Freedom in Christ

freedom-1I am excited to prepare and teach this lesson during our Connect Group meeting this coming Sunday. As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are walking through the entire Bible over a three year period, from Genesis through Revelation. Last Sunday, we jumped into the book of Exodus. Genesis was amazing and I am excited to see what Exodus holds for us. We just saw how Moses answered God’s Great Calling in Exodus 3-4. This week, we are going to see how God extended that Great Calling to the children of Israel through Moses and how God extends that Great Calling to us today, through Jesus Christ. Our passages for consideration today are Exodus 7 and Exodus 12.

I. A call to Freedom

God has an eternal calling that He began back in Genesis 3. He is on a mission to extend His mercy and grace to mankind through the Promised Messiah. We are going to see a picture of that in the lives of the people of the nation of Israel. They are enslaved to their master, Pharaoh, and they need to be set free so that they can serve the One and Only True Master, the Lord God. As Jesus tells us in His famous sermon on the mount, we cannot serve two masters.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.
15 “Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent.
16 “You shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.”
17 ‘Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood.
18 “The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.””‘ (Exodus 7)

God, in His great mercy and grace, gives Pharaoh nine different chances to come to his senses and repent of his ways. Pharaoh is happy to be the master over the Israelites. God wants to be their Master and He is going to make it possible where they can worship and serve Him alone. Today, we have a master similar to Pharaoh. He is our sin nature who wants to continue to dominate our daily existence as he always has. God has a message of a Sacrificial Savior. Once we are able to worship God as our One, True Master, we have a job before us.

4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
7 ” You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6)

The first thing that we are to do is to stay away from other idols. Even though we have been set free from our old master, sin, he is still present and desires that we engage him from time to time. We have to be aware of the potential to worship idols and stay away from them. Our goal in life is to worship and serve God alone. The next thing that we must seek to do is to teach the ways of the Lord to the next generations. We begin with our own children. Parents need to be an example for their kids by having a personal relationship with God. Parents are a model for their children. Parents show their children how to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength. As the children learn from their parents’ example, parents begin to invest the Word of God into the lives of their children. God wants the parents to educate their children, especially in spiritual matters. How do we teach them? Talk with them. How many times as parents do we get so busy with life that we do not have time to sit and listen to our kids, to have good conversations with them? How many times do parents come home from work and turn on the t.v. and just spend the evening “with their kids” but not paying any attention to them? Talk to them while sitting at home. Share with them when they ask questions, and children have tons of questions. Before going to bed, share the Word of God with them. Tell them Bible stories. Read the Bible with them. There are many ways to get children in the Bible and get the Bible in the children. Be creative. In the morning, before you leave for work, sit down and read together, tell them a story, pray together to set the tone of the day. You will be amazed at what a difference this will make in your relationship with your children.

II. Freedom’s Cost

Freedom is not free. We must understand this and continually teach this to each generation. It may not cost you anything but, just because someone paid the bill for you, that does not mean that it was free of charge. God paid the bill for our freedom and that payment was very costly. In Exodus 12, we see a picture of the final payment that God would readily hand over for humanity’s freedom. There had to be a sacrificial lamb, innocent, and perfect, offered up in place of the lives of the firstborn children. The blood of the lamb was the sign to defeat death. The children of Israel had to to things God’s way. They could not overcome death their own way, like the Egyptians were trying (in vain) to do. This was all a picture of the perfect lamb of God whom God, Himself would provide for the sacrifice and whose blood would pay the penalty for sin.

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrificial lamb of God. His death pays the debt that we owe because of sin. His death releases us from sin’s grip over our lives. His death releases us from our former master so that we may worship and serve our new Master, Jesus Christ.

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Jesus rescues us from sin’s power. He paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Freedom is not free. It does not cost us anything but it cost God everything. Just like the children of Israel could not overcome death any way that they wanted, neither do we. The only way to overcome death is to accept God’s payment in the form of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There is no other way. Do you believe this? Are you ready to surrender to this?

III. Freedom’s Reminder

For me, reminders are crucial. I have them on my calendar. I have them on my phone. My wife gives many reminders to me. Why do I need so many reminders? It is because I forget very easily. The children of Israel were the same way. You are the same way today. We are all the same. Unless we are reminded often, we tend to forget. Exodus 12 teaches us that the Passover was to be an eternal reminder for the children of Israel that they came out of bondage to worship God and travel to the Promised Land. This Passover was to be celebrated annually, from generation to generation. The Apostle Paul gives us a little more insight into why the Passover was so important.

7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Corinthians 5)

The context of what the Apostle Paul writes above is sin in the church being tolerated. Paul has to remind the believers in Corinth that, in order to worship and serve God, our sin must be dealt with constantly. What does he mean by that? There was a man in the Corinthian church who was engaging in sexual relations with his step-mother. The church knew about it. The pagan Corinthians knew about it. The church chose to be “loving” and “tolerant” by not confronting the sin. The pagans were laughing at the believers claiming, “we don’t do stuff like that, why would we want to be part of a church that does things like that?” On the road to the Promised Land, the children of Israel were going to have to battle their sin nature. Removing the leaven was a visible picture of this spiritual truth. We are on the road to the Promised Land, as followers of Jesus Christ. We are going to be in a constant battle with our sin nature. We must remove the leaven from among us because a little leaven will leaven the entire loaf. Uncontested sin will spread and impact all in a very negative way.

The Passover, in Exodus 12, was also to be a reminder. It pointed in two different directions at the same time. It pointed to the coming of the Messiah who would deliver from spiritual slavery and, at the same time, it pointed back to deliverance from physical slavery. It was a reminder. Jesus took the Passover and used the occasion to institute what we call the Lord’s Supper today. It also goes by the name Communion and the Eucharist. The Lord’s Supper has a three fold purpose, according to the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 11.

The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins. The Lord’s Supper is also a reminder of the resurrection of Christ to set us free from our slavery to our sin nature. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember these two monumental events. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder that Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth again one day. He came the first time as a Suffering Servant, riding on a donkey, seeking to make peace between God and man. When He returns for the second time and places His feet on the earth, He will be riding a white horse, coming to make war and pour out the wrath of God on all who do not believe or obey the Gospel. In between remembering and reminding, we have the third purpose of the Lord’s Supper. It is a time for followers of Jesus Christ to examine our relationships. We begin with examining our relationship with God. Then we examine our relationships in our homes. Finally, we end with examining our relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in the Church (the local body of Christ). As the 10 Commandments and the Greatest Commandment teach us, our relationship with God will impact our relationships with others. We cannot claim that our relationship with God is fine if we have poor relationships in our homes and with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If and when God shows us where we are wrong, we need to confess and repent, seeking to restore the broken relationships and then take the Lord’s Supper.

Do these three things happen when you take the Lord’s Supper? Usually, we can do the first two without a problem because that does not deal with confession and repentance. It is just between God and us. We have a really hard time with number three because we do not like to be confronted and we do not like to admit that there are problems in our relationships. We also try to avoid dealing with conflicts, hoping that they will just magically go away. When is the last time that taking the Lord’s Supper led to restored relationships in your home or church? For some of you, it has probably never happened because the Lord’s Supper has become a ritual and routine and you never really take the time to dwell on the significance of it. Now would be a good time to examine your relationships and allow God to examine your heart as you examine those relationships. Are their conflicts in your life? Do you need to call someone and confess, asking for forgiveness? Is there someone whom you need to forgive? Are you willing to break the ice and reach out to that person? May the Lord help us live in the freedom that He promises to us by examining our lives daily and obeying His leading!!!

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