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Posted on May 24, 2017 in Blog, Church, Freedom

The Gospel Gives Us: Freedom

The Gospel Gives Us: Freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

We have many misconceptions as to what the Gospel is about. Many of us, when we think about the gospel, the first thing that comes to mind is cheesy tracts that try to “share the gospel” through some contrived form. They had their place. They once worked, I don’t think they have much effect anymore. Because of this, we think of the Gospel as the “Four Spiritual Laws.” And images of bridges made of a cross, gaps, short-comings and the sort come to mind.

Sure, we are sinners. Oops. I’m not supposed to say that anymore. I’m supposed to say, we struggle with issues. Truth is, we are sinners.

But, the truth about truth is that, too often, we have only focused on the truth about our human condition and not enough on the truth of what the Gospel produces in us. I am not seeking to minimize the human condition. I acknowledge it. It’s apparent to us all. Apart from God, we can be pretty messed up.

But, what if we started – as believers and followers of Christ, as pastors and church leaders, as influencers – what if we started paying at least equal attention to the fruit this gospel produces in us? What if, instead of spending as much time harping on all the failures and shortcomings we have, we started talking more about what this new life in Christ is supposed to look like?

That’s what I’m trying to do as a pastor. I will not neglect the contribution we made to the crucifixion of Christ. However, I also firmly believe we shouldn’t neglect the new life that Christ died for us to have.

What is this new life? Well, it’s many things. Many joyous things. My hope, as I write of these things is to call you into the greener pastures of God’s goodness and faithfulness He desires for you. I don’t want to be the kind of pastor that is always driving from behind, trying to force everyone to go the direction I think they should go. I want to be the kind of pastor that calls out from those greener pastures, drawing people out of the brush and into God’s goodness.

So then, back to it, what is this new life. One of the first and foremost aspects to this new nature is freedom. Freedom from bondage to sin. Freedom from the life we were once controlled by. Freedom from the passions that used to drive us.

What does the Bible say about freedom? 

Romans 8:20-21

20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:13

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

As you can see, the world exists in bondage. The world is frustrated (no wonder it’s frustrating too!). The world was corrupted from God’s original design when we rebelled against Him. Since then, creation has been waiting for the day when it would be restored to what had originally been put in place. Creation is in bondage. We, as a part of creation are in bondage.

Bondage to what? Sin. Yes. We have to talk about sin to be able to talk about freedom. Sin is the way we rebel against God. Most sin can be categorized under one idea: Selfishness. We want or desire things for ourselves. Sometimes those things are inappropriate in/of themselves. Other times we do inappropriate things to get good things. But, it’s all self serving.

Jesus turned all that on it’s head when he game and lived the perfect, sinless life. What did that life look like? You, you, you. He, being God, could have made everything about him. But, he didn’t. He gave everything, for you and me.

Consequently, the life we receive is this life. We are not receiving God’s stamp of approval on all our selfish pursuits. We are receiving this gift of life that is all about giving. Why do we give? Because we have received so much. This kind of truly selfless life can only be lived by the power of that Holy God living in us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

When we try to give, give, give, but all on our own strength, we are giving of a limited source. It’s a well that will dry up. But, when we live a life of giving because we are powered by the Spirit of the living and giving God, that’s a well that will never run dry.

Our freedom is not that we may do as we wish. We’ve spent a life of doing that. And that kind of life was what leads to our need of a savior. Our freedom is being set free from that kind of life. It’s also being set free from the bondage in our thinking that comes with this life. We don’t realize it, but we are shackled to our individualistic pursuits. We are trying to get ahead, restrained by our inability to see beyond ourselves. That’s not the freedom we receive.

The freedom we receive is freedom from that. We are not free to do whatever we wish. We are not free to use our freedom for selfish gains. Our freedom is not an license to sin. God’s freedom in us revokes that license. And now God is at work rewiring our very nature so that those things of sin that once enticed us, become things that repulse us. God starts to teach us to identify the ways we are taking advantage of others and this world for our own benefit. Then, through his ongoing work of setting us apart for his purposes (called sanctification), he fills in the void left by sin with his truth.

Think of it this way. Sin is like a dandelion. When you go to pull up that dandelion, you have to be sure to get the whole thing out, otherwise it will grow right back. It’s roots go deep into the soil. It make take quite a bit of effort to remove it in its entirety. And once you do, there is a void, there a hole. If left to our own devices, we will fill that hole back in with other weeds. But, with God’s great work of freedom, he fills in the hole with his truth. The world is rooted out of us, and we become the recipients of grace upon grace.

This is freedom. God’s truth and grace is our freedom. This is what the Gospel does. The sin and death that we used to be handcuffed to, has been done away with. We are set free. And if the son has set you free, you are free indeed. Really, really free.

But, as Peter shares with us: Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” (1 Peter 2:16). We aren’t to use our freedom to get away with murder. Our freedom leads us to be bound to God, willfully bonded to God’s purpose and plan for my life and for the life of the world around me. My life is no longer my own, I was bought with a price. I will spend my life bound to the God of freedom. I’m either bound to my selfish pursuits and the corruption of this world, or I’m bound to God. But, being bound to God frees me from the shackles of this corrupted system. Being bound to God eradicates the me-virus that is thriving on a dead host, resurrects the host, giving it the only true life that exists in all of creation – the life that comes from the Spirit of God breathing life into it.

That’s what the Gospel gives us. Well, that’s part of it – that’s the freedom part. There much more to it than that!

  • pauldwilson

    Thanks David for this!

    When I was called to preach, back too many years ago to count, the Lord awakened me, first by repentance, and then by a calling to express His life in missions.

    When I went to South Africa, I found and environment I did not expect . . . and I reeled for far too long under it. My call was much like the call of God to many others. It was an awakening to possibilities for my life.

    I am still amazed at this call . . . it still remains.

    However, I found out that it is much like an inexperienced swimmer when finally aware of the need of the life-guard – I might actually cause more problems to this life-guard than I ever dreamed possible. Having been saved by grace – I now have to live “in grace”, and that means to swim in total cooperation with my life-guard!

    That is not easy for a person that has been chosen because of certain natural gifts, or talents. The call is used to get our attention, but also to learn who is calling us to Holiness! Holiness is finally catching on to what swimming is really about in our present age!

    (Romans 11:36) “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 12:1-2) “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. [2] Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

  • pauldwilson

    P S I forgot to mention one other thing – I was one who had a lot of success with the Four Spiritual Laws because a dear Christian Brother in South Africa wrote a booklet on the background meaning of those laws. I did not trust a “quick” approach – but with this explanation, I trusted the God of the Bible as I used the laws. They are, after all, His! The danger comes in the misinterpretation of the laws! Thanks.

  • David Lindner

    Thanks Uncle Paul. Yes, there is nothing wrong with the laws. My beef is only when we reduce the whole gospel to a witnessing tool. Also, hoping to help get across the idea that the gospel is not just something for eternity, but is also for our redemption in there here and now.