Thursday, March 03, 2011

Making the Choice of Freedom

{Romans 6:15-20; NLT} 
Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right.

While freedom is a God-given gift there remains certain choices that will either help us live a life of freedom or a life of restriction. For example, if you decide to murder someone, that choice will rob you of freedom. Even if you were able to get away with the crime and therefore didn’t have to spend the rest of your life behind bares, the guilt of the deed you committed and the constant fear of being caught would hamper your ability to enjoy being on the outside of the prison bars.

Here is another, much more practical, example. The choice to use credit to furnish a lifestyle way above your means will lead to the reality that you will be enslaved to your creditors. By spending tomorrow’s morning today you limit what you can do in the future because there is already a group of people who have a legal claim to your money. Not only that, because of the interest that will also have to be paid you will actually be paying more for your things than what they are worth. Your freedom is hindered by the choice that you made.

Our choices will either lead us to greater levels of freedom or they will restrict the freedom that we already enjoy. There are many choices, both large and small, that we make that will end up taking away our freedom. Our freedom and our choices are eternally connected. Ponder for a moment what Erwin McManus wrote:
“Not all free acts lead to freedom. The choices you freely make may cost you a life of genuine freedom. This is why the Bible talks about the human experience in terms of being slaves to sin. Sin creates the illusion of freedom; it fools us into seeking freedom from God rather than finding freedom in God.
“Whatever else Jesus came to do, one thing is clear—He came to set you free. God is not a warden; He is a deliverer. And so earnest is He about your freedom that He was willing to be taken captive and crucified on your behalf just so you can run free” (Stand Against the Wind; p. 14).

If we are going to be free we have to make those choices that bring and enhance the freedom in our lives. This requires that we look towards the future and not just live in the moment. We have to think about the consequences of our actions and ask the question; “What is the true cost of my behavior?” Ultimately we have to realize that a life lived apart from Christ Jesus is a life that is devoid of freedom. Only Jesus has the power to rescue us from the slavery of sin.

In Romans 6:15-20 the apostle Paul tells us that we have to make a choice. We can choose to continue to allow sin to control us, or we can give ourselves over to righteousness. What Paul is asking us to do is to establish disciplines in our lives that help train us train to live lives of holiness, and in this way experience freedom.

The follower of Jesus is free because they have given themselves over to Jesus’ way of living life. We devote our lives to the study of God’s Word, to being part of a Christian community, to taking time to celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death, and to seeking God’s guidance and blessing through prayer (Acts 2:42). There are other disciplines that I could mention, but these are the basic four that the early church used to grow in faith and freedom.

We need to be devoted to disciplines because that is the way we learn to live in freedom. A person of faith is like a jazz improviser. This musician has learned the chords and studied the music so much that they understand where the song going. The discipline of practicing the music gives them the ability to stay true to the song, even when they go off on their own. The jazz musician has freedom to improvise because they have been a slave to the music.

When we devote ourselves to holiness through observing the spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith we are able to live with freedom because we know our purpose in life and we know where life is heading. These to realizations help us make the right choices in all the thousands of different situations we face in our lives. We are able to do the right thing because we have chose to surrender our lives to following Jesus.

True freedom is not found in doing whatever we want to do, but it is discovered in choosing to do the right thing. We discover what the right thing is when we train our lives in righteousness, but that is a choice that we have to make. Jesus came and opened up the way to freedom, now we have to decide whether or not we will take it.

1 comment:

Liou said...


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