The Chains We All Live Under
The Chains We All Live Under
Four aspects of the liberty we receive when we partake in the New Covenant, and live Jesus Christ's life in us. Given on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread 2020.
[Mr. Gary Petty]: In 1942, the famous Norman Rockwell - Norman Rockwell was an illustrator. And you can still buy magazines today from the '40s and '50s back into the '30s of illustrations he did. And people frame them. You know, they'll take the magazines to take out the illustrations he did and frame them. You know, his paintings and so forth are worth a lot of money. And he actually did four paintings that became very famous. And they were called The Four Freedoms. He said the freedom to worship, the freedom of speech, the freedom from fear, and the freedom from want.
Now, it's interesting that these four paintings he did became posters. They were all over the United States for support of the war. And World War II broke out and, of course, when he did this, the war had already started. But as the war became more and more terrible, and it went on and on, people were inspired by his four freedoms. And these became very important posters. You can go online and look them up and look at them today. The freedom to worship, the freedom of speech, the freedom from fear, and the freedom from want.
You and I have lived in a nation that does have a lot of liberty, a lot of freedom. Compared to many places in the world, throughout history, we do have more freedom, and we take it for granted. And this freedom has also given us a prosperity, a prosperity that's been amazing. I mean, we live in the most prosperous country in the history of humanity. And yet, with all this liberty, why is it that we live in a country where so many people are in prisons? I mean, literally in prisons, but in prisons in their own home, in prisons in the fear that they express.
How many people are in the chains of crime, the chains of broken relationships, the chains of just minds filled with anxiety and fear, of hatred? I mean, we live in a world of broken people, and we live in a country of broken people. All this liberty and we're still broken people. Freedom and liberty did not solve the problems that we have.
We are here today because it's the last day of a season of Holy Days and which we celebrate, among other things, freedom. We talked about that at the Passover. We talked about it on the First Day of Unleavened Bread. I talked about it at the Passover service. And even before the Passover, I gave a sermon talking about how this time pictures Christ's victory. It is a time of God's victory.
We went through and showed how in Exodus, they were told that when they got together with their families to keep the Passover. They were to celebrate it as a time of victory. When they got together with their families to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread, they were told to tell their children, “This is because God brought us out of slavery.” So it's a time of victory. It's a time of coming out of slavery. We talk about that we rehearse that every single year. It's part of the gospel message.
You know, when Jesus brought the gospel, the good news of God's Kingdom, He talked about freedom and liberty. Let's go to John 8. So here we are. We're celebrating how through Jesus Christ, God has set us free from the bondage of sin. We've talked about that. The freedom of the human mind from the shackles, that just all human beings are in chains. All human beings are broken people. And the freedom that we can learn to experience that liberty and freedom, no matter what our external circumstances. So that's part of the gospel, but let's just go to John 8. We'll start here in verse 31, John 8, and let's start at verse 31.
John 8:31-33 – “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.’” So He's talking about the word that He gives, the teaching that He gives. And as people listen to that and they begin to respond to it, and they begin to live it, they become His disciples. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Now, what is that truth? Now, we're going to look at today what He means by this truth. There's a freedom that comes from this truth that He's talking about. The Jews, of course, at the time were a little bit... they were offended by this. Look what they said in verse 33. “They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.’ How can you say, ‘You will make us free’?” You know, it's interesting. They had been to the Babylonian captivity. Their ancestors had. They were actually under the thumb of Rome. They didn't have complete freedom that they wanted. There was a movement in Judea at the time to try to overthrow the Roman Empire. That's what the zealots did.
So you think about this. They said, “We've never been in bondage to any man.” What they're saying is, “We've always been God's people. We've always had God. We've always had His way. We've always kept His laws. So we are free. Of all people on earth, we're the most free because we are Abraham's children. We are part of a covenant God made with Abraham and that covenant's with us today.” So their argument here isn't just some kind of, you know, “Well, what do you mean? We're free people?” Their argument is based on “We're free because, in spite of our circumstances, God is with us. In spite of our circumstances, we are the children of Abraham. And God made a covenant with him and his descendants.” So this is what they're basing their freedom on.
Notice what Jesus says, the next verse. “And Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. And a 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.’” He tells them no, you're actually still slaves. You don't know you're slaves. It's just like you're still in bondage in Egypt.
Now, for these people who, they trace their histories to the fact that they were freed from Egypt... Their ancestors were freed from Egypt by the power of God. That was central to their understanding of who they were. And for Jesus to say, “Oh, no, you're still slaves. And the Son,” -Himself- “Jesus Christ will set you free,” they hated Him for this. This attacked them at the core of their own identity, that somehow He was bringing a truth from God, and that it came from Him, it was about Him, and it would set them free. And they hated Him for it.
How come in the Church today, we still struggle? We have the gospel, we keep the Passover, we have God's Spirit, and we still struggle with our own slavery. We still struggle with our lack of feeling of freedom, our lack of feeling of liberty. You know, it's interesting when you look through the early New Testament Church, and you look at the four freedoms that Norman Rockwell painted, freedom to worship, many times throughout the history of the Church, there was no freedom to worship. You know, even in some of our lifetimes, if you go back into the Sabbatarians, who were in Ukraine, back under communism, they didn't have the freedom to worship. They had to sort of hide out many times going to someone's house to worship on the Sabbath or they could be persecuted. Freedom to worship is not something God's people have had a lot of throughout history.
The freedom of speech. How many times those who publicly proclaimed God's way have been persecuted, have been killed? You know, when you look at the apostles, well, we can see all of them were killed for proclaiming the gospel, except for John who was put in prison as an old man before it seems he spent the last few years of his life in Ephesus. The freedom from fear. You know, as Christians, we still experience fear.
Freedom from want. You know, when you look at the history of the Church, you will find there many times that the Church was made up of very poor people, people who struggled just to get through every day. There are people that are called by God in the Church of God today scattered throughout the world who live in a state of absolute want. Many of them living in fear, many of them living in places where they don't have freedom of speech, and they don't have freedom to worship.
And when you look at the early Church in the book of Acts, what you'll find is, is that many of the people that were non-Jews, as the gospel went out to the Gentiles and the Church began to expand, many of the people who came into the Church were actual slaves, I mean, actual slaves. They were owned by somebody else. The apostle Paul especially gives it a number of places, instructions on how slaves should react, and live with their masters. They were literal slaves with no way to get out of that.
I mean, the only way a slave could get out is if he was freed by his master. Sometimes, when they would get older, they might free them. Usually, they would not because well, if you freed them when they were older, they'd go out the street and die. So they would sort of take care of them. And there were good masters and bad masters. I say good and bad. If you're a slave, I don't think there's any good master. But there were masters who took care of their slaves. There were masters who didn't.
And slavery was throughout the Roman Empire. But it wasn't just an institution in the Roman Empire, which it was. Every culture had slaves. The Germanic tribes had slaves. If you go down into the Arab world, which was part of the Roman Empire, they had slaves. The Celtic peoples in Ireland and Scotland, who were not part of the Empire, had slaves. People in Africa had slaves. The Persians had slaves. The people who lived in what is now India had slaves. The people who lived in the Far East, and what little bit we know about China today, they had slaves. It was pretty much a universal thing on the earth. Throughout so many cultures, there was slavery. People owned other people. And yet Jesus came and said, “I've come to bring you liberty.” It's part of the gospel. Let's look at Luke 4.
The Jews thought they were free. And, you know, they did at the time, by the way, have freedom of religion. They had a temple there in Jerusalem. They were allowed to go to that temple. They weren't persecuted by the Romans, as long as they didn't try to break Roman laws. They had a lot of freedom. They had freedom of speech, in their own country, to preach their religion. Now, they didn't have freedom of speech to say anything against the Roman government, but they had a certain amount of freedom of speech. They didn't have total freedom from fear or for want, but you can't find any time in history where people didn't have some fear or some want. I mean real fear of daily survival.
You know, there's a lot of fear right now because of this crisis that we're going through. This crisis compared to what the average Christian has lived with throughout the years, this is minor. I'm not playing it down. I'm saying that as we... here we are at the Days of Unleavened Bread we talked about God's victory through Christ before the Days of Unleavened Bread. At the end of the Days of Unleavened Bread, I wanna talk about what that victory means in your life right now. What's it mean right now? And it means we should not be living in abject fear. Now, there's concern. Of course, there's a concern. There's nothing wrong with that. So let's go to Luke 6... or Luke, I'm sorry chapter 4. And let's start in verse 16. The first sermon given by Jesus Christ.
Luke 4:16-21 – “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up and read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And, when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,” -and this is what He read to them- “‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to recover of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And when He had closed the book, He gave it back to the attended and sat down, and the eyes of all that were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Jesus says, “This is why I've come. I am prophesied to do this. I am prophesied to bring sight to the blind.” But He didn't heal all the blind people in the world did He at the time? He didn't heal all the blind people in Judea. He didn't heal all the blind people in Galilee. He didn't free all of the captives. There wasn't some uprising as they overthrew the Roman Empire. But He came to give true liberty and true freedom. Well, how does He do that in our lives? If He's won the victory and He came to do that, but you and I still live in an oppressive time. We're oppressed because we're oppressed by Satan. There's gonna come a time when Christians are oppressed by the world we live in.
Now, Mr. Moss talked about how what Daniel had to go through because his value system and obeying God and God's ways were so different than the Babylonian system. You know, at the end time, what is formed is called Babylon. And there's gonna be the same kind of oppression against people who truly worship and follow the true God. But right now, right now, you have been called by the gospel to experience liberty, to experience freedom.
We were talking, Mr. Puckett, Mr. Moss and I, here before the service was started about hypnotism. And we're talking about I've never seen anybody actually hypnotized. Mr. Puckett said he has. Like, I've seen it on YouTube. Years ago, I watched a program where they showed some man that was a hypnotist. I think it was in Vegas or something. And he had people up on a stage. And he hypnotized them, and he had them act like chickens and do all kinds of wacko crazy things.
And, of course, when people are hypnotized, they tell them, “You won't remember anything,” and they wake up, and they don't remember it. But what's amazing is, is what they can get people to do. And sometimes they have to twist what they say. In other words, you couldn't get the average person to choke to death the person next to them. But if you convince them under hypnotism, the person next to them was a lion, and the only way you could kill it was the choke it, you might get them to actually do it.
But the interesting thing about hypnotism is you can have a person sitting in a chair, just sitting there. Arms and legs are free. They're free, they're free to get up and walk around. They're free to do whatever they want. And yet, under hypnotism, they can be told that they are chained to that chair, and they will believe and act as if they're chained to the chair. They just can't get out of it. That's what's so scary about post-hypnotic suggestions. People can go into a hypnotic state later because of what they've been through. But people can be put into... By their mind, by their mind, they can be put into a prison. They can be put in the chains, and yet they really aren't.
Satan deceives us into believing that we are in chains. Satan deceives us into believing we are still in prison. Christ came to free us from our prison, and he wants you to believe you're still in it. And he's trying to make us believe that we're still strapped to a chair, still chained down, still in shackles, and still in prison. And it's almost like he hypnotizes the world. And if we're not careful, we can slide back into that belief and become despondent because maybe of a sin we can't overcome or because of some other issues that's happening to us in our lives. I mean, it could be as you know, an inferiority complex or a superiority complex. I mean, all the things that we have in our minds, in our hearts and minds that Satan plays with to make us believe we're still captives but we're not. We have to realize that. We have to understand that.
So I wanna go through three things today, three ways, and tied into, you know, the Days of Unleavened Bread. We have been de-leavened. We have come out of Egypt. I mean, this is all about the fact that we are now free, free to follow God. We couldn't follow God before because we were hypnotized. Before God calls us we don't even know we're in a prison. After God calls us we see the shackles, we see the chains, we see the prison, and He begins to lead us out of it. And as I mentioned, the victory of Jesus Christ in that sermon, how many of us are still dragging the chains and shackles across the desert? It’s what we do. We take the prison with us because it's in our minds. It's in our own minds.
So let's look at three ways that we can sometimes not experience, reasons why we don't experience true freedom, the freedom that God has brought into our lives. And we won't totally experience our true freedom till we're changed. We're still going to be partly in this prison because Satan's still the god of this world, and we're oppressed by that. Other people oppress us, and because of our own corrupt human nature, but we are to be in the process of becoming free. And what does that mean?
Okay, the first point is, and this is counterintuitive for a lot of people, there can be no liberty without law. Now, if you stop and think about that it's obvious. Okay, we're all at liberty. There's no law. So that would mean you could steal, kill, cheat. You know, you can do whatever you wanted because everybody has total liberty. Oh, and of course, that's not true. Let's look at something that David wrote here in Psalm 119. I'm gonna read this from the “Jewish Publication Society” translation. We're gonna start at verse 33. So this is Psalm 119:33. I want you to see not only his viewpoint towards God's teachings and God's law, but I want you to see the effect it had on him. He writes about this. He says,
Psalm 119:33 – “Teach me, oh Lord, the way of your laws. I will observe them to the utmost.” Now, if you're reading it in the King James, it's very similar but just, this is so powerful the way it's translated more directly from the Hebrew. “Give me understanding, that I may observe Your teaching and keep it wholeheartedly. Lead me in the path of Your commandments for that is my concern.” This is what I'm concerned about. This is what I think about. This is what I want to do with my life.
“Turn my heart.” Now, notice how many different ways he says this. He's understanding. It's an intellectual exercise. It's reasoning out God's way. It's studying God's way. But he wants everything about himself to be changed. He wants freedom. David was in so many shackles in his life. He was many times in a prison of his own making just like you and I do. And when he saw what God actually taught, when he understood it, when he applied it to his life, he experienced some liberty. He says, “Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to the love of gain. Avert my eyes from seeing falsehood. By Your ways preserve me.” I knew a man one time took that verse, and put it on a big poster or big piece of paper and put it above his television. “Avert my eyes, from seeing falsehood. Fulfill Your promise to Your servant, which is for those who worship You.” Verse 41, “May your steadfast love...” -It says mercy in the King James, but this is, it's His love. He understood this was God's love towards him- “May Your steadfast love reach me, oh, Lord, Your deliverance, as You have promised.” Verse 45, this is the result of this desiring, this searching, this trying to draw close to God to learn His ways and live by them. He says, “I will walk about at ease, for I have turned to Your precepts.” If you're reading this in the King James or New King James, it says, “I will have liberty.”
David saw the laws of God as a way to freedom because he understood something. The more we break the laws of God, the more we are in a prison of our own doing. Now, you can break certain laws. You can go out and steal. You can, you know, bear false witness. You can murder somebody, and you're gonna end up literally without any freedom at all. In fact, the more of God's laws you break, the less freedom you have, whether literally, you're in a prison, a physical prison, or in your own mind. How many people are addicted to chemicals, which is their own prison?
I've counseled many people over the years everything from cocaine, of course, to alcohol. And listening to them describe the prison they're in or on the phone with them as they cry, literally just broken down because of what they're going through, a desire to go back to it or the fact that they have gone back to it and they're in a prison. We're all in an internal, if you will, an inner prison. And God has come or sent Jesus Christ to break us out of that prison. We should be experiencing what Jesus' first proclamation of the gospel was all about there in Luke. We should be experiencing that somewhat every day. Now, we don't completely yet because we're not completed yet.
The Days of Unleavened Bread we've been taking in the unleavened bread of truth. Remember what Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” He doesn't free us from our circumstances, does He? He doesn't? God never promised to free all of us from the circumstances we're in. He does promise us a lot of things and one of them is freedom as we understand the truth. Let's go to James 1. James 1, we'll start at verse 21. James 1. I've actually wanted to give a series of either sermons or Bible studies just in the book of James. The Book of James has a remarkable letter that he wrote to the church. James 1:21.
James 1:21 – “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness.” As I've said before, this one of the strangest translations of it just means wickedness that leads to more wickedness that leads to more wickedness. “Overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
Okay, so the implanted Word. What Jesus Christ brought as the interpretation of the Scripture is the Word that is to be implanted into us. This book is implanted into us and His explanation of it as the Word of God. “But the doers of the Word and not the hearers only, deceiving themselves,” or, “Be doers, not of the Word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer he is like a man observing his natural face at a mirror. And he observes himself, he goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he is,” or what kind of man he was.
And, of course, Paul uses this analogy too about looking into the mirror, a spiritual mirror, and we're supposed to see the reflection of Jesus Christ. And here, what James says is when we look into the spiritual mirror, which is the Word of God. And in the Word of God, we see who we really are. And we walk away from that, “Oh, that was good. I did my Bible study today, and off, I go to work.” Or, you know, “I cheat, and I'm dishonest, and I treat people badly.” And it's like, why did you do that? Go back and look in that mirror. We like to look in the mirror and see if other people look good. Now, the mirror is ourselves. It's supposed to be our reflection that we're looking at.
Now, notice the next verse, verse 25, “That he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” Now, notice he calls the Word of God that comes into us the law of liberty. He understands that without law, there is no liberty. There's chaos. Without law, there is people doing whatever they want, there's confusion, and that's not God's way. So we have to realize that law is part of liberty. Whenever you and I break a law of God, a little one, a big one, it doesn't matter. We look at the precepts of God. We look at what is taught in the Old and New Testaments. Every time we don't do what God wants us to do, we suffer a little bit of imprisonment. We suffer some chains. Only through doing what God wants can we ever really have freedom of our mind.
Now, having said that, also realize that if we just say, “Okay, Christianity is nothing more than me exerting myself to do the law. Okay, I'm just gonna exert myself and do the law, and then I'll have freedom,” that doesn't work either. I mean, the law is God explaining to us the difference between right and wrong. True Christianity is about a relationship with God, the Father, and with Jesus Christ, and God's Spirit in us. So if we simply look at Christianity as a set of rules, that's all this is about, and I do these rules, and somehow I earn some kind of favor with God through that, I earn my salvation, then you've just exchanged one form of slavery with another form of slavery because you will never find freedom. You will never find true freedom, the type of freedom that Jesus Christ brought as the gospel message.
So we have to have law. Without law, there can be no liberty, but law isn't all there is to this. So that's gonna bring me to my second point. Remember, the prison you and I live in is, much of the time it's in our own minds. It's in our own hearts. Think about it. Think about people who are hypnotized. Okay, they're hypnotized. They don't even know what they're doing. Somebody else is giving them suggestions and they do it. But God wakes us up. He calls us. We are removed from that. But unfortunately, there's still a lot of posthypnotic suggestions that are there that Satan tries to resurrect to bring back into us.
And so our nature has been corrupted. So what happens is, we live in this prison. And we can never be free. As long as you and I live in the prison of our own thoughts and emotions we are trapped. I read from Romans 6 and Romans 8 in the sermon about the victory Christ gives us. I'm gonna go back and read a couple verses I did not read. So let's go to Romans 6. Romans 6, we'll start at verse 12. Well, Romans was here this morning, Romans 6, and let's start verse 12.
Romans 6:12-15 – “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lust. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourself to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under law but under grace.”
So here he says, “Look, we can't give ourselves over to sin. We can't use our bodies to sin. We can't use our minds to sin because we are under God's grace. God has called us God woke us up. God said, you know, you were hypnotized.” Let me tell you what reality is okay. God's brought us out of that, which is what the Passover Days of Unleavened Bread are all about. So let's get this out. So he says, “You can't give your bodies and your minds over to the slavery of sin.” So He is freeing us from that slavery.
Let's look at verse 17. He says, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine from which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” You know, remember, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I'm telling you the truth, and you will become My disciples, and then you'll be set free.” Well, they didn't wanna be His disciples. There wasn't just Pharisees. There were there was all kinds of Jewish leaders. They didn't want to be disciples of Jesus Christ because “I'm already free. You know, God's already in my life. Why do I need your teachings? And who are you to say that you could set me free?” I mean, they were just offended by that.
Here, Paul is saying that we have to become slaves to God. We're gonna talk a little bit about that in a few minutes too. When Jesus died for us, He paid for us, and we have to accept God's ownership. I mean, God created us. We are His. All of creation is His. The sovereignty of God, Mr. Franke talked about that at Sabbath services, the sovereignty of God. We are His. We must accept that sovereignty. We also must accept the price paid, that God owns us.
Here's the great paradox of Christianity. The great paradox is to be free from the prisons we live in, the prison of our own mind, our own hearts. We have to become a slave. Wait, wait, wait. Isn't that... “What do you mean? To not be a slave, I have to become a slave?” Yes. To get out of this prison, we have to give everything we are to the One who bought us, who paid for us and owns us. Only when we trust that... Remember what we just read a few minutes ago, what David said, how he loved God's law, and he saw this as an expression of God's love to him? And because of that, he was at liberty. He was at ease. He wasn't oppressed. He wasn't in a prison anymore. Why wasn't he in a prison any more? Because he had become a slave to God.
Now, you say, “Well, okay, I have to be a slave to God.” We're gonna expand that out in just a minute. So stick with us here. See, mainly what the problem we have is that we spend our lives trying to find a physical solution to a spiritual problem. If I could just have a better job, if people just liked me more, if I would just have more money, if I would just have this or that or the other, if I just had a better status in life, if you know, other people wouldn't look down on me so much, you know, just if all these things could happen, if I could get all the pieces of the puzzle together, I would finally be free.
Well, if that's true, when you look at all the things that are available in the United States we would be the most free people there are, and we're not. Oh, we claim freedom. Yeah, freedom to what, commit abortion? Freedom to do all kinds of horrible things that do what? Create our own prisons. We're just a nation of people walking around in our own prison. The whole world is just people walking around in their own prison. Only through accepting God's absolute ownership over us and saying, “I'm Your slave. I give everything I have to You. What do You want me to do next, Lord? Master, Master, what do You want me to do next?”
We don't use the word Lord too much in just our society. Lord and master really are important words in the Bible. A lord meant he had ownership. He had rule over you. And this is more than submitting to God. It's surrender to God. And that means we have to have developed in us the fruit of the Spirit of self-control over our minds and our hearts, not just our actions, over our minds and our hearts. And remember, the self-control that is a fruit of the Spirit. This isn't something you and I could do it ourselves, or by ourselves. God has to develop it in us. God has to develop in us. We have to be submitting to His work in us so that we're not in a prison of our own making, a prison of our own hates, a prison of our own lust, a prison of our own lack of forgiveness, a prison of our own fears, a prison of our own selfishness. We live in these prisons miserable. Why are we miserable? Because we won't let Christ free us from the prison we're in. That's why. And we'll blame everybody else for it. We live in a prison and we blame everybody else. “It's my husband's fault. It's my wife's fault. It's my neighbor's fault. It's my kid's fault. It's my parent's fault. It's society's fault.” We just... Boy, that's a big one, just everybody. It's society's fault, right? As we blame everybody around us when the truth is the prison is of our own making. It's in our own mind.
And then a third point that I wanna bring out and I wanna go to Jeremiah 34 to make this point. The prophet Jeremiah was, of course, sent to Judah to get them to repent because if they didn't, God was going to punish them. Jeremiah 34 and let's start at verse 8 here. Jeremiah 34:8.
Jeremiah 34:8-11 – “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people of Judah who are in Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them.” So he came out and the king said, “Look, we have to turn back to God. And we have to find this freedom that God gives us through His Word, and through His teachings.” This liberty to them... Now, here's specifically what then he said, “That every man should set free his male and female slave, a Hebrew man or woman, that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage.” You see, in the law of God, if an Israelite owed somebody a great deal of money for some reason, and they couldn't pay it, they could become that person's servant. And until they paid it off, or for as much as six years. After the seventh year, they were free. Well, they obviously hadn't been doing this. So basically, the Jews here had made slaves out of each other. He says, “Now when all the princes and all the people had entered into the covenant heard, that everyone should be set free as male and female slaves and that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let them go.” It was a time of liberty. They were letting their own people go out of bondage. But afterward, verse 11, “They changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves.”
You know, they thought, “You know, life was better when we had all these slaves, people to make our food for us, and fetcher water for us, and clean out the stables for us. And now we got to pay them to do this. Ah, I want my slaves back.” “Therefore, the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel. “I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage, saying, ‘At the end of seven years, let every man set free his Hebrew brother that has been sold to him. When he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you.’”’”
Yes, but they didn't obey that. Your fathers didn't obey this. Now recently, He says, “You did what was right. You're free to everybody.” He said, “Let's start all over again, liberty of the land, freedom from slavery.” Verse 17, “Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty. Everyone to his brother and everyone to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you’ says the Lord.” Here's the liberty you're going to get because of this, “To the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, and I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the Earth.”
Wow. He says, “You know, you were supposed to let free everybody and you refused to do it. Because it was more comfortable to keep slaves, it was more comfortable, and your life was better. You know, if your middle class or upper class it was better, but boy, it was nice to have these slaves.” And it must have been a fairly common practice for this to be this big of an issue. He said, “I told you to set them free so everybody could worship God.”
Now, under the law, if someone once again made some really bad decisions and ended up in poverty, you know, owing somebody money, you know, they didn't put them in debtor's prison. It's okay, you got to work it off. Well, many times those people would have their own house they would go to, and you know, they would still continue to live on their own. But they would have to work, you know, 70 hours a day or whatever it was paying off their debts. It says, “You couldn't free everybody. You had to bring them back.” He said, “Okay. Because of this, you're going to lose your liberty.” And that gives us a really important lesson here.
You know, we talked about our slavery to sin. We talk about the slavery we have to our own emotions and to our own thoughts. We all struggle with that. Here's an issue in which people of God lose their liberty because they oppress other people. This is a really important lesson for the Days of Unleavened Bread. Yes, we have the slavery of sin. Yes, we have the slavery of the prisons of our own minds, but we can lose our liberty that God has given to us because we oppress others. We treat others poorly. We constantly judge them harshly. We constantly just, you know, look down on other people.
You know, it's... I have actually seen people, you know, in a congregation judge the other people, always judge them. You know, you didn't do this right. You didn't do that right. They judge everybody's motives. They always feel superior. And then they go from sort of organization, organization, organization, until finally, you know, they have their own little church of 20 people in their house. And eventually, there's just them and their family because nobody is as good as them. And they've oppressed people all along. That's dangerous.
When we oppress people, we will begin to lose our liberty that God has given to us through Christ. An interesting lesson, isn't it? That's one we almost never think about. So we know we've been freed through the Passover sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We've been freed from the tyranny of sin. We still fight it, and sometimes we still lose but we're freed from it. We're moving forward in this battle. The victory is promised to us as long as we stay on the path to the Promised Land.
We've talked about the prisons that are in our own minds and hearts, which are sometimes the worst thing we have to deal with. And then we also have to deal with the fact that we can lose our liberty because we oppress other people. We see ourselves as better than other people. We have such a vanity and a self-righteousness that we lose the connection that God has with us.
When we go back to the New Testament, they lived in a world of the Roman Empire that was once again filled with slavery. And as I said, when you look through the writings, especially at Paul, many slaves were coming into the church. And this slavery was different than Hebrew slavery. This was absolute ownership where you were actually a piece of property. This was much worse than what Jewish slavery would have been with each other. And you see how God was upset with the fact that they wouldn't let people free every six years like they were supposed to.
So let's go to 1 Corinthians 7. And let's look at what Paul gives us in instructions to slaves because there's an important lesson here for us. Less, we are likely... The Jews before Jesus said, “Oh, I've never been in bondage to any man.” Well, we all have bondage to sin because that's what He said. “I've come to free you from sin.” He came to free us from ourselves and from this sort of hypnotic state that Satan has put us in. He's come to free us from oppressing each other. Verse 20, 1 Corinthians 7.
1 Corinthians 7:20 – “But each one remained in the same calling when she was called.” So he's talking about, you know, people are coming into the Church and they were from different... He even talks about here, if you look, if you're married to someone, and they're still a pagan, don't divorce them. Stay in that state. So he's trying to tell people, “Look, our circumstances can't control everything. We have to come in and be Christians, in spite of our circumstances.” He says, “Were you called, while a slave? Do not be concerned about it.” He said, “Well, do not be concerned about it? I have a bad master. He beats me every once in a while. This is bad.” He says, “Do not be concerned about it. But if you can be made free, rather use it.”
He says, “Now if you can be made free.” Being made free was tough. Usually, in the Roman Empire, the way you were made free is you worked a second job after you were done with all your slave work, which was, you know, much of the day, sometimes much of the night. You did a second job, and you saved up a little bit of money, sometimes for a lifetime, so you could pay off the master and be free. You know, so, and sometimes the master would require sort of a tax for even what you were making. So it was hard but he said, “If you can get free, that's great.” But he knew that most of the slaves could not.
He says, verse 22, “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freeman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ's slave.” What a play on words. Paul sometimes had this way of using language. It's amazing. He says, “If you're a slave, Christ has made you free. You are to be free from sin. And you're to be free from the shackles of your own minds,” even though you're in a state of slavery, you can't get out of. I mean, to run away as a slave in the Roman Empire was a death sentence. So he says, “Okay, you can't get out of that but you're free. Now, those of you who think you're free, you're really a slave to Christ.” He's telling them they're all in the same boat. No matter what situation you're in here, you're all the same. We all have come into a relationship with God where we are slaves to Christ. Now, why are we slaves to Christ?
He says, verse 23, “You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of men.” He says, you know, “Remember you are bought and paid for you are bought and paid for. And you're not really a slave to a man. You may be forced to act in slavery, but you are free in your heart and in your mind.” This is the freedom we have to look for. So much of the time we're still looking for freedom in physical things. You know, how many people are okay, they say, “Well, I don't use drugs, and I don't misuse alcohol,” but we're almost addicted to technology. We're addicted to entertainment. Why? We're looking for some kind of way to be released from the prison we're in.
Now, some entertainment's not bad but, I mean, you know, sometimes take the iPad away from your 13-year-old and see if they have a nervous breakdown. They may tell you something, okay. We have to realize we're being driven all the time, our careers, the size of our houses, the amount of property we have, our cars. It's not wrong to have a nice car. It's not wrong to have a nice property. It's not wrong to have a nice house. But if that's what we use to feel like we're not imprisoned instead of letting God free us from our sins, and from the slavery of our own minds, that's just temporary.
It doesn't solve anything you have been bought and paid for. That's the Passover. You have been de-leavened. That's the Days of Unleavened Bread. You have taken in the unleavened bread of Jesus Christ, the character, the mind of God through His Holy Spirit. We are to be free, and that sometimes has nothing to do with our circumstances.
Now we talked about being a slave. There's one other scripture that I want to conclude with and read here. And it's something that Jesus told the disciples on the night of the Passover. So let's go to John 15. John 15. We read parts of John 15 at the Passover service, but I didn't read this part. John 15, and we will start in verse 13. He says in verse 13,
John 15:13-15 – “Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer,” -Listen to this- “No longer do I call you servants.” He bought for us. He bought us, He paid a horrible price that you and I should have paid for ourselves, which, well, we would have to suffer eternal death.
We can't pay ourselves in accordance with the justice of God, in accordance with the justice of Jesus Christ. I mean, you know, the Father and the Son are not somehow different in how they look at justice and love. They're the same. He says, “No longer do I call you servants.” We become slaves, we become servants, you know, when we become disciples, we move on from that. And as we come out of this prison, more and more, something changes. He says, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what His master is doing. But I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father, I have made known to you. You did not choose Me.” And this is for us today. You know, I didn't choose God. “But I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give you.”
What a privilege. I mean, that goes way beyond a servant, doesn't it? We know Jesus Christ is our brother. He says, “No, I'm your friend too.” I'm your friend. I have never quite wrapped my mind entirely around that, that Christ sees us, sees me as a friend. You know, I understand the slave relationship. A friend relationship, that's amazing, absolutely amazing. That's what He told them on that Passover. Christ our Passover purchased us so that we can have liberty. We can be free. We still live in this Satan's world. It's still a prison, but you and I, the shackles of sin has been broken off of us. But snap out of the hypnotism. Ask God to awaken your heart and mind so that you can understand that you've created a prison for yourself. God didn't do it. God will help you out of that.
Now, you and I can't get out of it ourselves but He will help us. We have to submit, we have to follow, but He will do it. That's the victory I talked about a month ago. But now I'm talking about the result of that victory in your life right now, liberty and freedom, regardless of your circumstances. And in this relationship with Jesus Christ, we become His slave, we become His disciple, and then we become His friend. When He told those Jews, that as the Son of God, He was telling them the truth that would set them free and they were appalled by it. We become... God brings us into this relationship so that we become the slave of Jesus Christ, the disciple of Jesus Christ, and the friend of Jesus Christ. This is the truth that sets us free.