Thursday, January 3, 2013

Standing Firm in Freedom

One of the often used phrases that unbelievers use to describer believers is "hypocrite."  We are, all of us, guilty as charged.  There are some, myself included, who talk a good talk, but our walk is not always seen by the world as genuine.  Sigh.

That's not to say we all are hypocrites all the time.  Some more than others really do walk the talk, even when we expect the bomb to drop saying that they are living some kind of secret life of whatever you can name - pornography, stealing, cheating on their taxes, beating their kids, etc. etc.  Christians do do those things and so much more.

But we don't have to be hypocrites.  We don't have to wear a mask pretending that all is well and we are super Christian and nothing ever bothers us.  We don't have to pretend.  We don't have to deny our very real struggles.  We don't have to add fuel to the fire of what the world calls hypocrisy.  We can be real.  We can be....Free.

There was only one place in all of the New Testament that used the word that Jesus used for freedom in Luke 4:18.  How fitting that the Only One who can give us freedom from our sins is the only one who ever used the word to describe Himself.  He came to "proclaim freedom for the prisoners"  (NIV), "to proclaim that captives will be released" (NLT) "to preach deliverance to the captives" (KJV), "to proclaim release to the captives" (NASB).  

The Only One who can give true freedom is Jesus.  

It's not the freedom that we like to boast of here in America.  Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

No, it's the freedom of the gospel message, that Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross and his defeat of Satan and resurrection from the dead is what gives us Freedom.  True freedom.  

Freedom to walk in peace.  Freedom to live without fear.  Freedom to make choices that honor Him who made us.  Freedom to be real.   

We don't have to pretend that we're something that religion or the world or your professor or your atheist friend or relative says we "should" be if we "really" were Christians.  

We can admit we are flawed.  We don't have to hide our hidden sins that we're afraid if anyone knew about us they would be so disappointed.

We don't have to hide.  We don't have to be a slave to the things that we keep doing over and over and over again.  We can get off the merry-go-round of our hidden shames and walk free.  We can stand firm in freedom.

You see, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery."  Galatians 5:1

This freedom, Eleutheria in the Greek, means "a free person.  Freedom, liberty, latitude, privilege; autonomy, independence, generosity.  Eleutheria was essentially the right and power of self-determination, the state in which one can act and move without restricion or hindrance.  Freedom signified the relationship of an object set over against something else in which it was not under the authority, force, or control of that other object."

Christ set us free from the bondage sin entangles us in.  We can say no, with Jesus' power in us, to the things that keep us trapped and in bondage.

To be burdened - Enecho - means to urge, harass, badger. To be held in or by anything; to be entangled in something, be enmeshed, to be subject to.  See, Jesus has already set you free from hypocrisy.  He's already set you free from the sins that trap you, that tangle you up like a fish in a net.  You are Free.

Jesus has set us free from the yoke of slavery, not a slave of a man, but a slave to our sin.  Douleia is that state of man in which he is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life; a state opposed to liberty.

Jesus died so that we can live free.  He has liberated us.  Long before Lincoln freed the slaves or the women's lib movement of the 60's and 70's, Jesus already laid the ground work for liberation.  For freedom.
Only today, in America at least, we are not slaves of another person, but slaves of our sin.  You have been set free from that sin slavery.

We have the power within us, His power, to bust out of the self-imposed prisons that we find ourselves in.  Whatever burdens you carry, be freed of them, Jesus has the shoulders to carry them for you.  

Don't beat yourself up with the past shoulda, woulda, coulda's.  The past is where it is, the past.  Today you can stand firm, steko - to stand, stand firm, steadfast (firmly fixed in place, immovable, firm in belief, determination, or adherence).

You do have the choice to stand firm or fall flat to bondage.  His power is in you, because you belong to Him and for no other reason.  He died so that you can live.

Live in Freedom!


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