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"Even as He spoke, many believed in Him.
"To the Jews who had believed in Him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" John 8:30-32 (NIV).
Freedom! Is that not what the human race craves? Everyone wants to be free but free from what? What is freedom? Is it freedom to have no boundaries so that I can do as I please? Millions have tried that and found it doesn't work. In fact, that kind of "freedom" produces the worst kind of bondage.
It's the trap Adam and Eve fell into in the beginning. When the devil offered them "God-likeness" in exchange for disobedience, did they not believe that to be like God meant that they could make their own rules?
The essence of true freedom is not only freedom from...but also freedom to...There is no freedom without boundaries. When boundaries are in place, within those boundaries we are both safe and free. When God put Adam and Eve to the test, He gave them one restriction to check their compliance. Up to that point they were like God because they were in perfect oneness with Him. Would they protect that unity at any cost?
Slavery is the consequence of believing that we can make our own rules. The problem is that disobedience to God's way produces the fear of punishment which is essence of slavery. God created human beings to be His sons and daughters who would live with Him in submission and obedience. It is self-will that had produced the spirit of slavery in the human race and the enmity against God that goes with it.
When Jesus offered His disciples freedom, He was saying that true freedom is to come back under His authority and do life His way. Real freedom is returning to God and becoming one with Him again. That means recognizing that His way works and submitting to Him in love, trust and obedience.
Living in obedience to Jesus is like playing an instrument in an orchestra under the direction of a conductor. Imagine the cacophony if every instrument played a different tune! Every musician plays his own part but, under the master musician and when each part is played under his direction, the orchestra produces beautiful and harmonious sounds.
It takes the greatest power in the world, the power of the Holy Spirit, to control our self -will and submit ourselves to God's authority and God's will. Strangely enough, submission to Jesus is the only way to experience freedom. Real freedom is freedom from the beliefs and behaviour that produce shame, guilt and fear. The problem is that that more we try to be free by doing our own thing, the more we are enslaved by emotions our behaviour produces.
Jesus' offer includes setting us free from those enslaving emotions by forgiving and removing our sin and reconciling us to the Father. It is our rebellion that has alienated us from God and set us on the path of self-destruction.
As we read on we see that even Jesus' followers did not understand the nature of their slavery. There are many of Jesus' so-called followers today who are just as much in bondage as unbelievers because they do not understand that true freedom is to be one with the Father and with His Son. Jesus was a true son because He refused to do anything that would break His union with the Father.
Imagine the impact the church would make on an unbelieving world if it returned to the simplicity of Jesus' invitation, "Follow me." Just as He protected the love and unity He had with the Father by His submission and obedience, it is our task to protect love and preserve unity with our Father and with His children at all costs. Then we will truly be free.
The greatest freedom of all is peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the peace of God which transcends all understanding when we allow Him to direct our paths.
Are you free to obey Jesus?
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