Article By: Amy Miller, Author: Arise and Thrive: A Holistic Health Devotional
What do you think about when you hear the word ‘Freedom?’ Maybe some think about our country, others about one’s ability to do what they want. Others may think about William Wallace in Braveheart! But what is freedom?
I’ve recently been dwelling on Galatians 5:1, which says, “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.” (NIV) While contemplating this passage, I’ve asked, ‘What is Freedom?’
Usually, we associate freedom with being free FROM something. Still, as I think about freedom, I wonder if we need to expand the idea of freedom not only to mean being freed from something but also to include freedom FOR something because that is what this passage says.
This passage says that it’s for Freedom that Christ has set us free. The focus is on freedom to LIVE rather than freedom from something. The next verse clarifies that we’re set free from a yoke and burden, but the focus in verse 1 is to look forward to freedom rather than back to what we were set free from.
Why is this a big deal? I think it’s a big deal because sometimes we can look at the Christian faith and think it’s a bunch of rules and regulations. However, when you come to Christ, you realize it’s not just about doing the right thing but rather about walking in freedom, ultimately leading to a good life in Christ. Jesus’ heart is for us to live in freedom, to live life to the full, which doesn’t just mean ‘getting into Heaven,’ but living full life TODAY! It’s about God’s destiny and good plans for us rather than rules and regulations.
Yet, why do so many of us feel like we’re not living in freedom? We are in the ‘already/not yet’ era, still living in a sinful world, but if Christ died so that we may be free, why aren’t we experiencing that freedom?
I think it’s often because we don’t keep reading… we don’t STAND in the freedom that Christ has won us. Jesus has given us everything for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but there is an element where we need to step into it or STAND in that new life that Jesus has made available, and often we don’t stand our ground.
So, what does it look like to stand in freedom? One of the ways we stand in freedom is by standing in TRUTH. The truths we need to stand in so that we may live in freedom are WHO GOD IS and WHO WE ARE. Let’s briefly look at both aspects of how to Stand in TRUTH that sets us free (John 8:32).
First, the truth about who God is: There are so many elements that we need to stand firm in when it comes to who God is, but one of the foundational truths is that GOD IS GOOD! He’s the essence and source of goodness. And because He is good and He is love – He loved us, even when we were sinners and enemies, God loved us and wanted good for us. Getting away from that truth allows us to get tripped up in pride, blame, or sin like Eve because we don’t believe that there is freedom from anxiety or fear about the future because we know that our Good Father holds our lives in His hands. This truth empowers us to stand in freedom!
Secondly, we need to stand in the truth about who we are. When the enemy [satan] tempted Jesus, one of the core aspects that satan tried to lodge doubt in was Jesus’ identity. The enemy taunted Jesus with the word “if” to try and cause Jesus to do something apart from the Father’s will to prove who He was. But Jesus didn’t need to prove who He was because He KNEW who He was. When we know that we’re loved by the Father and are seen as holy and righteous because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we don’t have to succumb to the shame or guilt that the enemy tries to cripple us with. Instead, when we mess up, and those accusations come, we need to STAND FIRM in the truth about who God says we are. We need to repent, turn from our ways, and stand in the fact that we are forgiven, holy and cleansed.
Further, it’s imperative to stand in and claim the truth that we are a NEW CREATION (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we claim and believe this because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it transforms how we live. Rather than living like a failure or sinner, we step into our new identity as a new creation. Romans 12:2 says that we’ll be transformed by the renewing of our mind – the idea of being made completely other – like a caterpillar who is wholly transformed into a butterfly! When we not only accept Christ but accept the identity He gives us, it causes us to step into a new life that’s empowered by the Holy Spirit and teaches us to say no to ungodliness (Titus 2:11). This is really good news for those who feel like there’s no hope because in Jesus there is not only HOPE for the future but the ability and power to be made entirely new and different as we claim our new identity in Christ! Standing in the truth about who we are frees us from the shame and condemnation that leaves us feeling helpless and frees us to step into our identity as a new creation.
Wherever you are at today, I believe God wants you to be free – that’s why Jesus died! He declared you free and a new creation, but are you standing in it? Maybe today, you need to return to the truth about who God is and who you are. Perhaps today, you need to declare again that God is good and you are a dearly loved New Creation that has been set free! May you stand in freedom!