Give Me Liberty!!

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Welcome to the second Sunday of the new year and the second week of the series “The Pursuit of Happiness.” If you missed last week, as I know many of you did while finishing up your holiday travels and such, you can always catch it online.
But since my recent survey results show that only a few of you actually do that, let me briefly fill you in…or maybe I shouldn’t so that you will actually watch it…or listen to it. If you’re on Facebook I posted a video of how to use the podcast so you can take the message on the go!!  Anyway, I digress..
Last week we discussed what happiness actually is. We looked at several definitions and ultimately concluded that happiness is standing in a field and posing like this…
And while that actually is very fun to do, it’s not something we can do all the time because eventually you have to go to the bathroom, or your arms get tired, or your nose itches…various reasons.
And that is exactly what we find in all sources of the world’s happiness, but the good news that we learned last week is that the kind of happiness we get from God does not fade or run out, but becomes what Jesus called “living water” that results in what Paul called “being content in any and all circumstances.
And it is THAT kind of happiness that is actually worth pursuing as our country’s founding fathers so eloquently put nearly 240 years ago.
And in keeping with the Declaration of Independence theme, today I am going to talk about one of the other inalienable rights Mr. Jefferson wrote about that is very closely linked to our pursuit of Happiness, and that is LIBERTY! Or as we more commonly say today, FREEDOM!
Here in America we take our FREEDOM very seriously. So much so that we have fought several wars to defend our freedom and the freedom of others. As Patrick Henry so eloquently put it: “Give me liberty or give me death!” is practically our national motto.
  • It’s part of our national anthem: “The land of the free and the home of the braved!”
  • Our pledge of allegiance: “With liberty and justice for all.”
  • It’s the theme of many movies, books, and songs: “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…”
In fact, I would argue that most Americans would agree that:
It’s possible to have freedom and not be happy,
but it’s NOT possible to be happy if you don’t have freedom.
And I would also argue that they are correct…..
After all, unlike the term “happiness”, the Bible has plenty to say about “freedom”.
Jesus himself said that “if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!”
And Paul even said that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free!”
And Peter urges us to “live as free men.”
So, I believe that our founding fathers were correct. One of our God-given rights certainly is liberty, freedom! And that this freedom is essential and at the very core of our pursuit of true happiness.
But the question is…and I’m sure you knew this was coming….are Thomas Jefferson, Lee Greenwood, and Jesus Christ all talking about the same thing?
If you’ve been with me for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that it often comes down to the question of the meaning of words. And hopefully, if you’ve noticed that, you’ve also noticed just how important that question is.
Because words by themselves are worthless without the meaning that they represent. It’s the concepts and understanding behind the words that really matter.  Because, when two people say the same thing but mean something completely different, it can have sometimes disastrous results.
In all seriousness though, it IS important, especially when dealing with matters of life, liberty, happiness, God, and eternity that we are very clear on what the words we use really mean, because at the worst it could make the difference between heaven and hell and at the least the difference between a life lived in freedom and happiness and a life lived in slavery and defeat.
So, let us answer the question. What does it really mean to be free? What is true freedom?
I don’t think I need to spell out what we, as Americans, think of as freedom – especially in the “Give me liberty or give me death” sense. We all live here. It’s in our blood.
But is that sense of freedom the same kind of freedom for which Christ has set us free?
To figure that out, let’s take a closer look at Scripture.
Earlier I quoted several well-known snippets of scripture about freedom that are often quoted and put on fancy graphics. But they are also seriously taken out of context.
Take this one for instance.
Galatians 5:1
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
If that’s not an American bible verse I don’t know what is!
But again, let’s be sure we are all talking about the same thing. We need a little more context. In this case, you really need to look at the whole letter to the Galatians, which I’ll let you do on your own. But it turns out that this is not exactly a William Wallace Braveheart Hoorah kind of battle cry, but really more of a “What in the world were you thinking?!?” kind of statement.
Backing up to chapter four, Paul says this:
Galatians 4
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
This is more the crux of the whole letter to the Galatians. Basically, Paul had taught them about the freedom in Christ when he visited, but instead of living in that freedom they had begun to go back to their old ways of trying to appease God by following the Jewish law.
This is made evident by the verses immediately following our freedom verse:
Galatians 5
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Paul is not denouncing circumcision as a medical procedure. In those days, circumcision was a uniquely Jewish thing because it was a huge part of the Jewish law that separated them from Gentiles (non-jews), and there were many new Jewish believers (Jewish Christians) who were trying to say that the new Gentile believers had to get circumcised, which really meant that they had to conform to the Jewish standards of living – i.e. obey the Jewish law in ADDITION to putting their faith in Christ.
And in this whole letter Paul is saying – DON’T DO THAT! You are missing the whole point of grace! Christ has set you free from that!
He’s speaking of the slavery to OBEYING THE LAW as a means of SALVATION.
It’s not unlike in some modern Christian churches that teach that once you are saved you have to start following a bunch of rules or you will lose your salvation – or “fall away from grace.” But that is not what Paul is saying. Paul is saying that “falling away from grace” is about not fully trusting in the grace that saved you and trying to shore it up with some kind of formulaic right living.
It’s not the right living that is wrong – it’s the right living for the wrong reason. 
This is an echo of what he told the Ephesians.
Ephesians 2
 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
So, in this case, the freedom that the Scriptures speak of is not exactly the same as what we think of as “American Freedom.” But it certainly is a really good thing, that should make you very happy.
To know that you don’t have to try to work your way into heaven, and that once you have put your faith in Jesus and accepted his free gift of GRACE – God’s free gift of undeserved favor – you also don’t have to work to try to keep it. 
In other words, it’s not about rules.
Not about dos and don’ts.
It’s freedom!!
We are no longer slaves to the law, which means we can now do whatever we want!
Now that’s starting to sound more like the American Dream!
And Paul knew that’s exactly what you would think!,
so he wrote to our ancient predecessors – The Romans (whom we copied a great deal from in writing out our constitution) to warn us against making such a conclusion.
In the first few chapters he explains to them that they are no longer under the law but under grace (just like the Galatians), and he anticipates their and our pendulum swing so he says this…
Romans 6
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
So, why would he say that? Why would he assume that upon being freed from the oppressive rule of law that we would immediately use that freedom to sin?  Because that’s exactly what our natural inclination is to do.
Think about it. When you contemplate the ability and the freedom to do anything you want without the slightest chance of shame, repercussion, or consequence from God or man, what is it that comes to mind? 
Now, while I know all of you are good church folk and I’m sure the first thing that comes to your mind is that you would immediately quit your jobs and all go into full time ministry, possibly even become missionaries to other countries and such. Or maybe keep your job but give all your free time and money to the church to advance the kingdom and such. I know that’s exactly what you would do if you could do anything you want without the slightest chance of repercussion or consequence.
But the rest of the world is not like you. The rest of the world’s first inclination matches what Jesus spoke of:
Matthew 15:19
For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Which echoes what God the Father spoke of long before.
Jeremiah 17:9
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.
And to which Paul alludes to in his comparison between the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of the flesh in that same chapter of Galatians where he spoke of freedom.
Galatians 5
17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
This is why Paul must specify that just because we are no longer slaves to the Law but under Grace that it is not a license to do whatever you want, because our wicked hearts will immediately use that freedom to sin.
In fact, it’s almost as if we can’t help ourselves. It’s almost as if we don’t even have a choice in the matter.
It’s almost as if we are still slaves!!  Just not to the Law!
It turns out that is exactly the case. Let’s read the rest of what Paul told the Romans.
Romans 6
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
What is he saying?
He’s saying there is a slavery that is deeper than the Law. And that’s our slavery to sin. It’s so ingrained in us that we usually just refer to is as our sin-nature. Often the Scriptures refer to it as our flesh. Because by default, we are so enslaved to sin that we don’t even notice because we’ve never not been slaves to sin. It’s like a child born into slavery. They don’t know anything else.
But what Paul is saying here is that we have not only been set free from a slavery to the Law, but that we have really been set free from the slavery that caused the need for the law in the first place.
We have been set free from our slavery to SIN, which in turn makes the LAW unnecessary.
This is what Jesus was talking about when He said that if the son sets you free, you are free indeed.
Where that comes from is a conversation of Jesus recorded in the gospel of John. Jesus is in the middle of a conversation with a group of people that included both believers and non-believers and a bunch of Pharisees. It actually gets pretty heated at the end, but here’s where that statement comes from:
John 8
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Jesus is saying that when He sets you free – it’s not just freedom from rules and regulations – he sets you free from your bondage to the sin that makes rules necessary. And when He does that – you are free indeed.  The Greek there for “indeed” is “ONTOS” which means “really, truly, actually, genuinely”
  • Jesus makes you and I truly free.
  • Free from law,
  • free from sin.
  • Free!!
  • It’s amazing!
  • It’s awesome!
  • It’s great!
  • Free indeed!
  • Free at last! 
So, if we are free from the law and free from sin slavery – does THAT now mean we can do whatever we want?
Well, the answer to that is…it depends.
The answer is back in the Romans passage. Let’s read it again.
Romans 6
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death,or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
What is happening here? What has Paul told us?
He is telling us that whichever way we go, we are slaves, because we are SLAVES to whatever or whomever we OBEY.  And if you think you’re not obeying anyone you are mistaken.
There are only two choices.
Obey God – which is righteousness.
Or don’t obey God – which is actually not the absence of obedience –
disobedience to God is obedience to the slave master of SIN.
In either case, you are obeying something. And whatever you obey is your master and you are it’s slave. Whether you obey your appetite, your sexual impulses, your anger, you pride, and so on – or you obey Jesus and God’s Word. Whichever you obey is your master.
Thus, you and I – and all people – are always someone’s or something’s slave. The only difference is who is the master. One master leads to death and the other leads to freedom.
And the amazing thing is that, unlike an earthly slave who has no choice, we get to choose our own master. 
And Jesus says that we can only serve one.
Peter put it this way:
1 Peter 2:16
16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as slaves of God.
Live as free men. Live as slaves of God.  
Paul says we are set free from sin to live as slaves to righteousness.
Peter tells us to live as free men – as slaves to God.
And they are not just telling us to do that – they did it themselves.
Paul – the man who wrote most of the New Testament and spoke over and over about our freedom from slavery to sin and law, constantly refers to HIMSELF as a slave for Christ. In fact, it’s how he introduces himself in several of his letters.
Romans 1:1 – From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus
Galatians 1:10  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!
Philippians 1:1 From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus
Titus 1:1 From Paul, a slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ
Philemon 1:1 From Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus
And it wasn’t just Paul who did this, so did James..
James 1:1 From James, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ
And Peter…
2 Peter 1:1 From Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ
And Jude…
Jude 1:1 From Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James
(Interestingly both James and Jude were blood brothers of Jesus, but the both call themselves his slave.)
These great men of God who were the original trailblazers of this new freedom in Christ all refer to themselves as slaves of Christ!
This should really come as no surprise to us, because after all – haven’t we all, if you are a christian, made Jesus Christ our Lord?
It’s right there in Romans 10:9 – the recipe for salvation –
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
And if you’ve heard any of my talks I constantly remind you that confessing is not just saying – it’s actually making Jesus your LORD!! Your MASTER!!! 
What else does that make you but his slave?
When you make Jesus Christ your LORD, you are making yourself His SLAVE.
Perhaps you never made the connection, and perhaps right now you’re feeling like this is some kind of bait and switch.
Perhaps your feeling a bit uneasy about being a slave and having a master.
And perhaps you are really trying to figure out how all of this makes us free and ultimately happy.
Well, don’t worry, all will hopefully become clear in a moment.  Bear with me.
Let me first address the connection that making Jesus your Lord is also making you His slave.
There are couple of reasons why this might not be obvious. One is that we no longer live in a slave culture so most of us have no real life concept of master and slave other than what we know from our American history – and if it’s anything like that, then we want nothing to do with it.  Well, I don’t blame you for feeling that way, and don’t worry, you are not alone. It was actually even worse during the time when Paul and the gang were writing their letters.
Slavery was a huge part of the Roman culture. Nearly 50% of the population were slaves. How they became slaves varied. Slavery had nothing to do with race or color of skin. Many slaves were simply prisoners of war from the many battles the Romans engaged in. Many were simply born into it. And many even sold themselves into slavery to pay a debt or something.
So, the writers of the NT were very familiar with slavery – and yet they still willingly became slaves of Christ and called it freedom.
The other reason why most don’t make the master-slave connection is that the English word “slave” is rarely used in most of our modern translations even though in the Greek it is used over 120 times.
The Greek word for “slave” is “DOULOS”
Now, if you’ve been in church for any length of time, and especially if you have been in a church where the preacher talks about the Greek a lot, you have probably heard this word before and most likely explained as meaning “servant” rather than “slave.”
But it actually doesn’t mean servant at all. It means slave, in every sense of the term.
definition: someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave (which is someone who has been purchased), without any ownership rights of their own. A slave.
And it’s not one of those Greek words that could be “servant” or “slave” depending on the context. There are six words, at least, for servant, and doulos is not one of them. There is
  • DIAKONOS from which we get deacon,
  • OIKETES related to oikos, house, a house servant,
  • HEIS, having to do with one who serves by instructing the young.
  • HUPERETES, a low-level, third level, under servant, literally an under-rower, the third level on a galley slave, someone who pulled an oar down at the bottom of a great ship;
  • LEITOURGOS, another kind of service, usually associated with religion;
  • PAIDISKE AND MISTHIOS that can be translated minister.
So, there are plenty of words for servant, there’s only one word for slave: doulos.
A SERVANT is someone who works for WAGES. A SLAVE is the PROPERTY of their MASTER.
So, whether you like it or not. You are a slave. It’s how we are designed. We are not designed to be stand-alone autonomous creatures. We are designed to OBEY which means we are designed to be SLAVES.
It is very clear and rampant in Scripture. You are either a slave to sin or you are a slave to God. There are no other options. Either sin is your master or God is your master. You are always, all the time, no exceptions obeying one or the other, and therefore you are a slave.
And if you don’t like the sound of that, then I completely understand – and so does God.
Because in America, at least, when we hear the word “slave” the image that most of us think of probably looks something like this. This is a very real part of our history, and there is nothing good about it. There is nothing good about human beings being kidnapped from their homes and then sold as property to other human beings. There is nothing good about one person’s life being totally subject to the whim and will of another person.
There is nothing FREE about being a SLAVE to a MASTER.
Unless that master is Jesus.
SIN as your master will do exactly what you think an evil master will do to a slave. Just look around. We all know this.
We all see the devastating effects of a world obsessed with the “freedom” to do whatever they want, only to find out that the very things they do as expressions of freedom ultimately end up owning them and destroying them. Sex, drugs, selfish ambition, hatred, there are plenty of lists in the Bible that we all know are true. All these little masters promise happiness, but what they really give you is sugar coated poison.
But Jesus is different. He is the good and kind master.
Imagine if you will that you are a slave to a master like this. And remember that as a slave you are owned by this person and your life and will are completely submitted to him. He can do whatever he wants with you. And this is what he chooses to do:
  • He takes care of you and provides everything you need and more to live a healthy and productive life.
  • He only asks you to do things that are ultimately for YOUR own benefit and the benefit of his other slaves.
  • He arranges it so that you can serve him in a way that you truly enjoy as if you were made to do just that.
  • He only has two rules of the house, and they are both all about love.
  • He allows you to talk with him as a son to a father and urges you to cast all of your cares on him.
  • He directs your steps and leads you in such a way that you live the best possible version of your life, if you listen and obey.
  • He actually gives you a choice whether to obey Him or not, and rewards you when you do.
  • And when you do decide to disobey, instead of whipping you or putting you in chains – he lets you punish Him instead.
And the list could go on. Do you perhaps see how being a slave to this master might actually be more free than having to take care of all those things on your own? And certainly more free and better than being a slave to the SIN master (which is your only other choice)?
Despite the extremely negative connotation the word “slave” carries with it, being a slave by definition – a doulos – does not require that you are in chains, beaten, deprived, and despaired. It simply means that you are owned by someone and that your personal will is submitted to their will.
If that someone is another normal human being – then it’s probably not going to be a good thing.
And if that someone is the enemy of your soul masquerading as an angel of light, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, then it definitely won’t be a good thing.
But if that someone is the Son of God, who laid down His own life for you and wants nothing more than to love you and have you love Him in return – then perhaps being His slave could actually be a very freeing thing.
And my friends, I can tell you that it is.
There is nothing more freeing than having the weight of the world lifted off of your shoulders because you finally realize that you weren’t holding it up anyway.
There’s nothing more freeing than truly trusting that the God of the universe will richly provide all of your needs so that you will have plenty left over to share with others.
There’s nothing more freeing than being able to fully lean on Him – taking all the weight off of my own limited understanding – and trusting Him completely as he makes my paths straight.
There’s nothing more freeing than to know that my master loves and cares for me so much, that he would rather die than allow me to stay enslaved to the cruel and merciless SIN master AND that despite the fact that He DID die for me, he won’t even force his rightful rule upon me.
And if that sounds great, which it is, that’s not even the best part.
And to tell you the best part, I can’t think of a better way than to read part of Romans 7 & 8 that both summarizes what we’ve been talking about and reveals the best part in the end.
Romans 7
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 8
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Now I know that is a long reading, and I would have read more because I absolutely love Romans 8, and I encourage you to read it yourself – over and over again – as it is the best summary explanation of the Christian life in the whole Bible – in my opinion.
What he just revealed at the end of all that is that ultimately, when you choose to make Jesus your Lord, to make Him your master, which is to make yourself his slave, his doulos, his bought-at-a-price, your-will-is-submitted-to-his slave – when you make Jesus your Lord, then you get His Spirit.
And if you live according to that Spirit – in other words, obey that Spirit – then you will have life and peace.  And not only that, but you also become a child of God. No longer a slave to the law causing you to live in fear, but you become adopted as a son or daughter of God. You become a brother or sister of Christ himself, and a joint heir in his glory!
What a deal!
When you become a SLAVE of God through Jesus Christ, He ADOPTS you as a SON/DAUGHTER.
And the only reason why that may not sound like knock-your-socks-off awesomeness is because in our world today we don’t have the same conception about the importance of being a son or daughter of someone. 
If you remember what Jesus said in John 8 –
35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 
In those days, a slave and a son would both live in the house. Both would be fed and clothed by the parents. Both might even work the family trade. But only the son has personal rights and will inherit the family name and fortune. The slave gets nothing. Even if the slave works harder and does more good for the family than the son. Only the son is actually part of the family.
And in those days that mattered immensely because it wasnt the rugged individualistic world that we grew up in where it doesn’t matter who your parents are, I’m going to make it on my own kind of culture. In that culture, who your father was almost completely determined your lot in life. And it’s STILL that way in the culture of eternity: who your spiritual father is absolutely determines your lot in eternity.
So, to be adopted as God’s children means that we get to stay in his family forever and be where he is – Heaven.  Contrary to popular belief, we are not all God’s children. Only those who are adopted through Christ are part of the family.
Everything we have read today and so much more that we didn’t cover points to the fact that when you become a willing slave of Christ by obeying Him, you end up being adopted into a permanent place in the family of God with all of its benefits forever. 
So, no, my friends, Thomas Jefferson, Lee Greenwood, and Jesus Christ are not all talking about the same kind of freedom. The American sense of freedom is all about being able to do whatever you want, and the irony that we revealed today is that when we say “do whatever I want” what we really mean is “obey my sin master all the more!”  Because the only choice we really have is which master we will obey. And it is becoming more and more evident that the majority of Americans are choosing the wrong master and calling it freedom. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist. And he has enslaved billions of people while making them think they are free.
But that is not freedom, and it leads to death, to destruction.
But the freedom that Christ gives,
the freedom that he paid for with his blood on the cross,
the freedom from that other slave master that we get when we make Jesus our master
is the true freedom.
It’s freedom to find rest for our souls.
It’s freedom to be content in any and all circumstances because we are not slaves to greed.
It’s the freedom to live right for the right reason – because you love the one who set you free!
And when we take that path, in the end we end up not as slaves – but as honored family members, heirs along with Christ.
The one we now call master, we will then call brother, we will then call friend.
That is what Jesus calls “Free indeed!”
Let’s Pray