Thursday, June 24, 2010

Freedom to Live

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our independence and Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. America’s freedom means many things but one thing is sure, we no longer live under anyone else’s rule. We are free to live under our own laws and ideals, and we are willing and able to protect ourselves against any others who may threaten our safety or freedom.

Spiritually, all of us have been offered a freedom that far surpasses that of the United States of America. Christ offers us spiritual freedom sin, which ultimately offers us eternal life with Him. We no longer have to be bound by sin. Galatians 5:1 explains, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Can you imagine the US going back to Britain to be under their rule and authority? It just wouldn’t make sense now that we’re free. Similarly, once we are saved and freed from sin by our faith in Christ and by His grace, it would be unimaginable to go back to a life living under the bondage of sin. Yet, many are lured back into ungodly behavior, and they are fooled into believing that when they are free to do whatever they want, this is freedom.

However, people thinking that they’re free when they’re living lives that are not submitted to Christ is a very prevalent deception today. In fact, when we live a life free to do whatever we want in the flesh, we become slaves to our desires. Without a life fully submitted to Christ, people are driven by the desire for material things, greed, power, position, sexual immorality, and a host of other ungodly behaviors.

Because of Christ, as believers we are able to live a life of freedom. We can live, reigning victoriously over sin. Yes, we can! Through Christ’s perfect sacrifice, we have access to have the chains and bondage of sin broken. None of this is accomplished by us—it’s all by Him. In exchange for our total dependence on Him, we are given freedom from the penalty of sin and death. We have to make the right choice though.

Paul goes on to explain to the Galatians in 5:4 that “whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” In other words, we cannot keep certain points of the law and think that we are gaining favor or freedom by doing these things. If we do think that we can do it in ourselves then we must obey all of the law, not just some. This attitude ultimately separates us from God.

Galatians 5:6 goes on to say that “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people who think that because they know scripture, go to church and/or Bible study, or because they pray, they have earned their ‘brownie points’ with God. They are often deceived into thinking that because God can forgive them, they are free to sin. My heart grieves for anyone in this state of mind and this state in life. As my note says in my Bible, “Freedom to sin is no freedom at all, because it enslaves you to Satan, others, or your own evil desires.” Again, we are free from the bondage of sin to live unselfishly, to serve Christ and others, and to bring glory and honor to the One who freed us.
As Galatians instructs us, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit should be evident in our lives by the fruit of the Spirit. Those who are truly free the bondage of sin are not difficult to identify. They are those that display the fruit of the Spirit. They show love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23).

I am praying a special prayer for anyone who may be bound and entangled by sin. I pray that the Lord helps you to stand firm and sure in His perfect liberty. Free yourself from the chains and weight of sin. Trust Him to work it out. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Blessings and Love,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Craving Comfort?

When my two oldest sons were around the ages of four and five, I had the pleasure of witnessing an exchange that will always make me smile. We had a nice collection of Beanie Babies that my youngest son loved all—with the exception of the Beanie that was a ghost. My older son kept prodding him, trying to get him to hold the ghost Beanie. My younger son started crying, clearly scared. “No! Stop, I don’t want it.” I started to step in, but without missing a beat, my older son said, “It’s the Holy Ghost!” My younger son’s face brightened and he hugged the little ghost Beanie with all of his might, instantly comforted by the revelation.

As believers, we have 24-7 access to divine comfort, guidance, and peace, but sometimes I wonder how many of us tap into this power that is given to us. Like my son, do we fear and doubt, not realizing the power and peace we have in the Holy Ghost?

Jesus instructs in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” We have to love Him first and more than anything. Out of our love for Him, we will obey His Word. We cannot love Him and remain in a state of obedience. Unfortunately, many of us get stuck right here. We choose to disobey. When we have accepted Jesus as our personal savior, sin no longer has dominion over us. If we sin, we sin willfully. God’s presence within us empowers us to reign over sin, but we must choose to obey. When you love Christ, your commitment and actions will show it. You will obey—this is a crucial step.

Jesus then tells us in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” No matter what circumstance or obstacle we face, Jesus is letting us know that we are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit to comfort us and He will never leave us. What better assurance do we have in His Word and His Spirit that will never leave us?

Jesus says that the world won’t recognize the Holy Spirit. The world can’t because the world doesn’t love Him and His Word and certainly doesn’t keep His commandments. God’s Holy Spirit is reserved for believers who love God and obey His Word.

In John 14:26, Jesus says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” At times, we struggle with things, like fear, doubt, depression, and insecurity because we fail to really love, obey, and trust Him with everything and all of us.

I do have to mention that you can’t obey Him if you don’t know His Word. Things can’t be brought to our remembrance if they aren’t there. Our priority in life has to be growing and nurturing our relationship with Christ. Studying the Word, praying, attending church, and living an obedient life should be the basic foundation for all believers.

The life of a believer is a submitted life to Christ. The evidence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is paramount. No believer can do it without the Spirit of God. Reigning victoriously over sin is not mind over matter—it’s making a choice to submit to the Lord and His Word. When we make this choice, we have the precious gift of God’s Holy Spirit. When or if we sin, we will repent quickly because the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will convict us. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we have the peace of God. This peace does not mean that we don’t have obstacles or trials, but it does mean that our lives are not filled with stress, depression, doubt and worry. We have comfort and consolation that is beyond any temporary satisfaction that the world might offer.

I’m praying that today, if you haven’t allowed God’s Holy Spirit to comfort you, that you would receive His love, power, direction, protection, grace, and peace.

Blessings and Love,