Last week I wrote about my experience seeing a man die. You can read about it here.
This is the latest of many glorious experiences I have been given Grace to witness of a person finding “Freedom” in Christ – either via “new Life,” or by realizing a deeper Fullness of His Life in them. As beautiful as these occasions are to witness, and as edifying to my faith as they have been – I have noticed something troubling…
Freedom is not easily kept.
By this I mean that, all too often, a life observed some time after coming down from the mountaintop of Freedom is not, well…free.
- The baggage of guilt and shame are picked back up and carried around.
- The walls of hurts and hangups stand ever strong.
- The sin that so easily entangled before is even easier in it’s entrapment now.
- Sonship is traded in for an orphan spirit.
- Serving God is not worship, but instead is out of a motivation to perform, or to gain for self.
- What is supposed to be a “new creation” is not new at all, but looks and acts very much the same.
Part of this could be explained away by the natural progression of the “terrain,” if you will. If one is standing on a “peak,” their next step in either direction is going to be “down.” I believe that Jesus walks us into and out of mountaintop and wilderness (valley) seasons in our lives. There is ample Scriptural evidence to support this. Even Jesus Himself began His earthly ministry in a valley (being tested in the wilderness), and ended it on a mountaintop (His ascension). We are called to experience both, and are shaped by both. Properly received, however, there is tangible evidence of lasting Christ-like change and growth following both an experience of leaning on the Lord in trials, and in being overcome with His Presence in rejoicing.
I also freely acknowledge that as we trudge down the side of the hill following a particular moment of glory at the top – that the muck and the yuck of the world await us at the bottom. And the “ruler of the world” (the enemy) stands ready to chunk all manner of dirt clods at us – attempting to dirty up our fine, white linens of righteousness. Spiritual warfare, while not the focus of this writing, is indeed a very real element of our life in Christ. To be sure, attacks against a child of God are frequently elevated right before, and just after, a breakthrough revelation into more of Christ. So, sure, another part of this “lost” Freedom could be chalked up to being overcome by increased oppression against the Freedom itself.
But here is my heart — no matter… Jesus does not give us Freedom so that we will eventually lose it.
Or does He?…
I believe He does, but not in the manner of “losing” Freedom as described above. Let’s go all the way back to the Garden of Eden and explore…
Adam was created and lived already on a plane of “Freedom.” God’s intention was for Adam to progress onto a higher plane – the Plane of Divine Life. He had a choice before him – to eat of the Tree of LIFE, and enter into a Captivity of Love with the Triune God; or to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thus becoming in bondage to the law and self. In making the wrong choice, instead of progressing onto the higher (highest) Plane of Divine Life, Adam, and all of mankind regressed down onto a lower plane of bondage.
Freedom is thus found when we realize the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. The price was paid in full by Him, and when we lay hold of that Truth, we are moved from the plane of bondage to the law and to self, onto the plane of Freedom.
Unfortunately, this is where most Christians stop, and in stopping, are not Free at all.
Just as God intended Adam to step up onto His Plane of Divine Life, He intends the same for us. Adam was never supposed to move down onto a plane of slavery, and he was never supposed to stay on the plane of Freedom. He was supposed to move onto the Highest Plane of Love union, with God. How was Adam to achieve this move upward? By freely giving away that which was his to give – Freedom. How are we to achieve a lasting Freedom? By giving it away.
The difference between victorious Christians who are truly Free, and defeated ones, is that some recognize the Divine ownership of their lives (Freedom), and others are still their own masters.
When we emphasize and appropriate our Freedom from a perspective of what we have been saved “from” (bondage), rather than what we have been saved “to” (God’s Life of Love), we are in effect living for ourselves. If we are living for ourselves then we are not free. True Freedom is living for (or better, by) a Life that is higher than ours. It is Living on another Plane.
Just as we have free will to receive God’s grace – and move from the plane of bondage onto the plane of Freedom – we also have free will with what we do with that Freedom. If Freedom itself is the end-game goal, and we keep that Freedom for ourselves – living our lives out of a posture of what we can do for, or get out of God, in our strength and by our will – we will inevitably find ourselves back in bondage. If however, we see Freedom as a stepping stone, a passing lane on the way to a Life that is not ours at all, but a Life lived by Another, in response to a Love that lives in us – then we are never in bondage, even, not still in Freedom – we are CAPTIVE by that Life of Love. We are truly Free to Live for and unto God’s Eternal Purpose.
True Freedom is found (and kept) in surrendering it for a Life of Love-Captivity.
I think this is the essence of what Paul has in mind in writing to the Galatians:
In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].
5 For we, [not relying on the Law but] through the [Holy] Spirit’s [help], by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God [our conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action, causes us] to hope.
6 For [if we are] in Christ Jesus…..only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love (count for anything).
13 For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.
14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.
16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).
17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.
18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. (Chapter 5:1,5-6,13-14,16-18 AMP)
Paul is saying to the Galatians, and to us:
- Don’t stop in the Freedom Christ has given you, abusing His Grace by living for yourselves out of this Freedom.
- Because doing so is no Freedom at all, but bondage and slavery!
- Instead, live by the indwelling Life of Christ, through the Holy Spirit in you.
- This is a Life that is not yours at all. It is a Life of Love – toward God and others.
- In living this Life, you will never be in bondage to slavery again, but truly FREE – in Him!
My prayer for you is that you have first chosen the Freedom in Christ. I further pray that you have also “lost” that Freedom, not in the sense of living out of the nature of your old life, but in the sense of exercising that Freedom by “giving it away,” placing yourself in Captivity to the Life of Love that is Jesus Christ in you.
Because life lived by any other basis is not truly Free, and is no Life at all.