2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
1. It is remarkable that, when our Lord expounded in the synagogue of Nazareth, He chose a passage of which two-fifths related to "liberty." Between that passage and my text there is a singular connection. " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," etc. " Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
I. WE ARE ALL OF US SO CONSTITUTED THAT THERE MUST BE A CERTAIN SENSE OF FREEDOM TO MAKE A PLAY OF THE AFFECTIONS.
1. Satan knew this quite well when he destroyed the loving allegiance of our first parents by introducing first into their minds the thought of bondage. "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not cat of every tree of the garden?" And so the poison had worked. "You are not free." In catching at a fictitious freedom the first Adam lost the true. The second Adam made Himself a "servant of servants," that He might restore to us a greater freedom than Adam lost.
2. But still the same enemy is always trying to spoil our paradises by making us deny our freedom. He has two ways of doing this. Sometimes he gives us a sense of bondage, which keeps us back from peace, and therefore holiness. Sometimes he gives us an idea of imaginary "liberty," of which the real effect is that it leaves us the slave of a sentiment or of a passion.
3. Some persons are afraid of "liberty," lest it should run into "licentiousness." But I do not find in the whole Bible that we are warned against too much "liberty." In fact, it is almost always those who have felt themselves too shut up who break out into lawlessness of conduct. Just as the stopped river, bursting its barrier, runs into the more violent stream.
II. THAT YOU SHOULD "STAND FAST IN THE LIBERTY WHEREWITH CHRIST MAKES HIS PEOPLE FREE," UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR REAL "LIBERTY" IS.
1. "By and by," somebody says, "when I have believed and prayed a little more, and lived a little more religiously, then I hope God will forgive me." So every night he has to consider whether he is yet good enough to justify the hope that he is a child of God; and the consequence is that man prays with no "liberty." But, all the while, what is the fact? God does love him. All he wants is to take facts as facts. It needs but one act of realisation, and every promise of the Bible belongs to that man. This done, see the difference. He feels himself a child of God through God's own grace, and his "liberated" mind leaps to the God who has loved him. Now the right spring is put into the machinery of his breast. He works in the freedom of a certainty. And from that date that man's real sanctification begins.
2. There are many whose minds are continually recurring to old sins. They have prayed over them again and again, but still they cannot take their thoughts off them. But the freeman of the Lord knows the meaning of those words — "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." All he feels he has to do is to bring his daily sins to that Fountain where he has washed all the sins of his former life. And do not you see that that man will go with a lightened feeling?
3. See the nature of that man's forgiveness. To obey the command of any one we love is pleasant, but to obey because it will please him, though he has not commanded it, is much happier. The spirit of the law is always better than the law. Deuteronomy is better than Leviticus. Now this is the exact state of a Christian. He has studied the commands till he has reached to the spirit of the commands. He has gathered "the mind of God," and he follows that. A command prescribes, and whatever prescribes circumscribes, and is so far painful. But the will of God is an unlimited thing, and therefore it is unlimiting.
(1) And when man, free because "the Son has made him free," goes to read his Bible, like a man who has got the free range of all its pastures, to cull flowers wherever he likes, he is free to all the promises that are there, for he has "the mind of Christ."(2) Or hear him in prayer. How close it is! How boldly he puts in his claim!
(3) The fear of death never hurts that man. Why? Because his death is over.
(4) And, because he is so very free, you will find there is a large-heartedness and a very charitable judgment in that man. He lives above party.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.