Freedom without Liberty

I have found often what the world promotes as freedom tends to bondage. For instance, most people consider freedom the ability of an individual to do whatever he or she wants. If you take a closer look at that you will find that it is very limiting. An individual can only experience or realize what they know of or what they are aware of. That’s like someone giving you a pair of roller skates and telling you that you are free to explore the world. Another example is like giving you an airplane and telling you to go see the world with no manual or pilot training. Your freedom does not extend beyond your knowledge because you cannot enter, fully experience or partake of that which you are ignorant of and don’t understand. In order to become free you have to be educated and empowered. Our Heavenly Father has given us examples to consider for coming to a true understanding of life and the universe He has created. Consider raising a child. When are children able to be free by the world’s definition?…Not at birth, a new-born would die on its own…Not as a toddler nor for that matter as an adolescent. In fact if we equate freedom with independence then we are never really free because we are all dependent on each other. Only God is self-existent! Let that marinate. We are not even free to know what freedom is until we are taught. The devil, the great deceiver, is still up to his tricks.

The wicked forces of this world have deceived people into believing that they are free by empowering them to indulge the appetites of their flesh without restraint. Freedom is sold as having all the food you want, all the sex you want, all the libations you want, all the material things you can gather and so on. This does not lead to freedom; it leads to addiction which is essentially bondage. I know I am throwing lint on some lollipops but many of us have been suckers for too long. How free is the obese person to enjoy an active life style? How free is the sex addict to enjoy the benefits of a committed relationship? How free is the drug addict to enjoy a stable life? How free is the materialistic person to enjoy lasting contentment? In fact, the easiest person to control is the one given to their appetites? This definition of freedom is extremely visible in the mind-set of American citizens. Many Americans I encounter consider even the practice of healthy restraint an infraction of their freedom. Try talking to a smoker about quitting or smoke free public environments. Trying talking to an overweight person about their food selections or portion control. Try talking to a gay rights advocate about the sustainability of the human race. Every individual has to exercise some restraint or freedom deteriorates collectively as well as individually.

Everyone with a valid driver’s license can seem to understand the importance of traffic laws like speed limits, stop signs, yield signs, and traffic signals. All traffic laws are intended to keep us safe on the roads. What if when driving, in the name of freedom and individual rights, we all decided to disregard traffic laws along with every other person on the road and just did our own thing.  It would be catastrophic. It is easy to see the relationship between how we drive on the roads and its impact on others on the roads but it takes a little more consideration to understand the impact of how we live our lives in relation to others in our community and the world around us. You don’t live your life based on traffic law but you do live your life based on moral law that is unless you are an immoral person. We exercise restraint on ourselves through our own morality and values. Restraint is exercised on the general public through law enforcement. Any mature adult can see the importance of laws. The problem occurs when laws conflict with our appetites and desires. Who is qualified to tell us what we can and cannot have or what we need and do not need or what we can and cannot do? Governments all over the world have proven themselves to be unqualified to handle this task, including the USA. In America we have a history of employing the policy of ignorance for control and restricting empowerment to certain races and classes of people. As I said earlier, for freedom to be realized it has to be combined with education and empowerment. The governments of this world can support our freedom but they cannot secure our freedom.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This is a reference to Lucifer and his hordes.

Ephesians 4:8 says, “Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”

John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

John 8:31-32 says, “And Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Jesus has won our freedom by triumphing over the powers of spiritual wickedness. As I stated earlier, your freedom only extends as far as your knowledge, so Satan’s plan was to keep us in darkness, ignorant of the truth but Jesus came as a bright shining light and exposed the devil as well as opened our eyes to the truths that make us free. The life of Jesus is an example to follow.

1 Peter 4:1-3 says, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

The only way we truly become free as a people or nation is by submitting our will to the Lord. I know this is counter-intuitive but it is written in Luke 9:23-25;

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”

The Lord is the only one qualified to govern our lives because He alone created our lives. I am not advocating an anti-government mentality. I am advocating that we do all we can to ensure first that our individual morality and values reflect those of the Lord and secondly that our governing bodies reflect the same. It is only then that every person will be in a position to experience true freedom.

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Being Identified With Christ

What does it mean to be identified with Christ? Before you rush to answer consider the rich young ruler whom Christ told to go sell everything he owned before he could be identified with Him. Scripture says the rich young ruler went away grieved because he had many riches. After he left, Jesus went on to say, “Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The riches that can keep you from following Jesus can be anything you value more than following Him. In my experience I have seen many people turn away from Jesus because they were unwillingly to relinquish a particular lifestyle, habit, status, or association. They obviously valued those things more than what Christ was offering. The requirements for following Jesus are the same today for you and I as it was for the rich young ruler. You have to be willing to surrender everything. To be born again you have to be willing to pass through the cross just like you passed through the birth canal. That means stripped of everything.  The scripture says that following this statement of Jesus the disciples were bewildered thinking it was impossible for men to be saved, but Jesus assured them saying, “All things are possible with God.” What you are reading may be grieving you as it did the disciples but the good news is that God can change your perspective. I was once grieved as well at the prospect of giving up the pleasures that comforted me and the self-image I struggled to maintain for the cross of Jesus until my world started to topple around me from the inferior material I used to build my life. Once you grow weary of trying to build your life on the things outside of God like false ideals, corrupted values, carnal pleasures, physical strength, fleshy ambitions, the finite reasoning’s of man’s logic, and physical instinct you will be ready to let it all go. I thank God that I threw in the towel at an early age. Some people just have higher pain tolerances than others. When you are financially wealthy you can often afford more ways to self medicate so it can keep you out there spiritually languishing for much longer.

Jesus taught that if a man sought his own life that he would lose it, but if a man forsook his own life he would then find it. The sinking ship that many are holding on to is not salvageable and they must let it go in order to enter the unsinkable ship that Jesus captain’s. It is imperative to let go of the old in order to receive the new. Many people confuse the invitation of Jesus to come as you are as an invitation to stay as you are. Yes, Jesus loves you as you are but He also loves you too much to leave you that way. You must be ready to see yourself and your life from God’s perspective. You must be prepared to accept a new identity. You must be ready to accept a life centered on God’s will instead of your take on things. It is much like a teen-ager living with their parents. There is this person that the teenager is trying to portray to himself and friends, along with a highly marketed lifestyle that doesn’t figure in their total dependency on their parents. A teenagers highest priority should be complying with their parents since they are the ones sustaining their life. Ok hold on a moment parent before you amen to loud. God the Father is your parent. What kind of example are you setting? How submitted is your life to the One who is sustaining your life? I know, we just think we are grown but we have to be as children to enter the Kingdom. That is what I love so much about the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit can take things right in front of us and show us the path. Just like some of the things expected of teenagers not appearing cool to their peers, a life lived in identification with Christ is going to be senseless to the world. So just as teenagers often give in to peer pressure, “grown folks” conform to the world.

In order for a worldly person to be identified with Christ either they are going to have to change or they will have to make Christ worldly.  Consequently, the Christ preached from many of the pulpits around the world today vaguely resembles the Jesus Christ that the rich young ruler spoke with or the Jesus the apostle Peter denied three times. The Jesus Christ preached today more often resembles the mythical Santa Claus or officer friendly from preschool with his flash light shinning down on his head. Nothing threatening or demanding about him, just be nice and try not to be naughty and things will work out fine. Here are some of the one-sided ways people comfortably portray Jesus.

  1. Jesus loves you as you are so just come as you are. (Repentance paves the way to Jesus- Matt 4:17)
  2. Jesus paid for all of your sins on the cross. ( He requires you to take up your cross as well- Matt 10:38)
  3. Jesus knows your heart so don’t worry about it. (Plan out your salvation in fear and trembling- Matt 18:9)
  4. Jesus is love. (Love is often expressed through meeting the needs of others. A problem arises when people don’t value the things they really need- Matt 6:19-21)

There is always so much talk about who will be the anti-Christ but few people realize his personality and doctrine has already been accepted in many churches. The absolute authority of God and His personality are being challenged every day by hearts that are in love with this world. James 4:4 says, “Adulterers and Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” What a friend we have in Jesus…kind of depends huh? Jesus says in the Day of Judgment there will be many people caught off guard when He looks at them and essentially tells them they identified with Him as Lord with their mouths but not with their lives, so be gone ( Matt 7:21-23). Being identified with Christ means taking up our own cross as He did, however instead of dying a physical death, we should daily be putting to death in our own lives the carnal values and earthly priorities of this world in order that we can live to please our Heavenly Father just as Jesus did. In doing this we will become rich eternal rulers with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven. 2 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us.”

Christ desires for us to be identified with Him alone. This means we should derive all of our self-worth and understanding of our potential from who we are as new creatures in Christ, nothing more. Jesus Christ is the head of the body so all body members need to get on board with this or the body won’t be unified.  Everything about you comes after belonging to Christ. I tell people all the time that I am a man who is black, not a black man. I don’t put my ethnicity before the fact that I am first a man created in God’s image. The color of my skin does not define who I am as a person or what I am capable of. I am defined by the divine nature of God that orders by entire being. The spirit dictates to the flesh and not the other way around. This is the reality of being born again according to the will of God. Hear me out. I am not saying there is no purpose in race. I am saying that whatever that purpose is does not trump being in subjection to Christ which is the head of the body. This is what is being expounded upon in Colossians 3.  I encourage you to read the whole chapter and I pray that God will open it up to you. I will leave you with Colossians 3:10-11.

“ Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all in all.”

The Two Covenants of God

We cannot have a relationship with God without a covenant. God is holy and requires a covenant for intimacy with Him. The word “intimacy” may seem strange in context with God however He refers to the church very often as His bride. God desires to make us His Tabernacle and dwell inside us. That’s pretty intimate.  The covenant of marriage between a man and a woman has been established by God to reflect His relation with the church. People today enter intimate relationships all the time without a covenant and it is considered by God unholy and wicked. To enter an intimate relationship with God we have to enter covenant with Him. The bible teaches us that God loves order and peace and a covenant is a way to avoid confusion and to affirm commitment. We don’t determine the conditions of the covenant. The conditions have already been laid out by God. All the terms and conditions are spelled out in the volumes of the Holy Bible. There have been two main covenants during the history of the world that govern God’s relationship with man. They are the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant. The condition for not having a covenant or not fulfilling the covenants of God is condemnation to death and separation from God. Jesus Christ came to earth and fulfilled the requirements of the Mosaic covenant since it was impossible for man to do it. Jesus also made provision for us to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant so that we could enter the promises rewarded by God to all that fulfilled the covenant. The Mosaic covenant was made with the children of Israel at Mount Sinai which included following, to the letter, a long list of rules and ordinances. The bible tells us plainly that the Mosaic covenant was instituted because men were wicked and obstinate after the disobedience of Adam. After Adam was compromised in the Garden man inherited a slant toward rebellion and selfishness that created an incongruity between man and God. This incongruity caused the mind of man to be alienated from the mind of God thus creating a condition where no long term relationship could be maintained without provocation. The selfish and rebellious nature, now dominant in man, would always surface and pull man away from the ways of God into immorality.  The Mosaic Law was a list of ordinances that laid out conditions for a rudimentary relationship with God which entailed the bare minimum of what God’s holiness could endure. Even at this base level man could not keep even the lowest tenants of God’s moral law in order to fulfill the Mosaic covenant. Therefore in the Mosaic Covenant every man was condemned to death and separation from God.

Fortunately the Mosaic Covenant did not disannul the Abrahamic Covenant which was 430 years before the Mosaic Covenant. Under the Abrahamic Covenant God promised that the children of Abraham would be as plentiful as the stars in heaven and would be justified by God through their faith and trust in Him just as Abraham had faith and trusted in God. God promised that these blessed descendants would come from the union of Abraham and Sarah his wife. Abraham being imperfect gave into the pleading of Sarah his wife who doubted the promise of God and compelled Abraham to give her a son from her bondmaid Hagar. From the union of Abraham and Hagar came Ishmael. Later, just as God promised, Sarah gave birth to the son of the covenant, Isaac. Ishmael and Isaac symbolize the two covenants of God. Ishmael being born out of doubt from Hagar in bondage symbolizes the Mosaic covenant. Isaac, born out of faith to Sarah the free woman symbolizes the Abrahamic covenant. The lineage of Jesus Christ through Joseph can be traced all the way back to Isaac the child of promise so that man would know that Jesus Christ is the door way to the covenant of Abraham which provides for justification through faith.

Though God has provided salvation through the Abrahamic covenant in Jesus Christ, Jews reject Jesus as the Savior promised through scripture. The Jews lack of faith in Jesus Christ leaves them condemned under Mosaic Law. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ are considered by God to have fulfilled both covenants. The sacrificed life of Jesus fulfills the conditions of the Mosaic covenant and the faith in Jesus fulfills the conditions of the Abrahamic covenant.

How does faith in Jesus enable wicked man to have a lasting relationship with God? Man finally convinced of his wickedness through being unable to keep the lowest of God’s moral law cries out to God and surrenders his attempts to self govern his own life. He accepts the love offering of Jesus Christ and shows this by taking up the cross of Christ every day in surrender of his life, trusting and having faith that regardless of how things may appear, he has been accepted into the family of God and with every day that he lives his Father God is saving him through a transformation of his life. Redeemed man believes that the Jesus, the Lamb of God, gives him access to God the father enabling him to know God intimately. This intimacy with God will allow man through the power of a born again spirit to understand the perfect intent of the law even the mind of God so that man can live righteously and holy. The Mosaic Law was never intended to do this nor could it. Taken from the Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible this quote expresses what I am saying very well, “No literal precepts could fully comprehend the wide range of holiness which LOVE, the work of the Holy Spirit, under the Gospel, suggests to the believer’s heart instinctively from the word understood in its deep spirituality.” This quote speaks of the excellency of the spirit through Christ and the Holy Spirit in the administration of the Abrahamic Covenant also called the New Covenant in comparison to the administration of the law under Mosaic Covenant.

There are those that believe that the law under the Mosaic covenant, even after being shown to be inferior to life in the spirit, still has a place under the administration of the Abrahamic Covenant. This influence comes from the promotion of Judaism by Jews who have not embraced the fullness of the grace provided through the Savior Jesus Christ. As it was in the days of the early church, so is it today. We see this in the obstinate minds of the Scribes and Pharisees as they tried to condemn the spirituality of Jesus Christ by accusing His actions that appeared to them to violate the Mosaic Law. We also see this conflict between the liberty of the spirit and the bondage of Mosaic Law in the ministry of the apostles after the ascension of Jesus.  Jesus taught that ALL the law and the prophets hung on LOVE as in Matthew 22:34-40,

“But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Paul was trying to reinforce the same truth to the Galatians after he found that they had been persuaded to take up the Mosaic Law by those in his day promoting Judaism in a confusing mix with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this in Galatians 5:1-6,

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”

This is huge. You who are attempting to keep Mosaic Law remember that you are a debtor to do it ALL. If you ascribe any merit to your standing with God due to your being circumcised, abstaining from meats, or observance of a day, then Christ is of no profit to you.  Paul says, you frustrate the grace given you by Christ. A little leaven ruins the whole loaf.

Here is a list of chapters out of the bible that deal specifically with the subject I have posted here. Put on your spiritual ears and hear the message of liberty and holiness that the spirit is teaching through these texts.

2 Corinthians 3

The Book of Galatians

Romans chapter 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8

1 John chapter 4

Genesis  chapter 15, 16, 17, and 18

I am including a link to the site where you can read all of these texts. The link is to Bible Gateway one of my favorite sites on the web.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/