Walk in Freedom

The following is a guest post by Luke Larson


“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1

If you were to describe your relationship with God, how would you describe it? Does it read the same as a relationship with a friend who you’ve fallen out of touch with? Or maybe even someone you have wronged and not yet sought forgiveness? Is it something on the back of your mind like a task that you know you should ‘get to when you have some time’ when you really just want to avoid it because it seems like too much to sort out?

This kind of thinking defined my relationship with God for many years. We all know the ways that we sin; we may be quite good at covering them up (although probably not as good as we think), but WE know the things we’ve done wrong. In our minds, these things create a mental rats-nest that becomes a barrier between us and God that only seems to get bigger over time. And as time goes on, it becomes far too overwhelming to sort out. So we go on with life, separated from God, living in a dull but constant guilt knowing that the barrier was built by OUR sin and one day we’ll have to answer for it. 

Here is the amazing truth of the Gospel: You don’t have to sort it out. You can turn to God from wherever you are and walk in freedom and righteousness today. Just imagine not having to carry the burden of your sin. No more hiding parts of yourself or trying to keep up appearances while you are dying inside. 

It sounds too good to be true, because social and civil expectations dictate that we pay for our mistakes. But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at what God’s word says about how He handles our sin.

“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God IS love.”
1 John 4:8, emphasis added

“[…Love] keeps no record of wrong..”
1 Corinthians 13:5

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’”
Matthew 11:28

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only son. That whoever BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 
John 3:16, emphasis added

“But if we CONFESS our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9, emphasis added

It is so clear that God is willing to forgive our sins. Most of us have heard this before but still, we tend to believe that forgiveness isn’t enough by itself. We still don’t know how to walk in freedom and righteousness. We know we can’t be perfect, even the Bible says we can’t. So once again, we feel stuck in a cycle of sin, guilt and shame.

Here is what God says about what to do next. 

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the spirit wants. And the spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires…” 
Galatians 5:16-17

Walk in freedom! Don’t spend all of your energy trying to be perfect, just go out into your daily life loving others and following the Holy Spirit’s lead.

And whenever you fail, as we all do, look up. Our instructions are simple. Bring your sin before the Lord, accept His forgiveness and move on.

We don’t have to sort it all out, we don’t have to correct our own ledger, and we don’t have to live in guilt.

Believe Christ is who He says He is.

Confess your sins to Him.

Love those around you and seek the Holy Spirit.

If you are doing these things, don’t let the enemy pull you back down into guilt and shame. 

And here is the most important part of all of this:

Take God at His word and TRUST that you are righteous in His sight. 

Christ died to make this way for you, don’t waste that gift by doing the process and not trusting Him with the result. You are a child of the most high God and He loves you with everything in Him. Try this now. Don’t put it off for another moment.

Do you believe that Christ is who He says He is? 

Now confess your sins to Him, whatever they are. He can handle it. Are you angry with Him? He can handle that too.

This is the path to freedom and righteousness. This is the way that Christ made for us. He says that you are clean (1 Corinthians 6:11), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), righteous before God and free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:7,18)

So here is the question:

Do you believe Him?

The Gardener

John 15:1-17 is a classic passage where Jesus talks about the importance of abiding in him. It speaks to finding your life in the Lord. The first two verses say, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

I’m struck by the significance of these two verses. God is the gardener, trimming and pruning the grapevine. Jesus is the core of the plant – the stock, the roots, the strength, the source. We are the branches, growing out of him and producing leaves and fruit. Our life is fueled by the nourishment we receive from Christ. It’s just as it was written in Deuteronomy 8:3 where it says we do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

What’s amazing is that it’s not enough that we would produce some fruit. But God cuts away the dead or overgrown stuff in our lives, even sometimes the beautiful things, so that we might increase in fruitfulness and growth!

In James 1:2-4 is says when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. We’re able to handle life’s trials, and God’s pruning, when we’re connected to the vine (Jesus) – when we are abiding in him.

The Lord is asking us to stay with him. To stay with him means that he is allowed to work a deep work in our lives. Our lives are made of so much more than what we can see in the physical world around us.

A sobering thought is that we see in scripture that he cuts off every branch that does not produce fruit. To him, that branch is useless. They’re gathered together to be burned. Nothing comes of them. It is as though they never existed, never benefiting anyone.

But you who remain?

You bring great glory to God.

So lean in to the good work that God is doing in your life. Trust his timing and his methods. He is the gardener. Jesus is the vine. And we are the branches.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT

A Man of His Word

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
John 15:4

Through this section of John, Jesus is telling us that if we remain in him, he will remain in us. In this way, we produce much fruit.

Jesus also tells us that just as a branch that is severed from the vine cannot continue to bear fruit, for it withers and dies when it is cut off from what gives it life, so are we severed from the source of abundant life when we no longer abide in Christ. When we are living on our own strength and doing life apart from God, the simple yet profound truth is that we are no longer able to bear fruit.

And what is this fruit?

Galatians 5:22-23 says that the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These things are the direct fruit of abiding in Christ and being connected to the vine.

If your life is lacking these things, if you’re devoid of joy, peace, and self-control, there is no way to experience what he’s talking about outside of taking a step of faith and connecting yourself back to the vine. We’ll never experience the blessing that comes from abiding… until we abide. In this case, he’s waiting on us to make the first step. He says he will remain in us. We will be fruitful. We will bring great glory to the Father. We may ask for anything we want and it will be granted! When? When we remain in him. When we trust him to do what he says he’ll do.

We need to have confidence that Jesus is a man of his word. We need to stop being so suspicious of his motives! When doubt creeps in, we need to fix firmly in front of us a sureness, certainty, and assurance that God is bigger than we are and more than capable to accomplish above and beyond what we can.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20