Cry Freedom

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”  (Luke 4:18-19)
1 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 … 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  (Galatians 5:1&13-26)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve met a lot of up-tight Christians over the years. But Jesus is very clear in his sermon at the synagogue in Nazareth. The Christian Gospel is meant to set us on edge. It is meant to set us free! Over the next few weeks, through our Enjoy The New You! series, we are going to rediscover true joy and freedom together.

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to address this whole issue. He reminds them that Jesus saves people so that they can live in perfect freedom. The world may think that Christians are bound up in rules and prohibitions. The world may imagine that Christians are missing out on all the fun. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus saves us so that we can enjoy the same freedom that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden before they sinned. Freedom to be completely honest with people about who we are. Freedom to say no to the sin that wrecks the lives of so many people around us. Freedom to love people with the same supernatural love that motivated Jesus to lay down his life for us on the cross. Freedom to do what the world cannot do, as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. When we walk with God’s Spirit, Paul says we are walking in total freedom.

When well-meaning Christians teach people to obey a series of rules in order to please God, they have fallen into the trap known as ‘legalism’. They have taught people that the way to get right with God is to do what is right – which is wrong! The only way for us to get right with God is to admit that we haven’t got it in us to do what is right. We need to be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus, like we saw with Joshua in Zechariah 3 a couple of days ago.

Some Christians react against legalism by saying: It doesn’t matter if I sin – I’m under grace, so God has got it covered! This is the opposite error to legalism, but it is just as much an error. It is known as ‘licence’. The Apostle Paul teaches the Galatians that we will never enjoy true freedom by saying yes to sin. That’s not freedom – it’s surrendering to the enemy! No, true freedom comes when we allow the Lord to fill us with his Holy Spirit, who teaches us to say no to sin whenever temptation comes knocking on our door. He gives us the freedom to live as Jesus lives.
1)   Most of us are frustrated with the restrictions that Covid has placed upon our lives. But be honest. Are those the greatest barriers to your freedom? Or are there bigger barriers on the inside? How free are you, really?

2)   Paul says that God’s Law can be summed up simply as “Love your neighbour as yourself”. How free do you feel to do that each day? Is this how you are currently living towards all those around you?

3)   Read back over Paul’s list of ‘the acts of the flesh’. Do you need God to set you free from any of them today?

4)  What would it mean for you today to ‘crucify the flesh with its passions and desires’? What would it mean for you to ‘keep in step with the Spirit’? Thank the Lord that he has granted you freedom to do these things today.
Father God, I thank you that it was for freedom that you set me free. I repent of my legalism – the good things that I do in an attempt to earn your approval, when I already have your approval in Jesus. I also repent of my licence – my slack attitude towards sin, when you have saved me to set me free from those things by your Spirit. Help me to keep in step with your Spirit today, and enable me to describe my life as total freedom in the Lord. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have been brought to you with help from our friends at Freedom In Christ.
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