• Joel

The Spirit of Freedom


Hello, saints! Here are the notes from tonight's sermon on Spiritual Freedom.


2Co 3:12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 3:14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 3:15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.3:16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 3:17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Spirit of Freedom


The verse I’d like to start tonight by focusing upon is verse 17. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. What exactly is that liberty that Paul is talking about and how does that relate to the veil of Moses? How does one explain the veil of Moses in these passages? And how is all of that connected to our liberty that we have because of the Spirit of the Lord? Hold your place here and get with me Exodus 34. We had a few podcasts ago called “compartmentalized dispensationalism” basically talking about people who read Paul and nothing else, and we’re like, “No! Read the whole Bible! We’re connected to Abraham! Paul would tell us in Gal. 3 that we are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise; we are as Isaac was, the children of promise. This may be a different program but there is only one kingdom, which means we’re connected to Isaac, David, etc., all jointly fit together in the same temple at the end of Eph. 2, whose cornerstone is Christ Himself. One of the aspects I love about these passages in 2 Cor. 3 is that Paul gives an illustration from the OT to teach a spiritual principle for us today. Here we have the event in which Moses spent time communing with the Lord in Mount Sinai and came back with that shiny face.


Exo 34:29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. Exo 34:30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. Exo 34:31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. Exo 34:32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. Exo 34:33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. Exo 34:34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. Exo 34:35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Moses here, when he went to the mount, he literally beheld the glory of the Lord. He communed with the Lord. He accepted by faith all the words of the Lord. And when he returned to the nation of Israel, his face literally reflected the shining glory of the Lord. I came across a few interesting thoughts about this story in commentaries and such.


That shining face reflected the honor and privilege it is to spend time with the Lord and to hear His Words. We know the words of the Lord produce light in us. David wrote in Psa 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. That shining face also gave Moses credibility when he spoke the words of the Lord to the people. That shining face was a reflection of the holy glory of God, which reminded the people of their shame of their earlier sins with the golden calf and now they couldn’t even look at him. Here the Lord makes new tablets after Moses had destroyed the previous ones because of the golden calf. And we find here that the glory of God produces a strange reaction in people because of their own sin. That shining face also speaks to perception. Moses was not at first aware of his shining face, but the people around him saw it. We may not always feel Godly, but people may still see that godliness in us. One commentator said that godliness puts a lustre upon a man’s countenance, and we should let our lights shine before men. Moses putting that veil on his face can also be viewed as a lesson in humility. We do not make a show in the flesh of the glory that we’ve been given from God. Moses did not want to lord over them his seeming superiority because he spent time with the Lord and had a gloriously shiny face to show for it, but he put that veil over his face so he could approach the people at their level, as one of them, to reduce their fear in the God with whom they’ve entered a covenant relationship, and Moses could reach their hearts by sharing with them the words of the Lord with plainness of speech. But when Moses went in before the Lord, he took off the veil, Exo_34:34. There was no reason for a veil when he’s with the Lord, because every man is unveiled before God. For all things are naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do, and it is folly for anyone to think of covering up anything when we are communing with the words of the Lord.


So turn back with me to 2 Cor. 3. 2Co 3:12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: Because of the importance of everyone knowing the hope we have in Christ – what is that hope? The end of it all for us, the Rapture of the church, our glorified heavenly bodies, our seats in heavenly places, being used of the Father to glorify His grace in His kindness toward us by His Son. The endgame of grace is so important, we can’t muddy truth with fancy speech. We focus upon accuracy and clarity so we might all together grasp the richness and the glory of that hope we have in Christ.


3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: That’s an interesting expression. Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished. They could not look the end of the law that has already ended. See, Moses knew from the beginning that the law was temporary. That something greater was coming later. I don’t think Moses knew the law was going to be abolished through the sacrifice of the Lord on the cross, but he knew that the law was not permanent. He knew that something greater would come. And yet, the people could not see what Moses could see. There was a veil in their hearts, a barrier of unbelief between them and God’s Word, which meant that Israel could not see the big picture of it all, the end of the law, because their hearts were blinded by sin and lack of faith. They could only digest milk. They could only grasp the basics of the law. They could not digest the full meat of the wisdom of God, the big picture of God’s design that this law was temporary and something greater was going to come. So Moses wasn’t the only one who was veiled. They people were veiled in their hearts, unable to grasp the greatness of God’s design, and could only understand the minimal basics of law. And this principle about the veil is used by Paul to illustrate Israel’s blindness even today, their continued adherence to the OT but they cannot attain the glory of the Lord because of their lack of faith about Christ as their Messiah.


3:14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Their veil is blindness because of unbelief, and that veil is lifted when they come to Christ in faith.


3:16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. When Israel turns to the Lord in faith, that veil will be removed, and they’ll be able to attain the glory of the Lord like Moses. 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit... This is an interesting expression. When Paul says THAT Spirit, I think this is a reference to the Holy Spirit earlier in the chapter in vs. 6, the Spirit that giveth life, and the Lord is that Spirit. So who gives us life? Does the Lord give us life through His sacrifice at Calvary or does the Spirit give us life by transforming us the moment we believed? YES. The Lord and the Spirit are one, just as the Lord said during the earthly ministry that He and the Father are one. This is why the Words of the Lord give life, because the Lord is that Spirit, He and the Spirit are one and the Spirit gives life to those who fully accept by faith the words of the Lord.


Then, the second half of the verse, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. What will be true for Israel in the new covenant is already true for us. When the people of Israel turn to the Lord in the tribulation, and when the Lord returns to establish His new covenant with them, they’ll be filled with the Spirit. He will write His laws onto their hearts. They shall finally be His people and He shall be their God. There will be liberty at last. They will not be under bondage and condemnation of sin through the law, but they’ll obey the law naturally in their new bodies being filled with the Spirit. They will be at perfect liberty, because they’ve been freed from sin and filled with God Himself. They will in everything they say and do reflect the glory of the Lord even as the face of Moses reflected the glory of the Lord.


All of this brings us to the spiritual principle Paul makes about His glory being reflected in us if we spend time in His Word. 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. This glass that we’re beholding is the Word of God as defined in James 1:23. So by the grace of God we are able to see through the glass, through the Word of God, the glory of His majesty in the face of the exalted Son of God seated at the right hand of God. When we read the Word, we behold the glory of Christ Jesus, the glory of not only what He accomplished at Calvary, as a payment for all sin, but also the glory of all the He is, that process changes us from the inside out to become like His image. From glory-to-glory, Paul says here, His glory transferred to us. The more we focus on Christ, the more we grow, and the more we’re changed into His glory by the Spirit. And here we have the point that what was literal in the OT is a spiritual principle for us today. When we spend time in His Word, and we accept by faith all that is written to us and we yield ourselves to His teachings, the glory of His life is transferred to us, and we reflect the glory of who He is just as the glory of the Lord was literally reflected on the face of Moses. We don’t reflect the glory of the Lord in a literal sense as Moses but in a spiritual sense, by reflecting the nature and attributes of Christ Himself in our lives. Just as Israel will have liberty being freed from the power of sin filled with the Spirit in the New Covenant, we’ve already been given that same liberty by that same Spirit. We’re coming back to this subject.


Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

A lot of talk about loss of freedom today. No doubt, there will be troublous times ahead for us. We may be persecuted. We may lose our freedoms. Yet, despite whatever freedoms we may lose, we will never lose the greatest freedom that God Himself gave us - freedom from the law of sin and death. This verse is yet another confirmation of the literal, spiritual reality of your new life in Christ by virtue of your identification with His Son and what He accomplished for you at Calvary. Make no mistake. My all-time favorite doctrine is identification with Christ. That is what I’m all about. So let’s first define these two terms. Just as we are either in Adam or in Christ, so too, we are under one of two spiritual laws: the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus or the law of sin and death.


So what is the law of sin and death? If I were to characterize the law of sin in a sound-byte, I’d say it is essentially, the consequence of sin, the corruption that brings about the death of our bodies because of sin, which is followed by the second death, the ultimate consequence of sin. Now after you get saved, you still reap what you sow and you’ll not gain rewards at the Bema Seat for poor service, which Rom. 8:1 is talking about, but what verse two is talking about is the freedom from the bondage and consequence of sin by the Spirit. Paul explained in the previous chapter, when he acquiesced to the desires of his corrupted flesh, he sinned (Rom. 7:23), which meant he would die in his sins like every unbeliever. Also, he was in bondage to sin in the flesh. When you sin as a child, you will be in bondage to the power of sin until you get saved. Paul says in vs. 25, “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin”. Paul was not a sinner because he broke the law. He broke the law because he was a sinner. And not one Jew to whom he was writing, who knew the law, couldn’t relate to these thoughts and the hopeless struggle they experienced in the flesh to fulfill the law. The struggle for Paul was so exacerbating, he would cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” So who has delivered us from the bondage to sin in this body of death? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself! So we get out from under the law in chapter 7 and into the Spirit of Christ in chapter 8 whose spiritual baptism made us “free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). We’re free from the dominion and the consequence of sin and death! In chapter 7, Paul was in bondage to the law of sin (Rom. 7:23). In chapter 8, he's been freed from the law of sin (Rom. 8:2). In chapter 7, Paul spoke of the past when they were still in the flesh (Rom. 7:5). In chapter 8, vs. 9. he speaks of our present tense spiritual reality how we are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit (Rom. 8:9). In chapter 7, Paul could not fulfil the law walking in his flesh. In chapter 8 Paul could fulfil the law by love walking in the Spirit. What could not be accomplished in the flesh under the law may now be accomplished in the Spirit free from the law of sin.


So how would you define the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? I think Paul defines it for us in chapter 8. Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. So if the Spirit is inside you, and we know the Spirit is inside of us, because we’re all temples of the Living God. The moment you accept the gospel by faith, the Spirit takes up residence inside you and baptizes you into the Body of Christ and then what? You’re free! You’re free from the bondage and consequence of sin and death! But you’re more than that. You’re also alive unto God, because His life now lives inside of you. So you have this great contrast between the Law of Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus vs. the Law of sin and death. I’d say they are both spiritual laws of consequence. Before your salvation, you’re under the law of sin and death, because you’re subject to the consequence of sin. Because of sin, you’re in bondage to sin in the flesh. You’re facing the consequence of sin with the death of the body and the second death, an eternal separation from God, unless you get saved. But after your salvation, you’re under the Law of Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, because you have by the Holy Spirit been made alive unto God! Because of the Spirit, you’re now reaping the benefits and the glory to come for having faith in His Son! Because of faith, you’re now free! You’re free from the consequence of sin. You’re now free from the bondage of sin! You’re alive unto God! Under the Law of sin and death, you have the negative consequence because of sin. Under the Law of Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, you have the positive consequence because of faith. And all of this is possible because of our identification with Christ - my favorite doctrine.


Our Glorious Identification with Christ


Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Do you realize what he’s saying here? He’s saying that we’re spiritually dead, buried, and risen with His Son, which is what we lovingly like to call “our identification with Christ.” His death became our death. His burial became our burial. His resurrection became our resurrection. And the newness of His life after His resurrection became our newness of life and we are to walk in that newness of life! J.C. O’Hair loved to say that we are living His resurrection life right here, right now. God loved us so much as to make us so intimately identified with His Son that when we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we spiritually die with Him. Our old man, which is our old selves, is crucified with Him. Put to death! Then, we are spiritually buried with Him. Our old man and all our sins, including our bondage to sin as part of the fallen human race in Adam, are buried with Him. And finally, we are spiritually risen from the grave with Him, “like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father.” Our resurrection with Christ places us under the Law of Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus because we’ve been freed from the sting of death and the power of sin over us! We are made victorious in our spiritual resurrection with Him now freed from the bondage of sin and death just as Christ Himself was freed after He rose again, and we are now living His resurrected life, an eternal newness of life.


Are we dead with Christ? Gal. 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live…” Are we buried with Christ? Rom. 6:4 says that we are “buried with him by baptism…” And are we risen with Christ? Col. 2:12 tells us “…ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” We are dead, buried, and risen with Christ living in His newness of life right now! The same tenets you accept by faith to become saved are the same tenets you accept by faith to reckon everything you are in Christ. Because it all goes back to death, burial, and resurrection, doesn’t it? Because if you consider the all-sufficiency of what Christ accomplished on the cross, how can we not become identified with His death, burial, and resurrection? Because the very point of Christ dying on that cross is to have victory over sin and death! You have to become dead, buried, and resurrected with Christ in order for that victory to become a reality in your life the moment you believed! It’s as if God the Father is saying, now that you’ve reckoned that my Son died, was buried, and resurrected for you, now go reckon that truth for yourself as being dead, buried, and resurrected with My Son. Identification goes hand-in-hand with the gospel because in order for you to become a new creature alive unto God freed from the bondage and condemnation of sin, you to have become dead, buried, and resurrected with Christ. The fact that identification goes hand-in-hand with the gospel is illustrated by the fact that Paul challenges you at the beginning of Romans 6 and says repeatedly, “know ye not?” He’s saying, basically, “don’t you realize the magnitude of what Christ accomplished for you, in you, and through you? In order for eternal life to become a reality the moment you believe, by logical necessity, you must be dead, buried, and resurrected with Christ!”


This isn’t some grace doctrine that we acknowledge intellectually. This is something that we have to meditate upon, each one of us. We must reckon this truth as a reality for ourselves. We have to actually see ourselves as God sees us in Christ - dead, buried, and risen with His Son living His newness of life, right here, right now. Then and only then can we begin to live our lives according to what God has made us in Christ. Until you take the time to meditate upon your identity in Christ, and you actually see yourself as dead, buried, and risen with Christ living His resurrection life, right here, right now, then, and only then, can you function as a believer living the way God wants you to live!


Yes, We’re Freed from Sin!


Look at Rom. 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Look at Rom. 6:22, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Isn’t Romans 6:22 amazing? He says, “But now being made free from sin”! We have been made free from sin! God made us to be free from the bondage of sin! Why? Because he that is dead is freed from sin. So are we or are we not literally freed from sin’s dominion over us as God tells us? We considered our transformation by virtue of our spiritual identification with Christ: the death and burial of our old selves, our resurrection with Christ into His newness of life, which means we have a new life in Christ as completely new creatures. Now we’ve come to these passages that literally flood Romans 6 about our freedom from sin’s dominion over our souls. How can this not be a literal reality of what God has made us if we’re dead, buried, and risen with Christ? How can we not be literally freed from sin’s dominion over our souls if we are spiritually dead, buried, and risen with Christ? Once you have fully grasped the magnitude of your identification with Christ, then the question becomes, “How can it not also be true that we’ve been literally freed from sin’s power over us?” Why? Because he that is dead is freed from sin.


This morning, Fred was also talking about the liberty we have in Christ and Chris Nelson made the comment in the live chat that this topic had him thinking of Otis on the Andy Griffith show, who grew accustomed to being in a jail cell. Ignoring the fact that the door was never locked, he acted the part of a prisoner. Although he was always free. Is this not Christianity in a nutshell? Rather than that embrace the all-sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross and celebrate all the victories we have in Christ including our complete spiritual transformation the moment we got saved, they’d rather live in their own spiritual jail cell than be free. We’re to not only reckon ourselves as free, but as Fred pointed out this morning, we’re to stand fast and defend that liberty we have in Christ!


Conclusion


2Co 3:12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 3:14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 3:15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.3:16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 3:17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We made the point earlier that when Israel turns to the Lord in the tribulation, and when the Lord returns to establish His new covenant with them and they’ll be filled with the Spirit and He will write His laws onto their hearts, they shall finally be His people and He shall be their God. There will be liberty at last. They will not be under bondage and condemnation of sin through the law, but they’ll obey the law naturally in their new bodies filled with the Spirit. They will be at perfect liberty, because they’re freed from sin, filled with God Himself, and love will guide all their actions. What is true freedom that our souls