Scared to Be Free
The following three words have to be some of the scariest in the English language for people to hear.
You are free.
People claim to want to be free - but when faced with freedom - they often freeze like a deer in headlights.
It is almost like a little child on the first day of school. "Go on....go on." The mother might say as the child moves hesitantly towards the classroom, wondering the whole time whether he should run back to his mother. This is how man can be when approaching the freedom we have in God.
When the African slaves were freed in the United States during the Emancipation, some walked to the edge of the plantation, turned around, and walked back to the plantation owner; becoming a sharecropper for him.
I am not criticizing those individuals. I am using that as an example of the mind of man. He will often gravitate back to bondage - even when presented with freedom - simply because it is familiar.
Similarly, in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, the character Brooks Hatlen commits suicide after being set free, unable to adjust to life outside of the prison. He simply didn't know how to be free.
Many Christians also don't know how to be free. Jesus said that He came to set the captives free, but with that freedom comes accountability and responsibility.
After having been given freedom in Jesus, how many are still clinging to the prison bars, reluctant to let go and step forward in Him? Worse, how many have purposefully determined to stay in the prison, content instead with just pretending that they are really free?
What does it really mean to be free in Christ...and are we ready to receive that freedom?
We are free from sin (John 8:32-36; Romans 6:18-22; Romans 8:2).
We are free to do well (II Peter 2:15-16).
We are free to love (Galatians 5:1-13).
We are free from the Old Covenant (Galatians 4:26-31).
We are free not to be beholden to any man (I Corinthians 9:1-19).
We are free to serve the Lord (I Corinthians 7:21-22).
We are free from the law (Romans 7:3 ; Romans 8:2).
We are free by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:17).
We are free to do all things in faith (I Corinthians 10:29).
Christ sets us free, but so many times people cannot accept and walk in that freedom. They have to cling to some law or ritual to give their faith substance. Instead of "being like the wind" in terms of following the Spirit of God in all things at every moment (John 3:8), they have to trust in their own works to some extent.
What must I do Lord? Follow me. What should I look like Lord? Just let me mold you. What should I say Lord? Let me speak through you. When should I go Lord? Just wait for my command.
The reason why there is liberty in Christ is because it is not about our performance for God. He is not looking for us to "do", but for us to rest so that He can do.
God's Holy Spirit makes us free by making us over from the inside out so that Christ can live within us. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were in error to be concerned with outward appearances and conformity because God is looking at the heart. Once God straightens us out on the inside, then the outside will take care of itself.
Sure, God doesn't want us to sin, but He knows the only way to deal with sin is in the heart. That is God's focus and it is His work which He completes in us. He doesn't need you to "try" to be a Christian. Just place yourself before Him as a sacrifice and let Him make you over. At that point, you will be what He desires you to be.
"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." II Corinthians 3:17-18
Yet, you want to hear something funny? Not only do people not want to be free themselves, but they don't want YOU to be free.
The Scriptures say: "And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage" Galatians 2:4
"Taste not, Touch not, don't wear this, don't eat that..." That is legalism. I have said it before and I will say it again. If you have someone trying to put you under any law, you had better run as fast as you can away from such persons. They are preaching you into bondage, and such is not of God. They either do not understand what it means to be born again or they are intentionally holding people back from the truth so that you will not be set free (II Peter 2:19).
Now here is the shocker that throws off many people. You are even free to be wrong! I am not condoning error or making light of a right understanding of God. I am saying that if you are going to believe in the rightly divided word, it is going to be because God has confirmed for you in your inner man that such is the truth. Simply believing someone else's testimony without that inner witness has no ability to produce life in you (Matthew 23:15).
One of the best tests for whether you are walking in the freedom of Christ yourself is how you react to people who hold beliefs different than your own. I am not saying that we should not explain the Scriptures or point out doctrinal errors. I am saying that once all is said and done - you have pointed out the truth as seen in God's Word - can you leave such persons with their understanding or do you feel compelled to make them see it your way?
People are often so concerned with making others a reflection of their own beliefs that they lose sight of Christ. That is of the flesh. Trust God to make people over the way He sees fit and in His timing. If they are sincere before the Lord, then He will confirm in them everything they need to know...just as He does with you.
Our job as Christians is not to get people to think the way that we think or to believe what we believe. It is to point them to Christ so that they too can be made over by Him into His image. He is the potter, not us.
If there is any message I would like to share with you today it is that, "You are free." Walking in true liberty with Christ is...well, freeing. Gone is the need to perform. Gone is the need to be "right". Gone is the need to be accepted. Gone is the need to prove yourself or your point. Gone is the need to change anyone else.
We can only offer such freedom to others when we ourselves are walking in it. It is that freedom which is a light and a draw to men, for it shows forth the workings of the Spirit of God. Such freedom can only come when we have our identity in Him.
In these last days, pray and seek for freedom, so that Jesus may be that much more evident in your life.
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1