Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 10 ~ The Freedom to Believe

After a quarter-century of discipleship in leading people to freedom in Christ, one of the most common hindrances to people's freedom is their choice to trust their unbelief more than their belief. I have never seen God’s work shut down because of the size or strength of someone’s bondage, but I have seen God’s work resisted to the point that people have grieved the Holy Spirit, persisting in their resistance until they have quenched his work.[1]

In this message, we attempt to sift through some of the differences between those who pursue their desire for Jesus to set them free no matter how much their unbelief tries to stop them, and those who give in to their unbelief no matter how much Jesus promises to do for them.

The aim is to help us deal with our own journey to freedom in Christ where we distinguish between what is a genuine struggle and hindrance that needs ministry, and what is a stubborn refusal to do what God's word tells us that needs repentance. If we treat our stubbornness as a bondage issue rather than an obedience issue, we will be deceived into sitting back and waiting for God to do something when he is working to get us to do something.

At the same time, this exploration of God’s word guides us in considering how to discern between those who are unable to take the next step because of a genuine bondage issue that requires ministry from the church,[2] and those who simply do not want Jesus to set them free because they are not willing to pay the cost of giving up the deceptive “perks” that their bondage has given them.

What kind of benefits do people get from hanging on to their genuine bondage issues?[3] Things like avoiding responsibility to engage with the church in using their spiritual gifts since they are always struggling with something that won’t let them do so.[4] Or a wife who has decided she does not want freedom because her unresolved hurts towards her husband immobilize her from wanting to be a wife to him ever again.[5] Or a husband who does not want freedom because becoming the head of his home and learning to love his wife as Christ loved the church seems so outrageously scary and impossible to him that he does not want to be put in such a position.[6]

Join our exploration of the freedom issues involved in a dad bringing his demonized son to Jesus after Jesus’ disciples were unable to provide the freedom he was seeking.[7] How Jesus engages everyone involved so they are all invited to join him in his work is a remarkably gracious expression of how he will do the same today in any church that hears what the Spirit is saying to the churches,[8] and responds to God’s work by working out these aspects of salvation with fear and trembling.[9]

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Although we are warned against resisting the Spirit (Acts 7:51), grieving the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30-31), and quenching the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19), it has been all too common to see people resist the Spirit’s work to apply the freedom of Christ to their lives, and to take down people who were devoted to helping them find that freedom.
[2] By “bondage issues” I mean things that have happened to us that have created such consistent patterns and habits of fear and self-protection that a person us unable to freely join God in his work because of the things that keep stopping them. This often involves deeper things that have been hidden away because, at the time they happened, we were unable to bring them to God for healing. Because we couldn’t handle them, we created various systems of denial and dissociation to minimize how much they appeared to control our lives. However, whenever we want to step out to trust and obey God in something we are learning in his word, we find that we just can’t get over something that consistently gets in the way.
[3] Here I am differentiating between the real things that have hindered a person’s relationship with God and their choice whether to bring that to Jesus for healing and freedom, or continue looking after it in their own strength.
[4] Except that the truth is that they could bring their bondage issues to the church for freedom so they could also engage with the church in doing ministry to others.
[5] While this may look justified in a surface, sarky way, the real issue is still between the woman and Jesus, not the woman and her husband. Yes, the journey to freedom will require resolving inter-personal problems as well, but once the deeper issue of trusting Jesus for freedom is resolved, women will want to see him heal everything that is broken, including what is broken in both her and her husband, and in their marriage.
[6] Again, while surface issues and childhood trauma may explain where a man is starting from in his journey to freedom, none of those things justify the outright refusal to follow Jesus in the next step of that journey. It is still an issue of whether a man will trust Jesus one step at a time rather than giving in to all the reasons for unbelief promoted by the world, the sark (flesh), and the devil.
[7] Mark 9:14-29
[8] The way Jesus ended each of his letters to the seven churches in Revelation. See Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22
[9] Philippians 2:12-13

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