“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” – John 8:36 (KJV)
About three years ago, I returned to Church life, wilingly, and at the direct request of Father God. I say ‘willingly’, because it marked the end of fifteen years of hardly being able to set foot in a church building, and at the same time learning how to live free from deadly church doctrines, rules and expectations. I’d been ‘detoxed’ over that time; I’d learned my freedom. And, you know what, even after I’d gone back into Church, God never once told me that it was time for the freedom to end. (There’s a little more detail on this in my Testimony)
And now I live in that freedom. Freedom from the power of sin, freedom from the fear of death, freedom from being tied to others’ opinions, freedom from having to strive to please God, freedom to be who I am, free in fact to live life to the full with complete freedom from any kind of fear.
This sort of lifestyle is described really well in Romans 6:6-14, especially in The Message translation/paraphrase:
“Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
“That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.”
– Romans 6:6-14 Message
I love that. Never again will death have the last word. Never indeed! Jesus’s Resurrection shows that God was declaring the rule of Death, in terms of its power to destroy and separate forever, was over. In Isaiah 25:6-9, written about 600 years before the death of Jesus of Nazareth, this prophecy is recorded:
On this mountain* the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
– Isaiah 25:6-9
*(‘On this mountain’ referring to the hill of Golgotha in Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified)
I mean, how awesome is that? That 800 years before the death of Christ, the prophecy is that death shall be defeated; that victory was the victory of Christ over death on the hill of Golgotha.
Is it any wonder, then, that I marvel at the immensity of the salvation (the Greek word for this is sōzō, meaning being ‘made whole’) that is offered us in Christ. I wrote about this some time ago but that article still stands. The whole salvation story and the truth of it is starkly real in this age of wishy-washy beliefs, rubbish television programs, terribly incompetent Governments and the like.
This salvation – meaning, as we said above, ‘wholeness’, represents the only real hope for us both personally and as a civilization. But because it is based on the solidity of God and the removal of the world’s main weapon – fear – it alone has the power to change lives and make a real difference to real people today. We are ‘saved’ – sōzō’d – to be free. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal 5:1) – not to struggle and try, but to rest in His finished work. It is finished! (Jn 19:30)
So remember – if it doesn’t look like freedom – then it isn’t the Gospel!
I leave you with the amazing words penned by Charles Wesley in 1738, from his hymn ‘And Can it Be‘:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth and followed Thee!
This is my testimony. This is my freedom!