Free in Christ

I mentioned the other day that I love how God will repeat a lesson to us again and again. It’s as if He’s knocking on our brain and saying, “Hear this! Pay attention! It’s important!” Today He’s been seeking my attention. I don’t know exactly why He wants me to get this, yet. Later He may show me somewhere that I’ve seriously screwed up in this. Or perhaps in a few days I’ll discover some test or trial. I am sure that He is preparing me for something in this area

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

So what is the message He is trying to get into this stubborn child? Freedom! He made us to worship Him freely. He gives us certain convictions and authorities for our own good, but we are free in Christ and we are not to put on the chains of legalism.

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.

Galatians 5:1

The slavery that the Galatians were subjecting themselves to was circumcision. In their case, many had begun to believe that their salvation was not complete unless they were circumcised. Today, so many of us, believe that we are saved, but we do not believe that we are accepted unless we perfectly keep all of our self-imposed rules or traditions. For example, many Christians have a quiet time. This is an excellent practice! Spending time knowing God through His Word and prayer are essential to continuing growth in the Christian life. But for years (and perhaps in a couple of weeks), if I missed a quiet time, I would feel SO guilty! Instead of running back to the throne of grace, I would “hide.” I would hide myself in books, games, cooking, teaching Sunday school, playing with my boys, spending time with my husband, and much more. I would do whatever I could to avoid God. Notice that many of those are good things — I would try to re-earn my favor with God. As you might guess, since we can’t earn His favor, I ended up in a helpless cycle and was only able to be freed through His work in my heart!

The reason I know that God is pounding this message home is that in just a few hours time, I have received the message twice!!! The first was in an email from my friend, Karen over at Forgiven and Loved. She got a devotional email this morning and felt impressed to send it to me. I read it and was able to identify with it completely. I won’t quote the whole thing, but this summarizes nicely:

For years, I lived as though I had to be “good enough” for God to love me.  I understood that salvation was a gift of grace – a free gift from God that I did not earn – but somewhere I began believing the lie that I had to perform properly to keep the gift.  I feared if I was not good enough, He would take it back.  But that is a lie.

I am enough…because Jesus lives in me and the Holy Spirit works through me.

Sharon Jaynes

Now, I’ve never believed that I could lose my salvation, but I do often fall into the trap that I can lose my favor with God. That, too is a lie!

So I read that great little devotion and saved it in my email for any future needs. A little later I picked up the book that I’m reading, Tranforming Grace, by Jerry Bridges. The chapter name is, “Called to Be Free.” My first highlighted quote:

More often than not, we try to earn favor with God in the area of manmade rules, or we feel guilty because we have failed in keeping them. We do or don’t do a particular thing because someone or some group or our cultural background tells us we ought or ought not to do it. And the “oughts” or “ought nots” are usually communicated by people in such a way that the favor or frown of God is tied to our compliance.

p. 145

And I would add that those “ought” and “ought nots” easily become our yoke of slavery. It’s not that we shouldn’t have convictions. The Spirit gives us convictions for our good and the good of the church. He gives us authorities who give us boundaries to live within in certain areas of our lives. This helps maintain order. But when the convictions and boundaries become my way to earn God’s favor, then it is time to step back and remember who God is. He is holy and just. His righteousness can never be attained by the likes of me. And if I think that I can earn any favor from Him, then I need to check my pride because there is nothing in me worthy of His favor. There is nothing that I can do to earn His favor or His love. He loves me infinitely because that’s who He is. When I believe the lie that I can earn that love, then I am not worshiping in freedom or Truth! How will I worship today? This moment? How will you worship?

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