Jesus Came To Set Us Free. Are You Free Yet?

Many have heard the story of John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace”. John Newton was converted to Christianity in 1748. Yet, he remained a captain of a ship involved in the slave trade until 1755. He became acquainted with two ministers, George Whitefield and John Wesley, founder of the Methodist denomination. He left his ship and became a minister and wrote these words: “I was blind but now I see”. Why did it take him so long to see what he was doing was actually evil?

I have often wondered why so many new Christians continued to live the way of the world long after they had received the Holy Spirit into their lives. Their lack of knowledge, as John Newton, they were blind to what living a holy life really meant. Once John Newton’s eyes were opened he then preached on the human devastation of the slave trade and its evils. There was a time when approximately one-third of the world’s population were slaves and they were of all nationalities. The culture accepted slavery as a way of life. Everyone who could afford it could purchase a slave. The devil has done everything he could get away with, to keep people down and separated from God.

John 8:31 – 32 & 36 – “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

What was it that Jesus set us free from and the answer is sin? I don’t know what it was like before you became a Christian but I had a lot of baggage. I had a problem with bitterness, hatefulness, jealousy, envy, an unforgiving spirit, anger, selfishness, cheating, addictions, guilt, anxiety and fear to name a few. I believed there were many ways to get to heaven. I had been told that if you did more good things than bad things you could get there. I often wondered what I must do to please God. The majority of us did not want to go to hell regardless of the life we were living. But what was the easiest and surest way there?

One Sunday I accepted Christ into my life. The next day I was a different person. However, I had some issues I had to work on. The more I read the Bible and the more I studied the more I realized I had these problems. All of the things I had been doing were fouling up my life. It took time to recognize I had a problem and then to deal with it. Well why hadn’t Christ set me free? The Bible told me to get rid of the baggage I was carrying and become a new and different person. It told me what I should have in Galatians 5:23 – 25 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

The Scripture kept telling me I had to become submissive to the teaching of the Word. Or, having or showing a tendency to submit without resistance and willing to yield to what I was reading. You cannot pick and choose, based on how you want to live, as to what you want to believe and accept. It is only the truth, Christ’s teaching, that will set you free. If you are unwilling to accept Christ’s truth then you will continue to carry the baggage right along with you as a Christian. This is what I believe many Christians do. They are not willing to accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They then wonder why they have not received into their lives, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and the others. Without self-control and the Holy Spirit’s guidance we are unable to receive these gifts of the Spirit that will change our lives completely.

Do we believe that the Son will set us free from the sinful lives we have been living? This may be a problem to many Christians. To become free we need to accept freedom. After the Civil War the slaves were given their freedom. Many were unwilling to accept that freedom. Changing their circumstances require too much individual responsibility and accountability. They stayed where they were and continued to work for their owners.

Many Christians accept Jesus as their personal Savior but they do not want to change their lifestyle. As a result, they continue to hang on to the baggage that they have always had. They continue to have the same fears, guilt and anxiety. They live with the same selfish ambitions. They miss the love, joy, peace and the other gifts that are available.

Galatians 5:16 – 21 – “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Assume you have six different areas you need to change. Then each day pray that the Holy Spirit will help you eliminate each issue from your life. Each of us is different. Some temptations will go away quickly and others may take a long period of time. Never give up because the Holy Spirit will never let you down. My small group asked me if I continue to have temptations. My reply was that I have them every day. I just do not struggle with them. I assure you that once, whatever temptations you are dealing with, I assure you that temptation can be overcome and there will be a time that you too will no longer struggle with it. Just don’t try doing it on your own. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you deal with it. There will come a day when no matter what problem or situation occurs in your life you will deal with it with patience and with peace. There can be a time in our lives when we can overcome all stress and anxiety. Once our hearts and heads are right it beats any medication available. Living a holy life is also a prescription to a more healthy life.

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