The word I’m focusing on in 2018 is FREE.
Sure, I know in my head I’m free. I am experiencing so much more freedom than ever before, but I still struggle with habits and tendencies around food that don’t feel very free. I want to be ALL THE WAY FREE.
“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.”
I have always been a little confused by the statement “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” What does that even mean? It seems like an obvious statement, but I have a feeling there’s a lot to unpack in it. The Message version translates it: “Christ has set us free to live a free life.” In other words, stop flirting with the things that held you captive—if you’re going to be free, live FULLY free. Stop visiting your old cell and camping out there—you are a NEW person, with a NEW address. Setting us free was Christ’s work, living a free life is OUR work.
Setting us free was Christ’s work, living a free life is OUR work.
Though we are completely free by the finished work of Christ, we can still feel the old shackles of bondage press into our flesh while on this earth. Some people do experience instant deliverance in specific areas of bondage, but often our experience of freedom is more shades of grey than black and white. Our freedom has been won for us, but we have to take the ground between our cell door and the Promised Land, often under heavy fire from the enemy. The trick is to never let guilt and shame stall our progress. When we feel we’ve failed, it’s an opportunity to see where we’re still vulnerable—where we still need to press for freedom. For most of us, the journey to complete freedom means a lifetime of repenting and surrendering, step by hard-won step.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
Before Jesus, freedom wasn’t even an option; the best we could hope for was stellar rule-following. In my mind, freedom isn’t just following the rules. Freedom is not even needing the rules—because my desires have become so in line with His. Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to make that dream a reality. The key here is to put your desire and focus on pleasing the Spirit. So often when we are trying to change our habits we focus on NOT doing “xyz.” But if you are truly seeking to gratify the Spirit, the desires of your flesh will always come second.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”
When you practice something it’s a thing you do over and over until it becomes habit. No wonder you become a slave to sin when you “practice” it. When the Son sets you free, you still need to work to break the old habits and start practicing freedom instead. So how do you practice freedom? You ask the Holy Spirit to help you make the “free” choice even if your emotions or desires are leading you back to bondage. In fact, until free becomes your default, you ignore your feelings entirely and rely on the black and white truth that you are free INDEED. You are free even if you don’t FEEL like you are.
Flee from and throw off anything that would hold you back, weigh you down or seek to hold you captive again.
Flee from and throw off anything that would hold you back, weigh you down or seek to hold you captive again. To actually walk in the fullness of freedom takes sacrifice, especially sacrifice of the flesh. You can no longer gratify fleshly desires whenever they beckon—you have a higher calling, a greater Master to answer to. Value your freedom MORE than flirting with captivity. Day by day, with practice, your habit will become freedom. It won’t just be second-nature, it is your NEW nature taking effect.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of a lifetime of repenting and surrendering, the amazing news is that HE will do the heavy lifting. HE will finish the work of freedom that He has started in you. HE is faithful. You simply need to work WITH Him and stop trying to do it in your own strength and with your own resources. We need to step up and submit every corner of our lives to His freedom process; every beloved habit, every secret fear, every altar to self-gratification. We need to “stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past” Galatians 5:1b (TPT) and move forward, listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit. He is our lamp and our shield on the path to ALL THE WAY FREE.
Where are you on the path to “all the way free?” What has encouraged you to keep moving forward? Share with us in the comments below!