When is a Man Really Free?

MEMORY VERSE: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” —John 8:36

ACTS 26:19-32

WHILE in custody in Jerusalem Paul had an opportunity to bear witness to the truth before some of the religious rulers of Israel. He also, in a vision, was given assurance that the Lord wanted him to go to bear witness for him at Rome. At Jerusalem a group of men bound themselves with a vow not to eat until they had killed Paul. The Roman authorities decided that under the circumstances it was best for them to spirit him away, which they did at night, and took him to Felix, the governor, who was located in Caesarea. He was given a hearing before Felix, and after two years was given the opportunity to appear before Fetus and King Agrippa.

In today’s lesson we find Paul before Agrippa. In Paul’s defense he speaks largely of God’s dealings with him, of the vision that was given to him on the Damascus Road, and of the fact that he had not been disobedient unto this “heavenly vision.” In telling of his activities as a follower of Jesus, Paul took occasion to explain important parts of the Gospel to which he had borne witness. He was more interested in bearing witness to the truth than he was in proving his innocence of the charge that had been lodged against him. After all, in his appearance before Festus Paul had appealed to Rome. He knew from the vision he had in Jerusalem that the Lord wanted him to go to Rome, and he knew also that if he appealed to Rome, the Roman law provided that he should be taken there. It made little difference to Paul whether Agrippa was impressed or not. He was looking ahead to the opportunity he would have to bear witness in Rome.

As Paul was speaking “Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself: much learning doth make thee mad.” Paul’s reply to this was, “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.”

And then turning from Festus to King Agrippa Paul asked, “Believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” And Paul replied, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”

Festus and King Agrippa discussed the case between themselves, deciding that “This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” Paul had used much wisdom in appealing his case to Caesar. He knew of the opposition of the Jews against him in essentially every community, and that if he were given his liberty and attempted to go to Rome unaccompanied, he would very likely be killed. But by his appeal to Caesar he placed upon the Roman authorities the obligation of taking him to Rome and making sure of his safety on the journey. So he had no intention of withdrawing his appeal.

Our memory verse is an interesting one. While it speaks of being made free, it has no relationship at all to the type of freedom involved in being in or out of prison. In making this statement Jesus was referring to the matter of being in bondage to sin, not incarcerated in a prison. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”—John 8:34-36

Essentially the whole world of mankind is enslaved by sin and struggles through their short span of life under the great taskmaster, Satan. Only Jesus can give freedom from sin, and this is upon the basis of his sacrifice for sin in becoming the Redeemer of the world from sin and death.

But in order to be made free from sin by Jesus one must become a bond-slave to him. The difference in his position Is that at one time he was a servant of sin and of Satan, and upon acceptance of Christ and dedication to him, one becomes a servant of the Lord and of righteousness.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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