Follow Me (leave everything behind)….
Give up self….
Serve, Serve, Serve…..
Give it all Away…
As I ponder this 4th of July, instead of celebrating the false sense of freedom we think that we have in this country, or that situation or circumstance, I am thinking instead about what true freedom really means. Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for the luxuries we have in the USA – but that’s not what this post is going to be about.
It’s about true freedom.
But as soon as I began to think about true freedom, these little tidbits(statements at the beginning of this post) flooded my human and sinful mind. Is true Christianity about “freedom” at all, really?
Yes and No.
It is not about freedom the way we tend to view it as human beings, in the typical way we have chosen to define it or characterize it. It is not about being free to live how we want, when we want either. And it is not about being free from the spiritual warfare that will plague us as long as we walk this earth. We wouldn’t need the armor of God or many other things He offers to us to help us along this road if that were the case.
We have to wait for heaven to experience that kind of freedom.
So, in some ways, we can feel even more “bound up” than before as we walk through this world following after Christ with all “our heart, mind, and soul.
Before you freak out, let me explain what I mean by that.
When we follow after Christ, we are seeking Him and His ways, and His path, and there’s nothing easy about that, friends. Self then starts to fight very hard for survival. And the enemy lives there.
Self is strong. Self lives here, in this physical and mental domain. It says “I am the King, not that Jesus guy!” And it fights.
It fights HARD.
But so does Jesus Christ. He is inside of us if we have accepted Him as Savior. He will help us to overcome it all. But it won’t be easy. I can’t say that enough. I have to tell myself over and over again – “it’s not going to be easy to be truly free.” It comes with a cost.
My favorite book in the bible is Romans. Here is the best part (well, one of the best parts)…
From Romans 7…
What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”[b] 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.
That spells W-A-R, folks. Flat out, bloody, anxiety filled, brutal WAR. The flesh and the spirit are at opposition with one another, no matter how much we don’t want for it to be.
But the great news, is that we are truly free in Christ Jesus.
When Jesus walked the earth, did He live a life that looked like he was free the way mankindd defines it today? Did He stick up for all of His rights all the time? Did He tell everyone they had to give everyone a fair shot, or else? Did He say that they couldn’t (the law) punish Him and put Him on that cross?
But He exuded truth and true freedom in His servant leadership and ultimate sacrifice. His entire life was characterized by sacrificing His “rights” and “freedoms” friends. It ended “bound up” on a cross – NAILED to it, in fact. No where to go. No where to hide. No escape. (although He could’ve prevented it from happening, He did not).
Do we think we should have more freedom in this world than the Savior of it displayed? Do we feel entitled to have more? Do we feel victimized in our suffering?
Before I conclude, let me say this for clarification though: I am not saying we should not cry out about our suffering – this is something I am learning in the book of Job right now. God never once chastized Job for lamenting about his situation. But at the same time that He allowed, and even encouraged him to cry out to him about it, he still made it clear these things were necessary. Then the blessings ensued.
TRUE freedom is found in Christ and what He has done for us so that for eternity we will be free from sin and with Him in fellowship forever. That doesn’t mean the chains of this earth have been loosed while we still walk through it. But that is something that we have to look forward to with certainty. True freedom.
We have some of that – a taste of it – right now, in fact. Because we carry Him with us wherever we go and whatever we face. There is nothing He cannot relate to that we are suffering or going through – nothing.
Romans 8 discusses this true freedom….I shall leave you tonight on that very important and beautiful note from our Lord….
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.