From Captives to Children of God
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
17 March 2013
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
One of the main problems within Christianity today is that most are following the fallen and ungodly ways of the world. They are captives of sin much in the same way that Israel and Judah were, prior to being led away into captivity.
They followed religious rituals, but not the creation and heavenly will of God.
Psalm 126 is about the captives being brought back to Israel by the Lord, but did they really change their ways and become children of God?
1. When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
2. Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3. The LORD has done great things for us;
We are glad.
4. Restore our captivity, O LORD,
As the streams in the South.
If only people would once and for all time release the animals from captivity so that they could also rejoice and praise the Lord; instead of the people rejoicing at the torturous murder of a bull in an arena, or at a roasted corpse of some other captive animal on their dinner table.
5. Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
6. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Yes, the Lord is loving and merciful, and He does do great things, which should be the reason for them and all of us today to do everything in our power to respond in the heavenly will of God.
The Lord even started them back on the path of eating a plant based diet (the grain), and mentions nothing about eating animals.
This is a clue for us to do the same as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, who do everything in their power to free creation from its present corruption by ending all the pain, suffering and death we possibly can from our lives, beginning with what we put on our plates.
This is the only way we are going to end the warring madness that led the captives away, and is destroying our world today both monetarily and physically.
In Isaiah 43:16-21, the Lord talks about the release of the captive Israelites from Egypt, with a look to the future.
16. Thus says the LORD,
Who makes a way through the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
17. Who brings forth the chariot and the horse,
The army and the mighty man
(They will lie down together and not rise again;
They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick):
The Israelite captives passed safely through the midst of the Red Sea, but the Egyptian war machine, unfortunately along with their innocent horses, ended in the waters of the same sea.
This was to be an end of an era, so the Lord says –
18. “Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
19. “Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
20. “The beasts of the field will glorify Me;
The jackals and the ostriches;
Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
21. “The people whom I formed for Myself,
Will declare My praise.
This is a look at the beginning of the peaceable kingdom where humans and other animals will no longer kill one another, and all will live together in peace.
And, most importantly, we can help make it happen as peacemaking children of God.
Let’s take a look at a very special supper in John 12:1-8, where we are told of a different kind of release from captivity.
1. Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
Jesus gives life and not death.
2. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.
And also note that there is no mention of eating any animal.
3. Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Jesus had forgiven Mary of her many sins, but the memory of her sins still held her captive, and in her mind she needed a deep and profound way of thanking the Lord for what He had done for her, before it was too late to do it in person, which she most likely believed would also release her from her self-inflicted captivity.
4. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said,
5. “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?”
6. Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.
7. Jesus therefore said, “Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial.
8. “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.”
Note carefully in verse 7 that we are told that Mary was to keep it until the day of Jesus’ burial. Keep what? She had already put the perfume on Jesus and in her hair, which now carried the symbolic sins that Jesus had picked up on His feet.
Jesus seems to be saying that all the captive sins that Mary is holding inside of her would also be released upon the day of His burial, which would also set Mary free from her self-inflicted captivity.
We can all be set free from all of our past and truly repented sins. Stop holding them captive as Mary did; Jesus died to release them from you. So set those self-held captives free.
We are to live in Jesus’ promises and not in our past sins. We are to live as peacemaking children of God.
Philippians 3:1-16 tells us –
1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
2. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;
The unfortunate use of the word “dogs” is not referring to actual dogs, but as a derogative term for those working against God.
3. for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
4. although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
Next, Paul seems to be justifying his position as a religious Jew; but most likely he is explaining to the people then and to us now how the corruption of the Law by the Temple leaders led him to actually work against the heavenly will of God.
5. circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
6. as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
7. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Paul was one of the religious captives of the Temple interpreted Law, but the truth of Jesus Christ has set him free.
8. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ,
9. and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
10. that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11. in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Such an act is our final transition back into the perfect created image of God, which He gave us in His creation.
12. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
16. however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
Part of the imperfection that Paul sees, or saw in himself, are the hauntings of his past sins, or he wouldn’t have mentioned them in the way he did.
It is also very important that we fully understand Paul’s closing remarks.
For even if we are not perfect at this time, we are to do everything we can to live in the perfection of the Lord, or as Matthew told us in 5:48: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” NASB
We are to live every day in the heavenly perfection of God, where there is no pain or mourning or death.
We are to live as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, who will set the captives of creation free from their captivity, as a witness to the world around us until His return.