Friday, July 20, 2012

Understanding Freedom Through The Spirit's Eyes

Who or what do you serve? I get a kick out of the fact that so many of us think we are free and that we serve no one but ourselves. The truth is, the only real freedom we have is deciding who or what we serve. Even anarchy is not long lasting and itself will fall into a pattern of service to some form of rules. People like to quote Jesus a lot when it comes to freedom:

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)

But we need to understand the context of what Jesus is saying because it is not freedom as some people tout freedom in this world. It is not an anarchist freedom but a freedom from something. It is freedom from a specific slavery that Jesus is talking about:

"I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:34-36)

Freed from the slavery of sin so that we are then able to make a decision who we will belong to. It is a freedom of decision making. As long as we are enslaved to sin we have no freedom to make a choice but by the blood of Jesus we have been set free from the bonds of sin so we can make the choice. However, we are also free to choose to return to the bondage of sin. There isn't a no-man's land here. We will be slaves to one or the other.

Now I don't mean to get all heavy on you on a Saturday morning but too many of us are missing the truth of the matter and we are failing in our relationship with our King because we don't understand how it all works.

First, let's understand what Jesus has done for us and what happens when we choose him:

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." (Romans 6:6-7)

When we choose Jesus we are dying to ourselves and to sin. We are denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following our King. But that does not mean you are free as the world understands it. It means that you are freed from sin. Now listen to what the Spirit teaches us through Paul:

"Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Romans 8:16)

Perhaps that is why we struggle so much, we consider ourselves free agents, not understanding that freedom from God means rebellion against God. Jesus did not make us a free agent but did give us the freedom of who we decide to serve, to be a slave to. And that is how we must see it to understand the importance of obedience:

"You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (v.18)

Jesus gave us the freedom to choose so that we would have the freedom to surrender our freedom to him. When we give ourselves to Jesus we cease any idea of freedom of choice and make ourselves slaves to his righteousness. Is that a little hard to swallow? Yes, and that is why rebellion persists in us to this day because we have not accepted the truth of the matter; we must become slaves to follow Jesus.

Some would say "but we are children, not slaves", and they are right but we are wrong in our attitude as children. We act as spoiled brats and risk our salvation through the rebellion we live as spoiled children. God does not have spoiled children. He demands obedience and if you are not obedient then you do not belong to him. Obedience was defined by Jesus when he took to the cross even though he would rather have avoided it. Obedience is walking in that righteousness even when we don't feel like it. It's doing the things that please our King even when we don't want to, believing we have no choice as the children of God.

It's so much nicer to see ourselves as children but maybe we are not mature enough for that. Until we learn obedience maybe it does help us to see ourselves as slaves. Understand that Paul only used this wording in order to get us to understand spiritual truths in human terms:

"I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves." (v. 19)

Yes, we are the children of God and we are not servants of the King but his friends. But the idea of children and friendship has lost some of it's meaning over time and is diluted and does not come close to what it meant at that time. So although we are these things, it may help us understand more if we see it as slaves and servants. Then we will begin to understand our obligation of love to our King and the absolute necessity to live a life of obedience to the King, constantly bowing our will to his.

So, again I ask, who or what do you serve? You serve something; it's best to figure that out today.

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