Freedom from Slavery
Reformation Day
31 October 2016
Our Christian moral convictions are under attack today primarily by the new religion, which has been imposed upon us by our cultural elites: the religion of free sex. What I mean is that every sexual practice must now be accepted within our culture today. It may not be disapproved of in any way. Indeed, it must be lauded and encouraged. To disapprove of any sexual act in our culture today is tantamount to a religious heresy. And you know what happens to heretics.

The freedom of which Christ speaks in John 8 is not the freedom to do as we desire. It is not the freedom of tolerationism. Indeed, what our world calls freedom is in fact a horrifying and insidious form of slavery. What our world calls freedom is to be enslaved to sin and depravity. How odd to call the very thing that enslaves a freedom! Yet this is extremely common in our culture. We mis-name many things. Take for example, the "Affordable Care Act;" which is neither affordable nor does it provide better medical care. Likewise, are we also so foolish as to confuse sin and freedom, so that one is called the other? Perhaps so; much to our shame.

Have you ever wondered if a pig thinks it's free? How would the animal fed unto slaughter in small pens, living with their own filth know whether they were free or captive? He never sees beyond this very small world. The hog is free to eat, sleep, and  perhaps copulate. This is the same thing that our world calls freedom, I think.

How could we go back to this slavery to sin, since we have been freed by our God who has opened paradise through the precious blood of Jesus our Lord, reconciled us to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility and putting to death the lust that makes us enemies of God and abusers of each other. How could we go back?! "Thanks be to God, that we who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which we were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness" ( Rm 6:17-18). Paul is turning over the word "slave;" harnessing it for the purposes of true freedom. We have become slaves of God, who frees His slaves from their depraved lives by offering His Son for them, and He draws them to Himself, takes them into His arms and blesses them by baptism and through the Son they become sons. The pigs are pigs no more! I am glad of such slavery where the master dies for the slave and makes him a son. As the Johann Heerman hymn says of the cross of our Lord:

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!
The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander;
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,
Who would not know Him (LSB 439:4)?

Here is a freedom full of gratitude that will return to the neighbor faithful service to the Ten Commandments in full thanksgiving to God. As Luther said, "The Christian bears and holds with [the neighbor] what he is not obliged to do. But this he does freely, for he is certain that this is pleasing to God also, and he does it gladly, accepts it as any other free work which presents itself without his selecting it, because he desires and seeks no more than to do in faith the works which are pleasing to God." Here is freedom from slavery to the world.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"Let us learn to place a high value on this freedom of ours; not the emperor, not an angel from heaven, but Christ, the Son of God, through whom all things were created in heaven and earth, obtained it for us by His death, to set us free, not from some physical and temporary slavery but from the spiritual and eternal slavery of those most cruel and invincible tyrants, the law, sin, death, the devil, etc., and to reconcile us to God the Father. Now that these enemies have been defeated and now that we have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is certain that we are righteous in the sight of God and that all our actions are pleasing to Him; and if there is any sin left in us, this is not imputed to us but is forgiven for the sake of Christ. Paul is speaking very precisely when he says that we should stand in the freedom for which Christ has set us free ( Gal 5:1). Therefore, this freedom is granted to us, not on account of the law or our righteousness but freely, on account of Christ. Paul testifies to this and demonstrates it at length throughout this epistle; and Christ says in John 8: 'If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed' ( Jn 8:36). He alone is thrust into the middle between us and the evils that oppress us. He conquers and abolishes them, so that they cannot harm us any longer. In fact, in place of sin and death He grants us righteousness and eternal life, and He changes slavery and the terrors of the law into the freedom of conscience and the comfort of the gospel, which says: 'Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven' ( Mt 9:2). Therefore, he who believes in Christ has this freedom."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.1
Revelation 14:6-7

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."  (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people.  Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For Gerald Tackett, that the Lord would grant him strength as he undergoes chemotherapy

For all deployed military personnel, that the holy angels would watch over them in all their ways

For all those who are confused about what day it is, that they would discover the joy of celebrating Reformation Day
Art: Wartburg Castle
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016