Freedom!

Bondage. It’s quite an interesting concept. It’s based upon slavery which has to do with control. In America, we claim to live in the land of the free. Comparatively, we do. However, we are enslaved to lots of things, most of which had roots in our own free will – our sin. Jesus came to free us from this. “So if the Son sets you free, yo will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Realizing this freedom does not happen automatically. It takes effort on our part. There was a movie in which an elderly mother explained to her drug addict son that, spiritually-speaking, he was in jail but that the door was open. I don’t remember the movie, but I do remember the message. Freedom is ours for the taking!

Some of these bonds are very difficult to walk away from. I wanted to say “break”, but that’s not right. Jesus already broke my bonds to sin. That’s a concept that is really, really hard for me to get through my head. Jesus has delivered me from sin! Now, I realize that there is a process of transformation which isn’t easy. Who among us can relate to Paul when he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

The problem isn’t that Jesus’ work isn’t complete, because it is. The problem is that I get tired of striving and get complacent. I get lazy. I settle in on a level of sin that I can feel comfortable with, a balance between the exhaustion of doing what I need to do and the secret desire of wanting to hold on to it. Plainly stated, I want both. I want to be rid of my sin AND keep it at the same time.

That’s double-mindedness. I recognize that word from James.

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Hmmm. That pretty much describes my battle with some sin. It seems to me that real change is in the way I think. That also reminds me of a passage from Paul.

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I simply need to get this concept to the forefront of my mind.

Romans 6:14 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Sin has no real control over me apart from what I give it. However, I may not have the ability to say, “No,” to some sin. That ship may have already passed with that sin so enmeshed in me that I cannot simply deny it. We get a sense of this in Romans 7.

Therefore, some sin I can stop, but there is some that I cannot. Nonetheless, I am free from sin. My only conclusion, therefore, is that I must get that which I need from Jesus. If he is the one that has set me free (and he is), then he is the one who I must turn to to lead me out of my prison of sin, to set this captive free. Not just open the door to the cell but to walk me out of the cell and completely out of the prison itself into the light of freedom.

It all boils down to what I think. Am I willing to let Jesus be the Lord of my sin and do what he needs to do so that I may be free? Am I even willing to be willing? If I am, then I’m willing to re-learn how to do life. I don’t need that sin; I need to learn to live without it.

Philippians 4:11-13 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Jesus is the one who strengthens me. Huh. That’s not just so baseball players can make fantastic catches! That’s really meant to strengthen me in times of temptation. Let’s face it, I’m tempted when I am both in need and in plenty. Remember Agur’s prayer?

Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I ask of you;
    deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
    give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
    and profane the name of my God.

It’s easy to ask that I might be spared poverty, but am I wise enough to asked to be spared from riches? Here’s the thing, sin is crouching nearby and ready to devour us. We need to be ready no matter the position God may have us in at any particular point in time. As Paul said, we must learn how to be content no matter our circumstances. And contentment, it seems to me, comes from Jesus.

Let me finish this with a couple of encouraging passages.

1 Corinthians 10:13 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Father, I pray that those who read this, me included, will be encouraged by the promises of scripture. You have granted your children freedom from sin through the blood of Jesus. You desire us to be holy as you are holy; and though we lack our own power to be such, you give us power through Jesus. Even though I may be backsliding at times, you are still bringing me forward until the day that it will all be complete! Oh, how I look forward to that day! Amen!

Copyright © 2021 Scott Powers

 

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