For freedom Christ has set us free.
I had a picture this morning while spending time with the Lord. Most of us who follow Christ would like a life of intimacy, spiritual vitality, peace, love, and joy—a life that is so resilient we can remain at rest even in the midst of our busy lives. How many of us struggle to stay at rest when crises surround us, or the kids are being wild, or those we love the most lash out at us. Where can we find such abiding rest and peace?
Another perennial struggle we face is our battle with sin. This may look different on the surface for each of us, as we have our unique struggles—lust, anger, greed, pride, fear, addiction of various kinds, an abrasive criticalness, you name it. But truly our struggle is at bottom the same: a feeling of enslavement to something besides the Lord. So where can we find abiding freedom?
For both situations, consider Paul’s words to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). Notice Paul says Christ has already set us free from all that seems to enslave us. We have been set free from a hurried life, from addiction to pleasure, pride, alcohol, status, wealth, insecurity, etc.—pick your poison. But oftentimes, we do not seem to experience this freedom we possess. This is where my picture comes in.
I saw a man in a jail cell. He had been there for years. Then Jesus came into jail, went down to his cell, unlocked it, and set him free. This man, this prisoner who had been imprisoned all his life, was now free! The trouble was the man still thought of himself as a prisoner. He didn’t acknowledge or recognize the freedom that had been given to him. Because he still thought of himself as enslaved, he didn’t bother to get up and walk out, and thus he wasn’t experiencing the freedom that had been given to him. To make matters more difficult, his cell mates called out to him accusing, “you’re still a prisoner! You’ve always been a prisoner, and you’ll always be a prisoner!” These cell mates are like our inner voice, our critics, and those powers of evil that are against us.
Here's the point. We have been set free. You. Have. Been. Set. Free. Jesus has purchased our freedom. Look at the verse again: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” You must believe this. You are that man who may have been a prisoner, but you have now been set free. You won’t walk out, however, if you don’t believe it. If you are in Christ, all that enslaves you is your own thinking. As our mind is transformed though, so will we transform. As Paul writes elsewhere, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)
I encourage you, recite this verse to yourself today as often as it comes to mind. You are free my friends. Neither an overwhelming life, nor sin, has power over you any longer. You are under the power of Christ, not sin. You must believe this though or you won’t walk it out. My prayer for us all then, especially as we enter the holiday season with its stresses, is that we remember who we are in Christ—that we are free from the power of sin, and that we are filled with the Spirit of peace. Let us have joy and shine as his children—living evidence to the world of the Good News of Jesus Christ.