Monday, May 23, 2016

The “Free Indeed” Rights of Freedom in Christ

The focus of In2Freedom is to encourage and help people to first experience the new birth into the life of Jesus Christ, and then to experience daily growth towards maturity in our Savior. In the same way as we are born into this world, and then grow to maturity as a human being, God causes his children to be born again, and then to grow up to be like his Son.

Because we must see everything to do with being a child of God from our heavenly Father’s perspective, we must look at God’s plans and intentions for us as his children, and expect him to fulfill his purposes in each of our lives. If we are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, everything God intends for our maturity is ours by the same faith that brought us into our so great salvation in the first place.

What, then, are the rights of the children of God in this earthly lifetime that we must keep before us by faith so we can experience victory over any sins, obstacles, injuries, or stumbling stones, we face along our way through life? If Jesus said that, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”,[1] there must be some kind of experience of “free indeed” that is our inherent right as God’s children.[2] No matter what we are facing, and how hard life may seem to us, we must accept nothing as defeat of our freedom in Jesus our Savior.

For starters, we must not think of our “free indeed” experience of life as freedom from struggles, hardships, disappointments, or heartaches. God’s children will always be humbled by our own fleshly propensity to sin,[3] and will always have experiences with suffering for the sake of the righteousness of Jesus kingdom.[4] Painful and difficult things will come our way. We will feel all manner of negative feelings towards ourselves when we sin, and discover God using such things to teach us to depend on him instead of our selves.[5] We will face all kinds of emotional distresses because of people’s sins against us. This can’t be helped. When people hurt us, we hurt, simple as that. Our freedom lies elsewhere.

Neither must we think of the “free indeed” experience of life as freedom from obedience to the rule of righteousness over our lives. While we are no longer under obedience to the law, we are still called to “the obedience of faith”.[6] We understand that we are unable to achieve legalistic righteousness through keeping laws and rules to such perfection that no gracious work of God is required. However, when the righteous live by faith, they are constantly pursuing the righteousness that comes through faith.

We must be clear that life in Christ is not liberation from righteousness, but from the bondage to the law that guarantees our failure to be righteous. Instead of liberation from righteousness, we are blessed with a hunger and thirst for righteousness that is satisfied in us through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,[7] by the grace of God through faith.[8]

If our freedom is not from hurtful and traumatic experiences, and it is not freedom from suffering for Christ, and it is not freedom from the longing and desire to be just as righteous as Jesus is, what freedom is our right as children of the Living God?

In short, it is the freedom to be born again by the Spirit of the Living God,[9] and the freedom to grow up to be like Jesus.[10] While the world, the flesh, and the devil,[11] may do all they can to steal, and kill, and destroy,[12] God will completely fulfil all his purposes in our salvation.[13]

The grand testimony of God blessing us “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”,[14] assures us that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[15] Since the work of our justification, sanctification, and glorification, is God’s from beginning to end, we must set before every child of God the hope of the “free indeed” experience of life in Christ, and in the body of Christ.

What’s the point? That it doesn’t matter how badly you may be feeling over some way you have sinned against your Father in heaven, or how traumatically you have been affected by someone else’s sins against you, nothing can defeat God’s work of saving every one of his children, and leading them all to maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ. The work of salvation is his, and this includes both our justification by faith (the new birth), and our sanctification by faith (growing to maturity in Christ).

How practical is this? That any of us can identify whatever we are struggling with in our relationship with God and his people, present it before the glorious throne of grace as one pouring out our very hearts in God’s presence,[16] and come to know God in the midst of whatever we are going through better than we have ever known him before.

As was said three millennia ago, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”[17] Whether we literally face a physical threat to our lives, or face God’s work of crucifying our flesh daily, or feel such pain in our hearts that makes us wish we could die, the answer is the same for God’s children today as it was for God’s children them, “for you are with me”.

Or, as was said as recently as two millennia ago, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”[18]

If this post has raised questions for you about your own experience of the new birth, or has brought to the surface any difficulties you are facing in enjoying the “free indeed” experience of growing up in Christ, make sure you ask God to unite you with other believers who will join in bringing such things before your heavenly Father in prayer and mutual ministry.

After all, God’s word tells us to, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”[19] No matter your need in any aspect of salvation, drawing near to God as a fellowship of believers will lead you into the provision of God that fulfills Jesus’ promise to make us “free indeed”.

© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] John 8:36
[2] By “inherent” (a basic part of something), I do not mean inherent to us as the children, but inherent to our adoption as the sons of God (see John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:1-14 shows how our adoption as sons (vs 5) fits in to the full picture of our salvation).
[3] Romans 7:1-25 is Paul’s explanation of how we are released from the law, but not from our flesh (sarks). Our freedom is not from our flesh, which still wants to do what is contrary to righteousness. Our freedom is from the law which gives sin the advantage over our flesh by its ability to keep our flesh doing what we ought not to do. The battle with the flesh will continue throughout this earthly lifetime, but not as a life of hopeless defeat because we can never do good enough. Instead, Romans 8:1-39 shows how life in the Spirit gives us victory over the work of the flesh so that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (vs 37). While we will not experience freedom from our flesh/sarks, we are freed from the law which guarantees our defeat, and free to live in the Spirit no matter what we are facing of our own sin, or the sins of others against us.
[4] Matthew 5:10-12
[5] Matthew 5:3-6, the first four Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, show how God blesses us from poverty of spirit through to hungering and thirsting after righteousness so we can experience him satisfying us by grace through faith rather than us living with the constant consciousness of our moral and spiritual failure.
[6] Romans 1:5; 16:26
[7] Matthew 5:6
[8] Ephesians 2:8-9
[9] John 3:1-8 presents Jesus teaching Nicodemus about being born again by the Spirit of God.
[10] II Corinthians 3:18 shows how God is working to conform us to the same image as our Lord Jesus Christ “from one degree of glory to another”. I Peter 1:3-9 is a beautiful summary of the complete work of salvation from our new birth, to our guaranteed inheritance in heaven.
[11] The three enemies of the church, always working together in wicked conspiracy against our Savior.
[12] John 10:10
[13] A main theme of the whole book of Revelation is that all God’s purposes in our salvation will be completely fulfilled. He has even given us his picture-book to hold before us a sense of what it will look like when we join the great multitude of believers rejoicing in our so great salvation. My contention is that there is nothing in this earthly lifetime that should hold us back from rejoicing “with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:8-9). Although the experience of forgiveness and healing may be required for specific sins and wounds, salvation and maturity our the inherent right of our adoption as the sons of God.
[14] Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:1-14 gives the full picture.
[15] Philippians 1:6
[16] The “pouring out our hearts” approach to God is not only well-substantiated in God’s Book, but is very manly as well! Of course, it is womanly at the same time, but women usually do not need to be told the obvious, if you will. See the following Scriptures that show men setting the example of pouring out their hearts before the throne of grace: Psalm 62:8; Lamentations 2:19. At the same time, be assured that God calling his people to pour out our hearts before him includes the practical work of making room for his love, since, “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
[17] Psalm 23:4 (see Psalm 23:1-6 as the beautiful context!)
[18] Romans 8:31
[19] Hebrews 4:16

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