Paul was a man who was in chains many days of his life and yet he knew freedom more than anyone else did. We're going to learn from his letters what it means to live free.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Christ has set us free, do we enjoy the freedom? Let us not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
1. A free man will have nothing to hide
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.
2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
Paul was a man who had nothing to hide. How do we make sure our salvation is secure? Have nothing to hide. Paul is not concerned about who judges him on earth. He doesn't even judge himself. He says, "The Lord will judge me".
In 1977 two young men committed a bad crime. They went into an elderly woman's house and attacked her with sticks and a knife. For many years the police could not solve this crime. Finally they closed the file and forgot it totally. In 1994 a man went to the police station and said, "I committed that crime". Why was he surrendering himself now when everything had been forgotten? A few years after he committed the crime, this man learnt about Jesus Christ and it changed his life. After a struggle with himself, he mustered up the courage to surrender to the police. The man was imprisoned. His body maybe imprisoned but his soul has been set free from the burden of sin. He no longer carries the guilt and burden of sin.
And that's exactly what Paul did. He was against the 1st Century Christians, he almost gave approval to stone to death an innocent man - Stephen. And then when he changed, the small community of Christians did not want to accept Paul because they knew him as a murderer. Confession has the power of liberating us. Once a sin is confessed, it no longer enslaves us. We don't have to worry about when are we going to be discovered and who's going to hold us accountable.
2. A free man will have nothing to lose.
Paul was in prison and he had lost everything. He had lost his education, his religious pride, his leadership position, his money, his worldly friends, his synagogue connection. How does Paul feel about it?
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
"Nothing" and "rubbish" - that's what Paul considers what he has lost. We have left many things behind to become a disciple. How do we feel today? If we get attached to these things now we become anchored to this world and we cannot get closer to God. People think this world is life.
Paul says gaining Christ is the only thing he wants to know. He does not care about what he lost but he wants to gain Christ. Paul says, "To live is Christ, to die is gain". He says he wants to be like Christ, to love like Christ and to die like Christ. Are we carrying the cross daily and follow Jesus? Do we desire to know Christ more, his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. Who can oppose a person who has given up everything? As disciples when we are willing to lose everything we gain Christ. The more we sacrifice the more we are set free.
3. A free man will have nothing to fear
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
We can call God "Abba, Father". It's amazing - for God, whether we are 5 years old or 50 years old, we are still his children. When he sees us he loves to hug us, to hold us tight, to look at us and admire us.
We know the story about a small boy who accidentally killed a duck. The servant, who was watching this, after a few days, called the boy and asked him to wash the dishes. The boy refused to do it saying it was the servant's job to do it. The servant looked at him and said, "Ducky, ducky". The boy was so afraid the servant would tell his father and he washed the dishes. The next day the servant asked him to sweep the floor and when the boy refused, he reminded the boy about his crime saying " Ducky, ducky". But one day the boy told his father about the duck, how he killed it. From that time onwards he felt free.
Is there any 'duck' in our life making us to be enslaved? We did not receive a spirit that makes us a slave again to fear but a spirit of sonship. Let us go to our Abba and get the freedom.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Let us love our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and let us love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Let us live a free life.