in the ways that He would walk. You have access to freedom in every single solitary area of your life if you choose to claim it.
Now here's the key. That being true, of knowing who I am in Christ and what my possessions are and my personhood and my privileges, then what? How do I, how do I exercise this freedom? How do I become free on a daily basis? By simply doing this, watch this carefully. By responding to the circumstances of my life day by day, situation by circumstances, and situations and situations, whatever they may be; I respond to them on the basis of what? On the basis of my salvation, I'm a child of God. On the basis of my position, what I have, listen, who I am in Christ, a child of God. On the basis of my possessions, he says I have every single thing that I need. I have the nature of God within me and the promises of God.
And, listen, I have the personhood of a follower of Christ. So, you come along and you are tempted in some point. How do you respond? Who am I in Christ Jesus? What are my possessions in Christ? In other words, you respond on the basis of truth. And when Jesus said, "The truth shall make you free;" what was He talking about? He wasn't talking about something that He was going to do at that moment. He said, The truth sets you free. Watch this. we've talked about what is the truth about who you are and your possessions and your position as a child of God. That's the truth.
Now what is the truth that sets me free? That's the truth of who He is in us. I become free when I face any and every circumstance of life, listen, based on what? Who I am, according to Jesus; what I have according to Jesus; what my position is according to Jesus. In other words, then what happens? I'm going to be free. God, this doesn't fit who I am. Here's what You said. You said Your divine power is within me. The Spirit of God would set me free. And I'm claiming that, by faith in the name of Jesus Christ, God will set us free. But the tragedy is if you don't know that you have captivity in your life; if you don't know that there are things in your life or you have not been willing to acknowledge it, you're going to, listen, you're going to live in captivity, listen, it's a choice we make based on the truth.
So all that I've said to you is simply the truth. It's about who He is; what He's done in your life and what He's done in my life; what He will do; what He promised to do. And He said, Trust Me. He says, The truth will set you free. But you've got to want to be, you've got to know you need to be free, you want to be free. You're willing to believe that you can be free and you trust Him. And I know that whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever's going on, some of you would say, That's what I want. I want freedom. You can have it. It starts with Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. You desiring freedom, accepting His promise of freedom, claiming that freedom, trusting Him to be in you everything you need Him to be and to do for you everything you need Him to do for you.
Let me just say this. When you're in captivity, this is the way you feel. When you're free, there's a feeling that you cannot describe. You cannot describe it adequately, because what happens? The weight's gone; the guilt's gone. All that junky stuff that you thought was important in your life, that's all gone. And now what's important is this, just pleasing Him and loving Him. Not pleasing Him because of what's going to happen, but pleasing Him because I want to and because you want to. It's a freedom that only comes in the person of Jesus Christ.
So think about all the people who've never trusted Christ as their Savior, they're living in captivity. It is not my responsibility or yours to walk up to somebody and say, You're a slave! You know why you don't have to do that? Many of them are already aware of it, but not why. And my message is simply this. You don't have to keep living the way you're living. It's a choice you make. And God's made it so simple, you stumble all over it. Receiving Him as your personal Savior, trusting Him to be everything you need because He promises it. Trusting Him to work this out in your life because only He can do it, and watch Him work. Trust the Lord and watch Him work. He'll set you free. Then here's what you'll do. You'll say, Thank God I left that way behind; because you don't want that in your life.
Father, how grateful we are that You made it simple and clear; that anyone of us could understand, Lord, what You want to do in our lives; what You're willing to do and all the provision You've made to make us your liberated children. I pray this message will stick, God, some portion of it will grab the life of every single person who watches or listens. You want us to be free because You died that we might be free. And I pray that, as people listen and look at themselves, they'll be honest to say, Oh God, I haven't been free. Oh God, I'm captive. I want to be free. I'm going to trust You to set me free. Thank You, Father, for Your freedom in Jesus. Amen.