Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
â€œWe should have fireworks on Easter!â€ A friend declared as we discussed Colossians on Sunday. We all laughed, but she is right. Christians have a freedom given to us that no law, no country, no philosophy and no religion can ever take from us. That is something to celebrate! Even if the United States were to crumble and our â€˜Independence Dayâ€ be no more, our freedom comes from a cross and our God sacrificing himself for us so that we no longer have to live under the tyranny of sin.
So the question is, do we live in that freedom? Can you imagine any slave, once given their freedom, choosing to go back to that slavery? Yet we Christians do it all of the time. If Paul is having to tell the Galatians to live in the freedom, chances are good they were choosing to go back into the yoke of slavery. In this passage Paul mentions circumcision (belief that the law through circumcision saves us), sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies. The church is fresh from the resurrection and is choosing to return to things had enslaved them before their salvation. And the church of today is just as susceptible to returning to slavery. The rate of divorce is just as high in Christian marriages as it is in secular. The church is filled with back biting, grudges, idols, strife, jealousy, sexual immorality, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions etc. How in the world can we model freedom of Christ to an unbeliever if we keep returning to it when we donâ€™t think God is meeting our desires?
This week I came face to face with some of my own slavery. I sat there cross armed and anger boiling inside me. The person across from me was revealing to me some idols she saw me worshiping. Iâ€™ve got news for you, idols arenâ€™t just statues we place on our mantle. They are anything that we place above God, and anything that we are willing to sin to achieve.
For me, one idol is that I can somehow keep my two little ones safe. On the surface it is a good desire, but if Iâ€™m willing to sin to meet these desires then Iâ€™m not living in the freedom of the cross. At the core I donâ€™t think God is capable of keeping them safe so I attempt to be God for them. Beneath every motive for sin is a belief that God will not meet my needs and desires.
Another idol lay hidden beneath the statement â€œno one will ever hurt me againâ€. One of the characteristics of Christ that I wrestle to accept and emulateâ€” he didnâ€™t fight back. He was spit upon, falsely accused and did not defend himself. This is a major strong hold for me. I keep having the same conflict over and over because self-preservation is my idol. â€œWhoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.â€ (John 12:25)
I donâ€™t have to live chained to idols. I can have freedom by keeping in step with the fruits of the Spirit.
The fruits of the Spirit (freedom) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. That deserves some fireworks!
1 Corinthians 7:21
2 Corinthians 3:17
Romans 12:18-19 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
My last session of Biblical Counseling Training started last night. I was trucking along just fine listening to the speakers until the topic of anger began to be discussed. Anger and I go way back and God has done so much healing in this area.
Make room for the wrath of God, “don’t play God”. I was caught off guard by how much the statement about God’s wrath got into the crevices and pulled out anger that I didn’t consciously acknowledge. I sat there with tears pouring down my cheeks. Many of you are well aware that there are those who are responsible for Jonathan’s death. You struggle along side me to forgive, to not wish them ill, and to pray for them.
At moments I have felt the deep freedom of forgiveness and been moved with compassion for my enemy’s brokenness. But to be honest, I stew, I dwell, and plot, trying to do God’s job for him. I want revenge! That is what came to the surface last night. I’ve shared before that I came to the point 10 years ago that I admitted that I did not believe that God was just. This is one more step in the process of accepting that he is God, and I am not. My job is to love the Lord God with all my heart and to love my neighbor as myself. This means providing for, extending grace, and praying for those that God puts in my path. This is the best way to display his glory and accept his goodness to me. Thank you Lord for not treating me like my sins deserve.