The life of a Christian is one of faith that works by love. But maintaining our freedom does require a walk and living by faith.
Colossians 2:6 says the simplest way to walk free. "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
This is HOW we got started, and it's how we maintain our freedom. I am living life to the fullest and renewing my mind constantly because I am a new creation. "Old things are passed away, and behold, all things have become new." I am in right-standing with God, and through His grace, I can live by His ability that works from the heart.
When I say, "walk by faith," I refer to a daily walk choosing to believe what God has said about me already. When it seems like everything, including my own actions, isn't lining up with the process, I begin daily acknowledging every good thing that is in me iS Christ Jesus. Not everything I see in the natural realm would get me a gold star. Some things are not good about me on the outside….but God isn't finished with me yet! I am not excusing my shortcomings. I am realistically trusting in God to enable me to change.
Our life was not to be focused to be on right or wrong or about good or evil. The devil is the ultimate legalist. He will nitpick us all to death. God gives us His directive on how to overcome in Galatians 5:16 "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Or to paraphrase it, if we are walking by the Spirit, we won't fulfill the flesh's desires or lust. Am I yielding to God's ability that made me righteous? Am I living free in my heart following what the Spirit says daily?
Here's kind of how it works with me. I wake up sensitive to the Holy Spirit's promptings trying to recognize my heart's first emotions. Are they thoughts of fear or guilt, or pressure? If so, bringing them in captivity or trying to determine the root or origin. Suppose I'm feeling guilty because I haven't accomplished what I set out to do this week or have a problem with some bad thoughts or a bad dream. In that case, I look to the Spirit of God, who helps my infirmities and prays and makes intercession for me. I pray in the Spirit with peace that is already there because the Spirit lives in me, and His solutions surface. I release that emotion that is trying to keep me bound up all day. I sometimes have to go much further in dealing with the beliefs of my heart. But I have a commitment to allow the Holy Spirit permission to work in my life and heart. I am not wiser than God. I know He has the best plan.
You see, everything in your life is determined by the belief of your heart. Proverbs says, "As a man thinketh, in his heart so is he" I must get real and deal with the beliefs in my heart. When I think about a promise in God's Word, what are the emotions in my heart saying? What do I really believe about that? You might say we're not to be led by our emotions, and that is true. But to deny them all together is another mistake. Our emotions can really be an indicator to us of what is going on inside and what I believe at heart level.
We were designed from creation to live in God's presence and to live in the peace that rules in our hearts. I often ask myself, "Is my heart in peace?" What are the beliefs that are ruling in my heart?
God, through His Spirit, is there to show you the hidden motivations of the heart so you can rewrite on your heart God's truths until peace rules in that area. In the Amplified translation, it reads, "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]."
For example, most recently I felt our church growth was at an impasse.
I tried to figure it out. Was it the worship service, my preaching, or the people? I went to God to get wisdom, and he showed me a belief I had that was limiting the growth. One was the way that I saw myself. The other was about not believing that I had the systems and structure in place to facilitate the growth numerically. Every time I thought about growth, my heart would feel inadequate. This contradicted the fact that I knew it was God's will for us to grow. I was more in tune with my feelings of inadequacy rather than what God's Spirit was saying. So I decided to deal with the beliefs. God has raised up some systems people to help organize our ministry departments. After dealing with these aspects, we have seen immediate and progressive growth.
We cannot deny how we feel in our hearts if we want lasting change. We all have pain in the past to some degree. We often anticipate future pain. We don't reflect and consult with God in our hearts. That's where He has told us to have a guard. God said out of it flow the issues of life. God lives in the heart.
So are you going to do whatever it takes to rewrite on your heart? New beliefs are yours for the living out. These new beliefs replace old ones that have only kept you in pain and limited you.
In Philippians, Paul says: 4:9, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. We can also learn from Paul's ways.
The Berkeley Version of the New Testament translates a verse out of Timothy with the phrase by saying Timothy "will remind you of my principles of BEHAVIOR IN CHRIST JESUS," or as the KJV states, "shall bring you into remembrance of MY WAYS WHICH BE IN CHRIST."
Paul does not send the new covenant believer back to Moses's Law for New Covenant ethics; instead, he argues and reasons Christian ethics from the truth of the believer's identification with Christ in his death and resurrection.
God's belief system is that ALL things are possible to him who believes. First, you must believe that Jesus has made you righteous and qualified you for all the promises. Paul tells us in Colossians 1:12, "giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."
Our time investment now is renewing our minds to this and persuading our hearts to be settled in it. When that happens the transformation we desire is effortless. Instead of focusing on making the outside look good—let's work on the inside. Our labor is to rest in what God says is true – is exactly that.
When I feel like I am walking free of sin's dominion, that is when I understand that I had the freedom to choose. I am no longer a slave to sin. I am not under law but under grace. What do I really want? I get the choice. I can live by what I was designed for, the spiritual life of abundance. If I sow to the flesh, I will reap corruption. (Galatians 6)
God picks us up when we fall. Or as it says in His Word in Proverbs 24, "for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…" He is such a good Father, and He guides me into truth. It is my decision to follow His leading. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He doesn't operate by force in our relationship. He is leading his children into His best.
If you feel like the description in my book, you may have read, as a 'dung beetle' caught up in a performance trap. Freedom is yours already. It's a choice to believe you are free. It's a choice to persuade my heart that I am holy, blameless, and above reproach in his sight.
Paul told us that very thing in the letter to the Ephesians in chapter one, verse 4 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." It's incredible to think that is how God really sees us.
Paul trusted God to reveal to him anything that needed to be changed. He sought God with all his heart. He was not INTROSPECTIVE. He depended on GOD to keep him walking in the straight and narrow.
Being self-analytical can be a significant inroad of Satan in our lives. Those who are not seeking God have no other choice. They have to evaluate themselves. For those seeking God, He will take responsibility for pointing out the things that need to be dealt with in our lives. We can leave it up to Him. Allow him to bring about the change. As you have this sense of acceptance, He can work the transformation from the inside out.
Phil 3:15 says, "Let us therefore as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Will you be honest with God and understand He knows what you believe in your heart anyway? Do you have such a value for God's view and opinion that you are willing to give up your own? Then you are free to live your dreams. Dreams to help God's people know the truth about His goodness will manifest in reality.
We must have a revelation of God's passionate love for us not based on what we do but on what He's done. If my identity is established on what God says about me and not what others may think, I do not have to perform well for God's acceptance. I do not have to be right to be justified that I am ok. I don't have to have a daily quota of production to feel worthy or valuable. I am now walking in the simple knowledge and revelation of being pleasing to God because I am His son. Sons are accepted because of our inheritance in the family and not our performance. I pray you'll live in this freedom too.
Pastor, teacher, evangelist, author.