Before I was a pastor, I had some very fascinating jobs. My path hasn’t always made sense, but the Lord has been in each step of the journey. And at each juncture, I’ve been able to reflect and see how much the Lord has taught me.
One of the most interested jobs I’ve served in was as a Truancy Intervention Specialist. Frankly, I don’t know how I landed there because I wasn’t qualified. But, how many of you know that the Lord isn’t held back by our qualifications! Anyway, prior to this role, I wasn’t very well acquainted with the court systems. This job really opened my eyes to a whole new world, to say the least.
I would often be in court for juvenile cases involving truant students. It was a pretty sobering sight to see young kids brought into the room with handcuffs, connected to a chain that shackled their hands to their ankles. Maybe you’re more familiar with the sight than I was. Nonetheless, the physical bondage was a new sight for me.
However, you and I see people that are in spiritual bondage every day.
You may not initially notice, but look around.
It was an incredibly moving sight when I saw someone receive the verdict that they had served their punishment and were now released. Often, there would be tears of joy as I could see the posture of the individual change and the dynamic in the room transform.
When I think again of the spiritual bondage, I find that sometimes, I forget that not only have I been set free and have been given the verdict that my debt is paid, but I have the opportunity to give others that same verdict.
While it’s Jesus that wipes away their sins, they don’t know until they’re told.
You and I are invited to give the good news to people around us that they are forgiven, set free, released.
When was the last time that you gave someone that news?
If you’re anything like me, it can easy to forget the good news of the Good News.
Salvation changes the eternity of people when they move from death to life.
But, salvation also changes life today.
Those who accept Jesus are set free from the bondage of sin, healed physically, emotionally and spiritually. They are set free from shame and fear and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in their true identity as a Child of God and a person of worth. Those who accept Him are invited into deep, intimate, relationship with the God of creation. This is good news!
The Liberty and Justice of Jesus
Jesus has set us free from sin and death. In fact, He has brought liberty and justice for all. Through His blood, He justified us and through His Spirit, He has liberated us.
My American liberties promise that I won’t be enslaved to another person, but my Christian liberties call me to surrender my independence and to enslave myself to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Liberty and Justice as an American provides privileges for citizens because of our founding fathers, men wrote a document to guide behaviors and ideals. They aimed to form a more perfect union. While they’re dead and gone, their legacy is still at work.
The liberty and justice provided by Jesus was made by One perfect Father who didn’t just create a document to guide behavior, but came to restore a relationship with you and me by inviting us into a perfect union. Though His work was accomplished long ago, He is just as alive and present as He was at the beginning.
In Romans 8, we find a beautiful outline expressing the gift of the Good News of Jesus and the liberating justice that He brought.
I encourage you to read that chapter. But, I’ll sum two key points from the start of the chapter.
You have been justified.
In verse 1, Paul (the author) opens by saying “therefore”. Anytime you see this word, you have to ask what it’s therefore? Coming from the previous chapter, there is a shift in the tone. “Therefore”, the idea is that now (as opposed to before) you’re set free from sin and all that it goes with it.
The term ‘condemnation’ is a judiciary word. In the original language of Greek, this was an incredibly strong word and it’s the Gospel in a nutshell. It means that while you were once condemned with a death sentence, you’re not anymore. Someone else has paid your sentence.
This is the most unjust exchange you could imagine.
When you receive Christ, you are justified. It happens in an instant. All at once, are counted as innocent. The justice that Jesus brings makes it just as if you had never sinned. The justice that Jesus has given you undeserved and unearned.
So often, people stop the Good News with the first half; Justice. While that’s a beautiful thing, it gets even better…
We read in scripture that after Jesus died and rose again, he spends a period of time with his disciples then ascends to heaven. When Jesus left, the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ) came.
The Holy Spirit that you now have access to is the same spirit that was in Christ. He sets you free. Paul highlights in verse two that the law of the Spirit who gives life, sets you free from the law of death.
This is the second half of the good news.
You have been liberated.
Living in surrender to the Holy Spirit sets you free; it liberates you. The work of Jesus is not merely about eternity. It’s about today. The work He accomplished on the cross opened the door for the Holy Spirit to be sent to us. It is in our submission and surrender to Him that we are freed to be fully alive!
As you surrender more and more to the Holy Spirit, you actually become free… from the sin and death that has enslaved you. The Holy Spirit frees you from shame, from the habits you thought you couldn’t kick, from every form of anger, malice, envy, worry… from any habit that has tripped you up. You become free from any shackle you’ve been wearing.
Freedom comes when we surrender to the liberating Spirit of Christ.
Because of this, friend. You no longer live under the shadow of the law. Instead, you live under the shadow of the cross.
So, live with the liberty you’ve been given. Liberty is not the same as limitations. In fact, receiving the liberation that Christ came to give requires moving from being bound to sin to being bound to the Spirit.
Just as Christ spoke in John of abiding in Christ, you’re now called to abide in Him. This requires you to be intimately connected to Christ through the Spirit, to be surrendered to His leadership and look to Him at all moments as your source of all things.
In fact, you’re invited to join the relationship of the Triune God, to receive His power and to rest assured that in Christ, the God is for you.
When you receive Christ, receives you. He makes His home in your heart by the Holy Spirit. Through Him, you are set free to live like Christ. The same power that was in Him is now in You!
So, friend. I have to ask. When was the last top you stopped to remember the fact that you have not only been justified, but you’ve been liberated by the power of Christ to live like Christ?
If this truth has sunk into your heart, your life will reflect it. As you walk with Christ, your life should start to look more and more like the life of Christ. Following Him requires being conformed to His image.
Secondly, when was he last time that you accepted the invitation (actually responsibility), to give someone else the good news of the justice and liberty offered to them?
The heart of God is that all would come to know Him. But, how will they know if they are not told? God didn’t just send His spirit to make you righteous. He sent His spirit to empower you with boldness to be His witness. Are you doing that?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! And, if you’re interested in learning more about how to lead others to Jesus, click here to let me know!