For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 ESV
Over the course of the forty-five years of my marriage to my husband, he was not free in Christ, although he claimed to be. He claimed to be a follower of Christ, or I would not have married him. But, looks can be deceiving. We can even fool ourselves, if we are not careful, into believing we are free in Christ, while we are still trapped in sin’s deceitfulness.
And I, as well, didn’t always live as though I was truly free in Christ, because I sometimes believed the lies instead of the truth. And, I yielded to the deception rather than believing the Word of God and living (walking) in the truth.
How Does It Look?
So, what should this freedom look like? Well, I can tell you that it does not mean sinless perfection, for, although we are in the process of being perfected in Christ Jesus, sanctified by his grace, growing in the knowledge of God - our Lord and our Savior - and walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, we can still fail. We can still have days when we give in to the flesh, and we don’t immediately respond to life’s circumstances in the power of the Spirit within us.
BUT… and I say a big BUT here, because many people these days have found a way to use lack of perfection as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. And, they use God’s grace to us as an excuse for willful sinful practices, excusing them away as having been covered by the blood of Christ, as though our sins no longer matter to God, or as though Jesus did not die to free us from our sinful addictions. He did!! “Not perfect” is NEVER an excuse for willful, continued sin.
Many people today, as well, will use the term “struggling,” with regard to where they are in relation to their present sinful behaviors, as though “struggling” is somehow acceptable to God. Now, hear me out here! I am not saying we have to be absolutely perfect or that God does not accept us, so please don’t go there. What I am saying, and many people in the know will agree with me on this, is that “struggling” really means “giving in” on a somewhat consistent or regular basis, as opposed to “battling,” which means we are fighting off the enemy who is coming against us when he tempts us to sin against God. Do you see the difference?
God is not ok with us living in sin, bowing to our flesh, walking in sinful practices, and then excusing them away, or using his grace to erase the guilt and shame.
Do you know what God’s grace to us is? It is not just freedom from the punishment of sin and the hope of heaven when we die, although a lot of folks would have you believe that. His grace to us, his gift of salvation to us, is freedom from the yoke of slavery to sin. Yes! Jesus died on that cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not that we would carry on in our sinful behaviors without guilt.
Are you aware of what the Bible teaches with regard to God’s grace? We read this in Titus 2:11-14 (NIV):
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
God’s grace to us is not carte blanche to continue in sin and live much like we did before we professed him as Lord and as Savior of our lives. Otherwise, Jesus died for NOTHING! Do you see this? Am I passionate about this subject? You bet I am!!
I am very passionate about this subject because I, too, gave into the lies, and I yielded to my flesh, and I suppressed the truth in order to follow after the lies, so that I could do what my flesh wanted rather than do what the Spirit of God within me commanded. I am passionate about this subject because I have personally experienced the destruction that sin does to our individual lives, to our loved ones, and to marriages and families. It wreaks havoc!!
So, what is the purpose of God’s grace to us? It is to instruct (teach, command) us to say “NO!!” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.
I think this message should be printed on my tombstone, for this is the message God keeps giving me to give out over and over again, because we need to get this! And, we need to apply this to our lives. Do you want to be free? Then, you have to say “NO!” to sin, and you have to say “YES!” to God! Do I get an “Amen”?
Put off, Put on
If we are truly saved by God’s grace, set free from slavery to sin, and walking in the light of his love and grace, then we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). The old has gone. The new has come. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus, so we don’t live like we did before we believed in Jesus to be Lord of our lives.
But, this is just the beginning. Now we walk according to the Spirit, and we no longer walk according to the flesh. For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will DIE in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).
This is critical that we get this, not just so that we can live in victory over sin’s deceitfulness while we live on this earth, but because our eternity depends on it!
Again, this is not saying we will never fail (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that a saved life is one that is no longer under the power, influence and control of Satan, for Jesus set us free! We just have to walk in that belief, daily put on our armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.
And, we have to be proactive in our fight against sin, and not wait until we are tempted and then give in, because we didn’t have our armor on, and we had no plan in place for resisting Satan and fleeing temptation. If we don’t plan to succeed, we will plan to fail! It is a given!! We can’t mess around with sin. If we play with fire, we are bound to get burned. It is just the reality of it all.
What to Do?
If we are going to walk in victory over sin, and over the fear of the “what ifs” in this life, or be healed of our broken and wounded hearts, then we need to first of all be yielded to Christ and submitted to his cross. If we still maintain control over our own lives, then all bets are off. We can’t do this in our own strength!
We must be willing to do whatever God and his Word says we must do, and whatever the Spirit within us prompts us to do, although we must make certain it is the Holy Spirit speaking to us, and not other voices inside our heads.
The Bible is filled with messages to us on how we can live in victory over sin and how we can walk in purity, holiness, godliness and righteousness. And, it isn’t that most Christians don’t know this, but that they don’t do what they know, in most cases. For, they are not willing to go the distance, and to make the necessary cuts and changes in their lives in order to walk in freedom from sin, but they hold on to what they know leads them into sin over and over again, and then act surprised when they fail time and time again.
So, the Bible says we have to throw off those sins which so easily entangle us and the weight that hinders our walks of faith, so that we can run with perseverance the race God has marked out for us to run. And, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on our circumstances, if we want to live in victory (See: Heb. 12:1-2).
So, if your sin is lust, then you have to cut out of your life anything which is leading you into that sin. And, this means taking some serious cuts, if nothing else has worked for you.
We gave up our TV nine years ago because of all the junk that was on there. We stopped watching movies, too, because even some of the most seemingly benign ones had suggestive material in them. Even many “Christian” films do.
I can’t watch anything of a romantic nature or anything with even a hint of lust in it and not be impacted by it, so I have given up movies altogether. It is just not worth the risk for me. I know where I have been and I don’t ever want to go down that path again!
The internet is particularly a bad place for people with lust addiction. There is a whole world of evil on the internet, although it certainly has its good purposes, too, such as what we are able to do in writing out what God is teaching us to share with others. But, with the invention of laptop computers, tablets (like I Pads) and smart phones, now children through adults can have access to all the porn they could possibly want in the privacy of their own personal space, which can even be in a room full of people. And, so porn addiction has reached epidemic proportions.
So, is it worth it to have a smart phone, a tablet, a personal computer and/or private internet access if you can’t control your ability to say “NO” to sin?
I’m just saying here that many people continue in sinful addictions because they are not willing to throw off the sin and the hindrances which lead them to entanglement. If we want to get serious about God, and about our relationships with him, and with our spouses, and if we want to live in victory over sin, then we have to take a hard look at our lives and we have to cut the cord, so to speak, so that we can walk in victory and in freedom. I tell you, freedom in Christ is the ONLY way to live!!