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Freedom in Christ
July 5, 2010
by Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

There is a great deal of talk about freedom during this time of year. This only makes sense. During this time of year, we celebrate our nation’s independence.

The Christian faith is also about freedom. Martin Luther describes this freedom in his commentary on the epistle of Galatians. In this commentary, Luther states, “This is the freedom with which Christ has set us free, not from some human slavery or tyrannical authority, but from the eternal wrath of God.”

Luther understood the need for such freedom. As a monk, he was very devoted in his pursuit to love and serve the Lord. Not only did he earnestly pray, fast, and endure deprivations, but he would also faithfully go to confession.

Despite his earnest devotion as a monk, he could not get rid of the despair and doom that haunted him. Confession had revealed to him that his heart was stained and soiled by sin. As a result, he was troubled with the thought that all his efforts failed to please the righteousness of God.

This threat of punishment from a righteous God hung over Luther. His works and devotion did not free him from the soils and stains of sin that blemished his heart. Instead, it made Luther resent and despise God. How could he possibly love a God that always had his finger of guilt pointed at him?

That same finger of guilt points at us. This is what the Law does – it also reveals our sinfulness. The Law reveals that our hearts are not filled with love for God and our neighbor. Instead, we are selfish. We are greedy. We are petty. This is what lurks within us. Our hearts are stained and soiled by sin. Thus, the threat of punishment from a righteous God hangs over us. This is what we deserve according to his justice.

Instead of giving us what we deserve, however, God gives us a gift. This gift gets to the problem of sin and makes our hearts right. This gift cleanses the stains and blemishes within us so that God no longer points at us and declares us to be guilty. For this reason, there is no reason to be hostile and defiant. Instead of condemning us, God forgives us.

Such a gift came at a high price, however. In order to obtain our forgiveness, God put forward his only, beloved Son. All of our sins would be placed on him. As a result, he would endure the punishment that was meant for us. That is why the sinless Son of God was nailed to a cross between two criminals.

But that blow on the cross would not be his end. He would rise again in victory.

That is why there is freedom in Christ. In Christ, the Law has come to an end. This means that it can no longer accuse and condemn us. The holy and precious blood that Jesus shed for us took our guilt away.

Where is the end of your captivity to sin? Where is true freedom located? It is located in Christ Jesus, who loves you and gave himself for you.