Monday, March 25, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, March 25, 2019

We Are Free In Christ

Ron Reagan, the son of the late President Ronald Reagan, recently introduced a commercial where he asked for support of an organization called Freedom From Religion Foundation and joked that he was not afraid of burning in hell. Also, John Kenneth Galbraith, one of the most widely read economists in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States, wrote about a group of people “engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." This quote explains much of human striving since the beginning of time.  Man seeks support and justification for rebellion against God’s holy commandments and the freedom to do whatever he wants to do while not recognizing the influence, power and captivity of Satan.

In spite of our protestations of personal innocence and moral superiority, the Bible says that all mankind is born in sin and shaped in iniquity (Psalm 51:5).  We are prisoners of a world system that keeps us bound up in habits that hurt us, steal our resources, and destroys our purpose in life.

We like to think that we are good, our motivations are appropriate and our actions are justified.  At the same time, we will conclude that others are evil with terrible motivations and that is why they do bad things. However, we must come to ourselves and realize that all of us have disobeyed God and have not lived up to His standards (Romans 3:23).  King David in the Bible begged God to give him a clean heart and Jeremiah, the prophet, declared that our hearts are wicked (Psalm 51:10, Jeremiah 17:9).

Our challenge has been that while we may want to do the right thing and obey God in our spirit, we notice that we have an inner nature that is at work in us and leading us inexorably to sin (Romans 7:21-23).  We simply are slaves to sin. However, when we make Jesus the Lord of our life, we can avoid the hell that Ron Reagan joked about and we don’t have to justify the selfishness that John Kenneth Galbraith wrote about.  When God is our Lord, He calls us redeemed, righteous, and religious (Romans 8:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

In spite of our past rebellion against God, in spite of our continual issues in life, we have a Risen Saviour who is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11).  He loves us and wants us to live with Him eternally. We don’t have to justify our behavior because God has already justified or made us righteous us in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30). We can celebrate not freedom from religion or our moral superiority, but freedom in Christ because whom the Son has set free is free indeed (John 8:36).

Psalm 51:5 New International Version (NIV)
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Romans 3:23
New International Version (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Psalm 51:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Jeremiah 17:9
New International Version (NIV)
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Romans 7:21-23 New International Version (NIV)
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 
22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 
23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 

Romans 8:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

1 Corinthians 1:30 
New International Version (NIV)
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Hebrews 2:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

John 8:36
New International Version (NIV)
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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