If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Christ’s freedom: from guilt
THE CHRISTIAN life is a life of freedom of a quality that cannot be found anywhere else. The intention of salvation – the word used includes the meaning of freedom – is that we should be free to be the people God created us to be, and Jesus intends us to be.
In practice, we come into the kingdom of God carrying a lot of baggage from the past life – guilt, fears, attitudes, habits. We are new creations – but we are renewed to the extent that we take hold of the ‘newness’. In reality we need to do a bit of work – and take responsibility for ouselves – to step UP to believing and living as new creation people, and set DOWN ‘stuff’ we have carried for too long, which seeks to identify us wrongly.
Some of us have lived in a different country – South Africa, or the US, or New Zealand, or France. What characterises people there? Different clothes. Although fashions are fairly global, we feel very English when we are surrounded by the Manhattan ‘look’ or the Paris ‘look’. We soon find some budget to help us blend in! When we become Christians we are still in the old slave-market clothes, not quite believing that we are redeemed. We need to get a new look that goes with being washed clean and unchained, a new confidence in who we now are – and a new mindset for this new life which says: “Out with the old!”
FIVE FOUNDATIONAL FREEDOMS
There are five foundational freedoms we will look at in this weekly unit which are the freedoms Christ confers on us from:
- Condemnation and fear
- Habitual sin (known strongholds)
- The fruits of concealed strongholds
You will most likely recognise most of these quite easily. They are the common ‘slave clothes’ we all wore, until we realised we didn’t have to.
They all represent what the New Testament calls strongholds – little walled up areas of attitude which are resisting the jurisdiction of Jesus.
ROOTS AND ENTRY POINTS OF SIN
A more helpful picture might be roots which produce bad growth. After the recent rain, some of the bare bits of my new garden have sprouted ragwort, thistles and a host of other unattractive weeds. Where I didn’t pull them out carefully, some root remained and will sprout again to cause more trouble. When you got real with Jesus and accepted his lordship, you dealt with sin – in the singular. However there are still ‘sins’ going on which have not yet been identifed and renounced. They cause ugly shoots and fruit. Behind every stronghold there is an entry point, a sin to renounce – a root to pull up, so that nothing is left to regrow.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
‘Confess’ simply means ‘agree with God’. It is confessing the truth, and there is power in truth declaration. Here the truth is that we have gone wrong, and we confess it – agree with God – and so admit it. Now we are in position to be “cleansed from all unrighteousness” and it is fully removed:
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
DAVID – SERIOUS SIN FORGIVEN BY GOD
King David was anointed to lead a nation – which made some of what he modelled even more serious. He was guilty of lust, adultery, treachery and murder, at least. He recognised his failings and agreed with God that he had sinned:
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge.
In another instance of this recorded in 2 Samuel 12:3, David confesses “I have sinned against the Lord!” and God’s prophet, Nathan, straightaway says, “The Lord has taken away your sin.” That is God’s nature. That is why God sent Jesus to die for you:
1 John 4:10
This is love: not that WE loved God, but that He loved US and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
The religion that some have constructed out of the Christian Way has a great variety of observances for us to prove that we love God, and to make us feel better about our sinful state. All of which misses the point. The truth of God’s grace is that He loves us, and has made a way for us to be right with Him through Jesus. So we go to the Cross, reflect on what Jesus has done and who we are in Him, agree with Him about what we have done and receive forgiveness. At this point we don’t have a sinful state to need to feel better about!
NO CONDEMNATION, NO REASON FOR FEAR
This is the basic, foundational step of being free from guilt, or free from condemnation, as it is sometimes described:
Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
What does that have to do with fear and anxiety? Everything! Going back to King David, in Psalm 51:4 he said of God: “You are… justified when You judge.” There is judgment, to an absolute standard, and deep down, we know it. We may be absolved from the penalties that go with judgment through our Advocate, Jesus, but there can still grow a stronghold of fear of punishment, even death, not to mention separation from God… At the risk of oversimplifying, that is the root of all fear and anxiety. It is fear of the consequences of judgment, and that is the partner of condemnation. This needs to go to the Cross; we need to put a hand on it, receive a stain from the blood – total cleansing. Because of the world we live in, at times we need to go back there and receive afresh.
‘No condemnation’ means no condemnation. None. So agree with God about it. Live free of guilt and free of fear, and do not take it back, and punish yourself. Just don’t. Your self-judgment denies His power and His grace and puts you back into sin. Praise Him that there truly is no condemnation!