John 8:32-36 (NLT) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
Well, after a long weekend of celebrating Independence Day including fireworks and festivities, it is back to the grind. The weekend was not anything extraordinary for our household. Preparations for the upcoming move kept us busy. While many of our family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances flooded our timelines and social media with pictures of their celebration of our country which allows us great freedoms. How did you exercise your freedom this weekend? Some will wake up with terrible headaches and certain ailments from overindulgences. Why would I even mention such a thing? Today is the morning after. It is the call to reckoning for a weekend spent. For some they will dread putting their feet on the floor to return to reality – what is your reality? Desperate for change a temporary escape leads back the bondage of drudgery. We live in a free country so why do so many people live in confinement. Confinement of purpose, bound by debt, consumed by consumerism, and all other society norms that drag us deeper and deeper into despair. How can we celebrate something that we do not live in? We are a free country. We are free people in Christ. Where is our liberty? Today. The morning after such a celebration before you step back into the rat race called normal life to pursue the elusive “American Dream”, may I remind you that there is a better way?
“And you will now the truth, and the truth will set you free.” There were some people who ventured to church this Sunday and maybe got a taste of the freedom Christ offers called grace. When they left the building, the enemy came and demanded their freedom from them by heaping guilt, shame and regret back on their shoulders which to those who don’t know or understand the full capacity of God’s Grace, Mercy and Love will responsibly take back on. We must learn to live in enduring freedom. Freedom founded in Christ and not available to the enemy. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life that the enemy cannot touch. He opens the Gateway of Grace which allows us to come to Him freely and unrestrained by sin to enjoy the life that God planned for us. (John 10:9-10)
How does one remain free in the Grace of God through Jesus Christ? Freedom comes instantaneously in Jesus Christ but requires a relationship of consistency to maintain it. The Power and Authority of Christ as our Lord allows us to remain steadfast in His Grace and Love each day. Those who believe it will receive. We must know and understand the pathway to freedom and seek to maintain it each day. The grace given to me by accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior and seeking to make Him my Lord allows me open access to His Kingdom because His Grace is enough for me to walk boldly and confidently in His Presence and have the life and promises predestined for me before sin became a problem. The more I seek to maintain this freedom in my life the greater the potential of fulfillment I will find.
Ephesians 1:5-8 (NLT) God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
We are the sons and daughters of God. He adopted us because He wanted to and it brought Him great pleasure. He purchased our freedom with the Blood of His Son in rich loving kindness and grace. His Plan was never to make us slaves forced to do His Will and live a life of indebtedness, but rather God’s Desire for us was freedom to live according to His Will and achieve the highest standard of living called His Perfect Will. If God’s Will required perfect people, He would never have extended grace to us to fulfill it. It is His Grace given through Jesus that creates perfect unity and complete removal of all sin for the purpose of fulfillment in God.
Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Acceptance of Christ is a cure all for sin. His Blood washes your sin as far as the east is from the west. BUT… I decide if His Grace is enough to maintain my freedom. Freedom from what? Sin. Guilt. Shame. Regret. Returning to the darkness. I believe that as a whole the Body of Christ must step up their discipleship game because men and women are falling away every day because of our folly in this area. We count heads at the altar but fail to accept them into the fold. We herd them into groups and programs but fail to meet them one-on-one get to know them beyond Sunday or the occasional Wednesday. We must continue to follow Jesus to have enduring freedom. As we follow, we should be leading, too.
“God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (I Corinthians 1:30) The root of our connection to Christ is our relationship with Him. The deeper our bond to Jesus Christ and greater our love for Him, the less likely we become to fall into temptation or sin. His Word is the knowledge that becomes wisdom pointing out traps and snares along the way as His Experience and His Spirit become our guide. The lesser things in life become unappealing once we taste and see that the Lord is good. Christ is the ruler and authority over every other power that exists. Our partnership and union with Him allows us to live with power and authority in life. No longer searching for satisfaction, we live in constant hope and faithful commitment to Jesus knowing His Grace is enough to set us free and our relationship with Him keeps us that way.
How do I know that my roots are grounded in Christ? Easy. A tree is identified by its fruit. (Matthew 12:33) You will grow what you sow. Sow the Word faithfully and obediently in the Spirit and you will reap the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 classifies this produce as – love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All these things are beneficial to us and those around us. Allowing the Spirit of God to work in us and through us will give us greater and greater freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17) as we surrender our life piece by piece to His Holy Inhabitation and Constant Cultivation as He completes His Work in us.
James 1:21-25 (NLT) So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
Here is the social challenge with spiritual freedom – not every Christian believer has the same mindset. Religion muddies the water of our relationships because no one is in agreement. There are different set of rules and doctrine in each House of God. Young converts have no concept of Truth beyond what we teach them. If they do not see a clear picture of Jesus in our attitudes and actions, they will fall back on the world for acceptance. Nobody has it all together. No one gets it all right. We are imperfect people filled with a perfect God. He will make His Way out of those who successfully surrender their all to Jesus. It means not conforming to this world but allowing Christ to transform us from the inside out. Maybe…just maybe…if each believer reading this today took the time to concentrate on the Word, allowing the Spirit to produce a little more fruit, and focused on the Way, the Truth and the Life rather than comparing their spiritual productivity or lack thereof to others, maybe we would get somewhere in setting captives free.
“If you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12) The enemy is crafty and will use the Truth against those who do not fully believe it. For those who do not humble themselves before the Lord, the enemy uses pride to keep them believing they are good people who serve a good God. The same will starve from a lack of spiritual fruit. Without the grace of God humbly bestowed on us by Christ and accepted the same way – our freedom is compromised each day. Every day you will be tempted. It doesn’t matter how strong we think that we are in the Lord, there is daily temptation. What is the temptation? Sin. Anything in our life contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way is sin. We must strive to get rid of all “filth” in our life. Stinking thinking comes in all forms. To truly know who we are in Jesus Christ requires constant inspection of our heart and soul compared to His Word and guided by His Spirit. His Grace is enough for me. It is by His Grace that I have been set free. To live in that grace is enduring freedom.
2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NLT) This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
What good is freedom if we cannot maintain it? Every captive desires to be free but some have forgotten how to live outside of confinement. Unless they learn to live freely, they will seek captivity again. Convicts who spend many years in penitentiaries have a difficult time assuming a normal life. Countries freed from dictatorship seek new leaders because they cannot live without it. Without a constant abiding relationship in Jesus Christ through His Word and Spirit, we will all do the same. Falling back into the darkness, stumbling over temptations, and letting go of His Grace that will always be more than enough to maintain their freedom. Are you free today? Is the freedom you found in Jesus Christ enduring?
“Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13) We live in this world. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. Even the church is experience the chaotic and chilly conditions. The great thing about God’s Grace is that we receive new mercy each day (Lamentations 3:22-23) so if we have forfeited our freedom in some way, it is easily reclaimed. Failure is only fatal if we never seek freedom in Christ again. The Word of God promises that those who endure to the end will be saved. Enduring freedom comes to those who abide in Jesus Christ. Grace is the gateway to God’s Goodness. Jesus is the Gate. He has unlocked it but will you go through it. Freedom cannot be forced but merely accepted. Take time to evaluate the Fruit of God’s Spirit in your life today. Examine your heart for dark closed up spaces. Plant God’s Word in there today. Thrust open your thinking to the Light of His Love considering its possibilities and choosing Him first.
Psalm34:4-10 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.