“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him,“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Jesus as well as the other new testament writers are very pointed in the area of true freedom. I think we have this jilted idea of what freedom is. Personally if we are going to look at the area of freedom I think that we have to dive into the area of sin. In Genesis chapter 4 ‘The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.’ Sin wants nothing more than to be our master.
We are under a curse and the only cure or freedom from that curse is found in belief and obedience to Christ Jesus. We must become slaves of Christ and His righteousness rather than slaves of sin and death. Sin sucks, that’s the short of it. Sin has a way of controlling and destroying our lives faster than we can fathom or imagine, yet we run to our sinful desires. Why do we long to be enslaved to that which kills us rather than enslaved to that which gives us life? This is a question that has haunted me as I look at my life and my failures. I hate sin and I certainly hate what sin does in my life. I have watched the destruction for many years now and it continues to perplex me. Why do I fail? The simple or Sunday school answer is, because I’m a sinner. The deeper issue is… because I’m a sinner.
If I believe in Jesus Christ then I am to continue in His word, and it is that very truth that will set me free. Seems simple enough, but for some reason this freedom has alluded me over the years. In my walk, God has continued to make it clear to me that I have a tendency to look at the wrong source. As a result, I often feel a sense of condemnation because I look to keep the law perfectly, I use the law as a checklist and so when I fail, I feel awful, beat myself up and don't experience the new life I have in Christ. I have had many conversations with people that feel similar and I am learning and growing out of this mentality. We are to look to Jesus and what He has accomplished, it is His work and not ours that has the power to save.
Read the book of Galatians to get the scope of what I am talking about here.
The law is a tutor, it puts our sin on display, and demonstrates that we fall short of the glory of God. Jesus fulfilled the law, and freed those who believe in Him from the yoke of slavery that is the law (keep reading lest you be confused). What an interesting thing for God to do. I mean think about it, He set a standard in which we could not keep in order to show us our need for redemption, how brilliant is that!!! God used His standard to show us our need for Him. Perfection (holiness) is the standard, and we fall short of God's glorious standard (Romans 3:23). All of us admit we are not perfect, no one is and as a result we need to be given perfection in order to meet the standard. Check this out. Jesus, God in the flesh, came and lived a perfect, sinless life, He kept the standard. Then because sin requires death, Jesus took the death that you and I so rightly deserve, so that who so ever shall believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, those who put their trust in Jesus go from death to life. In Jesus we now meet the standard. He stood in our place, and as a result those who believe (which means to be about His business, to follow Him if you will) in Him now meet the standard because of Him. He is in us, and we are in Him. This is why it is good news.
If we understand the gospel (the good news), than this will be a motivation to strive after the things of God. I want to be abundantly clear about something so please read the next paragraph carefully.
So if you believe in Jesus now what? Is it okay to sin? Do you have a new life that allows you to continue to do what you want because you are under grace? Paul writes this in Romans 6; “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”
For some, this may be old news, and very obvious. For others, it may be a most freeing piece of information. In my life this has become a crucial point. As I live out my life for Christ I realize that I am going to fail, I am not perfect, I am not God. I also realize that, I am to strive for Christ likeness, I am to strive to be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect, and I am to cultivate a deeper relationship with God. The key point in this is that it’s not because I have to do those things but because I get and want to do them.
Obedience is not a check list, it’s a desire.
I received an encouraging message from my good friend Dexter. His wife Vicky had taken some time to breakdown Psalm 119. If you have the time, take a minute and give this short article a read. True Happiness.
Let's chat! Leave a comment/question and as always, let's represent Christ well and have loving, Christ-centered conversation!
Joe Bragg is the Ministry Director for Kalamazoo Youth For Christ. Joe also has the awesome privilege to lead the youth ministry at his church, where he was previously the Executive Pastor. Joe and his beautiful wife Stephanie have 3 wonderful boys, a shaggy dog and a cat that thinks he's a dog. Never a dull moment!