Fear or Freedom?

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Realizing that I am at the top of the COVID-19 vulnerability scale as an octogenarian with life-threatening, previous conditions, several friends have asked me if I have been vaccinated yet. I have discovered the perfect response, courtesy of the Babylon Bee; 

“Yes, I identify as vaccinated. I am experiencing all the freedom of a fully vaccinated male. But, tomorrow when I get up, I may identify as female and unvaccinated. If you wish, call me to check with me in the morning to see what I am then.” 

That is freedom! Should I not have all the privileges of all physically vaccinated males, just as does a biological male who self-identifies as female? He has free access to associations, congregations and travel. Shouldn’t I have those same privileges when I decide to identify as vaccinated? I promise not to compete in female athletic contests, visit women’s restrooms or female dressing rooms with showers! I am only claiming participation in the first three! What’s the big problem?

In a similar manner, we have been discussing in our latest postings a new way to think that is not natural for us, any more than the ability to change genders by how one feels is natural. However, the issue we are investigating is biblical, taught by both Jesus and His disciples, and brings true freedom—a freedom of which transgenderism is only a Satanic counterfeit. 

Jesus rebuked Peter and called him an instrument of Satan’s for not thinking this “new way” in Matthew 16. Jesus told Peter, as the Living Bible puts it: “Get away from me, you Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are thinking merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23). 

Paul taught the same idea again and again in his epistles, but with different terminology. He called it, “Walking (living) by (in) faith (the Spirit).” Galatians 2:20, I believe, is Paul’s best summary verse to encapsulate this revolutionary idea of how God has designed for us to live: “I have been crucified with Christ (even though I am still alive); (however), it is no longer I who live, but Christ (by His Spirit, who now) lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh (the living body that you see here with you), I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

This verse means that after we have had a genuine experience with Jesus Christ, at which time He took up His residence in our hearts by His Spirit, He is now the One who is energizing our bodies. However, Paul says that occurs ONLY WHEN we are “living by faith” (There’s that phrase again!), as he instructs us to do. He tells us, as Christian believers, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord (our initial, genuine experience with Him), so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6). That means believing everything Jesus tells us (including through Paul and the other inspired biblical writers), on a daily, moment-by-moment basis.  

Jesus and the New Testament writers love to refer to us as God’s “little children,” (18 times) because a little child believes everything his father tells him and trusts his father without reservation for all necessities. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, 23 and 24 that we little children are to “Abstain from every form of evil” (vs. 22); and yet he prays that “the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely” (vs. 23)—even though we have just been commanded in verse 22 to sanctify ourselves by abstaining from evil! Then Paul concludes with the assurance that his prayer will be answered! “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (vs. 24). 

 God’s law, when viewed from God’s perspective (“by faith” or “in the Spirit”), first acts as a mirror (vs. 22) to expose our failures (“I see that I am not able to ‘abstain from every form of evil’ as I am commanded to do”). We can then repent of the specific sins the law has exposed (Luke 18:13). All Christians know and acknowledge they are sinners, but only those walking by faith will face and embrace their sin in specific situations. 

After fulfilling its role as a mirror, Paul announces that the law of God has now gloriously become a promise of what God will do (“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely” – vs 23). 

Finally, in verse 24, Paul assures us that all of us as little children, can trust our Father to fulfill this promise of our complete sanctification, performed completely, all by Himself, without our help from us. “Because our Father told us, it’s done!” 

By Jesus’ death and resurrection, He justified us. He then took up His residence in our hearts and began this life-long process of sanctifying us, “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (not “by us,” but “in us,” right now, in this life, in our physical bodies) who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).  

However, if we see no progress in our lives, and see no sanctification occurring because we are still continually falling into besetting sins, the temptation is to be worried. Won’t we see some progress if this “leaving it to God” works?

No, we won’t. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Living by faith means, specifically not seeing what He is doing in us; only the sins that the law of God is exposing, so we can embrace them and rejoice in our Father’s unfathomable love and forgiveness for us individually. True righteousness is always unconscious, never the product of some “right decision” that we made and for which we can congratulate ourselves for making. That is the true freedom that only Jesus brings, and the only “self-identification” necessary is as God’s wretchedly sinful but fully forgiven child.

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  1. Isaac A Johnson says:

    I needed to hear that last paragraph Robert! Thanks for writing that brother! Good stuff! I’ve been very caught up lately in “looking for the fruit!”. Love ya brother! Hopefully see you soon!

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