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The Freedom of the Christian

June 30, 2013

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Proper 8 (Sixth Sunday after Pentecost)           Trinity Lutheran Church

30 June 2013                                                            Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

You are died for!  That’s Calvary!  In the bloody, beaten, and dead Body that hangs on the tree salvation has been achieved for you and for the world.  By Jesus only!  That Good Friday salvation was bestowed on you through the preaching of the Gospel and in Holy Baptism, “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5-6).  You have been faith-ed by the Holy Spirit through that proclamation of forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.  You are a Christian.  A new creation in Christ.  Set free with the freedom that the Good Friday of Christ’s forgiveness brings.

So now what?  How are you, the Christian, to live?  How are you to use the forgiveness freedom Jesus has given you?

What’s the answer?  Well, usually the answer goes like this:  I can do anything I want.  I can do what feels good to me.  What I like.  What I desire.  What benefits me.  What empowers me.  Selfish self-centeredness.

But that’s not freedom.  That’s slavery.  Living under the tyrannical law of living for the self is bondage.  The self becomes an idol.  A false god.  It’s not life.  It’s death.  Selfish living expresses itself very concretely and it quite obviously in,  “the acts of the sinful nature [or the old Adam].”  St. Paul gives a laundry list.  The majority of the black robes on the Supreme Court apparently relish the opportunity to legalize the desires and acts of the sinful nature.    Living for the self gets exhibited in,  “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.”  You know, like the Kardashian family.  Everyone is desperately trying to be like the Kardashians!  Like Kim and her partner Kanye.  Or like the Bachelor or the Bachelorette.  Living only for the self! Conceited.  Provocative.  Envious.   Devouring each other.  Destroying each other.  Gratification of the self 24-7-365!  As if this is what it means to have a happy life.

To live kardashian-ly, bachelor-ly or bachelorette-ly is not what it means to be a Christian.  Just the opposite.

The Christian uses her freedom in Christ or her forgiveness in Christ to FIGHT AGAINST her old sinful nature.  Daily.  The Christian life is the daily search and destroy mission of using God’s Word against the old Adam’s false preaching of self-gratification.  God has His say.  And here is His say:  “Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.”  Instead, “crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

Did you hear that?  Can’t get any more radical than that.  The old Adam, your sinful nature, is to be put to death.  Crucified.  Not reformed.  Not domesticated.  Not retrained.  But killed!

This is where we as Christians have failed miserably.  This is where the Church too has lost its way.  You can’t tell the difference between Christians, the Church and the Kardashians.  We are no longer salt or light.  The old Adam lives as lord and we live outside of our Baptisms and Christ’s cross.

Seriously!  Why become a Christian when Christianity is no different than the world?  Why be a Christian when the church is just like Hollywood – nothing more than entertainment and gratification of the self?

Why join the church when too many of her bishops and pastors give permission for infanticide, encourage you to bow the knees and give your “Amens” to the Mount Olympus-like decisions of five divinity impersonators in black robes to indulge in every kind of deviant sexual practice including same sex unions and thereby excluding sinners and their sin from the forgiveness of sins that Jesus won on Good Friday?  No wonder the church, her preachers, and the few that take the time to sit in the musty pews are a laughing stock!  After all, they’re simply useful idiots, dupes or lackeys, for the world’s agenda.  No wonder very few take the church or her preaching seriously!

So what are we to do?  It is time to repent.  To confess our sin as well as the sin of those in authority who violate God’s will in their vocations.  It is time to die to our sin.  And to trust God’s Word.  This is the Christian life.  Look in the mirror of God’s Word – His Commandments – and His promise of forgiveness in the gospel.  It is time for us to daily go to war against our sin and our sinful nature.  Mortal combat.  To the death.  No truce.  No compromise.  If you refuse to be a Christian in this way; if you insist on indulging your sinful nature and gratifying the old Adam’s wicked desires, then be warned.  “That those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Really?  It’s what the text says.  This is very serious.  Salvation serious.  I won’t spin it.  I won’t massage it.  You can lose your salvation.  When you insist on it.  When you will not repent and believe.  When you give the old Adam free reign.  Total control.  A Kardashian or Supreme Court blank check!  When you will no longer use your Baptism to fight against your sin and when you refuse to use Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

“So I say, live by the Spirit.”  Put the old Adam to death.  Repent of your sin.  Believe in Jesus for forgiveness.  Listen again to the text:  “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

Then you are truly free!  After all, when you’re not living idolatrously for yourself, you are free to live outside yourself!  To live for others.  To be a little Christ!  To serve – not to be served!  “Serve one another in love … Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s the good use the Lord has for you His died for and forgiven people!

The good tree of faith in Jesus bears fruit in your life.  Naturally.  Your Baptism into Christ has its way with you.  The Holy Spirit quietly rolls up His sleeves and uses you for the good of your neighbor.  You come to church because you want to.  You want to uplift and encourage your fellow believers and your family with your presence, your confession, your faith, and your praise of Jesus.  You want to help your spouse.  You want to be faithful to your spouse.  You want to help your children.  You want to do your work faithfully.  You bear the insults of your enemy.  You suffer the hatred of the world for confessing Christ.  In other words, you want to live according to God’s Word.

And the world’s hatred and persecution against you and the Christ you confess are coming very soon.  Faster than you could ever imagine in America!  The “divine” mob of five black robes has set the table for it.  The divines have authoritatively and infallibly proclaimed that indulging the sinful nature is a natural, civil, American constitutional right!  To oppose these black robes that love to play the role of God – no – replace God with what they call good and evil, will earn their wrath.  One of the black robes insinuated that you Christians who stand only for marriage between a man and woman are the scum of the earth – the most hate-filled people in the world — that you are essentially  “enemies of the human race.”  Do you realize what these black robes will do to enemies of the human race?

In the meantime, your desire to live according to God’s Word is the way of the Holy Spirit.  The text calls it “fruit.”  “Fruit of the Spirit.” “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Fruit happens.  Fruit of the Spirit flows from faith in Jesus.  The Jesus who died for sinners.  Who forgives real life sinners.

And with the fruit of the Spirit there’s no scorekeeping. “Against such things there is no law.”  No bookkeeping.  No comparisons.  Don’t even go there!  The Spirit produces fruit when and where it pleases Him in those who hear the Gospel and are baptized.

You are died for.  You are forgiven.  You are a new creation in Christ.  Set free.  To live for your neighbor.  To love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s a Holy Spirit – filled life!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!”  Free to fight against your sinful nature and to live for others.

In the name of Jesus.

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