As you can see, Buddy wore this hat to please me, but he wasn’t at all pleased about having his photo taken. His ears are pulled back because he is not at all happy about having the hat on his head. But he loves me so he put up with it.
On July 4th most* Americans are celebrating the founding of the United States, the declaration of our Independence from the rule of Great Britain. We are a unique nation because our Bill of Rights and US Constitution were designed to check the power of government over the population and balance that government’s power between the states and the different branches of the Federal Government, to ensure the freedom of our citizens.
Sadly, however, most people think they are free but they live in bondage.
Unbelievers live in bondage to sin but do not realize it, having never experienced the true freedom that Jesus Christ bought for us by dying for our sins on the Cross. Jesus paid the penalty to free us from our desires–and then was resurrected to give us eternal life. This life comes via the Holy Spirit Who indwells each believer after they accept Jesus as Lord and God in the flesh and what He did to free us from spiritual bondage.
Apostle Paul summarized this dilemma for unbelievers in the epistle of Ephesians:
“And you were dead in the your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience…indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath…But God, being rich in mercy, because of HIs great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins, made us alive together in Christ…” Ephesians 2:1-5
Until I became a Christian, I had no power over my sinful desires. I tried to be good but often failed. Christ’s Holy Spirit freed me from this bondage. Now I can choose right (as God defines it in the Scriptures) or wrong. Having been a nonbeliever till I was 28 years old, I have a lot of bad attitudes, wrong habits and sinful thinking to overcome, so sometimes I choose to do wrong, even if I know it’s wrong. But I now have a choice: before, I didn’t. I was in slavery to Satan. When I lose my temper, it’s not because God’s Holy Spirit doesn’t have the power to prevent me from being angry, but because I have sinful and selfish attitudes–self absorption–that is prompting me to be unkind that I have to learn to overcome with HIS help.
But believers also unknowingly, or willingly because of pride and/or arrogance, are in bondage. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the moral Laws of God, yet many believers remain in slavery because they still try to win God’s approval by being good. However, Jesus declared that only God is good (Matthew 19:17) . No human being can be good enough to earn their way into Heaven and God’s presence.
Ephesians 2:6 was not completely quoted above:
“even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”
And Apostle Paul continues to explain in Ephesians 2:8:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Some people come to Christ and come under legalistic teachers, where they are led to believe that, if they continue to be good enough, God will be pleased with them.
“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law (obeying God’s rules), then Christ died needlessly…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”–Galatians 2:21-3:2-3
Pleasing God and obeying His rules is a good thing for our lives. We still reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) and God disciplines us for His name’s sake and out of love for us, like a good Father does when His children go astray (Psalm 23:3, Revelation 3:19). But it does not make us right with God. Accepting the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf by faith put us into right relationship with God, and only faith in Jesus Christ keeps us in right relationship with God. (Another post for more details in the future.) Apostle Paul made it clear that the Galatians were being foolish by trying to make themselves right with God through their own efforts, rather than continuing to live by faith in Jesus Christ.
So whether you are in the bondage of unbelief in Christ or in the bondage of a legalistic relationship with God, why not celebrate true freedom and ask Jesus to set you free?
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”–Jesus, John 8:36
*Some mistakenly believe Socialism is a good thing. The United States was founded on the principle that the government exists to serve the people. Under Socialism, the people exist to serve and, be ruled over by, the government. Karl Marx made it very clear in his writings that Christians were fools and that Socialism was created to destroy the middle class and its bourgeois, Christian values. Check it out by reading his writings for yourself; don’t rely on what others say about what he wrote or meant, even me. I’ve read the Communist Manifesto multiple times. I know when I am being lied to because I’ve read it myself.
And please read the Bible for yourself. If with true sincerity, you ask God to guide your understanding as you read, He will. Apostle Paul applauded the Berean’s for verifying what he was teaching them by checking the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-11).