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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Living in Freedom

Romans 6: 7 - 14, For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. NKJV

Paul teaches us that as new covenant believers in Christ, we don't have to live in bondage to sin anymore. However, there are still two ways a believer can choose live their lives. They can be ruled by the lusts of the flesh nature and live for self... which goes against the teachings of Christ; or conversely, they can choose to live by faith and obey the Word of God. One road will hold us in bondage to self, and the other will liberate us from self to serve God without fear. 

Once you choose to live your life for Christ, it will take time for the Word of God to transform you from a carnally minded believer into a spiritually minded one. Conversion doesn't happen overnight, but it WILL occur in your heart if you will hold on to your faith and live for God and not self. Now, self will try to persuade you that God's way isn't worth the pain that you have to endure in order to die to the flesh nature. However, there are millions of believers, including myself that will testify and tell you that God's way is the only way to be free.

"How bad do you want to be liberated from living a life of bondage to lusts, habits, addictions, and people?" Well, you have to love God and His Word even more than you want to have a life of freedom. There's a saying that is used in the world of physical fitness when addressing people who want to quit before they reap the benefits of working out or exercising; nevertheless, it is also perfect for our spiritual well-being: "No pain, no gain." We must suffer a little in order to die to our self nature and our bondage to fear; otherwise, we will live the rest of our lives bound. 

If you make the commitment to serve the Lord and die to self with the hope of one-day walking out of "the pit," you will have to learn how never to tell God, "No." Living God's way will require you to take on a servant's heart and an attitude of gratitude toward the Lord. According to James, God gives grace to the humble, but He opposes the proud. Once we agree to suffer in our flesh so that we might obey and please our heavenly Father by faith, He will empower us with grace to face, endure, and pull down every stronghold and mountain that defies our faith.

However, beware of pitfalls along the way. Satan will constantly try to trip you up on your journey to spiritual transformation and liberation; so, you have to guard your heart. Whenever the Holy Spirit instructs you to obey His voice, but you realize that obedience will cost you something that you're not willing to give up, then you can be sure that Satan is moving in for an attack. Should we ever harden our hearts to the voice of God because we love something more than our commitment to Jesus, or we are afraid to face a giant, we will place ourselves back in bondage to our flesh nature. Remember, the flesh nature can't live free because it lives under the law; but we died to the flesh nature when we accepted Christ. Now we live under grace, and sin should no longer have dominion over us.

We mustn't ever tell God, "No," when He instructs us to obey Him, especially when it costs us something we love very dearly. Remember, God rewards those who diligently seek Him. If God asks you to give up something, it means that He has something better in the future for you. Nevertheless, if we should fall into Satan's trap of offense and fall from grace, we will become enslaved by the flesh nature once again. There are many people who confess to love Jesus every day; however, they have fallen into the trap of Satan and are in bondage. 

If you are a believer, and you know in your heart that you're not living a life of freedom in the Spirit, but you desire to do so, then the Word today is especially for you. When we say, "No" to God, but confess that we still love Him and place our faith in Jesus to save us, we won't have the grace to be the witness of freedom that Christ died for us to possess. Just like you couldn't save yourself from your own sins, and you realized that you needed to believe on the Lord, neither can you live the saved life apart from remaining submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. Only when you and I submit to God, and we do what He instructs us to do will we have the power to resist the Devil and have him flee from us. Christians, who believe in Christ, but for some reason, aren't surrendered to Christ's ways, won't be able to obey Him for more than as long as their own "will power" will enable them. This is called cyclical Christianity or repeat offenders against God's Word. If this describes you, then know that you're trying to serve God in the flesh and not from your heart. You must go back and correct the offense by placing it on the altar unto the Lord. Once you have repented and changed your mind, you will be empowered with God's grace to walk by faith without fail.  

If we could live the new life in Christ in our own power, then God missed it when He sent the Comforter to be with/in us. The Holy Spirit gives us the power of God to live continually for Him; we will not quit. This is why we are warned in scripture not to grieve or quench the Holy Spirit, by whom we have been sealed until the Day of Redemption. 

Since you have read the entire devotion today, let me ask you a question. Do you have something or someone in your life that has caused you to stumble in your faith walk? Do you desire to be set free from bondage and to live the life that God intended for you to live? If so, then lay your "Isaac" on the altar like Abraham and allow God to bless you once again.

Grace is the Only Way to Live Free,
Pastor Asa Dockery

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