Levi Lusko - Keep Telling Yourself That
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John chapter 8 is where we're going to be. We'll jump in the 28th verse in just a moment. The title of my message this weekend is, Keep Telling Yourself That, keep telling yourself that, right, which is one of the lovely, sarcastic things that we get to say to each other when we want to gently nudge someone or not so gently let them know that they're sort of delusional. It's basically a way of saying whatever helps you sleep better at night. Someone says while they're eating a doughnut, I'm going on a diet tomorrow. It's like, keep telling yourself that, right? Or the person who is just taking their kids sports just a little too seriously, like, no, no, no, no, you understand, my child is going to be in the NBA. He's 5 foot 3, so keep telling yourself that. One of these days I'm going to that person who just is always talking about their good intentions, this thing they're going to do. It's like, keep telling yourself that, right?
John chapter 8, starting in verse 28, we find these words. It says, "Jesus then said to them, 'when you lift up the son of man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing of myself, but as my father taught me, I speak these things. And he who sent me is with me. The father has not left me alone, for I always do those things that please him.' As he spoke these words, many believed in him. Then Jesus said to those who believed him, 'if you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' They answered him, 'we are Abraham's descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say you will be made free?' Jesus answered them most assuredly, 'I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore, if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.'"
Come on, let's just take a second and thank God for his word because there is nothing like the word of God. In this series of messages moving our hearts towards Easter, trying to calibrate our hearts for a careful understanding and consideration of the cross and of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we're using, as a guide, as sort of our base camps to get to Everest, the I am state, or the Amen statements of Jesus. The statements of Jesus that he begins with the word, "Amen", in the original Greek, which is actually ripped we learned last week from the original Hebrew. Whenever you say "Amen" at the end of a prayer, did you know you're speaking Hebrew and you're using one of Jesus's favorite words? It's been called his trademark, or his calling card, what's a classic Jesus sentence?
Well, it starts with Amen, which we said last week is very different from how it was used in its day. The rabbis and teachers would say something they thought was weighty and then they would hope that the room was going to reciprocate, validating or cosigning what they just said. So they would say Amen almost as a question and then the room would respond Amen as a way of validating what was just spoken is truth. And that's, of course, very important, but we don't give our Amen before we hear what's being said, that we don't inadvertently or word-vertently enter into agreement with a lie. But Jesus didn't use it like that. Not Jesus. Jesus would begin his sentences with Amen. And this, like, don't you know Jesus, that's not how you do it. It's like, this is how I roll. He would begin his sentences with the word, Amen.
And he did so 99 times in the Gospels. He had 99 problems, but Amen was not one. And what does it mean when Jesus says Amen at the beginning of a sentence? It means two things. It means number one, he's trying to signal or telegraph that what he's about to say is really important and shouldn't be missed and is not a lie, is true, which is why many translators chose the words assuredly or verily or truly when they used that word to bring an end to the English language, which I actually kind of think is a disservice because there's some reason it was chosen to be brought across the language divide in tap. There's something about the actual words "Amen" that from the Old and the New Testament alike, have a certain ring to them, have a certain power to them. But he was saying in the word "Amen", what I'm about to say is really important so lean in and it is also not a lie.
And I'm not waiting for you to tell me whether it's true or not because, I Jesus, is saying, get to decide and to declare what is indeed truth. And then the second thing was he was sort of preparing the listeners for a controversial statement. So imagine if "hot take" had a baby with "no cap", that's Amen. That's how Jesus used it because he was letting people know a hot take was coming and that he, in fact, was not telling a lie. So that's really true when it comes to Matthew, to Mark, to Luke, but we just read out of John's gospel. And John's got to be different. Matthew, Mark and Luke are kind of similar in what they cover. John is different. John, in fact, is responsible for 50 of the 99 Amen's. And they occur or live in only 25 verses.
So what does that tell you? It tells you in John's gospel, every time Jesus says, "Amen", it's not once, it's a word so great he uses it twice. That John's use signaled by the word most before assuredly, Matthew, Mark and Luke and the New King James version would say, assuredly, or one verily, or one truly, but when you get to John, it's two truly's, which is probably as many as you should drink in the summertime, just throwing that out there. He is using the word twice. Most assuredly, truly, truly, verily, verily, or literally imagine how it would come across. Jesus would you just be standing there and then he would say Amen, Amen. Everyone's leaned in.
And that's what RC Sproul says we ought to do. He said, "whenever we read in the text of Scripture, our Lord giving a statement that begins with the double Amen, it is time for us to pay close attention". And that is what takes place here in John chapter 7, verse 34, where he says, "most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin". What's the sermon in the sentence? It's that the lies we believe can lock us up on the inside. The lies we believe can lock us up on the inside. There is a connection then between self-deception and stupidity, between self-deception... let's explore that, let's pull on that thread.
What is the connection between self-deception and stupidity? Well, the Jewish leaders that are speaking to Jesus in an antagonistic way, here in John chapter 8, they, as they're speaking to Jesus, they hear him refer to the freedom he wants to give them, the freedom he wants to give. I want to give you freedom I can do so because I always do what my father has told me to do, so I'm always living to please him. He's given me power, he's given me authority. And so now, here we go. If you listen to what I tell you, because I listen to him and I'm always doing what pleases him and I've come from him, but now you need to listen to me. And if you do that, if you listen to me, you will experience true freedom. The truth shall set you free. And they immediately respond to him and blow up and go, we don't need all that.
Why would we need that? In fact, the words that came out of the mouth were these. Ready? We are Abraham's descendants and we have never been in bondage to anybody. Really? You've never, a brief telling of the history of the nation of Israel, you've never been in bondage to anybody? Not Farrow, cruel King, that you were in bondage under? Your origin story is bondage, honey. You know what I'm saying? I'm convinced they would have passed a lie detector test. We've never been in bondage to anybody.
Why would we need that? Not Egypt, we would ask. What about Assyria, that took the northern tribes into captivity in the year 722 BC? You never were in bondage to them? How about Babylon, which in 586 BC, took the southern remaining two tribes into captivity. How about Persia, under which you had to seek out permission via Nehemiah, who had to ask the King over him because you were in bondage under him, can I go back and rebuild the walled city of Jerusalem? You've never been in bondage to anyone, they said. How about Greece, under the reign of Alexander the Great, the entire known world was conquered, including Israel, including Jerusalem, which he traveled through on his way to the end of the known world. How about Rome, under whose bondage you currently sit today as you speak these words?
Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Because Caesar said everyone had to go to where they were registered. Under whose leadership, you are chafing even as you speak, Jewish leaders. And that's not even to say anything about the seven mightier nations than the nation of Israel that were already living in Canaan when God brought them across the Jordan River under Joshua's leadership to go in. And Deuteronomy, as we read in our crown the year, there are these seven people groups already living there. Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, termites, that's the eighth. How about the Book of Judges, when Ehud had to get raised up, the left handed Benjamite because the nation of Israel had fallen under bondage to the Moabites, led by King Eglon, who is the fattest person described in the Bible.
You're like, Levi, why would you fat shame him? I'm not. That's just how the Bible describes him. In fact, when Ehud, the left-handed Benjamite, went in to stab fat King Eglon in the gut, he was able to hide his sword at the place where he would reach with his left hand and they checked only where a right handed sword would go and so he got past the metal detector, got into the chamber where Eglon was sitting and he was able to stab the sword so deep into the fat folds of fat King Eglon that the fat then covered over the hill and it looked like nothing had happened to him. It looked like he had just died of natural causes as he was sitting on the toilet with the door closed. And Ehud snuck out the window and was gone and it says the servants grew self-conscious because he had been in there so long, but they also did not want to go in and disturb him while he was in his cool chamber, which is how the Bible describes the toilet. But you've never been in bondage to anyone.
How about the Midianite people? But the Lord had to raise up Gideon and his mighty 300 to deliver you out from under their oppressive bondage. How about the fact that Samson's birth took place because the nation of Israel, this is quoting God's word, word for word, had been in oppressive bondage to the Philistines for 40 years. Indeed, the entirety of the Book of Judges is the nation of Israel forgets how good God is, ends up wanting to be like the surrounding people, worships the gods they worship, God takes down the force fields because he said, "I will if you don't follow me".
There's blessing on obedience, there's the opposite of blessing, which is a curse, on the opposite of obedience, which is disobedience and send some heavy-handed leader would come in, subject you to bondage, you would cry out to me, I would hear you, see your repentance, raise up a judge to come in. And the moment that you were delivered, you would start saying stuff like, started from the bottom, now we're here, and forget that it was God and think that you did it yourself and the cycle would repeat. That happens seven times in the Book of Judges alone. What's the moral of the story? We can tell ourselves lies so long we start to believe it. And we can sort of practice a revisionist history within our own selves, which is why, by the way, communion and coming to the cross once again and reminding of ourselves of our testimony and how we got here and how we found out, that's why songs like Amazing Grace are so important.
We need to sing about ourselves like a wretch every once in a while. We need to remind ourselves that we were blind. We need to remind ourselves that we were lost. We can become blind to our own blind spots. And all of us are capable of endless self-deception, especially those of us who lead in any regard. It's just so important to remember that how you see yourself and your leadership is very different at times from how people who serve under you. If you work in a restaurant, but you're a general manager, you work in this industry and you're a leader of people, how you see your leadership style is different than how they see you.
How you see yourself as like John F. Kennedy, giving inspiring speeches to the masses. And how they see you is like Michael Scott. That's how they see you. Something in every situation, trying to add too much value, thinking you're super funny, right? Like, that's at times, we need to open our eyes up to see the actual impact we're having versus the imagined. We're blind to our own blind spots, which is why scripture is commonly repeating phrases like, do not be deceived. One of James's favorite statements in transition, don't be deceived. Why would it always be coming out like that, because it's easy to get deceived. Ask Adam and ask Eve. The original deception was a lie in...that altered how they ate because before that event, they honored God through what they ate and what they didn't eat. Fasting is hardwired into worship.
It's just why the enemy showed up when Jesus was vulnerable and at a place all by himself out in the wilderness, that he, I believe, had engineered to take place after a period of fasting because he knew it would make him strong, not weak. And then the enemy came and brought lies that Jesus saw through. And interestingly enough, they also involved appetite, also involved eating. It's easy to be deceived is the point. But God's word cuts through the sword of the spear, which is the word of God, cuts through the deception. We need truth for error. We need God's word to help us to see lies. It's a mirror held up for us to see what we really are, not what we think we are. We need to have the ignorance shined away by the light of his life and his presence.
Paul loves to use the phrases, the sister phrases, don't be foolish and don't be ignorant. It's interesting to me, the two occasions that Paul pulls out the first phrase, don't be ignorant are when it comes to him talking about spiritual gifts and the end times. How funny, the two areas he wants us to be not ignorant concerning happens to be two of the areas we're most often confused about. Not deceived, not ignorant, not foolish, that is our natural state if we don't have God's truth to fight against the lies. And if we believe lies, we lock ourselves up inside. But how good of a leader is Jesus that he was able to bite his tongue and resist the urge to call them out and to do the whole litany of things that I just did to you because I'm telling you, I would have given them a lashing with my... to never been in bondage to anyone, right?
But Jesus doesn't get distracted by that low-hanging fruit there, that opportunity. They had set him up, but he did not take that bait because he knew that there was an even more dangerous bondage that they were in, an invisible one. And now we need to move on to our connection between sin and slavery. Sin is not happy for our stupidity, which by the way, sin does make you stupid, which is how when you watch someone else fall into temptation, you go, how did they not see it? How did they think that was going to go well? The lies that are so easily believed. Just one more time and I'll stop, I can quit at any time that I want to.
I'm in control here. I have it in... there's a fire wall all around, it's not getting any further than that. I can control this. I can handle this. I'm strong enough for this. I'll know before I burn my house down, my career down, before I burn my integrity down, before I burn my Christian witness down, before in my life is taken, I'll know when to get out. But there's that deception, there's that stupor, there's that fog. And so yes, sin makes you stupid. But that's not his end game. And sin's end game is slavery and slavery has an end game too, we'll talk about that in a moment, it's called the grave. In fact, that's how James put it. He said, 'but each one is tempted when he's drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, it brings forth death.
Sin is not happy just with stupidity. That's just the narcotic to get us incarcerated. And the end goal of the incarceration is always the inevitable execution. Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. This is a statement that Jesus found so weighty that it deserved a double Amen on the front end because it is not how we think about sin. You know, I'm just messing around, or it's just over here, it's a little white lie over there. He says, no, to commit sin is to move towards a slavery to sin. This is what Horace Mann said. Stephen Covey quotes from him in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Leaders when he says, "habits are like a cable. We weave a strand of it every day and soon it cannot be broken".
Is this not what Emerson was pointing towards when he said, sow a thought, reap an action, sow an action, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny. These small things get bigger every day. The Old rabbi's used to teach the children about the power of sin by comparing your initial foray into it to being wrapped up with a spider's web. Oh, it's not so big of a deal. But you put enough of those around someone, it can soon become as unbreakable as the mighty ropes that ships use to tie themselves up to the docks. And this is what Jesus is saying is the end game of sin, to get to slavery, and slavery to get to death.
So what lies had locked up these Jewish leaders that Jesus was specifically addressing that allowed him to resist the urge to slam down a well-placed, keep telling yourself that they're, buckaroo, and instead, sought to open their eyes up to an even more dangerous slavery? That is the great lie, the ultimate lie, the only actual damning lie, which is I don't need to be forgiven. I don't need to be set free. You've heard it said that God can forgive any sin, but that's not true. God cannot forgive the sin of us believing and persisting in that we don't need to be set free. God can't save a soul that doesn't want to be saved, hear me. Jesus is offering freedom and they say to him, we don't need it. We're good. I'm here to save you. I do everything my father says to do, I only live to please Him. He sent me here to save you.
Imagine telling the lifeguard who's dove in to save you from the peril of drowning, I'm fine. I'm good. To be so self-deceived at your own abilities as a swimmer, this is what Jesus hears, which is why he was so clear with the religious leaders because they believed they didn't need the forgiveness he had come to bring, that they, through their own accomplishments and own goodness, had done such a stand up job of living right that God up in heaven is like, wow, I am so lucky that they would worship me.
That's why he said in Matthew 21:31 to wake them up. He told this great parable. He said there was two sons. One son was told go in the field, and he said, I'm not going, I'm not doing that. I'm not going to the field, but then later he felt bad about it and went and did the job. And the other son said to the father, I'm your guy. You need plowing, I'm here to solve your problem of plowing. I'm going to do it, but then went to bed and never did anything. He says, which of the two sons honored the father? The obvious answer is the one who did it, not the one who said he was going to do it. And he was trying to expose the fact that the religious leaders weren't doing any of the things that God actually wanted them to do, but they talked a big talk.
To use language again from James, they were hearers of the truth, but not doers. But then you had people that the Pharisees and religious leaders saw like pond scum, prostitutes, tax collectors, who love to come and listen to what Jesus had to say. And they would say, why would you let them touch you? These scum, these people who were felt so bad. They were like the son who said, I'm not doing it, that's why they ended up doing the things the world called them to do, but then they felt bad about it. They looked to Jesus, they saw grace, and said, I want that, what he has for me. They came to him.
The whole point of the parable was so that Jesus could say this to the religious spirit, assuredly, notice that word, Amen I say to you. Tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. He was saying it's so much easier for me to save a prostitute than a pastor. That should just like wake us all up. That God would really, hot take, rather have you struggle with porn than with pride. Now to be clear, God gives not want you to struggle with porn, Well, pastor said, you know? It's like, stop. Just take that one soundbite, it's on YouTube now, what a heretic, right? It's easier for God to save you from a sin that you know you have and you struggle with than one that you're blind to because the sin of pride leaves us like the emperor with no clothes, marching down the street wearing nothing but so proud about it. And only the truth could set them free from this lie, which is why Jesus presents truth to them as the cure for the lies that they're believing. And he, not only has the truth, he is the truth.
As Jesus would later say, John, chapter 14, "I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through me", which is the bridge now to our third point, which is what he hoped they would choose and what I hope if you haven't, you will too, sonship and the spirit. Sonship and the spirit, the cure for the error of lies that incarcerates and executes and terminates the truth that could set them free. Sonship in the spirit. If you had to write down, if you forced me to put a summarizing question over the entire John chapter 8, the entire chapter, John chapter 8, it would be this question, who's your daddy? Who's your daddy? That's really the guts of John chapter 8 because that's the innuendo of the religious leaders that are trying to mock Jesus.
So convicted by him and jealous of him that they seek to mock him by saying, now what's your dad's name, anyway? At least we know who our dad is. It was one of their favorite things to do, to make fun of the Virgin birth and insinuate that Mary had been unfaithful to Joseph and that's how Jesus got here. And Jesus, like the master black belt jujitsu instructor that he is, loved to allow them to lean in to him enough to use their weight against them, their force and their energy against them. And so he turned it right around at them when he brought up this whole idea, like, hey, don't think that you're good because you're Jews. Don't think you're good because you know who your father is and can trace that lineage all the way back to Abraham. He could have one-upped that game with, like, go to my lineage, mine goes all the way back to God the Father, right?
But he didn't. He instead thought to expose the fallacy of thinking that salvation gets passed down in the bloodline. Hear me. You cannot be good with God because of who your grandpa was or who your mom was or who your second uncle was. And the fact that they were on the mission field and, you know, Uzuku and, you know, it's like that, that's somehow, like, man, God's going to remember that, that's a big deal to him. Didn't John the Baptist say very pointedly, Matthew 3, verse 9, "do not think to say to yourselves, 'we have Abraham as our father', for I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones."
My son Lennox yesterday, we were in the car driving and he said, dad, you know that walking on water song from The Chosen? Walking on water. He's like, I asked Alexa to play it and she did. I was like, that's so cool. He's like, yeah, I think she's a Christian. I said... How good is that? And that's kind of the logic here. Like man, they know a Christian song, that's got, like, that's some of us, like the compromises we make in dating. Well, they know a Christian song, they must be a Christian, you know what I'm saying? That's a logical, that's a fallacy. And that's what he's trying to expose here, which we need to hear because we belong to a Christian nation and we grew up in a church-going family, you know?
John Deer, John 3:16, you know? We're probably good with the man upstairs. We're good country boys and girls, right? That's like thinking that you're a doughnut because you've been to Krispy Kreme. Having been to the building once has not changed your identity. And so Jesus allows enough of their energy to lean into this and then he exposes the truth about their actual generational 23andMe. And it's not good. John 8:44, he finally says to them, you are of your father, the devil. Shots fired. This is Jesus. And the desires of your father, you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources. For he is a liar, and the father of it.
And indeed, if you read the rest of John chapter 8, their immediate next move is to pick up stones to try and stone him to death. Words having failed, they have no more creative options, they expose the reality of them following the one who lies and lies with murder as an end game, lies with death as an end game. That's where Satan intends for the smallest sins in your life and in mine to grow. That he might bring about death, which is why Jesus would say such ridiculously aggressive things like, cut off a hand and pluck out an eye. He's saying, well, that's what you're willing to do. If you knew that there was a tumor that was causing there to be a life threatening issue, you would say, cut off the hand to save the life. He wasn't saying, cut off the hand. He was saying, if it was going to threaten a life, be willing.
That's how serious you have to be, have the mentality of a surgeon when it comes to sin because the devil is not messing around. And the whole world 1 John 5:19, lies under the sway of the wicked one, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And the enemy's agenda and end game is termination. He wants to bring about death because he's a murderer, he's a liar. But Jesus' end game is life and salvation and healing. But hear me, belief is not enough. Where is the regular pastor? Because I know pastor Levi wouldn't say belief is not enough. Faith is all we have. But faith is only as good as its object. There was two different audiences we read about. You might not have even noticed it, but the difference is the difference between heaven and hell. The difference is life and death.
He said, in John chapter 8, verse 30, as he spoke these words, look at it, many believed in him, that saving faith. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him, a crucial proposition if there ever was one, would not perish but have everlasting life. But of the next group, which Jesus immediately begins with his offer of freedom that they decline on the basis of we're good, we don't need all that, is this, verse 31, Jesus said then to the Jews who believed him, believed him, believed in him, believed him, big difference. Because follow up statement, clarifying statement, if you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall, if you... you're not free, he says, until you do whatever I tell you.
You don't believe in me because to believe in me is to believe in who I am, who I am as God. And you don't come to God as your personal assistant, you don't come to God as, hey, maybe there's a couple of little things you could do for me. If you're truly believing in Jesus as the sinless son of God who died as a substitute for the Salvation of the world, who has the power of life and death coursing through him, who could speak and create. If you're believing in Jesus, you're coming to him saying, whatever you say goes. And then you're my disciples indeed. Now we have a hard time with this because we're proud to be an American, where at least we know we're free, which holds us back that our nation starts with the deposing of a King. And our definition of freedom means, I get to do whatever I want with no sovereign over me. We threw that tea into the sea, y'all.
So to come to Jesus who says, hey, how do I walk in freedom? It's by doing whatever my father tells me to do. True freedom always comes from discipline and response to authority. You're only free to run a 4 minute mile because you cut the skin off your chicken breast while you're going up for your midnight runs for a decade. True freedom, doing what you want or the ability to not do what you want because you want something more. You're not free to have an eight pack because you eat Taco Bell, you know what I'm saying? You're only free because of your response to a different authority. Jesus says, I'm free, I'm truth because I always do what my father says to do. You're my disciples, indeed. You truly believe in me, not just about me if you do whatever I tell you. And if you respond to me like that, you'll be truly free.
Freedom comes from responding to who Jesus is and putting your faith in him. Anything else puts you in the same category as the demons, which is James 2:19. You believe there is one God, awesome. Even the demons believe and they tremble. Don't forget the first part, prostitutes and tax collectors are entering in ahead of someone who just believes things about God without believing in him, which is why Jesus pushed back whenever someone said, hey, good teacher? He would go, no, no, no, hold on, hey, stop, not having any of that. Don't call me good. Only God's good. So either call me God or quit fooling yourself. I'm not good, I'm God. And because I'm God, I actually am good, but I'm not just good and you can't get off that easily.
So believing in him then, all of that to say, is life because he is life, is truth because he is truth. And in coming under his Lordship, we receive true freedom. And he opens us up to the possibility of a life without slavery. And every deprivation of self that we would intentionally go through, which is the purpose of prayer and fasting, is to continually exercise a power that nothing would have a power over us. That I'm not going to walk in slavery again because he set me free, I'm going to walk in true freedom. That's the heartbeat of fasting, is to continue to live a life that is only offered up to God. Now why did you connect the spirit and sonship? The spirit and sonship. Because as we walk with Jesus, having believed in Jesus, we've been given the spirit of Christ inside of our hearts who has one primary job.
Well, a lot of jobs, he's a hard worker and a multitasker, but Romans 8 says, one of his primary functions is just to remind us that we are sons. Now girls, hear me, that's not a knock. Some people might be like, oh, we ought to move those, it should be more inclusive. We're all sons and daughters. There's plenty of places that talks about you being a daughter of the King, but you should want this one to stay sons. You should want it to be a thing where the Holy Spirit in you reminds you, you have the power and right of a son because in the Greco-Roman world and in this Jewish mindset, to be a female was to be a second-class citizen. To be a female puts you in a club that the rabbis began their prayers every day with this, God thank you that I was not born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.
And that's, of course, not God's heart. His whole point in bringing the gospel was to elevate, that there would be neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, but all might be on Equal Standing at the foot of the cross. And in the Roman world, women could not own property or testify in court. It was a very different experience. So in Romans 8 and in other places when it talks about the son setting you free, to stand as sons, he's saying that Martha or that Julie or that Tiffany, just alongside Larry and James and Peter, had the standing of sons. And that the Holy Spirit is crying out in your heart, you have an inheritance, you own property, female, male, slave, free, Jew, Greek, you're sons in God's eyes, you're sons in God standing. You have the legal benefits.
If you're an heir, you're a co-heir with Christ. He was giving something that to them would have been shocking. We look at it as some negative, they would have looked at it like, are you kidding me? That I have the legal standing in God's eyes as a son? And the spirit is saying that, verse 14, to daughters and sons, those led by the Spirit of God, these have standing as Sons of God for you did not receive the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father". The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children, male and female, children of God. If we're children, we're heirs. We get to own, we get to stand, we get to rule, joint heirs with Christ.
So when you listen to the Spirit, he's clearing up the lies. The lies of religion that make you want to earn, make you want to have your own standing. But look, look, if you're going live that way, you're a slave. And the slave does not abide in the house forever. That's come and go. What have you done for me lately? Have a good season? You're in. Have a bad, we'll turn on you so fast. We'll get rid of the head coach, we'll get rid of that quarterback, we'll get rid of that... oh, no, no, no, no, no, oh, they're old news. That's this world. That's cruel. That's chew you up, spit you out, what can you do for me? God says, your son's. Slaves don't abide in the house forever, but when you choose to be set free and stand on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, you get to abide in the house forever.
And then you have a bad day and what do you hear the spirit saying? Do you hear the spirit saying, you're garbage, you're worthless, I wish you would do more, the things that we berate ourselves with? No, we hear the spirit going, son's, son's, standing as son's, co-heirs with Christ, nothing's changed. Nothing's changed. So we say, this changes how we talk to ourselves. If we listen to the Spirit driving what we say to ourselves in low moments, we're not going to tell ourselves in those Roman seven occasions where we do what we didn't want to do and we didn't do what we said we were going to do and the world goes, keep telling yourself that, you're sure going to get out of this one day. And the spirit and this goes, son's, instead of telling ourselves, hey, quit sinning, Levi, hey, hey, quit sinning, just stop it, we instead get to remind ourselves of our true story.
I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. We're not trying to compel some low-life into better behavior. We're reminding ourselves of our elevated standing and urging ourselves to act in line with our true identity. And that identity, then changes the activity. You're not seeing yourself down in the gutter anymore, you're seeing yourself seated in heavenly places and pleading with yourself to act like you truly are on the inside because of Jesus. We're no longer going to say to ourselves, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I'm just as exhausted, hanging on, trying to love God. Instead we're going to remind ourselves, I know I am, I know I am, I know the great I am. And He says, I can and I am.
So we're not going to encourage ourselves to religiously hang on to that cliff by gritting our teeth and trying harder just a moment longer because we're abiding in the vine. We've put ourselves under His Lordship, under His sovereignty, we have a King. And that's true freedom. What do we do you think there are so many in the world today describing themselves as spiritual, but not religious? They want the benefits of a relationship with God, the transcendence, the mystery, but without Lordship, but if you don't have his lordship in life, you don't have it in death either. You'll get to feel good, light your incense, hold your crystals, but you won't have the blood-bought power over the grave that Jesus offers.
So we don't say to ourselves, try harder, grit your teeth, we remind ourselves in those moments, I'm in His hand, His fingers have closed around me and no one can steal me from His grip. I belong to Jesus. I'm in His control. My future is His concern. Allow me to close with an illustration from history. Many of you who have been through eighth grade field trips to Washington, D.C. have endured tours around this facility, the US Capitol, one of the grandest things that your eyes will see, the symbol of power and strength and might. And I love the story about the lady on top. The story about the statue that was chosen to adorn the Capitol, this magnificent building. 1855 was when Congress said, we need to have a statue representing these United States on top of this building. And so Thomas Crawford, an American who lived abroad in Italy, came up with this design. It was altered.
Interestingly enough, he at first wanted to have the cap of a freed slave on top, but Jefferson Davis said, not going to have it, who was in charge of the project under Congress's supervision. This is pre-Civil War, and so it was revised where the warrior helmet was on top and the process through which it was made went back and forth, getting permission. Finally, the blueprints were approved. And so he set to making it, took him just over a year and then he died. He died, having just finished the clay sculpture and the plaster cast from which the actual bronze 18 and a half foot tall statue that would sit on a 20 foot tall pedestal, so nearly 40 feet tall on the top of this Capitol building, which is how big it is. And you get a sense of how enormous the Capitol dome truly is. And then he died. He first noticed his vision was failing.
So he went to the doctor and turned out it wasn't his vision, it was a tumor in his brain that was pushing on his optic nerve, causing the vision to deteriorate. He soon died. And it was his widow who had to box up the five enormous sections of plaster from which the bronze would be cast out of and send it via ship across the Gibraltar Bermuda where it would eventually end up on the Eastern seaboard, where a man named Clark Mills was chosen to actually make the bronze statue out of Thomas Crawford's molds. By now the year was 1860 and he was able to successfully make this bronze statue only because of the help of Philip Reed. Philip Reed is the only slave known to work on the statue, so dubbed the Statue of freedom or the Freedom Lady. And the irony, of course, of a slave being forced to work on a statue whose name and whose whole vision was of freedom is not lost on the irony.
And of course, some of the contradictions of this period of our nation. But Philip Reed's contributions were not meaningless. They were crucial. For he was the only one who figured out how the plaster sections were to configure together in this enormous thing that no one wanted to turn into Jenga so that the liquid bronze could be poured inside, so that the actual bronze statue of freedom could stand, which it did. But before they could place it atop the Capitol dome, the Civil War broke out. And you have this nation, seeking to tear itself apart. And you have Abraham Lincoln at the helm, who while the statue stood there on the ground, signed on April 16, 1862, the compensated Emancipation Act, which gave Philip Reed his freedom.
And so to imagine the joy and the beauty and the full circle vindication of 1863, mid Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln said war or not, this statue needs to stand. The symbol of Liberty needs to be raised. Imagine the power and the tears that Philip Reed felt as he went into the project, a slave, and he came out of it a freed man. But that's not all because there's more. First of all, is the fact that while it was on the ship in the five enormous crates, and again, the finished statue weighs over 15,000 pounds.
So these enormous plaster casts of the bronze would be poured into, perhaps even heavier. And they're in these massive crates and the ship begins taking on water somewhere between Gibraltar and Bermuda. Two different times, the ship almost sank to the bottom of the sea. One time it got so dire that the captain ordered the command lighten the load, meaning, of course, throw anything unnecessary overboard so that the vessel could ride higher in the water and not take on so much. And the men came to the captain at one point and said, we're down to the heaviest thing we have in the cargo hold. Five enormous crates that, like rocks, are weighing us down. Shall we toss, they said, Lady Freedom overboard? The captain's reply, and I quote was, "no, never. We'll sink before we throw away Freedom".
When it was placed atop the capitol, those who had planned for it, understanding the significance and the reason Abraham Lincoln loved it so much was because they oriented her facing the East where the sun rises. So that in these United States, the sun would never set, symbolically speaking, upon the face of Freedom. And Abraham Lincoln believed, to his death, that she would be and could be a living reminder, pulling together the nation at a time when it was trying to tear itself apart, that as the pedestal states, E Pluribus Unum, One Out of Many. And this is what Jesus has been seeking to communicate and what he's seeking to speak to us as well, that if we would walk in freedom, we must keep our face focused on the sun. In Jesus' name, Amen. Amen?
Father, we thank you. We thank you for the spirit of freedom that cries out son, that cries out telling us we have the standing of a son in our father's house. We're not just children, we're co-heirs with Christ. So may that true freedom that comes through submission to you, ring out in our hearts across our church and across this land.
If as we're speaking, there's some part of you that would say, man, I've turned, I'm facing West here, the sun has set on some freedom here, I've been giving myself the old speech about trying more and that's why I'm so exhausted. I've got a religious spirit that I've agreed with and I need that power of the gospel to renew me again. If that's you I'm describing, church online, Spotify, YouTube, every location, can you just raise up a hand saying, I need the power of the Spirit of freedom and sonship to ring out of my heart again. I need the bright and morning star to dawn with new life once again upon my face so that I can run and not grow weary. I'm only exhausted because I've been trying to follow God in my own strength when I've been given the Holy Spirit. That's what this raising of the hand means.
Father, bless these who in this moment are saying, I want the refreshment of a relationship, not the rigors of a religion. Thank you, Lord. Let your glory fall, let your freedom befell here. May that warmth be on our face always and when we feel cold and when we feel alone and afraid, may we always stop and ask, "am I allowing the sun's light to shine on me"?
With heads bowed and eyes closed, if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus for salvation, you can. There is hope and freedom in the name of Jesus and nowhere else. He said it. I'm the way, I'm the truth, I'm the life. If you would taste life, it's through him. If you would have salvation, it's because of the cross. If you could face your death without fear, it's because of what he did coming out of that grave. And he'll save you today, not because you're an American or because you've been to a church or have a Bible, but because you're trusting Jesus. You're saying just as I am, without one plea, you're accepting and embracing his blood was shed for you.
If that's you I'm describing, I'm going to pray a prayer. You could be in Salt Lake City right now, you could be in Cleveland right now, you could be incarcerated right now, but the gospel cannot be chained, cannot be restrained. His spirit is where you are. So I'm going to pray with you. Church, say this with us, if you're ready to trust Jesus for salvation, He's a prayer away. Not because you believe about Him or something good you feel when you think about Him, but because you're believing in Him. Say this, mean it:
Dear God, I'm sorry for my sins, the slavery and trouble it's caused, the death it's brought. I receive new life by giving you mine. Thank you for the cross, thank you for the Resurrection, fill me with your Spirit. Thank you for freedom. In Jesus' name.