We need some relief from living up to other's expectations of us. We need some freedom of movement.
Let's see what God says about freedom.
There are certain laws that we need to understand.
- 1. The Law of Righteousness
- 2. The Law of the Spirit
- 3. The law of eternal life
The Law of Eternal Life: only the Righteous live forever.
The Law of Righteousness: be like God.
The Law of the Spirit: the Spirit makes us Righteous.
What have these Laws to do with freedom? At the far end of the Freedom Spectrum, the place of Total, 100% freedom, we'll find total, 100% Righteousness occupying the same space. We see this reflected by God. God is the Totality of Righteousness.
This Position doesn't come from God's ability to create, but because He can create better, has more power, than anyone else. As the old saying goes, "Might makes Right." The despot king can make up a tax for his teeth if he wants. A Mid-East Potentate did just such a thing. Anybody argued with him died. He ran the Army. He had the power. The only difference between the Potentate and God is that no one is likely to assassinate God.
God is Righteousness because He has the power to back up His decisions. And therefore, God is the only one who has total freedom of action.
That doesn't leave us out in the cold, though. We weren't really trying for 100% Righteousness, anyway, right? We're looking to give ourselves some breathing room in our daily lives. Some relaxation from the multitude of written and unwritten "rules of life." I put "rules of life" in quotes because I think folks who are afraid to take a little risk make up most of the "rules of life". Rules come straight out of fearful decisions, don't you know. Look at the simple stop sign.
We put up stop signs to stop carnage, not cars. We're afraid we'll get run down.
When rules are being made up someone will usually be heard saying, "If we don't make some kind of rule about this, somebody's going to get hurt, defrauded, sick, be invalidated, get away with murder."
I don't say that rules are bad. I just think we need to be aware of their origin, Fear. Well, those little "rules of life" are no different. Our mother's taught us many of these "rules".
"Don't do that! People won't like you."
"Sit up straight. People will think you've got some kind of disease."
"If you do that, you'll look like an idiot."
"Don't you even care what people think of you?"
And so, we live our lives based mostly on what other people might be thinking about us.
You may have thought you were free. Are we free? How much of our life action is based on what we grew up with? And what's that? Is it the stuff we decided was a standard, or what other people told us? Our normal mode of life is acting in accordance with approved standards. We didn't have a say in those standards. They are the traditional/consensual way to behave. We're prisoners to what others have decided is Right. And boy, does that get oppressive.
We need a little more freedom of action. If we take our principle that freedom and Righteousness live in the same place, perhaps the pursuit of Righteousness might be worth investigating. Remember the more Righteous we are the more freedom we'll have, the less we'll have to give away our decision making power to others. In other words, the less we'll have to be concerned with what others think or say. There're volumes to be said on how stressful we make our lives by trying to please others, gain their approval. Down with Approval of Others!
It occurs to me that gaining Righteousness might seem impossible. After all the Law of Righteousness is: Be like God. Who can do that? Even sometimes? We're not talking about 100%, just some time. I mean, how can a body be like God at any time? But as it turns out, attaining some Righteousness will be easier than trying to change people's minds about how they influence the world with their traditional, hide-in-the-rules, thinking.
How do we get some Righteousness? There are two generally accepted ways of getting Righteousness. They fall into two categories: 1-dependence on God, 2-dependence on something not-God.
Most of the world population goes about their Righteousness getting by method number two, dependence on something other than God. Although this can be pursued through possessions, we mainly find folks looking for Righteousness in "Being Good." They find a system that allows them a high profile of admirable actions, like community work, philanthropy, and church service. These folks will also be found very active in abstinence. In public they keep a tight control on things that are impolite, unfriendly, or naughty. Paragons of virtue.
These people are not insincere, just deluded. They don't realize the Law of Righteousness. Be like God. They have been fooled into thinking that they can do something as well as God, when everything they do falls short of that standard. It's called homartia in the New Testament. Homartia is the Greek word for "missing the mark." It means, not up to what God can do.
Depending on ourselves to be able to get any Righteousness will leave us with none. We'd better take another look at method one, depending on God. We can certainly do that, as hard as it can be. This is where the Law of the Spirit comes in. Let's take another look.
The Law of the Spirit: the Spirit makes us Righteous. How? When God's Spirit is inside us, we're taken as Righteous. Our unRighteousness isn't considered. That's how God set it up. He's the One with the power to say what is or isn't. Repeatedly, the bible says we're justified by God. He considers us OK. This happens when His Spirit is in us. Well, then, how do I get that Spirit?
Paul has told us many different places, but Ephesians 3:17 says "Christ dwells in your heart by faithing." Now don't get sore because you can't find the word faithing. The "ing" isn't there in English.
But know this, the Greek word used for faith is pistis, and pistis is one little step away from a primary verb. Faith is really an action word. That's why it's right to say faithing.
So we get Christ, the Spirit of, in our hearts (inside us), when we pistis, faithe. And while that Spirit is there, we're Righteous.
I looked up a bunch of verses that talk about freedom. Remember freedom? We get a good dose of people trying to be Righteous when we look at the Pharisees. In Matthew 15:6 Jesus is giving it to the Pharisees for mistreating their parents. He tells them that they are not really free, but they are prisoners to their traditions. Jesus cites the example of not obeying the Commandment to honor our parents. He accused the Pharisees of withholding honorable things from their parents, using the excuse that they gave that good stuff to God. This was a traditional "law" that they were following.
Later in chapter 17, verse 26, Jesus says by analogy, that the children of God are free, even from tribute.
Starting in John 8:12 Jesus is at it again with the Pharisees. He tells them that they will die in their sins. In verse 32 Jesus talks about freedom. He says that the truth will make us free, after saying that they would learn the truth from him. Then down in verse 36, he hits the nail on the head. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." If you've got Jesus' spirit in you, you'll be free, Righteous.
The text clearly implies that the Pharisees were not free. To what were they in bondage? Their traditions.
Now let's see what Paul says about tradition. In Romans 6:18-22 Paul likens traditional behavior to adultery. This results in death. It is the pursuit of Righteousness through Law, self-performance. Method number two, above. Pursuing Righteousness through keeping the Law elevates the Law above God. God views this as idolatry. Idolatry results in death, not living forever.
Again in Romans 8:2 Paul tells us what happens when we get Christ inside us. He says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." As long as we've got the Spirit, we're OK.
Paul even takes it one step further in I Corinthians 7:22. He frees us from the One Big Law Act that was performed in those days to show holiness, circumcision. Paul says it's "nothing." Circumcision or non-circumcision, neither results in Righteousness. He even says that a slave turns out to be God's freeman (made free). Our freedom extends above our physical circumstances. In other words, we're free no matter what people think, say, or even do to us.
Finally, in Galatians 5 Paul removes any loopholes. Verses one and four talk about our "liberty" in Christ, and that any dependence on the Law will result in death. Even the supreme legalist of Scripture, James, confirms that we have to do all the Law or we don't make it. James chapter 2, verse 10 says, "for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. We can't put even 1% of our confidence in keeping the rules.
The Pharisees depended on the doing of Mosaic Law, which is in the not-God category. They replaced God with His standard for living. I think this was due to their inherent understanding of their inability to be perfect. So, instead of surrender to God, they "saved face" by performing prodigious feats of Law-keeping.
There's no way around it. The only way to Righteousness and relief from conformity to traditional human standards is by getting some of Jesus' Spirit in us. Faithing is the only way.
I think we better start focusing on what God wants, and "Let the rest of the world go by," as the old song says.
The formula is simple. Find something negative in your life; all the don'ts, can'ts, or ANY other limiting expression, tell God you're depending on His help around the obstacle, and then make a move.
Faithing is an action, remember? It's not believing there's a God. It's acting on something He's said. Faithing is an action, based on belief in God's promise and ability to help get us through the problem.
If you go the Matthew 6, you'll find three clear faith acts. Jesus even calls them Righteousness. And if you add communion to the list, you'll have a good start on faithing. Communion is about the lowest-risk faithing I know. The only risk I can see is that of talking and acting with an Invisible Mute. And what the heck, if no one else is there, who can come back and embarrass you later?
Why don't we take communion right now, and get a little Righteousness. Communion is a faith act, so it should bring us a little bit of God's Spirit. It should give us a bit of strength and the freedom that goes along with it.
Remember the bread symbolizes Jesus' marred body, and results in healing for us. Take the bread and say, in the past tense like Peter, "By his stripes I was healed."
The wine symbolizes Jesus blood, and we are promised that his death opened the door to God. What a blessing. What strength, what freedom. Thank God for His Grace, and ask Him to be merciful as you take the wine.
How'd that feel? We just got a little of God's Spirit implanted in our bodies. For faithing, we get the Spirit. And Communion is acting in faith.
I love mail.