If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed!
Many today profess to believe in Jesus Christ yet continue to live in sin. They entertain worldly lusts, carnal and fleshly living and thinking, pride, evil desire, and constantly fall into sin. The evidence unfortunately lies in their ungodly actions and behaviour. Somehow this new breed of 21st Century Christians still believe that they have been made free from sin, slavery, and bondage. The truth of the matter is that many folks are taking the grace of God in vain (Rom 6:1, 15). Like a sow that has been washed they keep returning to the mire and like a dog, they keep returning to their vomit (2 Pet 2:22). It seems as if this topic of volitional and habitual sin is going untaught in Christianity today. Unfortunately, nowadays Christians are labeling sin as disease and “misfortune”. I’m not talking about sins that we subsequently and very quickly repent of (and I hope we do), but I am talking about volitional sin which we entertain, sin of “pre-meditation”.
These are sins that are thought of, pondered on, and acted upon, sin which is pre-meditated and just like all sin, in direct rebellion to God. The individual knows something is wrong yet they still choose to disobey the commands of the Lord God Almighty. This is manifest in their actions which is that which the Lord Jesus Christ in the sermon on the mount said originates in the heart and mind of the individual. The apostle James says that when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full-grown, brings forth death (Jam 1:15). This means that the decisions we make when we continuously fall into sin are decisions, intentions, and desires which have been dwelling in the heart for some time and have now been conceived (become real), manifesting itself in that which the individual has placed on the pedestal of their hearts. Furthermore, James says “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (4:17). What I am trying to illustrate is that we are in bondage to sin because we willingly entertain it, and therefore won’t be set free from it until we repent, forsake it, hate it, and turn to the living God, who is the only One who can forgive and make us free. Remember this simple text friends. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36 KJV).
Now, this may not necessarily mean that this individual has not been converted and born again although many conversions do unfortunately seem questionable, but there is a danger of taking the grace of God in vain (Rom 6:1,15) and misunderstanding what it truly means to be brought into a new life and a heavenly relationship, by the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and the Spirit of God. When someone has truly tasted what is Good, they would never want to return to the things of the world! Legion was chained and men feared him, but when he met the One true God, he was made free, and his “chains were broken” (Mark 5:1-20). Note how the Lord Jesus Christ had mercy on him after he had seen Jesus from a distance, and ran to the Lord falling on his knees. What about the woman at the well? She was a woman who had many husbands, yet when she met the One true God, she was made free from the sin she so willingly entertained (John 4:1-26). The New Testament is replete with examples of those who met the Messiah, were transformed and changed from within, and made free from sin. Amazingly, they never knew the depth of their sin and wickedness of heart until they were around the Lord Jesus Christ. So the question must be asked; have you met the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the preaching of the gospel? Has He exposed your sin? Has the Word laid you bare, and given you a reason to grope and search for Him and seek forgiveness? Have you met Jesus friend? Have you known His sheer holiness, righteousness, and justice?
What is the 21st Century Christian doing? It seems that the instant gratification culture is willingly ignoring Jesus’ commands (John 14:15)! My question is this. How and why were so many people changed so radically in the scriptures and transformed after meeting the Son, yet you and I can’t seem to come right and “shake off” sin? I’ll tell you how… Everyone who has been made free from sin knows what Jesus Christ has accomplished on Calvary and because of the depth of that sacrifice is completely sold out for Jesus. They have realized their lost and damned condition before a holy God and have understood that in them nothing good dwells. They have decided to follow Jesus at all cost, picked up their crosses, and denied the world, desiring to walk in that which the Lord God has commanded. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). It is the person’s desire for holiness and obedience to God that will undoubtedly transform him and conform him to the image of the Son.
Now, before you say this guy doesn’t know what he is saying. “I mean, I am sold out for Christ, look at my life. I go to church and attend a weekly home group or Bible study. I read my Bible daily and even own Christian books.” Let me tell you, friend, firstly, all these things do not make you a Christian and secondly, there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation before this Holy and Righteous God. I’m sure you know that. He has done the work, yet with the body of Christ so willingly entertaining sin, I sometimes wonder if salvation and the call to holiness have ever been understood? Remember that “we are saved by grace through faith, that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). This does not mean that we stop at the cross when we exercised faith in Christ’s atoning work. To try and explain the most awesome privilege that one could have to live in relationship with, and tabernacle with, the living God in such few words is difficult, but if we truly believe God is who He says He is then we would undoubtedly live different lives, to His praise, honour, and glory!
I do however want to reiterate a point that I have already noted. Every person that I know who is currently battling with sin is still involved in the things of the world. What do I mean by that? Well, here is a simple question and thought to consider; “do you want to be made free”? Jesus said that we must count the cost before following Him (Luke 14:25-33). Our Lord pronounced woes on those who desired more than Him (Matthew 23). Folks, for you and I to be made free from sin, we must forsake everything! Now I bet you’re asking what I mean by everything. I mean EVERYTHING! Everything that is not of God will hinder your relationship with Him. Our example is always the Lord Jesus Christ! Consider what happened when the Lord Jesus was on earth. He forsook everything, honoured the Father, denied temptation, and was never part of the world and its fallen system. Remember He emptied Himself of everything He was in heaven and took on the form of a bondservant (Phil 2:5-11). He took on flesh for you and I, endured the cross, and despised the shame. He bled and died for you and I, was beaten beyond recognition, and yet with all this blessing we still entertain this world and its filth! Woe to us … we are such hypocrites!
Remember that the new creation according to the Word of God speaks of one who has been born again (John 3:3-5; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:17-32; Col 3:12-17). What that means is that however we were born naturally is irrelevant and we need to be born again, regenerated, and made new according to God so that we will love Him, serve Him and hate the things of this world, not be of this world, and desire to please the Lord who has made us free. Forsaking everything means this and includes:
- Repentance from dead works
- The renewing of the mind through the Spirit and Word of God
- Obedience to the Commmands and entire Word of God
- The cleansing of the mouth and its filth and all that is opposed to God
- The forsaking of the woe is me attitude, always having the last say, denying ourselves, picking up our crosses and following Jesus
- The understanding of the depth of our sin and rebellion
- The desire for sanctification unto Christ-likeness
- The forsaking of television (Netflix, sport, series, and movies), worldly documentaries, and the so-called “Christian” programs like the recent chosen series
- The forsaking of secular music and so-called “christian” music, rock and hip hop (Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, Lecrae and the like)
- Being diligent with technology (phones and tablets) which has a clear unprecedented grip on us and our children’s hearts and minds. This includes the unbiblical agenda and indoctrination through animations and comics by people like disney, pixar, marvel, and the like, as well as fantasy films and all agendas seeking to disrupt and divide the home, an institution designed and initiated by God (Genesis 1:28; 2:24).
- Understanding that social media is a god and is a platform opposed to a life of godliness and holiness
- Forsaking the obsession with secular news, politics and the ungodly order of world governments
- Separating from the people who you associate with who are not servants and followers of the One true God
- Re-considering the church and fellowship you attend by the measure of the work of the Spirit and the teaching of sound doctrine
- Dismissing “Christian books” and “Christian literature” written by so-called teachers who are proven heretics, including anything that does not put Christ and God on the pedestal and throne of our hearts!
Folks the question therefore then is very simple: Where are our hearts and who or what is on the throne of our hearts? We seem to believe that no one can see what dominates our thinking and life, but remember firstly that God knows all things including every thought and intention, and secondly, born-again believers can see right through the “Christian” façade. Those who know and have experienced the love and peace of God, and the character transformation and conforming of the new man most definitely know and see who willingly dwells in ungodliness and unrighteousness because it is evident in their behaviour, speech, actions, and intentions.
Let’s be honest. If something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then surely it is a duck. So too if someone acts as the world then surely they are of the world, are lost, are entertaining sin, and must either be born again or seek repentance before it is too late! Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). The solution to being set free from sin is quite easy. Forsake everything that wars against God and the flesh, repent from dead works, and serve the living God (Heb 6:1). Pursue an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. Once this is true and you are either born again (John 3:3-5) or refreshed through repentance from dead works (Acts 3:19), only then can you, and will you, enjoy true peace which is expressed in Christ-like living, in true fellowship, Doctrine, the breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42). It is by fellowshipping with like-minded people (born-again believers), fearing God and desiring to live holy and pleasing lives to God (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 7:1) that shows our complete adoration for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. The heart is where it is. The New Testament requires two things of the Born-Again believer: Obedience to God and His commands and living a life of Holiness! We must measure ourselves on these two recurring themes, folks. Where are we in our obedience to God? Where are we in what the Bible describes as a life of holiness?
God knows your heart and you therefore cannot fool Him. Husbands for example are commanded to lead and love their wives, taking full responsibility for that with which God has entrusted them (Eph 5:22-26). Through personal devotion and Bible study (daily) and loving God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, we will know Jesus and be known by Him (John 10:14). You see, if we say we know Jesus and love Him, and truly believe in Him, I’m sure we will desire to forsake everything and follow Him with every part of our being (1 Cor 10:31). If we say we love Him, yet do not keep His commandments, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 John 2:4)! The truth is this! What we call disease, God calls sin! Remember that! The solution is simple. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). Then the Son will make you free (John 8:36) and God promises that He will keep those in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Him because they trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).
Friends, I believe that Christianity needs fewer “Christians” and more Christ-Followers!