I love this quote by hip-hop artist Lecrae in his new book Unashamed, “I had finally been set free, but I was about to find out if I could live free.” Did you catch those powerful two words, “live free”? That, my friends, is the Christian life in a nutshell; learning to live free, learning to live in the freedom that we already have in Christ. That is really the question at the heart of living the Christian life, “Can we learn to live free?”
When you and I embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ, we were instantly set free; free to enjoy the fullness of Christ in us. We were immediately set free from the penalty of sin. “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven all of our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which were hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:13-14). We have been set free from the penalty of sin, fully alive in Christ.
But we have also been set free from the power of sin. Our freedom from the power of sin has both an immediate and ongoing aspect. In the immediate sense, we were instantly indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:11) who infuses us with godly character and a desire for righteousness (Eph 4:24). We instantly received a new heart inclined toward God (Ez 36:26); inclined toward His laws and ways (Heb 10:16). We were instantly released from sin as our master (Rom 6:6) and were set free to obey a new master, the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 6:13).
But even with all these (and many more) instant changes, learning to live into all these “set frees” is a lifelong process. This is the ongoing aspect of a life set free from the power of sin. As God continues to mold, shape, and change us from the inside out, we learn more and more how to experience the freedom we have already been given. We learn how to experience the supernatural presence of Christ in us.
One of the first steps to learning to live free is to identify and throw off the chains that hold us back, the chains that place us in bondage. What are some of these chains? Over the next few weeks, we will be learning what the Bible says about throwing off …
- the chain of the Law
- the chain of legalism
- the chain of pride
- the chain of shame
- the chain of guilt
- the chain of fear
- the chain of worry
- the chain of selfish ambition
- the chain of idolatry
- the chain of our own unworthiness
- the chain of sin itself
Now on a scale going from bondage to freedom, where would you say you land in your experience of the Christian life? If you are more toward the bondage end, do you have an idea why? Are there spiritual authority figures in your life who want to place or keep you in bondage? Is there a family history that keeps you in chains? Is there a besetting sin that is holding you back? Are you actually more comfortable in a trapped, enclosed negative space?
After all, on a strictly human level, freedom can be scary. Freedom can be dangerous. Freedom can look like life unscripted. I can measure and see the edges of the box I have been placed in or put myself in. Freedom, on the other hand, cannot really be measured. It has a limitless quality to it. And that can be frightening. But the freedom wrought by Christ’s death in our place, is the freedom embodied in Him and lived through Him.
Over the next several weeks, we will literally scour the New Testament to see what “living free” looks like. We will learn that freedom does not equal autonomy. It is not a personal freedom untethered and loose. It is a freedom to walk in Christ’s ways. And we will also come back to those pesky chains. What does God want us to do with them? Won’t you join us?