February 17, 2019
Dr. Don Wilhite
Are you really free? If I come to you individually, you’d say, “Well, of course, Brother Don; I’m free.” But are you really? One book was written in the New Testament for that very theme and purpose. -the book of Galatians.
Galatians 3: 1
You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
The answer is, no. It’s foolishness when you have been set free in Christ to turn around and go back into slavery. It’s just plain foolishness.
Galatians 5:1 For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.
THREE AREAS SHOW HOW FREE WE ARE
1 Thessalonians 5: 23
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Free in your spirit. Free in your body. Free in your soul. You cannot be free from the penalty of sin unless the Spirit of the living God lives inside of you. When we ask him to forgive us, cleanse us, and save us, he does away with all of our past. He breathes life into us, into our spirit, and we become one of his children. Then when that happens, we are completely free. Remember the verse, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” That part of us that speaks to and relates to God is called our spirit. Remember the verse, “His Spirit bears witness when our spirits that we are the sons of God.”
1. We are free from the penalty of sin in our spirit.
Remember that conversation Jesus had with a woman at the well? She came when no other women would be there. Then once she met this stranger from Galilee, she wanted to have a theological conversation with him, and Jesus was not interested.
John 4:21-24 21
Jesus told her, “Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”
The Father wants such people to worship him, for God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The truth is that a person who is without Christ is not free, but they are dead towards God. If you have not had the blood of the Lord Jesus cover your sins, you are not only not free, but you are spiritually dead.
Ephesians 2:1-3; 12
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air,the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 12 At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.
A number of years ago, a lady who’s who attended our church family had a son who was a construction guy. He was up in the backwaters doing some work for a family. He had done this dozens of times. He had a Bobcat on his trailer and was going up an incline and stopped. He was going to unload the Bobcat. As he began to back that thing off with the trailer, the back of the truck came up, and the front of the trailer came up and began to go sideways. He just knew that he was going to get crushed and killed under it, so he decided he would jump off while he could. The bad part about it is that the Bobcat followed him off the trailer. His leg got stuck between the Bobcat and the ground. He was dangling under the thing. It was awful. They rescued him and took him to the hospital. He was in there for weeks. That foot was the most awful thing I’ve ever seen in my time. His ankle was his black, blue, red, green, and every other imaginable color. He was in horrible pain for days and days.
I went up to see him many times at the hospital. I always prayed with him when I was there. One day when I was there, he was just seemingly at his wits end and said, “Have them cut it off, Brother Don. Just tell them to whack this thing off. I can’t live with this anymore like this.” I sensed for the first time in all my conversations with him a sensitivity to spiritual things. I said, “I want to take you on a trip.” So, I took him down the Roman road trying to lead him to Heaven. We got all the way down to that last verse. I said this, “If you were to die right here in this bed this morning, where would you go?” I’ve asked that question hundreds and hundreds of times, and I’ve never gotten this response before. He took a big breath, looked at me, and said, “Brother Don… I’d go to Striffler-Hamby.” (For you who are not local, that’s a funeral home.)
I smiled and said, “No, you wouldn’t. Your carcass may go there, but you’re going somewhere else. There are only two options. You could be free in Christ Jesus, forgiven of your sins, and the penalty washed away. Or you can reject the gift of God and be eternally dead without him.” I’m glad to say that day the Spirit of God came into him, forgave him, and wrote his name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He moved from death to life in one moment.
The first church that June and I served at after our college days was Dolomite Baptist Church. We thought we’d died and gone to Heaven. This was in December 1970. I was at Calvary at Westlake and was making $50 a week. We moved over to Dolomite, and our salary was double. We made $100 a week, and we lived in a pastorium with air conditioning. We really thought we’d die and gone to Heaven. We’ve never lived such a life as that. I even had an office there. An ambulance went by one morning, and forty minutes later, I got a call from a nurse summoning us to the emergency room. This sweet family in our church had had a young child that was sick with a sore throat and had developed all kinds of respiratory problems. Mama was concerned with the high fever and gave the child medicine. She did all the things you’re supposed to. For three or four days it went on like that. That morning, she woke up and went into the bedroom to check on the child as she always did, but this time, he was not responsive. Mama called 911. They rushed him to the hospital. They did the trauma stuff and then the doctor said to the mama, “I’m sorry, but he’s dead.”
Two days later, they had the viewing at the funeral home. I’ve done lots and lots of funerals. I went into the funeral home, and it was crowded. Mom and Dad came in and everyone moved back to let them walk down the aisle. She was weeping when she came in the door. When she got to the casket, she wailed. Then she did something I’ve never seen before, and I’ve never seen since. She reached over into the casket, scooped up the little boy under her arms, pulled him to her bosom. She loved, cried, and kissed doing all she knew to do to bring that baby back. Shock went through the place. The funeral directors went over to do something, but I touched him on the shoulder and I said to him, “Leave her alone.” Finally, after emotional, spiritual, and physical exhaustion, she laid the baby back in the coffin. She went over, slumped in a chair, and wailed
Let me ask you a question. Why did that little boy not respond to his mother’s love? One reason – he was dead. Do you know there’s probably somebody similar sitting in this building today? You look alive. You’re breathing. It is amazing that Sunday after Sunday, people who look alive come into this building, sit and they hear the message of God. They listen to the pastor, and they sing these wonderful hymns. Then they turn around and go right out this building just dead as a doornail. You see, the problem is they don’t know they’re dead spiritually.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Nicodemus, you got all the theology right. But here’s the deal; you must be born again. Flesh is not enough. You’ve got to be born of spirit.” So, let me ask you a question. Are you really, spiritually free in this building this morning? Or, are you ignorant of the fact that spiritually you are dead as a doornail and don’t know it? If the latter, I pray the Spirit will speak to you and you will respond.
2. We are free from the power of sin.
We are free from the power of sin when our bodies come under the control of the Holy Spirit. There is a theological position out there that’s taught that when Jesus sends his Holy Spirit into our heart when we asked him to forgive us and we are “born again”, that we are instantly and completely sanctified and the old base nature, the natural side of us, dies at that moment and we never have another problem with sin. That’s just not true. It’s crazy. The Spirit of God lives in us. He lives in this fleshly body that we’re in, and we’re his tabernacle and temple. There’s a battle going on all the time between the spirit part of us and that human part of us that’s constantly in warfare with one another.
One of my favorite characters in the Old Testament is Samson. I always wished I could look like Samson. You know, like Atlas. I don’t really think he looked like Atlas. He was just a normal guy, but he had a supernatural power that lived in him. One of his weaknesses was sweet things. He played with all of them and then Delilah played with him. She ran those long, bony fingers of hers through his hair whispering sweet nothings into his ears like, “Samson, tell me wherein lies the great power of your strength.” He played games with her. Finally, I don’t know if she drugged him or what she did to him, but he told her the truth. She gave him a free haircut. It was all gone. Then he woke up, and the Scripture says, “Then Samson got up as before and went out to face the Philistines, but he did not know that the Spirit of God had departed from him.” Now, while the New Testament differs from the Old Testament is when the Holy Spirit comes in us, he comes in permanently. He is never going to leave us, no matter how rotten and bad we get. Samson discovered that he was powerless from that point on from anything that happened in his life.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.
Remember that long, long confession that the Apostle Paul gave in Roman 7?
Romans 7: 14-25
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave to sin.15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. 22 For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, 23 but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.
Think of all the addictions and issues going on in our lives. Umpteen years ago, I was preaching about stuff, and I said to the congregation, “You know, I’ve got this Achilles heel in my life and that is, I’m a workaholic. I’m doing my absolute best to learn some barriers and perimeters. I want you know your pastor is a recovering workaholic.” Next week I was in a barber shop. This guy was sitting there, and he looked at me and said, “Are you Don Wilhite, the pastor over there?” I said, “Yes, sir, I am.” He says, “You know, I got an aunt in that church. She’s telling me that you’re an alcoholic.” She didn’t listen. I’m not an alcoholic. I was a workaholic. I’m a recovering one, and I still am.
Well, let me ask you a question. What are you recovering from? In the last eighteen months I have officiated the funeral of three young men, less than thirty years of age. All three of them died from opioid overdoses. It’s sad. It’s drugs, it’s alcohol, and it’s pornography. Do you know that phone in your hand gives you access to the most demonic and evil world? Nobody knows but you and God, nobody. In the last year, I’ve had two full-time staff people in this city come see me who are addicted to pornography. It’s accessible, it’s anonymous, it’s affordable and it is addictive. So here comes the question. What is it that you are a slave to?
Remember that Hebrew passage; he says, “Let us lay aside every weight.” Jeff is still the poster boy for the Ranger division. He is still physically fit. He probably runs a six-minute mile or something like that. Years and years ago I changed clothes after church, and I’d run home. It took me sixty minutes to run six miles. Yesterday I was walking an eighteen-minute mile. You can tell what happens to you as you get older. I walk four miles a day, five days a week, if it’s humanly possible. But he said, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that’s so easily besets us.” Most of the time we don’t battle with a lot of sins. We battle with a sin. How many times have you fallen trapped to that sin in your life and you repented and said, “God, if you will forgive me this time, I will never, never do that again.” -only to find that you get in a cycle, all those triggers are set off, and before you know it, you’re right back in the grips of slavery to sin again. So, I ask you a question. Are you free?
3. We are free when we are healed in our soul!
We’re free from the penalty of sin when we’re born again in our spirit. We’re free from the power of sin when the Holy Spirit comes into our life and takes control over every aspect of our life and we yield authority to him. We’re free when we’re healed in our soul. Here the Greek word soul means the “psyche”, our man, our emotions. The battleground that is the most difficult of all is this one that’s right between our ears.
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Sometimes we are wounded in our soul part of us, our mind and our emotions, in two ways.
Two Difficult Areas:
The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children to the third and fourth generation.
Probably not three people in this building own a real dictionary anymore. Who needs a dictionary when you’ve got an iPhone? Do any of you still have those great big old sets of encyclopedias wasting space in your house? Give it away! Get rid of it! It’s worthless. You can find anything on your iPhone. If you had a dictionary and you looked up the word dysfunctional let me tell you what you’d find. You would find my family’s picture right under it. I’m not teasing you. My crazy daddy, my crazier mama, and two other siblings. Since one of them is here, I won’t call her crazy. Norman Cousins wrote a wonderful book entitled Everybody’s Normal Until You Know Them. My family on the outside looked absolutely, positively normal, but they were as wacko as could be. In fact, our son is living with the wackos in Waco right now. We’re trying to get him out of there, but he’s stuck.
A few weeks ago, there was a guest on Huckabee’s program. Her name was Tara Westover. She grew up in a home in Utah and never went to school one day in her life, and she wasn’t homeschooled either. When she got about sixteen years of age, she got out of the house and, of all things, ended up getting a scholarship to college and earned a PhD from Cambridge University. She wrote a book entitled Educated: A Memoir. She grew up in a home where her father was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. He beat her to a pulp emotionally. She was just a bowl of Jell-O. Her mama had no spine in her whatsoever and allowed the crazy daddy to do whatever he wanted. She also had a brother that physically abused her. He would pick her up and literally stick her head in the commode and say to her, “Until you say you’re a whore, I’m not going to let you up.” Let me ask you a question. Do you think she grew up normal and okay? She had all kinds of issues, all kind of problems, and all kinds of struggles. Thankfully, the Lord brought redemption to her, but it was not easy.
9 Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them, because I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ iniquity to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, 10 but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands.
Every month I go down to the jail. They have all sorts of dorms. I go to the Fatherhood Dorm. Fourteen guys are in there. I go every month and always ask them two questions. I ask them, “How many of you grew up as a child in a home where there was a mother and a father present?” I’ve been doing this at least fifteen years, and I’ve never had more than two men ever raise their hands. Then I ask the second question: “When you came to jail, how many of you were in the home with either your spouse or the woman you’re living with and your children?” Never more than two ever raise their hands. Can you see the cycle of dysfunctionality that’s taking place one generation right after another generation? Dysfunctionality is repeating the same sin generation after generation after generation. It’s awful.
• Damaged Emotions
When we have been deeply wounded because of dysfunctionality or a trauma that comes into our life, we are wounded in our spirits. A number of years ago, Jeff was having one of his military conferences. People were coming from all over the country here. A speaker couldn’t get here, so Jeff jumped up and filled that slot as though it was meant for him to do. That day he spoke on what happens to the soul of a warrior when he’s killed somebody. You see, we don’t train Boy Scouts at Fort Benning. We train warriors. Warriors are trying to kill enemies. What happens when you pull that trigger, drop a bomb load, or smash off that rocket? What happens to your soul? Do you know we only discovered what PTSD was after the Vietnam War? We finally figured out that the human heart is not created to do that to each other. We’re not designed that way. When we have that happen in our life, there has to be a transformation of forgiving, a cleansing and a healing take place so that we can be whole again. How does it happen?
John 11:20-27; 34-44
20 As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her. 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.” 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked. “Lord,” they told him, “come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Couldn’t he who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Remove the stone,” Jesus said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the gloryof God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.” 43 After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”
Jesus knew about stones. Remember he was behind a stone and didn’t have any problem getting out. He was just gone. But now he says to them, “Roll the stone away.” He could have done it. Lazarus comes out bound. Jesus wrapped his up and laid it on the bed. Don’t you think he could have done that with Lazarus? You roll the stone away and you participate in what I’m already doing. Set him free, and let him go. Old Lazarus danced a jig. He was free.
Ultimately only real true healing comes from the Holy Spirit of God when he works in our heart. Sometimes God wants to use human instrumentality in that process. That’s why we have a counseling center. I was the chief wacko and the first client to go there. You may think I’m teasing you, but I’m not. I used to think if I preached the word of God in the power of God and even sometimes spit out some Greek and Hebrew, that it would solve all the problems in people’s lives. It didn’t. John MacArthur has written a whole string of books about the sufficiency of Scripture. There is no deficiency in the Scripture of God. We need to understand that. It is a powerful two-edged sword. But there are sometimes where it’s not His insufficiency, but our inability to appropriate and apply it in our heart and life. Sometimes it takes a professional to help us do that, and I want to give you permission today to go and get some counseling if you need it. Sometimes God doesn’t necessarily need a licensed professional clinician. What sometimes he needs and wants is a warm body with two eyes, two ears, and a warm heart who cares and loves for someone else. You might be the very person that God says to you, “Roll the stone away. Unbind him and let him loose!” Be that friend, counselor, and confidant to that person who is enslaved.