7/2/16

Christians, Declare Your Freedom!

With July 4th just around the corner, and millions of Americans making plans to celebrate America's Independence Day, I had some thoughts about the word "freedom."

We like to think we're a free people, but many of us are still living in shackles."

Christians, why do we live enslaved to hurtful attitudes or chained to addictions? It's time to declare our freedom.

As I studied Romans 8, I was struck by the strong sense of freedom throughout this chapter. It's a Declaration of Independence, not just from something, but in Someone!

Our Independence comes through DEPENDENCE on Christ!

I think there's four ways the Christian can declare freedom.

1. Declare Your Freedom in God's Righteousness (Romans 8:1-4).
In Adam's sin, we were all condemned, but in the righteousness of Christ there is no condemnation (8:1). We won't be judged for sin if we rest in the work Christ did for us on the cross and in His resurrection.

We may suffer the natural consequences of sin, but not condemnation.

We are free from the law (Romans 7:4; 8:2) and it can no longer condemn us. Jesus already took that condemnation upon Himself (8:3). It's why He came! (John 3:17).

If we believe in the salvation Jesus came to give us, we are not judged, but if we refuse to believe, we're "condemned already" (John 3:18).

When we are "in Christ," we are empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit, not the law (8:4). The indwelling Spirit enables us to be holy and obedient, pleasing God (Philippians 2:13).

This is our "declaration of independence" from the law.
In the Spirit we have life and liberty and enjoy the pursuit of "happiness"—joy in the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17Romans 8:2, 4).
2. Declare Your Freedom in God's Power (Romans 8:5-17).

Before we are in Christ, we are "debtors" to our sinful flesh (8:12) and we cannot live in victory over sin.

There's a distinct difference between death and indebtedness to the flesh vs. life and freedom in the Spirit:
  • In the flesh, we dwell on things that please the flesh (8:5; James 1:14); that is the natural bent of our lives. 
  • But in the Spirit, we focus on things that please the Lord. That is our new heart desire.
  • In the flesh, we are spiritually dead—though physically alive (8:6). We may be nice, moral, even religious, but we are "dead" and desperately need the Spirit of Life! 
  • In the Spirit, we are truly alive—spiritually alive!
  • In the flesh, our nature rebels against God, fighting Him, at war with Him (8:6-7). 
  • But in the Spirit—in Christ—we are at peace with God (Romans 5:1).
  • In the flesh, we're self-pleasers (8:8). 
  • In the Spirit, we say, "Have it your way, Lord!" In other words, in salvation, we have the Spirit (8:9-11), but what's more, the Spirit has us! (8:12-17)

We are adopted into God's family and led by the Spirit. And when we are led by the Spirit, we can have victory, not defeat, in the struggles of life.

In other words, while none of us is perfect—this side of heaven we'll fail and fall many times—we don't HAVE to sin when we are in Christ. We may fail to walk in the Spirit, which leaves us easy prey to the enemy and his strategies, or we may simply choose to sin because we give in to the lusts of our flesh (James 1:14). Either way, we're ignoring the power God wants to give us to live in freedom and victory.

3. Declare Your Freedom in God's Glory (Romans 8:18-30).

I had to think about this one a while. My first reaction reading this section of Romans 8 was: "There's a lot about 'groaning' here!" But understanding the three kinds of "groanings" helped me think about the power and freedom of living in ... and for ... God's glory.

Creation Groans (8:18-22).
Creation—nature and the animal kingdomgroans under the suffering, decay and pain caused by The Fall in Genesis 3. But someday that will change. Creation will be delivered and become what God intended when He declared it good (Genesis 1:31). Redeemed creation will bring glory to God.

Believers Groan (8:23-25).
Because God has given us a foretaste of His glory in salvation, we crave what is ahead. We wait with hope, knowing something is better to come when we are in the presence of God and free from sin forever. Redeemed people will bring glory to God.

The Spirit of God Groans (8:25-30).
He prays for us as we suffer under weakness and suffering. The Spirit desires that we learn how to glorify the Lord now, so He shares our burdens in prayer with great groanings. We don't need to get discouraged and give up. What God began when He chose us in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5), and continues and He makes us more like His Son, He will finish for His glory in heaven (Philippians 1:6).

4. Declare Your Freedom in God's Love (Romans 8:31-39).

One of the most comforting scriptures is Romans 8:35. It says, "What shall separate us from the love of Christ?" In Christ, we are completely secure, with no fear of separation from God forever.
Every part of the Trinity is "for us" and making us fit for eternity in heaven. God is making all things work for us and, therefore, "who can be against us?"

Jesus died for us (Note: freedom is not free), the Father declared us righteous, the Spirit intercedes for us and God loves us with unfailing love. He uses everything—good times and bad—to purify us and make us "more than conquerors (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Declare your freedom, Child of God.
In Christ, you have the victory!

Are you claiming your freedom in each of these four areas? Which one do you need to embrace and celebrate today?


 - Dawn

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