Monthly Archives: July 2017

Don’t Give Up!

Peninsula Community Church

July 19, 2017

Don’t Give Up!

Galatians 6:7-10 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

A number of years ago thieves broke into a posh clothing store in the heart of London, England. When the police arrived and subsequently the store owner, they could not find anything missing from the store. The cash was still in the drawer. Nothing seemed to be missing off of the racks or shelves and the storage room seemed to be intact. The police filed their report and the store owner went back home. It was not until the store opened and customers began to shop that they realized the crime that had been committed. The thieves had switched the price tags on most of the products in the store. Very expensive items were now priced at a very low price and those items that were not very expensive were now over priced.

The enemy of our souls has done a good job at switching the price tags in our life. It started in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time. Since then, his goal has been to switch the price tags and to get us to go after what is not important. We have begun to add value to that which has no value and we have devalued that which is most important. The enemy in the beginning used doubt to get Adam and Eve to reevaluate what was important and what was worthy of value. He switched the price tags and cheapened that which was valuable. He did this by deceiving both Adam and Eve to give into temptation which caused sin to permeate our human nature from that point forward. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul noted But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

That is why here in this passage Paul warns the church at Galatia not to be deceived. Paul warns them and he warns us about being deceived into believing what we do does not matter. The word deceived in this context means “to be led astray” or “to take a wrong path.” This is certainly what occurred in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were lead astray by the temptations that were exacted by satan. Paul did not want the church at Galatia to switch the price tags and go after those things that have a false value attached to them. The problem for us in our depraved state of mind is that it is easier to be deceived than we believe.

Scripture deals with the idea of deceitfulness in many ways. Listen to a couple of these verses. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (1 Corinthians 3:18). Paul also states Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6). Let no one deceive you in any way (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

John also engaged in this conversation when he made the following comments. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous (1 John 3:7). Even in the Old Testament Moses dealt with the issue of deception. He warned the Children of Israel to take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them (Deuteronomy 11:16). Guarding one’s heart is critical as sin will take advantage of a deceitful heart. Listen to Paul in Romans 7:11. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

If the Bible develops a such a consistent view and ongoing discussion about deceitfulness then it behooves us to take notice. It is for this reason Paul deals with this topic here in Galatians. His desire is that the church at Galatia would not be deceived about the importance of what they sow in life. He wanted them to know that what they invest in is what they will receive in return. He knew they would reap what they sow.

Paul recognized that in this area of sowing we can do one of two things. First, we can sow to the flesh but that brings corruption and destruction. Paul noted that when we sow to the flesh, we reap the flesh. Here is the problem. We sow to the flesh and we reap the flesh and then we sow more to the flesh which leads to reaping more flesh. It is a vicious cycle of sin and destruction. The problem is that we keep sowing the same thing expecting different results. Sometimes we don’t recognize the futility of this until it is too late. The flesh represents that which is sinful and is outside the boundaries that have been established by God Himself. We could spend a great deal of time here discussing this but let us leave it at sowing to the flesh does not add value to our life. It is a means for satan to switch the price tags in our life and to devalue what is important.

The second thing is that we can sow to the Spirit which brings eternal life. To sow in the Spirit causes us to sow more of the Spirit. When we sow to the Spirit we reap spiritual benefits. When we sow righteousness, we will reap righteousness which ends in eternal life. That is the ultimate and most prosperous benefit of sowing seeds to the Spirit. We gain eternal life not just in some distant future but also in the here and now. Because we sow to righteousness, we reap righteousness and we have the privilege of living a full abundant life in Christ.

We must understand that there is a war going on for our souls. The enemy loves to deceive us into thinking that what we do does not matter. He will switch the price tags and make us believe that when we sow to the flesh, we will not suffer any negative benefits. That is a lie because when we live out of a carnal nature we receive the reward of doing that. It is broken lives, lost hope, and sorrow. But sowing in the Spirit brings righteousness and life to us.

It is for that reason, Paul challenges the church at Galatia, do not be weary in doing what is right because at the right time you will reap the benefits of doing good. One of my favorite sayings, when a person seeks my counsel on what to do under difficult situations, is to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. That to me is not some trite saying but one that requires us to do right even though it might cost us and we might get weary in the process of doing what is right. In essence, do not be weary in doing what is right and do not be deceived into doing what is wrong because it is easier.

You see we can become weary in doing the right thing because we do not see immediate results. Paul recognizes a couple of things here. First, reaping the rewards of sowing does not happen overnight. Paul knows the reaping process takes time and he does not want us to get tired and weary in the process. Secondly, we can become discouraged and tired when we do not see the benefits of doing the right thing. We can come to a place where we want to give up. We want to throw in the towel. We begin to believe there is no use in continuing to do the right thing.

Paul in this passage challenged the church at Galatia not to give up or to lose heart. Paul recognized how powerful a tool discouragement can be. We can be discouraged when we do not see fruit in our labors. We can become frustrated at a lack of movement in the right direction. We can be frustrated with our kids who seem to be doing their own thing. We can be frustrated when we have shared Christ with a particular individual and they never come to faith. There is so much that can discourage and frustrate us. But what Paul is saying is do the right thing, do good to others, be patient and you will see the fruit of your labors come to pass.

Too often we give up too soon. We throw in the towel! We fall short and we give into the pressures of life. We begin to believe the lie. In the movie “Facing the Giants” there is a scene where coach Grant Taylor challenges one of his star players, Brock, to step up and lead the team. He challenges him to do the death crawl with one of the players on his back! Coach Grant cheers him and challenges him not to give up. Because of this Brock thinks he can make it to the 50 yard line but ends up in the end zone.

God’s call today is don’t give up! You might be weary! You might be tired! But don’t give up. The answer is on its way and you will receive the fruit of righteousness. Do not be weary in well doing! Like Coach Grant, God is cheering us on! He is for us! If He is for us who can be against us. Press on and don’t give up.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Cure for Pride

Peninsula Community Church

The Cure for Pride

July 16, 2017

Galatians 6:1-5 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

Last week, we dealt with the issue of pride and how pride causes us to push God out of our lives and brings us to believe we do not need God. Today, we will explore the cure for pride. First, restoring others to a right standing in Christ helps one deal with pride. In this passage Paul uses an example of someone who has fallen into sin and that sin has been openly revealed. There is no discussion of the specifics. The sin could have been an act of adultery. It could have been an act of stealing. It could have been one caught in a lie. While we may not know the specific sin or even the specific person, we do know that Paul encourages believers in Christ to respond in a way that is different from what we might be inclined to do. He encourages the spiritually mature to restore the sinner to their right place in Christ with gentleness.

I do not know about you but this can run so counter to what I really want to do. When someone is caught in a sin my human flesh wants them to get what is coming to them. My flesh wants to judge, criticize, and condemn their actions. My flesh wants to reject them and push them away so that I am not tainted by their sin or influenced to commit a similar sin or worse yet a greater sin in terms of its consequences.

But notice something in this passage. Paul suggests that it is those who are spiritual that should restore the sinner with a sprit of gentleness. Too often, we love gotcha moments. We love to hear when others get caught in sin because it makes us feel better. That was not God’s plan or purpose in this thing called Christian community and life. This passage reminds me of the opportunity Jesus had to model this for us. He encountered a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. As we read in John 8:1-11, the religious leaders of the day had brought an adulterous woman into the city square. She had been caught in the act of adultery and the religious law of the day required that she be stoned to death.

Think about this picture. The religious leaders had gathered around her with stones in hand. They were ready to punish her for her sin and exact the penal code upon her. From a legal standpoint they had every right to do that. But in the midst of this, Jesus showed up. He assessed the scene and in so doing He found that those who were gathered around this woman were just as guilty of sin as she was. In that moment, Jesus made a profound statement. He stated that those who where without sin should cast the first stone. He stood nose to nose with her accusers and challenged them with their own spiritual condition. If there was anyone without sin, they had His permission to throw the first stone. Sadly, all of these leaders silently slid into the crowd and disappeared under the weight of their own guilt.

Now lest we think that Jesus did not deal with her sin and that He was somehow soft on sin, look at what Jesus did. He approached her to ask where her accusers were and if there was anyone left to condemn her. Of course, no one was left as they had sin which they needed to be deal with. In that moment, Jesus modeled for us what we need to do. He ministered gentleness and He gave her grace. Rather than get on the band wagon of judgment and guilt, He set her free. He lovingly cared for her. He never condemned her but He never justified her sin either. He walked in truth and grace.

You see the religious leaders were more about the law than they were grace. They wanted to punish others while ignoring their own sinful hearts. This is the highest mark of pride possible. Remember that Jesus reminded us to get the log out of our eye before we try to remove the speck in someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). That was the problem with the religious leaders that day and that was Paul’s point here.

In our passage, Paul uses the word “restore.” The word means to make things right. It was used in Jesus’ day of repairing one’s fishing nets. The idea was when the fishing nets had holes in them, much of the catch would get away. This would negatively impact their life as fishermen. To repair another’s nets meant they were looking to help make others as effective as possible. Sin is a breakdown in the machinery of life. It has to be repaired. In other words, if you find someone that is broken down do what you need to do to help restore that person back to a good working order. Ultimately it is Christ’s responsibility to forgive and restore but we can be a tool to assist in pointing the person in the right direction. Yes we are to admonish, rebuke, and warn each other about attitudes and plans which are wrong but we do so with grace and love. Then we point them to the one who is able to restore and renew them. Helping others keeps us humble.

The second cure for pride is bearing one another’s burdens. The truth is we all deal with issues in life. Sometimes it is easy to bear another’s burdens when they are sick, have financial issues, or have relational issues. But it becomes more impossible to bear one’s burdens when it comes to sin. Rather than bearing one’s burdens, we tend to load up the sinner with guilt and regret. We cast stones rather than gently restoring and or helping to heal the heart of the sinner. Listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 11:46. “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. And then Paul had this to say in Acts 16:10-11. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

In our passage today notice that in bearing the burdens of one another we are in fact fulfilling the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? Remember when Jesus was asked what law was most important? He gave an answer that befuddled the Christian leaders who posed the question in the first place. He stated in essence that no one law is greater than another but that the law could be summed up by two commandments: love God, love others. That is the law of Christ. If we love God with all of our hearts and we love others as we love ourselves, we cannot go wrong.

In essence, the law of Moses was powerless to change our hearts so we could freely obey God’s law. When Christ summons us to obey the law of love, He offers us Himself to slay the dragon of pride, change our hearts, empower us by His spirit, and to fulfill His law in us. The law was powerless but through Christ we can do anything, including bearing the burdens of others so that they are restored in Christ and they are healed of their sin.

Thirdly, to remove pride we must have a proper perspective of who we are. Paul recognized that we are susceptible to pride and we can begin to believe that we are more than we are. We can puff ourselves us with a spiritual slap on the back when we are just as guilty of sin as the one we are encountering. The Bible is replete with warnings about pride and warnings about the potential to fall into the same sin that we judge in others. For that reason Jesus warns us not to judge others because we will be judged by the same judgement we exact on others (Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus knew that the enemy of our souls loves for prideful judgement to be the hallmark of our life. In contrast, Jesus showed us that we are to respond to others with a spirit of grace and love. For that reason, Paul issues this warning, those who are spiritual must guard themselves from the legalism of law and ignoring their own sin.

This idea of restoring another who had been caught in a sin was brought home to me when Michelle and I attended a conference at Gateway church in Dallas Texas. At the conference was Mark Driscoll. Mark had been a pastor for several years. His church had grown to several thousand and he had touched many lives. That all came crashing down when he revealed that he had been guilty of plagiarism, bullying his staff and coworkers, and fits of anger. While he had not been guilty of moral failure per se he acknowledged that his actions were as much a sin as anything else. There were two responses to his resignation.

One part of the body of Christ wrote excoriating letters. His family faced death threats and people confronted his children on the streets. It was a difficult time for him and his family. His children lived in fear and they were forced to move to a new state to start over. But there was also a second response. At the conference, Pastor Robert Morris brought Mark up before the 1500 plus pastors and leaders attending the conference. It was here that Mark admitted the error of his ways and expressed his desire for healing and restoration. Rather than being excoriated the body stood and prayed for him. They did not ignore the accusations but there were more concerned about the person than casting stones. The result was the beginning of healing in his heart and in the heart of his family. Because of the ministry of gentleness and healing, he has been restored and his family has been healed.

Pride causes us to condemn. Pride causes us to ignore other’s needs. But when we follow Paul’s advice healing comes and people are restored. Remember, we are in the restoration business. We are more of a hospital as a church where we restore the wounded and less a day care where we simply maintain. When we restore others in gentleness we change lives. That is God’s plan.

Today there are two types of people who will receive this message. You are either the condemned or the condemner. In being condemned we fall short of Gd’s plan. We are burdened by the guilt of sin and feel that there is no hope. We have had those around us who have and continue to throw stones at us rather than lovingly restore us. On the other side of the there are those who stand with stones in their hands ready to condemn and destroy. The good news is there is grace for both. God sent His son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). May we receive His grace and love today.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Keeping In Step With the Spirit

Peninsula Community Church

Keep In Step With The Spirit

July 9, 2017

Galatians 5:16; 25, 26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

We closed the message last week with the thought that we are to receive the freedom that is ours. We must personalize it and make it a part of who we are. This works for us as a nation but it also works for us as individuals who follow after Christ. We must receive and accept the work of the Holy Spirit into our lives. As we read last week, The Lord is a spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). We walk in the Spirit and He gives us freedom. Through Him, we are liberated from the bondage of sin and the bondage of misplaced emotions. Rather than freedom, too often we are constrained by fear, regret, worry, and unconfessed sin. That was never God’s plan for us. With that in mind, I would like to explore this idea of freedom some more.

I will begin with a personal illustration. When my children were younger we loved to go hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the Catskill Mountains. While hiking, I would instruct our kids to follow directly behind me. My job as a father and the leader of our little band of hikers was to make sure that I was choosing a safe path and a good experience for them. When we encountered tough terrain I would make sure that we navigated the terrain as safely as possible.

 

On the journey through the mountains there were many distractions. There were beautiful vistas, wildlife, flora, and other people on the trail. All of these served to distract and cause us to veer off course at times. With the amazing beauty all around us, there were unseen dangers that could cause us to lose focus and could possibly cause us harm. Loose rocks, exposed tree roots could easily cause us to stumble and fall. Many times we would get off the trail to explore. Sometimes we would take detours in order to explore things not seen on the regular trail. Even when we were off of the trail, I would always be in the lead. I knew that I had a role to play and that was to get my family safely to the end of the journey but I also needed them to enjoy the journey.

 

As we look at the passage before us, we find a truth that will save us from many of the pitfalls and difficulties we face in life. Paul encouraged the believers in Galatia not to wander aimlessly through life but to “keep in step with the Spirit.” Keeping in step with the Spirit, helps us to avoid many of the dangers lurking around every corner in this journey called life. When we recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can feel much like the experience I had with my kids. The Holy Spirit helps us navigate the path of life and if we will follow Him, we will navigate life more successfully.

 

As we review this passage, we also find a couple of issues that prevent us from keeping in step with the Spirit. Paul understood that becoming conceited is one way we can get out of step with the Spirit. Conceit has been defined as vanity, narcissism, conceitedness, egotism, self-admiration, self-regard, pride, arrogance, hubris, smugness, and big-headedness. Pride has been and continues to be one of the biggest problem we have on our journey. Pride certainly effects how we stay in step with the Holy Spirit and it prevents us from accomplishing much that God has for us. Solomon, one of the writers of the books of wisdom, had much to say about pride. Just two of these remind us of the power of pride. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

 

You see when we walk in pride we tend to depend on God’s spirit to save us but fail to depend on Him to sustain us. Max Lucado shares the following story that illustrates this. A Welsh woman who lived many years ago in a remote valley felt it was worth the cost and trouble to have electricity installed in her home. Several weeks after the installation, the power company noticed she had barely used any electricity. A meter reader went to see her. “Is there a problem?” he asked. “Oh no,” she responded. “We’re quite satisfied. Every night we turn on the electric lights so we can light our oil lamps.” She had the power but continued live in the old ways.

 

We can do the same! We have the power of God in us but only turn to Him when we need Him. We turn to Him to help us get started on the journey as a believer but after that we try to continue in our own strength. It is for that reason Paul urges us to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)We can not coast in pride but must stay in step and stay connected to the Holy Spirit who wants to not just save us but wants to sustain us in everything we do.

 

Pride also leads us to believe we do not need God. What a sad commentary but it is the commentary of so many today. Society as a whole has rejected their need for God. They are self sufficient and so smart they no longer need God’s help. This same pride has entered the church as well because too many live disconnected from God. Many claim to be believers but live without God. Many believe they do not need faith because they have been blessed in so many ways. Many believe they do not need His word because they are busy reading Facebook and Twitter. They are so busy, they do not have time to read His Word which is His instruction manual for our lives. They would rather read about man’s opinion about God than read His words directly. In so doing, they have missed being in step with God. In so doing, they have pushed God to the margins because they do not need Him.

 

As I was preparing for this I realized something. The difference between the words trial and trail is where the “i” is positioned. This is a simple illustration and may be a slight stretch but I hope you see what I am talking about. Notice that in the word trail the “i” is after the “a.” To me the “a” represents almighty God. In the word trial notice the “a” comes after the “i.” Heres the deal when we put “I” before God we will face greater trials and tribulations. When we walk in pride we can miss what God is doing. This does not mean that we will not face trouble when we follow God, it just means that God takes our trials and turns them to opportunities to show Himself strong.

 

What a sad commentary to think that we have reached a point where we believe that we do not need God. We isolate and push God out of the equation. No wonder we live with anxiousness, fear, and depleted lives. No wonder sin abounds and the absolutes of truth have been cast off. Sadly, we are seeing a great attempt to remove God from the fabric of our nation. But in the end it all falls apart without God. When we remove God, we remove His power and His spirit from directing our lives. Remove God and we remove His favor and His grace. Maintain a God focused life and we experience His favor and grace in deeper ways.

 

Thirdly pride leads us to compare ourselves with others. We become so concerned about what others think we end up compromising our walk by pleasing others. You see God never called us to be like someone else but we are called to be like Christ. We are originals created by God with a plan and purpose. Here is the problem however. When we compare ourselves to others we can feel we do not measure up because we are using the wrong measure. God is and must be the measure of our success and accomplishments. When we keep in step with the Spirit we will be less likely to compare ourselves to others.

The problem with comparing ourselves with others is that we can begin to seek the applause of man rather than the heart of God. John Piper stated that we do not seek the applause of men or the glory of man but to know that we are pleasing and honoring God in all we do. The great problem in contemporary Christian living is not learning the right things to do but how to do the right thing. The problem is not to discover what love looks like but how to love by the Spirit. For Paul it is absolutely crucial that, if we come to life by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit, then we must learn to walk by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit as well.

Finally, the answer to the issue of pride is to recognize that the Holy Spirit’s primary role is to point us to Christ and transform us into Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18). By His spirit, we can be transformed from having a spirit of pride to one of humility. After all, Jesus modeled forgiveness for us by going to the cross. Jesus humbled Himself and offered Himself as an obedient sacrifice for our sin and our sins. Accepting the work of the Spirit into our hearts transforms us. It changes us. Too many say they follow Christ but there is no change. There is no transformation.

Our transformation into the image of Christ is more important than our ministry. It is more important than our spiritual experience. It is more important than our spiritual gifts or even the knowledge we may have. If we are not being transformed and changed by the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel, we are not living up to the desire God has for us.

So today, we are being called to keep in step with the Spirit. In so doing, we live in victory and the freedom given to us by Christ. Give up pride and we will find that it is easier to keep in step with the Spirit. We will be sustained through every difficulty. We will be transformed. We will be free and victorious.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Price of Freedom

Peninsula Community Church 

The Price of Freedom 

July 2, 2017

Galatians 5:1,13; 1 Peter 2:16 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

This is the week we set aside to celebrate our freedom as a nation. As a result I have been thinking a lot about our freedom both as a nation and as a believer in Christ. As I was thinking about this I have a couple of thoughts about freedom I would like to share with you.

The first of these is freedom is never free. Throughout our history as a nation, wars have been waged and lives have been sacrificed for freedom. The men who founded our nation loved their freedom. They were weary of the constraints and the bondage the state and the church had on them. In that day the Church of England controlled its members and the state controlled the church. They wanted their freedom from an oppressive state of rules and laws of the state and church. That is why in our constitution it states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

They wanted a separation from a government run church but their goal was not to remove God from government but rather it was to remove the state’s control over one’s religious beliefs. They had a conviction that mankind should be able to worship freely however they may choose without constraint from the government. Because of their convictions these men were willing to pay whatever price necessary to make their freedom a reality. In the end, they sacrificed their lives, their homes, and their finances to secure this new freedom. What a price to be paid!

Our freedom as believers is no different. We were under the constraints and bondage of a spiritual force that was set on keeping us bound with guilt, regret, and sin. Something needed to be done, so the Father of all creation devised a plan. He would send His son to pay the ultimate price that would secure our freedom. He was no ordinary man. He was the very son of God who came to this world for one reason. He would give His life and every drop of blood to secure our spiritual freedom. He died so that the curse of sin would be lifted and we would be free from the chains that bound us and held us back. He did what man’s law and religious rituals could not do, He died to purchase our freedom. And oh what a price!

Secondly, freedom must be preserved! Our freedom as a nation cannot be taken for granted. We have been so blessed as a nation but too often people find a way to complain, grumble, and find-fault. They would rather complain than actually do something. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot to complain about. Politicians promise one thing and do something else. There are those who obstruct what is right and march in the streets and bring violence to the streets in the name of liberty and freedom.  We have become selfish and have sought political correctness and financial gain at the expense of truth and righteousness. The problem we have is that when freedom is not preserved it leads to bondage.

Spiritually, Paul warns us that we are to be careful and not become slaves again to sin. We can never coast so to speak. We must continue to move forward by allowing God’s truth to permeate us. You see there is a battle for your soul. It is a fierce battle that is being waged at all levels of our life. This hit home this week when the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, stated that he envisions Facebook becoming the entity that will mimic religion’s role in society.

But why not, especially since many in modern Christianity have settled for less than God’s best. The church in many ways has abrogated its role in society. It seems that there is one of two extremes that occur. There is the legalistic arm of the church, where the rules and law are paramount. Sin is managed through a list of do’s and don’ts rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to bring change and transformation. They bind people up in rules and regulations rather than through grace and love. They demand legalism but cannot obey all the rules themselves.

The second extreme is to compromise one’s lifestyle and Biblical truth. It is here that anything goes. There is no moral high ground and there are no absolutes of truth. The gospel is watered down in an effort to attract people but in so doing it becomes powerless to bring change. John Wesley the founder and leader of the methodist movement understood this when he made the following observation. I am not afraid that the people called Methodists (add whatever church you want here) should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out (from Thoughts Upon Methodism, 1786). Sadly for many churches this has become their commentary. They have a form of religion but one absent of God’s power. I read this week that one church is removing God from its vocabulary as it has become too offensive.

You see the overarching question today is whether or not we will be transformed by society or we will transformer the society in which we live. That was Paul’s exhortation to the church at Rome when he stated in Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. You see it is easy to be conformed and shaped by society. It is easy to go with the flow. It is easy to settle for less than God’s best. It is much harder to go against the flow and be a transformer. To be a transformer we must do more than just talk about freedom we must live as freedmen. Freedom requires accountability and it requires responsibility. Without these elements we tend to drift. Without these we risk losing our freedom.

The third concept here is that freedom has never been a license to do whatever we want! The greatest misunderstanding about freedom is that we can do whatever we want to. Some believe that freedom gives them permission to act and to say whatever they may choose. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. We must have a system of reasonable laws and boundaries. For example, how many would say to your child or grandchild “go be free.” There are no boundaries or rules. Go ahead run with those scissors. Go ahead stick your finger into the electrical outlet. Go ahead cross that busy street without looking. Do not worry about it because you are free to run and roam. The truth is none of us would consider doing this as we have an understanding that there are some non debatable rules for us to have a long life and a full life. At the same time we would not place our child in their bedroom never to venture outside the door in fear of something happening to them. You see, there is a necessity for man to have real boundaries in which to live. It is in these boundaries that one is the freest.

As a believer, we have been freed from sin but we have also been called to righteousness. Therefore, we cannot live any way we want to because there is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to destruction. We are saved by faith alone but salvation leads us to obedience. God has given us reasonable boundaries in which we can live. It is in those boundaries that real freedom exists.

One of the problems is that too many promise freedom but the result is bondage to a greater degree. Notice here that whatever overcomes a person is what they become enslaved to. This can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental issues. What we give ourselves to is what we become ensnared by. In 2 Peter 2:19 Peter stated, They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. Peter also understood that we must never use our freedom to cover up evil. We see that today in our society. We see so much that is allowed because we use freedom as a means to do whatever we decide.

Fourth freedom is to be received! 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. The Holy Spirit’s presence brings the freedom we need. When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we are exposed to the power of freedom. That is God’s plan. We receive Him and He gives us freedom. He convicts of sin. He speaks truth. He warns us of impending trouble. We always have the right to refuse but if we allow Him to He will guide us into truth and real freedom of heart, mind, and spirit.

The Holy Spirit never seeks to bring us into bondage but chooses to free us from the power and guilt of sin. Christ frees us from the power of sin. He frees us from the cringing fear of God. He frees us from the fear of man. He frees us from the fear of death. He frees us forever. We never have to go back to the way was. As Jesus said “Whom the son sets free is free indeed!”

How are you doing? Are you living as a free man? Do you allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your steps? He wants to and He will if we give Him full reign of our hearts!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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