Just Breathe (Freedom Redefined)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Beloved you are free, liberated, released, and delivered. The Christian life is marked by the cry of victory and triumph reverberating throughout time and space, ringing in and through the hearts of humble men and women who have found their refuge in the blood and cross of Jesus. But what exactly are we free from?
When gazing back at the cage that once ensnared my own soul, I see the broken and empty chains of anger, violence, shame, guilt, and of pain inflicted upon me and by me lying strewn and mangled on the floor. But the Scripture paints with a far broader stroke than freedom from our past, our old ways, and our old man.
In this verse Paul the apostle is writing the Galatian church and he is urging them to reject circumcision, for circumcision was the covenantal sign of the agreement made between God and Israel at Sinai. Paul says in this letter that there are two ways to live: By faith in Christ alone or by ones own fleshy performance. The two are incompatible with each other, and thus to participate in circumcision, or any aspect of the Torah, is to seek to establish ones own righteousness, and reject faith in Christ. Paul says in chapter five verse one that Christ came to set us free from this mindset of feeling we must perform or justify ourselves before God, and we are to stand firm in this freedom from any and all performance. For man was never created to live for God, but rather man was created to live with God, in union with Him, under His care and love. Thus to live based on a performance mentality is to reject our created purpose of sonship, and instead to make ourselves servants, or slaves before Him.
Yet we see Paul coming directly against this absurdity in chapter four of Galatians, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal 4:6-7). Sons are not rated by their performance, their efforts, or their strengths and weaknesses, but rather a son is a part of the family, loved, accepted, and qualified by birth.
Beloved you are free from performance on every level! God is not standing over you like some bloody tyrant waiting to punish you for your failures and mistakes! He is a gracious God, a loving and compassionate Father.
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
The word in this verse for “merciful” is רַח֖וּם (Rah-hoom), and it literally means compassionate, and refers to a deep love experienced by a superior for an inferior. The word for “gracious” is חַנּוּן (cha-noon), which means "gracious" and comes from the word חָנַן (Chenan), which means to bend down, or stoop down, in kindness and love to an inferior; to show favor, bestow kindness and love, and to act on behalf of the one favored. The word here for “steadfast love” is the word חֶסֶד (Chesed), which means boundless, or limitless, mercy, love, and kindness and it carries the connotation of steadfast devotion and loyalty.
Picture this beloved! God is stooping down in endless love and devotion to you as His son or daughter for the purpose of caring for you, protecting you, sustaining you, nurturing you, and fathering you in every area of your heart and life! He is love itself and thus is not looking for you to fulfill something in Himself, for “love does not seek its own” (1 Cor 13:5). You are free from performance.
You are free from sin, death, and satan as well, but that means that you are also free to fail. That's right, free to fail. Atonement was provided, not so you won’t sin, fail, or make a mistake, but rather in anticipation that you will. The sacrifice of Jesus was the provision made for the purpose of dealing with all our sins and mistakes. The cross has already removed them and they are no longer a hinderance to fellowship with your Father. Sin has been defeated, and now we are free. Free even to fail, and free to no longer be defined by our failures!
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Beloved, how much clearer can this be! You are perfect in the eyes of the Father because all (and I mean ALL) of your sins have been annihilated once and for all! So you no longer need to carry the burden of guilt and condemnation, for your freedom has been fully secured once and for all by the blood of Christ. I am not saying “Woo-hoo! Let’s sin it up!” Rather I am writing to sons and daughters who have been weighed down by the shame, guilt, and condemnation that has kept them in bondage to fear. Beloved hear me today, you are free from sin and thus you no longer need to sweat it when you fail! You are perfect based on the offering of Christ, and that offering has been accepted in fullness and therefore so have you! Praise Him! Thank you Jesus!
Finally my friend, you are free to accept yourself, as you are and not as you think, or feel, you should be. God did not send Jesus to make you acceptable by improving your morality, but the Bible says it was His love for you that motivated Him to hang on the cross for you (Rom 5:6-8). He accepts you in full and loves you for who you really are. The blood was shed to remove us from Adam and the influence of sin, not so that God could make us better people. We were dead, and now in Him we live (Eph 2:1-10). Rather God accepts you with your baggage. The cross was so that your baggage would no longer be a hindrance to relationship. Beloved He has qualified you, and chose you before the foundations of the world, and if He can accept you then maybe you should too. I love being a Christian because as a Christian it is actually ok to not be ok! Christ is the one who cares for me, nurtures me, and and provides for me. I am free to be me and depend on Him! And beloved, so can you!
Just breathe! You are free! Free from performance, free from sin and thus free to fail, and finally you are free to be you, and free to accept you as you are! So go on now, and be free! Begin to enjoy your relationship with God today!