Saturday, July 2, 2016

Liberty or Lawlessness?

Photo by J.W. Photography from Annapolis 2008

In the United States, our weekend celebrations commemorate America’s independence from England in 1776. Ironically, this year the world is still reeling from the implications of “Brexit,” or the United Kingdom declaring her independence from the European Union.

As we consider the battles our fledgling nation endured, we realize that they were motivated by the quest for freedom from tyranny, taxation, and religious oppression. Liberty was the prize sought after at all cost, for as patriot Patrick Henry declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Our Declaration of Independence says that our Creator has given us “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Even more important than political and religious liberty is eternal liberty, which only Jesus Christ can provide. Every born-again believer (John 3:3-8) who has trusted in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) has liberty from the oppression of sin. In His mercy, God spared His children from eternal death and damnation (Romans 3:25; 6:23). In His grace, He gave us eternal, abundant life with Him and our loved ones who know Him as Lord and Savior (John 3:16; 10:10).

Jesus Christ has forever removed us from the penalty of sin, which is physical, spiritual, and eternal death (Romans 3:25; 6:23) He was the perfect, complete sacrifice, Whose finished, perfect work on the cross was sufficient to pay for all the sins of all mankind, past, present and future (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2). When God looks at the born-again believer (John 3:3-8), He no longer sees our sins, but the perfect righteousness of His Son (Romans 3:22,25;5:18).

But does liberty from the penalty of sin entitle us to lawlessness? Because of the curse of sin brought on by Adam’s disobedience, no man can perfectly keep God’s law (Exodus 20:1-17; Romans 3:23). Should we even try? Our society, country and even some churches seem to be marred by permissiveness that often promotes individual liberty over morality and the common good. They have rejected the Creator, Who has turned them over to the consequences of their own sin (Romans 1:28-31).

Followers of Jesus Christ have the freedom of knowing that even when we do sin, we cannot lose our salvation (Romans 8:35-39). We are saved by grace, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and Jesus Christ has freed us from bondage to sin (Hebrews 9:14-15). We can't earn our salvation by being "good" or by not breaking the law (Romans 3:10-12). Given our liberty in Him (Luke 4:18), are we not freed from the law? (Romans 7:4-6)  

If we are guilty of breaking even a single point in the law, whether in deed or even in thought, we are considered guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10-13).  Only One Person could keep the law perfectly, and that is Jesus, Who died and rose again so that we could be freed from sin and death (Hebrews 9:14-15). We still need the law, not for salvation (Romans 3:19-21; Hebrews 7:19), but as a mirror to show us our sin and our need for a Savior (James 1:22-25).

Our liberty in Christ does not give us license to sin, because we are to love God and love one another (Matthew 22:36-40), showing our love by obeying His commandments (John 14:15,21). When asked if we can sin freely so that God’s grace can much more abound, Paul replied, “God forbid!” (Romans 3:31; 6:1-15).

Once we are saved, we should be in the world to spread the Good News of the Gospel (Acts 1:8), but not of the world (John 15:19; 17:14-16). This requires us to be a living sacrifice to Christ (Romans 12:1), set apart from worldly habits, holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Only then can others believe our testimony that Jesus is our Lord Who has redeemed us from sin, for they see proof of it in our lifestyle (2 Peter 3:11).

The greatest fear of the apostle Paul was that he would be a castaway, or put on the shelf and removed from active service to God (1 Corinthians 9:27). Even Paul, arguably the greatest man of faith and Christian service ever to walk the earth, had this fear, and so should we. 

Paul was highly sensitive to the potential consequences of his actions. He knew that Christians were no longer bound by the dietary laws of Moses, and that whatever he ate could not jeopardize his salvation. Yet Paul was careful not to do anything that a babe in Christ might perceive as sin, such as eating food known to be offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:4-13), because that might cause the newly saved to stumble in his Christian walk (Romans 14:13). 

Modern day examples might be drinking alcohol, indulging in off-color humor, or attending worldly entertainment. We can do all these without losing our salvation, yet they weaken our testimony to others and even cause them to be discouraged or to fall (2 Peter 3:17). There are consequences for them and for us, because we may lose our health, joy, peace, and opportunities for service.

Every day we must fight the battle between our “old man,” or sin nature, who wants us to fall back in our sinful ways, and the new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), who wants us to yield to the Holy Spirit by following and serving Jesus (Romans 6). We can refrain from sin only by yielding to the Holy Spirit within us, Who cannot sin (1 John 3:9).

When we do sin, breaking the commandments in thought or in deed (Matthew 5:28), as we do nearly daily by having a covetous, angry or lustful thought, it is because our old sin nature has momentarily won out over the Spirit (Romans 7:14-25). May we daily put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-13) to fight the devil and his traps luring us to lawlessness (1 Timothy 3:6-7), and praise God for the liberty He has given us in Christ!

© 2016 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Amen to Eternal Security of the Believer! I wish more Christians would accept this very important truth into their lives, instead of showing judgement towards us, as I have experienced in the past, and still experience to this day.
You are right about the free grace of God not giving us a licence to sin. Why would I want to sin any way? But most important, every person around us, believer and unbeliever alike, cannot see our faith in God in our hearts, they can only see our works.
And that is why, I think, that walking in holiness as believers is so important to God. Because it's the only way that God can be glorified through us, and the only thing that glorifies God is seeing people repent and getting saved. Also, "holiness" is not about living a monastic life, cut off from the world like a monk, but to allow God to dwell fully in us, which he does through the Holy Spirit.
An excellent post, God bless.

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
I was drawn over to your blog by the 'independence day' issue. As you say, there is a lot going on in the UK at the moment, but my peace over all issues is in the Lord.
Yes, salvation is a wonderful gift, but we have to remember that Jesus said 'Follow me....' If we love our Lord Jesus we will follow Him, and we can not ignore the fact that the scriptures are there to teach us His ways as the Rhema Word is spoken to us through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
One of the things that scripture does is 'correct' (All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy ch. 3 v. 16)and I love the way I am corrected and disciplined by this Word as I continue to grow in Him. I have been shown through the scriptures what 'wilful sin brings about' and there is no way I want to do that, as I am sure all who seek the truth through Jesus would not want to do either. So we continue down the road of salvation looking to our Saviour eh, the One Whom God has made out Lord.
God bless you Laurie.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Great point -- only God knows the hearts, and men judge the sincerity of our witness by our deeds. He does not want us to shut ourselves off from the world in an ivory tower, but to show His love to the world while glorifying Him in our lifestyle as well as in our words.
Thanks as always for your encouragement and insights.
God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
So good to hear from you again. Praise God for His Word that shows us the path to follow and for the Holy Spirit Who enlightens us. May we allow His light to keep us from sin as we yield to Him and be sober and vigilant to avoid the snares of the devil.
God bless you too!

Donald Fishgrab said...

True freedom requires taking responsibility. A parent may set rules if the child is to live in their home, and it becomes that child's responsibility to decide whether to live by those rules of find another place to live. His parents are not obligated to put up with willful violation of their standards and continue to support him. As Christians, we have freedom to do what ever we choose, but God is not obligated to put up with our sin.

Laurie Collett said...

Great point, Donald. As our pastor likes to say, when Christians willfully choose to sin, God says "Go for it, but there will be consequences." But praise God, once we re saved, He never kicks us out of His family, for that would leave no room for His chastening to bring us back to His path.
Thanks as always for your insightful comment, and God bless.