We know the bottom line: that God is the freedom giver. But how exactly do we find freedom, and how/who does it come from?
The answer is grace.
It is for freedom that Christ set us free, right? How did He set us free?
Through salvation by grace alone.
From the Gospel according to John, chapter 1:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 12:9
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
We need to understand what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished, in order to learn to walk in freedom. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of all our sins – those we committed before we were saved AND those we committed since then.
This really was one of the keys in helping me to overcome my struggle with habitual sin. I used to try to achieve obedience, freedom and mastery over my sin by my own strength. I would pray and ask for God’s help, of course; but then when I’d fall, I’d beat myself up for a good amount of time because of my fall. This behavior fit right in line with how I treated myself before I became a Christian, especially as it pertained to my eating disorder. If I ate too much (in my opinion) or didn’t exercise enough, or if I woke up one day and my weight was too high, I’d belittle myself and make resolutions about how to change
whatever it was that I didn’t like.
Galatians 3 says “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
This way of thinking made me pretty legalistic. I made all sorts of rules for myself (and others) in an attempt to measure my faith as well as theirs. If I had boiled down my thinking, my core belief seemed to be that it was easier to follow rules than to try to live in the reality of grace.
It reminds me of Paul’s warning to the Colossians:
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Let me tell you from experience that rules alone will get your nowhere fast.
I just read this today: “Self-striving nurtures self-hatred.” Yes and Amen.
I cannot, cannot do this myself. I never could. That’s precisely why Jesus died on the cross.
More in Part 2, which may or may not be next week. I’m going out of town and will have to see if I have time to post!