I have been in a season of seeking. Sometimes I feel like that hero Emmett in the Lego movie who has the “Prodigiously Empty” mind. Sometimes my brain is full of thoughts and words and ideas…and I am compelled to write them down.
Today what I need to say to you is, “You are free.” You may still be physically in the same place where you have always been…but you don’t have to be in the same place. A shift has already occurred.You are not a slave to your past. You are not a slave to your fear or shame or anger or unforgiveness…or to those things which you believe that you have done which are unforgivable. You are a new creation…you just may not know it yet. I want to help you know it.
“… there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”Romans 8:1
Do you know what that means? It sounds awfully simple. God put all of the sins of the world from Adam and Eve until the last man who will ever be onto the cross with Him. Our all knowing; all powerful God would have made an impressive sight collecting to Himself all of the ugliness of the world. But we would not have been terribly impressed. In our entitled egocentric arrogance we probably would have looked at God as if He were the late garbage collector coming to FINALLY clean up our mess. Can’t you see us standing there watching…not lifting a finger to help. Can’t you see us with our hands on our hips, rolling our eyes saying “That’s not my mess! I didn’t make all that!”…Maybe instead of any sense of gratitude we would look down on Him for stooping so low.
Or maybe we would be ashamed of what we had made Him have to do for us. Maybe we wouldn’t be able to look at Him because we knew that we had help make that big mess and we had not done our part to clean it up.
Well. we know that God could not come in His all-knowing; all-powerful form. He had to make an impression. Had He come as God the Almighty Creator of the Universe we would have said…”Well OF COURSE He can clean up the mess in our little world! He can do anything He wants! He is God!!!”
It’s absolutely amazing and CRAZY to think that all He wants is a relationship…with us. He loves us and He wants us to love Him back. But we couldn’t see Him. So He came to us in a way that we could see Him…and in a way that we could learn about His character. He came to us to show us that we don’t have to be all-knowing and all-powerful to live the way that we are made to live. He showed us how to live and not make a mess. He literally became a not all knowing not almighty and yet perfect man and took the mess of the world NONE OF WHICH he helped create to the grave. It is buried. It is dead. All we are required to do is acknowledge that we believe this Good News!
We could not see God…so God came to us in the form of Jesus so that we might understand and see. Too many people still are blind or have not heard. For those of us that have had our eyes opened we can see the things causing a mess : our addictions; our love of money; our love of power; our anger; our bitterness; our prejudice; our desires that are not healthy for our heart and soul; our selfishness; our gluttony; our depression; our past…all of the things that keep us captive…
But what most of us fail to see is that the mess HAS NO POWER ANYMORE. We may still be in and among the ugliness…but we don’t have to be. We are unshackled. We are free. We were slaves, but we have been bought at a VERY steep price. God sacrificed himself in a way that we can relate to. We can understand blood and pain and being betrayed. We can understand being attacked and disappointed. We can understand when our desire to help and teach and love is met with skepticism, judgement, ridicule. We can understand…and God wanted us to know that He understands too.
And how do we become free from our old, ugly, messy, life-stealing ways?
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew,circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:5-17
Got that? It is a one time acceptance of God as our Lord and Savior…and our commitment to change…and then a daily re commitment to continue to let God be the leader. How can He lead us? We are not alone! God did not leave us alone after He showed us how to live through Jesus. He left us with a perfect counselor. Jesus explained this to his disciples:
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him,because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-21
Do you see God? Hear Him? Long for Him?
Sometimes I feel like the perfect information that I didn’t even know I needed comes at just the right time. I typically know it is “perfect”, at least for that moment, because the same message comes to me in a variety of ways: a sermon; a friend’s email; a devotional reading; scripture; a Sunday School lesson; a line in a book; a phone conversation; a song or an interview on the radio…even clouds or bird song! It is at those times it seems like God is looking at my silly ways and laughing a big belly-laugh at me. I can hear Him say, “Christy, I know that I have been bombarding you with the same lesson over and over in twenty different ways for the past seven days…but my Darling, you are not the most observant of my children! So, I want to make sure that you hear Me/ see Me/ understand Me and that you have no doubt where the message is coming from…Me!”
If we do not know God, then we are easy to deceive. Before we get self-righteous and say that we are good, remember even people who know and love God intimately have been easy to deceive…Sometimes the temptation is really specific to our weakness. Think of David and Bathsheba. What is your weakness? Do you give in to it? That, my friend is what keeps you from being free. That is your shackle. That is how you remain captive.
We could get all caught up in how terrible stories of sin can be…King David saw another man’s wife and wanted her and sent her husband off to battle on the front lines knowing that he would die…so he stole/ committed adultery/ murdered…
But God even cleaned up that mess. He made something good come of it. God does that. He doesn’t want broken relationships with us…He will do MORE than His part to mend and heal and redeem ANYTHING that we do if we are truly sorry. If we see our error. If we ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t mean that things will be cleaned up immediately…but we know that God can work any terrible thing out for Good…and for His Glory.
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God”. 2 Corinthians 4:4
This is the message today:
We are captives.
We are blind to the FACT that Satan is a tempter even today..not just occasionally but ALL day EVERY day. He can not stop God from loving us more than anything…but Satan can and has done a pretty darn good job of preventing us from loving God more than anything.
And that is what God wants…above all…for us to love Him. He doesn’t just want it, he COMMANDS it.
Jesus, in a discussion with his disciples answers them in Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’(Deut 6:5). This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’(Lev.19:18). All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That is it. That is all that we need to do to have the life that God wants for us. Love Him MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. And then…love each other. And if we don’t love our self…then we must. Not is a self-centered, narcissistic way…but in an “I am made in the image of God…I am a temple of the Living God…I am a vessel for God’s light to shine from and through me! I love me because God is in me!”
We must see how life here IS versus how it SHOULD be in order for us to be free.
You have been warned.
We can easily continue to be captives to the lie.
Adam and Eve believed the lie. But we don’t have to. The mess that they first made and the messes that man has piled up throughout the ages have been buried in the grave for over 2000 years. The battle between good and evil has been fought and won. We just have to claim the victory in our own life.
One day I was talking to a friend who sometimes gets going on a hard to follow tangent. We were talking about children and parenting and then for the next 10 minutes he begins passionately preaching to me about how children are like” trained” elephants.
Our conversation was cut short…so we never discussed where he was going in his thought process…but I have an idea…
…consider why and how people are capable of keeping elephants captive. How could and why would a 15,000 pound animal not understand his strength? How could and why would he not understand that if he pulled away from the insufficient ankle iron (that is not nearly strong enough to hold him down) that he would be “free”?
I don’t believe that my friend was recommending that we should “tie down” or break a child’s spirit. I can’t imagine that he would think it is good to create docile and obedient children through fear and humiliation.
So where was the elephant analogy going to go?
Well…before I answer that, let’s ponder another question: if the elephant did break away… would he ever be free? Free for what? Where would he go? Is he is breaking away from a circus…or a parade… is he at a zoo? If he broke away from an area where he did not belong he would be hunted down and shot with a paralyzing dart and then put in an even more confining place. Or he would be shot and killed. He would never truly be free unless he was in his natural wild habitat. And if he found his way back to a truly free place…would he even know how to survive?
Moses led the Israelite people out of Egypt. They were free from Pharaoh’s harsh tyranny but they had forgotten what freedom was supposed to be. They were used to being slaves.
Would that happen to us if we were delivered from the tyranny of our hum-drum life? Are we so used to being slaves in our weary existence that we don’t know what it would be like to have an “abundant “life?
John 10:10 says,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Do you know what “abundant” means? Well, I looked it up and this is the definition:
Are you living a life that is more than adequate? over-sufficient? richly supplied? Why not?
We are captives to a lie.
Somewhere along the way when we were little, or sometimes later in life, we came across people who intentionally and maliciously or ignorantly clipped our wings. We become caged birds. Locked up and locked in.
We become shackled baby elephants. We did not know that one day we would have sufficient strength and power to break any chains that bind us.
We stop believing in ourselves. We get tired of trying so we stop trying. We become accustomed to the disappointment. By the time that we could break free, we have given up. We are resigned to slavery. We are not what God made us to be.
People who I know and love struggle. They fail to tap into the power that could break them free of their captivity. Of course most of the time people have no idea that they are even in a self-imposed prison. Sometimes they have to be told by a person that loves them enough to tell them…and they have to trust enough to listen…and then trust even more to do what it takes to get free.
Insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results…captives are in a self-imposed prison. People are in a mental ward called this world. Some people live an illusion that they are free because they are walking …but they keep walking down the same path and falling into the same hole.
This is the deal: We ARE free people.
But there is a difference in being free and in living free.
Again, take the Words of Romans 8 to heart.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who
are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of
the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of
sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because
it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own
Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so
he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous
requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not
live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Live free. God gave us flesh to enjoy…but be ruled by the Spirit of God that is in us all! Praise God! We ARE free. Claim it.