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Free to Fight

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How should we approach the New Year? See how God has prepared us to fight for the things that most honor Christ in 2018.

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Here we are on the final day of 2017.
For many of us, it has been a difficult year. We have lost friends and loved ones, faced health challenges, started new jobs and new schools, and seen the world hurtle along in uncertainty.
For some of us, that leaves us with questions and fears as we stand on the cusp of a new year. We wonder everything from what may happen with North Korea or the global economy down to how am I going to make ends meet or make it to graduation.
I don’t have a crystal ball, and to be honest, I wouldn’t want one. Although I love to think about the future, I have absolutely no idea what will take place.
We can make plans and set goals, and we should, but ultimately, we have no idea how it will actually play out.
Some things we fear will never come to pass, and we will be blindsided by challenges we never expected.
However, I want to end the year by going back to a passage we didn’t have time to cover a few months ago.
Open your Bibles to Romans 8:31-39
We started looking at Romans 8 back in November, and we put it on pause because we had an unexpected opportunity to hear from Tino, our driver in Zimbabwe. After that, we dove into our Christmas celebrations, which brings us to now.
I believe God did that on purpose, because I can think of few passages that give me more hope for the coming year than this one.
In our first two messages, we saw that what Jesus did for us on the cross freed us to live a new life and to hope in the midst of challenges.
This morning, we wrap all that together to see that his sacrifice for us gives us another freedom: the freedom to fight.
Not only are we free to fight, but as we see, we are free to share in the victory he has won for us.
Let’s dive into the text this morning.
Start with verse 31.
What are “these things”? Well, in the immediate context, it is the fact that God is using our present sufferings to shape us to look like Jesus, which ultimately results in us receiving a glory we could never even imagine.
So, then, in light of the fact that God is using the pain we face today to make us look like Jesus and prepare us for an incredible eternity, how are we supposed to respond?
He then asks a question that may be familiar to you, and so it may have lost it’s punch...
If the God of the universe, the righteous judge to whom every creature in creation will be called to give an account, is on your side, then who is left to stand against you that actually matters?
As Paul fleshes out his response to this, we are going to see three different ways God has freed us to fight.
First, we see...

1) God gives us what we need.

Look at what he says in verse 32.
Are you wondering whether or not God is for you? Look at what he has done for you!
He gave his son to die in your place!
In case this is unfamiliar to you, let me go over what this means.
If you and I are honest, we know that we haven’t always done the right thing. In fact, we have often been selfish, rude, lazy, proud, mean, jealous, and more.
Any time you or I have done the wrong thing or not done the right thing, we have sinned. Sin is anything that displeases God or goes against his law.
Our sin adds up like a paycheck, but it isn’t a good one. In fact, you could think of it more like a credit card bill that keeps piling up. The payout for all that sin is death!
Romans 6:23 CSB
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So anytime we have been selfish instead of generous or taken credit for something instead of giving God the glory, we have been building up a paycheck of death.
God loves you so much, though, that he sent Jesus to die in your place.
He gave you his Son to cash out your paycheck of death and offer you life in its place.
We’ll talk more about that in a minute, but just based off that, let’s look back at verse 32.
Would a God who loved you so much that he would have his own Son put to death in your place when you deserved to die not give you everything else?
He gave you the most precious thing he could by offering Jesus in your place. Don’t you think he can give you the wisdom to live and the strength to endure and the joy and peace your heart longs for?
As you face 2018, maybe this is a verse you should commit to memory. Pray it back to God when you start getting afraid of what you are facing, reminding yourself, “Okay God, I know you gave me your son, so I am trusting you will give me everything I need. Help me to see what you are providing, rest in it, and trust you with what’s next.”
2 Peter 1:3 CSB
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
God has given you everything you need.
You can also trust that if he hasn’t given it, you don’t need it. That doesn’t mean we don’t pray and seek and ask, it means we pray and seek and ask trusting that he will give us what we need when we need it.
Having reminded us that we have everything we need, Paul also takes us back to the beginning of the chapter and reminds us that:

2) God has freed us from condemnation.

Read verses 33-34.
Perhaps what is bothering you as you head into 2018 is a nagging fear of guilt and doubt.
2017 was a bad year because you made some poor choices, and you did some things you shouldn’t have.
Have you come to Jesus and asked God to forgive you out of a heart of repentance that turned from sin and to Christ? Have you taken steps to reconcile with those who have been hurt by your actions?
Then, in that case, you need to rest in this truth: there is no condemnation left for you.
If your sins are covered by the death of Christ, then not even God himself condemns you.
I am not the one saying this, God is in his word!
I have no power to remove one ounce of guilt from myself or anyone else, but if you have allowed God to draw you to himself, calling out to Christ for forgiveness and repentance, then he has saved you, and no one can say anything.
There is a principle in our legal system called “double jeopardy”. It means that once a person has been put on trial for an offense and declared guilty or innocent, they cannot be retried for the offense if the trial was valid.
The same holds true in the court of heaven, only it is even more amazing than in ours.
We have already said that we are all guilty before God. However, when the time came, Jesus paid the penalty for our guilt, so we have been declared righteous. The penalty is paid, our sin debt is gone, and now we can’t be tried for that sin again.
Here’s how C.H. Spurgeon, a great preacher from the 1800s, put it:
Morning and Evening Morning, March 30

Now, when the sinner is brought to the bar, Jesus appears there himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to his side, his hands, his feet, and challenges Justice to bring anything against the sinners whom he represents; he pleads his blood, and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go their way; deliver them from going down into the pit, for he hath found a ransom.”

If you have not yet accepted Christ, then you stand to answer those accusations on your own, without Christ as your advocate. However, if you have been saved, if you have genuinely come to Christ, then there is no one to condemn you for your sin.
Jesus, as God in the flesh, died for you, rose from the dead, sits at the right hand of God the Father, and is praying for you at this very moment.
He has freed you from condemnation, so go out and fight.
He has given you and will give you everything you need, so go out and fight.
There is one more way Paul answers his question this morning.
Not only has God given us everything we need, and not only has he freed us from condemnation,

3) God allows us to share in victory.

Look at verses 35-39.
Paul sets out a list of troubles he faced and that we may face. Can any of these things separate us from the love of the God who conquers death itself?
His answer is a resounding, “No!”
Notice, this, though: by listing these things, especially with what we have already seen about suffering in this chapter back in verses 18-30, it is assumed that we will suffer.
I am not promising you that if you come to Christ, 2018 will be an easy year. What I am promising, though, is that based off the promise of the word of God about the finished work of Christ on your behalf, that God Himself will equip you to face anyone or anything that comes up this year.
Nothing in all of creation can separate you from the love of God, which is what Paul declares boldly in verse 38-39
All through this message, though, we have said that we are free to fight. Where does that come from? Look at verse 37 again.
Is the language there of an army simply holding their ground in defense, or is it an army that is going on the offense?
Paul is saying that because we are free from condemnation by the risen Son of God who intercedes for us, who has been given for us, then we can go out and fight against the darkness and share in the victory of Christ!
It isn’t that we will overcome every obstacle because we are good or smart or strong or privileged; we overcome the obstacles we face because Jesus already defeated them!
We can have victory over death and life itself because Jesus defeated death when he rose from the grave.
We have victory over angels and demons because Colossians 2:15 says Jesus disarmed them.
Jesus describes himself in Revelation 1:8 as the beginning and the end, the one who is, and was, and is to come, so we can overcome anything in the present and the future.
Jesus is seated in the heavenly places with the Father, so there is no height we will have to overcome that he is not already there.
He descended to the depths of the earth to ransom us, so there is no depth we have to face that he has not already been through.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that could come up in 2018 that would separate you from the love of God, so go out and fight!
Call out to God for wisdom to see what he has given you and how he has equipped you with his Spirit to fight.
Allow God to work the power that raised Jesus from the dead through you to fight.
Fight against sin in your life! Fight for your marriage by loving your spouse when they don’t deserve it! Fight for your children in prayer and through your encouragement! Fight against injustice by giving and working to do what is right!
Fight against the darkness by sharing Christ with your neighbors and your family and your co-workers and your friends.
You are free to fight, so go out and do it in 2018.
Do it without fear, because nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
I cannot promise those relationships will be restored, that your finances or health will improve, but I can promise you that as you surrender to Christ and allow his strength in you to fight against sin, you will come to know the God who loves you in ways you have never seen him before.
If, one year from now, you have allowed God to fight through you, you will have succeeded for the year.
Let’s pray and commit 2018 to him...
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