The Hilltop News is exploring what it means to be “set free” as Christians. We will be featuring testimonials in our upcoming print issue and would love to hear what Christ has set you free from. An addiction? People-pleasing? Anger? Whatever it is, if you identify with this topic, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or responses. Thank you!
I can’t get the thought out of my head – “I’m such a screw-up."I correct myself: No. I’m redeemed. I’m purified by Christ. I am a daughter of the King. Why do I keep doing what I don’t want to do? Why am I so gripped by sin? I repeat a favorite passage in my mind: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing! Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:15-20) I imagine sitting with Paul and exclaiming “Exactly!” Reality clicks in – I’m at a wine tasting party full of neurosurgeons and business owners and award-winning authors. I’m simply the journalist who writes about them. I was talked into showing up and obliged because I’m a people-pleaser. I hold wine – which I hate, and I listen to their grand announcements and jokes that I don’t understand. I can manage a slight smile when someone looks at me, but my mind is sprinting with thoughts about my constant sin and frustration that I fully embrace how God sees me. This was the moment it all started to sink in. It seems this is the way my life happens. God and I haven’t enjoyed a lot of sunsets together or felt companionship in a roomful of soft guitar strings. He has shaken me the best in moments where I don’t expect Him – when I’m restless and my thoughts are wild. He showed up at this fancy party, and spoke louder to me than the lawyer ranting in the center of the room. I think I’m starting to understand my freedom in Christ. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh.” (Galatians 5:13) I understand that five years ago, when I chose Christ – and realized Christ had chosen me – that I was free from hell. I had been saved from eternal damnation. What I didn’t understand and continued to misunderstand is that Christ saves and frees me from the little things in life – the little things I used to excuse as my “sinful nature.” When I’m impatient and selfish, When I want to snap at my husband, When I want to text back but shouldn’t, When I feel the pressure to people-please, When I start feeling jealousy rise up within me, When I start judging and convince myself my gossip is “concern,” When I start to tighten my shirt remembering the magazine headline I saw at 12, When I’m more concerned about being stylish than about world hunger, When I want power, fame, wealth and when I want what others have, When I hate myself for these little things and then I hate that I hate myself … The reminder is constant: “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:36) We’re not just freed from eternal damnation, but free from the daily grip of sin that used to drag us down. “We are those who have died in sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1) “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6). You and I have been set free from sin and are now slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18) We have no obligation to the sinful life. (Romans 8:12) I get that sin certainly isn’t gone entirely. That’s why I imagine bonding with Paul – sin continued to be in his life even after committing radical abandonment to Christ. But he didn’t give into it the way I have so many times excusing it because I can’t help it. A life of freedom for me – for us – is important to God. For freedom, Christ died. For freedom, He rose. For freedom, He sent his spirit. This requires putting off old habits and developing new patterns that honor Him (Ephesians 4:22). “Cheers to the new year!” the neurosurgeon shouts. And other follow with their own “cheers” to a new year. We raise our glasses. Cheers to 2016 – a year of freedom.