Walk in Freedom

“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?

-Luke Larson

Loved

I was raised in a Christian home. My upbringing included Sunday School on Sunday mornings, Youth Group on Wednesday nights, and Small Group on Fridays. From an early age, God quickly became the most important person in my life.

I can remember the first time I raised my hands in worship during Sunday School. I would spend hours in prayer at church camp in the summer. My journals are filled with prayers and questions – looking to God for the answers.

Growing into adulthood, the godly women in my life encouraged me to spend intentional time alone with God, where you read your bible and pray. And I have done my best to make this a priority for the last 10 years. They’ve never been the perfect “hour every morning with a cup of coffee”, and they’ve never been perfectly consistent, but spending time in the Word and in prayer has continued to grow in importance the older I get.

I have had many seasons in life where I’ve felt alive in Christ. I’ve felt his love wash over me and my times with him have been fruitful and life giving. But this year, my times in solitude with the Lord started to get frustrating.  I was leaving each time upset and irritated. I couldn’t feel God. I couldn’t hear him. The logical solution was that I was doing something wrong. So, I would try getting up before work to start my day off right. I kept falling asleep, so I’d plan out exactly what I would read. When that didn’t work, I’d try spontaneity – just opening up anywhere in the bible and reading. I gave devotional reading a shot. I tried focusing on prayer alone. I gave reading a book by a Christian author. Nothing worked.

It wasn’t until just recently that I was able to finally voice the lie that had been planted in my heart. Luke and I were driving home from a dear friends funeral, and I don’t remember exactly how it came up or how the conversation wound its way there, but I remember telling Luke with tears in my eyes… I don’t think God loves me.

Just voicing this to Luke and identifying it caused blinders to off my eyes. I can see it now. I was trying to earn his love. I realized on that car ride home that I had been trying to earn his presence by getting up early each morning. I was trying to be good enough for him to speak to me by doing all the right things. I was trying to come up with ways to manipulate him into speaking to me.

But as I remembered the overarching story of the Bible, the truth became so clear: I cannot, under any circumstances, earn his love. 

Romans 5:6-11 says,

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

God chased after us, even while we rejected him. God extended his love to us, even when we failed, yet again. God sealed the deal, even while we sat covered in our sin – paralyzed by our inability to measure up.

Psalm 23:6 says,
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

He pursues us.

I hope you can begin to walk in this freedom today, too. I encourage you to spend time with the Lord, knowing, believing, and declaring that he loves you.  Let this truth wash over you:

You are loved. You are his.

Believe it

Sometimes in the morning, before our day gets started, we need to be reminded of a very impactful truth: God loves us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

In Micah 6:8 we are told what is good and what the Lord requires of us. He says to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

He doesn’t plan disaster for us. He plans good things, and to give us a future and a hope. He doesn’t ask for the world from us, only to do what is right, love mercy, and walk respectfully with him.

What does that mean for today?

It means that God cares about your day today. Believe it.

It means that he desires good things for you. Stop running away.

It means that we have a choice whether or not to do the right thing. Pay attention.

It means that we are required to offer mercy. Soften your heart.

It means we need to admire the Lord and hold him in high esteem. Be a student of him.

We can get distracted and disengaged quickly. So take it a little slower today. Be in the moment. Don’t rush. Be present with the Lord. Keep your heart open to his voice. He will direct your steps.

Why?

Because he loves you.