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Four Freedoms 1

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Four Freedoms 1

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

What I’d like to do tonight is just share some teachings with you about the victorious life. We’ll spend all of our meeting times during October listening to reports from Amsterdam, France, Germany, London, and Puerto Rico. We’ll be seeing slides and hearing the testimonies of the brothers and sisters about the work God was doing through them during the summer. So this week and next week will be the only two teachings that we’ll have before November. I think maybe it’s better not to have a question time during these two evenings but to begin the question times during November.

What I’d like to share is the truth that you find in John 8:32. It really is a freeing statement that God gives us here in this verse. God says this through Jesus: “’And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’”

Now there’s no reason at all for you at any time in your Christian life to be anything but totally free. Really — there is no reason for you to ever be anything but free. And the truth always will make you free. It is only the deception of Satan and the lies of Satan that will ever bring you into bondage. Yet why I share this is because a number of us at different stages in our Christian lives come into bondage and we don’t need to.

It is true that the truth makes you free. If you look down a few verses at verse 36, you see really where the truth is and how it does make you free: “’So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’” Every time you deal with the truth that is in Jesus, you live free. And every time you miss that truth you come into bondage.

Now there are four great stages in our Christian life where you can come into bondage. Just four great times, and they correspond really to four parts of Jesus’ life. The first one is that whole element of conscience. Many of us can come into tremendous bondage over conscience. And the second one is our wills — just our independent selfish wills. Many of us come into bondage over our wills. The third one is the psychological part of us, our mind and emotions. Many of us can come into bondage about our mind and emotions. Then the fourth one refers to the inner part of us, our spirits. Many of us can come into bondage in regard to our spirits.

Now there is a truth that is in Jesus that delivers us from bondage in each area of our lives. It corresponds really in a way, to the birth of Jesus, to the death of Jesus, to the resurrection of Jesus, and to the ascension of Jesus. It is really God’s will that we would experience the birth, the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus completely in regard to each of those areas of our lives. And if we don’t, we come into bondage.

Now loved ones, there is only one way really to experience the birth, and death, and resurrection, and ascension of Jesus in reality in our own lives — and that is through faith. And faith is very simple — it consists of believing and obeying. Each time in regard to this area of our lives all we really have to do is to believe certain things about Jesus and to obey certain things in Jesus — and we come into freedom.

Now let’s just take the first one — the old business of conscience. Most of us start our Christian lives by coming into a real sense of bondage over a verse like Matthew 5:22. We read a verse like this and we immediately come into a tremendous bondage: “’But I say to you that every one who is

angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire.’”

Many of us come into great bondage in our consciences when we begin to realize that we are doing things that God has told us deserve the penalty of external death and separation from him. And we just come into a great bondage of guilt.

We know that the wages of sin is death and we know that we have sin in our own lives. Now the way out of that bondage is very clearly stated in the Bible, and it refers to the whole business of the new birth in the spirit. We are asked to believe a certain thing about Jesus.

It’s stated there plainly by God in Romans 4:24: “It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” It’s stated plainly there that if you believe that Jesus has died for that sin in your life, then that faith of yours will be reckoned as righteousness. You’re asked to believe.

The second thing you’re asked to do is that plain statement of Jesus which you are to believe. It’s stated in Matthew 3:2: “’Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” And dear ones, that’s all we’re called to do to be free from the bondage of guilt.

But many of us mess the whole thing up. We begin to realize, “No, we have to repent.” And we begin to come under bondage about repentance. We have an incredible ability to turn God’s freedom into salvation by works. Some of us will do that.

We’ll look at the believing and we’ll look at the obeying and the repenting and we’ll say, “Well, the repenting. That means that I have to repent thoroughly.” And we get down to bringing about a thorough repentance, and many of us begin to feel, “Unless we feel a desperate sorrow for our sins we have not truly repented.” I know there’s a dear sister among us at this time who just feels she doesn’t repent enough, and she feels, “No, I don’t feel repentance. I have to feel it. I have to feel it.”

Loved ones, do you see that repentance is just what it says? You turn from your sin. And if you keep sinning — you keep turning from your sinning. But repentance is a “metanoia.” {This is the word in Greek found in the Bible meaning repentance.} It’s a change of mind. You turn from what you’re doing and you turn to Jesus. It is not a matter of feeling repentance.

But many of us have turned from the truth that sets us free and have turned to the error of Satan and we’ve begun to sense, “Oh, I must feel this repentance. I don’t feel it enough. God can’t forgive me because I don’t feel it enough.” Do you see where that’s taking you? That’s taking you into works. You’re saying, “If you don’t do this work thoroughly enough God cannot forgive you.”

Dear ones, you’ll never repent deeply enough to justify God forgiving you. God forgives you because you are justified by the blood of Jesus. And it’s that truth that sets you free. It speaks about this in Romans 5:9: “Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

It isn’t the thoroughness of your repentance. Certainly God asks you to repent. He says, “If you repent and believe, then the blood of my Son will justify you in my eyes.” But do you see? The blood of Jesus justifies you in God’s eyes because you’ve repented and believed — not because of

the thoroughness of your feeling sorry at your sin.

Now loved ones, it’s very important to see it. Otherwise, you can begin to punish yourself, and many of us have come into that. We’ve sinned and we’ve committed a sin 10 weeks ago and we know it’s wrong. We begin to sense inside ourselves, “No, I deserve to have a period of real contrition here before God can possibly accept me into his family again.” Therefore we impose upon ourselves a certain time limit, and we say, “Unless we go through this period of contrition – really, God cannot possibly forgive us.”

Now loved ones, do you see that’s just the doctrine of penance that brought so many dear ones in the Catholic Church into bondage? That’s what penance is. It’s saying, “Unless I punish myself enough, unless I sorrow enough, God will not forgive me.” Dear ones, repentance is turning from your sin and believing that the blood of Jesus alone will make you right with God, not the thoroughness of your repentance. Nevertheless, you have to be thorough. You have to go through all of the sins that you have and repent of them. But you don’t have to squeeze yourself dry to get yourself sorrowful enough.

Many of us have come into the same problem over confession which is part of repentance. Many of us fall into the bondage of a sensitivity group. We feel, “Have I confessed everything? I must confess. I must confess again. No, I didn’t make that right with that other brother correctly, so I must make it right again.” Many of us come into a place where we think, “Oh now, have I confessed everything? Have I confessed everything?” Dear ones have come to me, and said week after week after week, “I have something else to confess. Something else to confess.”

Now loved ones, do you see that that is bondage? You confess all that you know is wrong in your life. You make it straight before God. You make it straight with other people. You turn from it, and that is your confession and repentance.

Now many of us come into bondage even over the believing. The believing is to believe that the blood of Jesus justifies us before God — to believe simply that Jesus has died for our sins. But many of us come into the old heresy of “a corner on truth.” We feel, “We believe in the substitutionary death of Jesus in a subtly different way to all other churches. That’s what saves us.” Loved ones, that just brings you into bondage. It brings you into a preoccupation with the peccadilloes of the atonement.

Do you see that God expects you to believe that Jesus has died for you? Just to believe that. And it’s the death of Jesus that makes you right with God. It’s not your exact precise statement of the atonement, or of the way Jesus’ death saved you. It’s simply your believing that Jesus has died for you.

There’s such a freedom that comes into your life when you reduce it all to simply repenting and believing. Just repenting of your sins and believing that Jesus’ death satisfies your Father. Just that. And suddenly there comes into your heart just a clear assurance of God’s acceptance with you. But do you see that the truth makes you free? It’s the errors and lies of Satan that brings you into bondage about that.

We won’t get through the four parts tonight — maybe we’ll just get as far as the second part. But many of us after we’re born of the Spirit come into this problem of the will that will not obey Jesus. We come into this area where we find that our wills do not want to submit to God’s law.

Indeed, they cannot submit. They just keep acting against God in rebellion. We try to send them in God’s direction and we cannot do anything about them.

Now God has made provision for that too. It is madness for us to come into that hypocritical double life and almost go insane thinking that God has not made provision for it. Loved ones, God has made clear provision for it, and again here the truth makes you free. The truth really is very simple. It’s stated in the Bible. Just as Romans 5:9 is the truth that sets you free there, the truth that sets you free here is Romans 6:6 — that our old self was crucified with Christ. God has said that this is made real in our lives, just as that other truth is made real in our lives, if –- again — we believe and obey.

This time we believe Romans 6:11: you reckon you that you have been crucified with Christ. And you submit, as it says in Romans 6:13. You submit your members to the Spirit of God. But again — it’s believe and obey.

Really — it’s very simple. But many of us break away from the freedom that is in those words and we come into bondage. We find this old will that we can do nothing about, and we start to rationalize it. We say, “Well, I mean, masturbation isn’t too bad. It’s kind of a human trait that many of us have to face through the early part of our lives, and marriage will clear it all up.” Or, if we criticize people a bit we say, “Well, you need to use the old critical faculty – otherwise, where would you be? You have to judge people to know who to agree with and who not to agree with.”

Or, we rationalize the not getting up in the morning. We say, “Well, we just happened to be people who lay late and we work better late at night than we do early in the morning. And no doubt we’ll be able to work into the deep prayer later on in the evenings.” Or, we say to ourselves, “Well, witnessing, yeah. But I’m just a different kind of person. I’m not one of these people who can run up with the four spiritual laws and witness like that. I have to go more slowly and subtly about it. I believe in friendship evangelism.” And we believe in friendship evangelism — but it never gets to evangelism. It just gets to friendship.

But many of us loved ones forget the truth that is in these verses. Instead we set about delivering ourselves from this problem here again by works. We fall into a salvation by works. The only way we can get rid of it is to rationalize the failings of this will. Many brothers and sisters walk in bondage to that will, because they keep on rationalizing and rationalizing, or many of us just repress it. We just keep repressing it. The old anger is coming up inside us and we just repress it. We just press it down. And we try to love people on the outside despite the anger. Or, the irritability comes up and we try to just repress it. We keep repressing these things.

Now loved ones, do you see that the truth sets you free? The truth doesn’t bring you into bondage like that. It is not God’s will that you should walk in continual repression that shows like that gray defeat in the back of your eyes. It is God’s will that you should walk free of this — not in rationalizing and not in repression, but just in a real deliverance.

Some of us feel, “Oh well, yeah, yeah. I believe that. But I have to see it for myself,” and we start introspecting and we start looking inside. We get all worked up with looking inside, and looking at our motives, and our attitudes, and our reactions, and our desires, and again we come into a tremendous bondage. Many of us who have come into an awareness of the problem of our selfish independent will have not walked a way of freedom at all. We have walked rather the way of bondage. We have walked either in continual introspection, or in continual repression, or in continual

rationalizing. Many of us just disagree with God. We come into a total despair.

Now loved ones, do you see that a total despair is a blanket rejection of what God has said is true about us in the Bible? It’s in Romans 7:18: “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.” Now, coming into despair is a rejection of that truth. Do you see that you come into despair because you’re still hoping for something good from inside you? There’s a great peace comes inside in your heart when you accept, “That’s right. There is nothing good inside me, and God see’s that clearly and he expects me to accept that.”

But we come into bondage of despair when we’re still hoping for something good inside us. Or, the other reason we come into despair is because we don’t really believe Romans 5:9. Romans 5:9 says, “You’re justified by the blood of Jesus.” We come into despair because deep down we really believe we’re going to be justified by our victorious life, or by our good works, or by our victory over sin. That’s why we come into this despair.

But again, do you see? It’s the lie of Satan that brings us into bondage. The truth that is in the Son sets us free, and the truth that is in the Son is there is no good in you at all. The reason you’re having such trouble with yourself is you’re still expecting some good from inside you.

Actually, what God wants you to see is that there is no good in you, and to believe and reckon yourself dead indeed with Jesus on the cross. The word “reckon” in Greek means to treat yourself as really dead. But many of us keep on rationalizing and repressing. So when we come into a situation where somebody attacks us or criticizes us in the office, we don’t act as a corpse. No, we’re very much alive. We whip right back. The old corpse is lying flat on the ground. Suddenly the arm lifts up and strikes the fellow back.

Do you see that that’s where we’re going astray? We’re rationalizing. We’re repressing. We’re introspecting. We’re coming into despair. But we’re not reckoning ourselves dead indeed unto Jesus. Dead indeed unto self and alive to Jesus.

Do you see that believing is an active thing? Loved ones, a number of us are coming into bondage here because we’re thinking this is a game that you play in your thoughts. It isn’t. Believing is a very active thing. “Beleafa” in Anglo-Saxon means that you be in accordance with what the truth is. The truth is you were crucified with Christ.

So — let the other person tear you apart. What’s he tearing apart? An old dear corpse? What does that matter? But do you see you? Be in accordance with what is the truth in Jesus. Belief is not a juggling with thoughts. It’s not introspection. It’s not repression. It’s not rationalization. It’s not despair. It’s simply acting as if you’ve been crucified with Christ and there’s no “you” to respond.

Then obedience is the same thing. A lot of us are coming into this place where we say, “Well, I believe that I am crucified with Christ. But I still don’t feel crucified.” It doesn’t matter whether you feel it or not. It doesn’t matter whether other people see it or not. You believe that you’ve been crucified with Christ, and you submit yourself to the Holy Spirit at each moment as he tells you things.

But do you see? The truth is, in a way, a very external thing. And I think a number of us come into bondage because we make it an internal judging with thought life. No, it isn’t. It’s a

(cid:9) believing that you’ve been crucified with Christ, and an acting as if that’s true, and it’s a submitting to the Holy Spirit the first time he tells you to do something.

But both of those are very external things. In fact, faith in the New Testament is a very external thing. It’s a believing, a treating yourself as if this thing and that thing is true. And it’s an obeying — an obeying God when he tells you to repent, and obeying his Spirit when he tells you to do things. And loved ones, those truths set you free.

Now I’m sure a number of you are sitting there and you’re saying, “Oh but how does it all become real?” That’s up to the Holy Spirit. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to make the truth of these two facts real in you. It’s not up to you to look in and see, “Is my crucifixion with Christ real? Is my new birth real?” It’s up to the Holy Spirit to make these things real in you as you take care of those things that you can take care of.

That is the way of freedom, and the truth will always set you free. It will never bring you into bondage. When you find a brother or sister coming into bondage over their crucifixion with Christ, it’s not because they’re coming into the truth. It’s because they’re coming into one of these subtle lies or errors of Satan. But the truth itself will always set you free.

Now loved ones, do you see, tonight really all I can do is present those truths briefly to you and give you the scripture verses? You yourself need to go to the Holy Spirit and ask him, “Holy Spirit, am I coming into bondage to some deception of Satan in these areas of my life? Is it because I’ve accepted some of Satan’s lies that I’m in bondage about my forgiveness of my sins or about my victory over sin? Am I really dwelling in the truth?” And loved ones, the truth is really a joyful thing to live in, and the truth is those two things there, actually entering into those in actuality. And that sets you free. It really does.

Next Sunday evening I’d like to do a little about these areas here that we’ve talked of before at times, the mind and emotions and how they’re connected really with the resurrection of Jesus, and the spirit and how it’s connected with the ascension of Jesus. Some of you may find that you’ve come as far as the two things we talked about tonight, and you’re having victory there. Yet you’re coming into bondage in these other areas.

But loved ones, do you see that it’s really a very simple thing? It really is, and we should see it as that. And it’s an active thing. It’s not a feeling thing. It’s not an “internal juggling of thoughts” thing. It’s an active believing and obeying. So will you just go to the Holy Spirit and ask him, “Holy Spirit, have I come into unnecessary bondage in these areas?” And really get clear and walk free. Walk free each day. It is the Father’s will.

Let us pray. Lord Jesus, we thank you that your way is a way of freedom. Savior, we know that Satan is in among us trying to internalize this whole business until it’s all a psychological game. But Lord Jesus, we know it’s a very sure appropriation of what has happened to us in you on Calvary. And Lord Jesus, we know that it is the Holy Spirit that makes these things real in us. It isn’t us by all our emotions, and all our introspection — it is the Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus, we thank you that if we do our part you will do yours. We thank you that our part is so clear and so obvious. In order to come into a real forgiveness of our sins and a real freedom from guilt in our consciences, we’ve simply to repent. Turn from our sins and to believe that you have died for us. And in regard to that old, selfish, independent will inside us that is making a mess

of our Christian lives, we’ve simply to accept that we were crucified with you and to live as if that is really true — by submitting to your Holy Spirit each time he speaks.

Lord Jesus, we thank you that it is such a joyous way. We thank you that it is such a way of freedom and liberty. Now I trust you Savior, by your Holy Spirit, to apply this to each brother and sister here tonight, so that if there is anyone here walking in bondage in regard to their conscience and their wills, they will come into real freedom in you.

Lord, we thank you that you have told us that we are to rejoice, and again you said to us, to rejoice. We thank you that we can walk in continual joy because all of this has been done already in you, and we’ve simply to accept it into our own lives.

We commit ourselves to you for this purpose. And now Lord Jesus, in the coming week we trust you to find it easy to live freely in us. Lord Jesus, we commit ourselves to living for you — to put you first. We commit ourselves to turning from own selves and all our self-concern, wondering what people are thinking of us, wondering how we’re doing. We commit ourselves to looking to you and being concerned about you this week — and not us. Savior, we trust you to give us a Christ-centered life as we do this — so that you will, in every way, be able to live your life again through us wherever we go these next six days.

Now, we commit ourselves to you. We trust you to fill us with your Spirit for this purpose. Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and evermore.