Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to live in freedom – not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love.”
What does it mean to be free? In having faith in Jesus, what freedom has He promised us? Given the lack of fruit exhibited in many Christian’s lives, it would appear there is a general lack of understanding of what it means to be free. Jesus said He came to give us rest. Why is it that so many Christians are struggling to find this rest?
I believe the core of the problem is that often we fall into the trap of forgetting that we are saved through God’s grace, not through obeying the law. Our salvation is a gift that we haven’t earned but has been given to us through our faith in Jesus. Before we were Christians we were ‘under the law’. In other words we were subject to the law and judged by it. Given the law is impossible to fully satisfy, we are inevitably condemned by it. However Christ has fully satisfied it, and in saving us, we are no longer condemned (Rom 8:1), but free to grow in maturity under the security of Christ’s love and grace. If this is true, than why do we often feel turmoil or a lack of peace within? To claim the peace and freedom Christ has given us, we need to hold firmly to our position in Him and know the signs of bondage, thus rebuking them.
One big sign is a feeling of guilt (Acts 13:39). Given we are free from condemnation we have no reason to allow guilt to fester in our hearts. A healthy conviction from disobeying God is different to self condemnation or allowing others to cut us down because of our mistakes. The first leads to a restored relationship with our Father, whilst the other attacks the intimacy of our relationship with Him, causing us to cower in shame. When we feel this we must claim that ‘because I trust in Christ I am not condemned but free from blame and guilt!’ When Jesus said He would give us rest, he meant from the burdens of fully satisfying the law, and therefore the bondage sin has over us. If we love Jesus we will strive to obey and follow His teachings (John 14:15), not out of guilt or obligation, but out of appreciation and love for Him. We are now able to follow Jesus because of the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the new heart He has placed in us (Ezekiel 36:26, Gal 5:16, 2 Peter 1:3). However, we do it without fear of failing or making mistakes, but rather under God’s patient and loving guidance, learning from our slip-ups and therefore maturing as Christians.
Is there a burden weighing down on your heart? Do you feel guilt or shame festering within? Are you afraid of stuffing up? If so, we must re-claim the freedom we have in Christ. We mustn’t allow others or ourselves to rob us of that freedom, but enjoy the fruits of living for Jesus. We must encourage each other’s growth as God encourages us, graciously correcting each other when appropriate (Gal 6:1). We will not mature under condemning, law-driven relationships; but only through loving, gracious and honest relationships will we enjoy the freedom Christ has given us, along with the blessings and maturity that God intends us to experience.