“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
There is something that has been stirring in me for awhile that I desire to share with you all. I have found that it is a bit long; so, I am breaking it into two parts.
I believe that God is awakening us from a deep slumber, one that has kept us from experiencing the fullness of His Presence in many ways. This awakening is wrapped in the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth (above). It is this that I want us to think about.
Man was created in the image of God, full and complete in Him to enjoy an unrestricted intimate union which, by its very nature, brings creative freedom and eternal life beyond all imagination. This freedom/life is the gateway through man for the reflection, or manifestation, of God to the earth.
Such was the reality until the Great Deception in Genesis chapter 3. There, man broke that union and fell into bondage to sin and death, doomed to live enslaved to a harsh life, helpless and without hope.
But, mercy and grace poured out of the Father’s heart through the Blood of the Lamb, and every chain was broken, every place of darkness shattered in the glorious Light of the Eternal Son. Now, everyone who looks upon Him, who believes in Him, is instantly brought home through the Blood all the way back to before the Fall. The image of God is fully refreshed, intimacy restored, and freedom, empowered by activated eternal life, available for an abundant life beyond all hopes and dreams, here and now.
This is the foundation of Christian belief, clearly seen in Scripture and firmly established in church doctrine. It has tremendous implications for it places us IN Christ positionally to live the LIFE of Christ experientially. Being in Christ calls us to a life beyond the cloying entanglement of sin and its death dealing effects. “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) is not a future promise, but a living reality today.
But we have a dilemma. It is between what we believe and what we experience. What I mean is that there are a good many true believers in Christ who are still as bound to sin and death as they were before they were saved. How is this possible?
Consider this. We receive the gift of eternal life at salvation. That is an undisputed truth of Christianity. It’s another way of saying that we have been refreshed back to our original state in God. However, this gift remains inactive unless there is a yielding to the Presence of the Lord. Sadly, the evidence of this is the common mindset that eternal life, given as a gift, is not accessed until we die and go to heaven. Therefore, a one may go through life not experiencing the life of Christ simply because he or she is not yielding to that life right now. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in (or better-the faith of) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
(Galatians 2:20-emphasis mine)
Note, Paul’s yielding to and participating in the life of Christ? That’s my point. Our dilemma is not about salvation; but, about submission.
Go back to the passage in 2 Corinthians 3 that I quoted above. I want to specifically consider the words:
“..and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”
First, think with me about the word, “freedom”.
It is defined as: “Liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another”. (Merriam-Webster), “Power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” (Oxford) When it comes to the redemptive work of Christ in salvation, these definitions fit well. Through the Blood of the Lamb of God we are irrevocably liberated from slavery to sin and death at the hand of the enemy, and brought home to the heart of God.
My question is this. Why is it that for most of us there are still so many chains? So many places of bondage, the entanglement of sin in our daily lives-you know,”the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…” (1 John 2:16) ?
The answer, I believe, can be found in our tendency to take the definition of freedom (our right to act, speak, think as we want with no hindrance or restraint) into all our relationships, including God. In our attempts to avoid religious legalism, we have moved to a form of license. We focus on our position in Christ and ignore our submission to Christ. The truth is this: We cannot be free in Christ unless we are bound to Him.
At issue is Lordship. It was Bob Dylan who wrote: “But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed. You’re gonna have to serve somebody, It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” (“Gotta Serve Somebody”, 1979) To serve the Lord sets us in the place of experiencing true freedom; in fact, it is the only path to that powerful experience.
So, let me just ask this: Are you free?
Let’s look at this more in part two….be blessed.