God is our freedom.

Hello!! So it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I wanted to share something that has been on my heart that I shared with the youth that I lead on a Friday night. We have been doing a series called “God is…”, and I shared about God being our freedom.

I recently came back from a trip to India….it was honestly a life-changing experience, and God taught me so much! It has confirmed old dreams and birthed new ones…and I’m so excited to see how God will use the things I have learnt on that trip! India is crazy. Traffic is crazy. Road rules are just a suggestion…traffic lights…just a suggestion! There are no lines on the road to divide lanes, so everyone just drives everywhere! What should have been 3 lane highways turn into 12 lanes. You have a mix of trucks, cars, rickshaws, motorbikes, and it’s pretty much human dodgem cars…only you can’t hit the other cars. Mixed in with all this is people with wooden wheelbarrows trying to sell their fruit and vegetables, just wandering through the traffic. There’s no safe way for pedestrians to cross the road, so you just go when you want and hold up your hand to stop the traffic from hitting you! Generally, you drive on the left side of the road but look…if the traffic is too slow on your side of the road, just drive on the other side, no worries! And if you’re going around a roundabout and the car in front is too slow, just drive the other way!

But the thing that probably struck me most about India was going to the temples. India is half Hindu and half Muslim, and we went to a lot of temples to walk around and pray. There are not many people there who would not consider themselves religious in some way. Hindu’s believe in reincarnation. SO especially in the slums, there is so much hopelessness because they believe that since they are living in extreme poverty, they must have done something bad in their previous life to deserve this – it’s just their luck in life, and so they can’t break free from their poverty. Hinduism is all about working hard to try to please the gods…but they live in a constant state of fear because they never know if they have done enough or been good enough to earn their “salvation” – nirvana. Everywhere I looked, people are blinded by the enemy. They don’t understand the freedom that is offered to them in Christ Jesus. Satan is holding them down, but Christ died to set them free.

You see, we are involved in a spiritual battle. Even though you can’t necessarily physically see it, we are in a battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan, and we are asked to choose sides. The Bible says, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” –Ephesians 6:12

Now there is nothing to fear – God has already won the battle – and if we choose to take God’s side, we win. But while we are still here on earth, there is a spiritual battle raging, and it affects your everyday. It affects your thoughts, your actions, everything you do. But did you know that God sends his angels to fight for you every day? You aren’t left to fend for yourself and fight the battle on your own. In fact, he wants you to just rest in him and he will fight the battle for you! Submit to him, worship him and he will sort things out! But if you try and do it in your own strength, you’ve got no chance against the enemy.

Jesus came so that you could be free. He came to set you free from having to live a life bound by Satan’s lies and deception. John 6:36 says, “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” And Romans 8:2 says, “for the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” My question to you is, are you living like you’ve been set free? Or are you using this freedom to do whatever you want, knowing that you’ll always have God’s grace and forgiveness? Galatians 5:13-14 says, “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows…”

So what does it look like to be set free? Living like you’re set free means that you don’t have to work hard enough and try to be good enough to please God, like the Hindus I was talking about earlier. Thank goodness for God’s grace because without it I would never be good enough for a perfect and holy God. None of us would be – we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. Being set free means that you are given grace. It means that you don’t have to deal with your sin, your shame, your anxiety and your addictions any longer because Jesus nailed them to the cross for you! It means that you no longer have to deal with generational sicknesses, with generational sin – the things that your parents do, don’t have to be the things that you do simply because you’re their child….because Christ died for generational sickness. Continuing on the verse I was just reading from Galatians 5, it talks about 2 ways we can live – living in sin and selfishness or living in freedom. We can’t have both – you’ve got to pick one or the other.

“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time, repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or to be loved; divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.”

Man, I don’t want to live that kind of life. I don’t want to leave that kind of a legacy.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified.” Galatians 5:16-20

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather live a life of freedom! And I know for sure that we walk past people every day who need Jesus. We talk with people every day who need Jesus, and they need to know that they can live a life of freedom because God is our freedom. But how will they know if they don’t see it? How will they know what a life of freedom looks like if we don’t live a life of freedom?

So I’m wondering, have you been set free? Do you realise what Jesus went through so that you didn’t have to? All of your sins, past present and future he died for so that you didn’t have to. Do you understand the weight that carries? Your gossip? He died so that you no longer have to do that. Your addictions? He died so that you no longer have to deal with that. Your anxiety? He died so that you no longer have to deal with that! What an incredible God!! What a loving God! And if you are reading this and realising that you haven’t yet been set free – if you don’t yet know your saviour, the king of kings who is absolutely wildly in love with you, then I encourage you to pursue him now! There is a party in heaven waiting for you when you enter the kingdom and realise you’re set free from the enemy’s grip!

And if you HAVE been set free – if you call yourself a Christian and you have a relationship with Jesus, then are you living like you’ve been set free? You ARE set free, but are you still living in sin? Still listening to satan’s lies that you aren’t good enough, that you’ll never be able to overcome that, that you’ll be stuck with this sin forever? Why are you still living under satan’s rule when God set you free? The enemy no longer has any hold of you – as soon as Jesus died, satan’s grip on you was lost! In your everyday life, this looks like not giving in to your temptations to sin – to lie, gossip, watch pornography. It looks like not having to follow what your friends are doing. It looks like not having to submit to anxiety and fear and guilt and shame. It looks like understanding that God’s grace and forgiveness are offered to you freely, and no matter what mistakes you make, as soon as you ask for forgiveness, you are forgiven.

So are you gonna choose to submit to your temptations and sin? Or are you gonna choose to live a life set free? Because you have to choose one, it can’t be both! We can’t go to church on Sunday and worship God wholeheartedly….and then watch pornography on Monday! We can’t come to youth on Friday and encourage our friends in their walk with Jesus…and then on Saturday get drunk and lose control of our actions. We can’t come to mid-week Bible study and grow in our relationship with Jesus…and then the next day go to school or uni or work and let our tongue loose as we gossip and engage in godless chatter. Which life are you going to choose?

Tess XO