Freedom: Spirit

There is freedom here in this place!  Complete freedom, true freedom!  Nothing holding us back, nothing weighing us down!  So free that not even death can stop us!  Jesus said:

John 8:36

if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

There is a freedom that we receive and experience through Christ that is unlike any other freedom that this world can offer us.  It is a freedom that is nearly indescribable.  It is a freedom that Jesus paid the highest price to purchase.  Jesus stepped out of Heaven, victoriously overcame all opposition in our weak and tempted flesh, gave His life on the cross to take on the curse and punishment that we all deserve because of our sin, and then defeated all sin and death. 

All power and authority given to Him and now accessible to us!  We have been empowered to rise above the weaknesses and temptations of our flesh and to destroy every work of the devil!  Jesus has set us free indeed!

That is, if we so choose to be free. 

Galatians 5:1‭;‬13‭-‬16

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.

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. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

We were born in this flesh, born in sin.  Initially in life, it’s all that we know.  We live our lives controlled by our own will, our own desires, our own opinions, and our own feelings.  We think that freedom is being able to do whatever we want whenever we want however we want without consequence.  In fact, if you ask Google what freedom is, they define it as: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Place a dozen or so toddlers (tiny humans who act, speak, and think as they want without hindrance or restraint) together in a room with some snacks and toys and see if you would call that a place of freedom.

This isn’t freedom, it is slavery to our flesh. I propose that true freedom is actually the power to act, speak, or think with chosen hindrance or restraint. It is the power to choose to restrain our own flesh that gives us freedom.

Anyone can act, speak, or think without any restraint and there are always consequences for them. Believing that we can ever do so without consequence is simply a lie about our reality that actually enslaves us instead of freeing us.

That train of thought usually leads to prison quite literally.

Gratifying all of the desires of our flesh simply makes our flesh our master.  We become a slave to it and are by no means lead along a path to freedom.

2 Peter 2:19

… “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

Paul teaches us that if we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Through Christ alone, by the empowerment and leading of the Holy Spirit, we are finally set free from our bondage!  As he also wrote:

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

There is a freedom available within us through the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit empowers us, emboldens us, sets us free indeed!

Even in the very beginning, this fight for freedom existed.  We usually think of the temptation of Adam and Eve.  However, I think it is interesting to read the encounter between Cain, the first person ever born, Abel, the second person ever born, and God.  God spoke with Cain who was really downcast and angry because he favored Abel’s offering to Him over his own.  His flesh was tempting him to act out on his anger and to kill his brother.  God came to Cain in his anger and told him:

Genesis 4:6-7

6 “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Paul essentially reiterated that encouraging word of warning to Cain when he wrote:

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.

Stand firm, rise above, rule and reign in life!  Walk in freedom and cast off that yoke of slavery that the flesh keeps trying to place back on you!

Through the Holy Spirit, we can rule over sin.  We can cast off the slavery of our fleshly desires!  We don’t have to wonder through life downcast and bitter, we can experience joy and peace through the freedom granted to us through the Holy Spirit.

Through the Holy Spirit, we have been set free from the power of our own flesh.  We are not slaves to our flesh, we are free to choose!  When we give our lives to Jesus and begin to follow Him, we are born again.  We were initially born into sin, now we are born into freedom. 

Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council and a teacher, Himself, like this:

John 3:5-8

5 “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

You can’t see the wind, but you can see the effects of the wind.  You can’t hear the wind, but you can hear the effects of the wind as it encounters other objects.  However, you can feel and experience the wind.  So it is with the Holy Spirit.  We can feel and experience the Holy Spirit and others should be able to see and hear the effect of the Holy Spirit filling our lives!

Through Christ, we are free to choose.  We can choose life, we can choose blessing, we can choose to embrace and fulfill God’s plans and purposes for which He created us.  We are free to choose what we use our lives for.

Romans 6:13-18

13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Often, the reason that we aren’t experiencing true freedom in this new life that Jesus has given us is because we don’t realize what we are slaves to.  A dog who is chained up may not ever realized that they are enslaved by that chain until they try to run beyond the reach of that chain.

If we claim to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, a follower of Christ, but continue to live life by the desires of our flesh instead of the desires of the Spirit, we’ll think that we’re free.  However, nothing has really changed for us.  We still live the way that the rest of the world lives.

I don’t realize that I’m enslaved by my phone until I forget it at home for a day.

I don’t realize that I’m enslaved by food until I try to fast for a day.

I don’t realize that I’m enslaved by the opinions of others until someone doesn’t like me.

If you’re wondering if something has mastery over you, just try to move beyond its reach.  Fasting is  a powerful and effective tool that God has given us to bring revelation to these unrealized bondages and as a way to shake their hold on us.

There’s no need to feel guilty or ashamed of what may be revealed.  We should just admit to the truth and look to Jesus to set us free from anything that has mastery over us so that He might set us free indeed!  Consider this encounter that Jesus had with Jews who believed in Him even as we do now.

John 8:31-36

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Freedom begins with understanding where we are enslaved.  A sick person doesn’t need healing if they don’t admit their sickness.  A poor person needs nothing if they don’t admit their poverty.  An enslaved person doesn’t need freedom if they don’t admit their slavery.

The truth sets us free because acknowledging the truth is the first step on the path to freedom.

These Jews thought that they were a free people just because of their nationality.  Remember last week, the caution of unifying our civil freedom with our faith’s freedom?  That’s exactly what these Jews had done.  They thought that their civil freedom enabled them to walk in the promises and salvation of God.  However, it is only through Jesus , the Son, that we are free indeed from our sin!

This morning, let’s begin or continue our journey on the path of freedom!  Let’s turn to Jesus so that we might be free indeed!  Let’s be bold enough to allow Jesus to show us any areas of slavery in our lives so that He might also set us free from that captivity!

There is freedom here in this place because Jesus is here in this place!  Well, this is true no matter where you are at.  Complete freedom, true freedom!  Nothing holding us back, nothing weighing us down!  So free that not even death can stop us through Christ!

Let’s choose freedom by choosing Jesus.  His will, His way, always!

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