If I'm Saved, Why Don't I Feel Free?
Perhaps I'm too introspective, but as I celebrated the 4th of July this year, I began to ask myself, "What is true freedom?" When I think about our culture, freedom seems to mean the ability to live unfettered, unattached and unencumbered. The word freedom seems to currently carry the connotation that we can live how we want with no strings attached, and anything less is oppressive. What comes to mind when you hear the word, Freedom? Here are some of my thoughts:
- A prisoner released- freedom from bondage.
- An addict's recovery- freedom from a destructive habit.
- Escape from an abusive situation- freedom from oppression.
- A healthy work environment- freedom from misery.
- A dream fulfilled- freedom from waiting.
- A driver's license- freedom to travel.
This summer, I've been preaching about the Israelites' deliverance from Egypt and journey to the promised land. I've thought long and hard about how they felt after they left Egypt and Pharaoh's army chased them to the borders of the Red sea. Scripture says they became angry with Moses because it seemed he had led them out of Egypt only to be slaughtered. "They said to Moses: 'Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt: Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.(Exodus 14:11-12)” Their "freedom" felt more like a death sentence.
But God comes through by splitting the Red Sea, destroying the Egyptian army, and guiding, providing and protecting them on their journey to the promised land. However, when they reach this "promised land," Moses' spies report that the land is to too fortified to conquer. Again, I don't think they feel like God's special and chosen people people (Numbers 13:26-33). In fact, they question God's motives again, saying "The Lord brought us out of the land of Egypt to hand us over to the Amorites in order to destroy us, because he hates us (Deuteronomy 1:26)." They believed the Lord HATED them! I don't think they were feeling free, but rather like discouraged and immigrant slaves without a home. Perhaps their bodies were free, but they still viewed themselves as victims. Have you met Jesus followers who feel the same way? Frustrated, oppressed and angry with God? It's easy to judge the Israelites until we realize we still struggle with the very same doubt and confusion about God.
But, the purpose of this blog is not to depress us all, but rather to communicate an irony I've discovered about freedom. When we trusted Jesus with our salvation, he unlocked the shackles binding us to sin, but this is only one step toward the freedom we seek. I think many people are still oppressed because they skip the next step. After Jesus has taken off sin's shackles, scripture calls us to become slaves to righteousness. Check out this verse"
Romans 6:16-19, Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
My humanity winces at this idea, but true freedom only comes by voluntarily submitting ourselves to his will and his law. If you read the full story, instead of skipping over Leviticus and Numbers, you will see that God freed them from the oppressive rule of Pharaoh, but he expected them to submit themselves to His law. Freedom isn't living how you want when you want, but rather being released from the power of sin in order to live a righteous life. God didn't free the Israelites to wander through the desert with no direction or purpose. Instead, His freedom gave them purpose and direction; a holy law to help them live in community with Him and each other..
Friends, the same concept is true today. Jesus has freed from the eternal consequences of sin, but we still battle the sin-self inside. True freedom doesn't come by abusing his grace, but rather releasing ourselves from sin by enslaving ourselves to righteousness. Galatians 5:1, says, "For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery." The "yoke of slavery" in this verse represents the flesh. When God calls us toward righteous living, our tendency is to get our feelings hurt, feel like he is displeased and run back to Egypt. But our calling is to stand firm, refuse to submit to slavery, and instead submit ourselves to righteousness.
Freedom without direction and purpose is not freedom at all. Prostitutes and women released from human trafficking don't feel free until they are given a purpose. Addicts need accountability and discipline to remain free. Drivers need laws to keep order on the roads. And the fulfillment of a dream still requires work, discipline and drive to keep it going. Freedom without strings doesn't last for long. So, my final question, and challenge is, are there areas in which you don't feel free because you haven't submitted yourself to Jesus' full control in that area. Perhaps your lack of submission is keeping you from the freedom you're seeking?
All this is said in truth and love. I hope you can hear and receive it! I'm praying you will move forward in your faith until next time! -Sharie
© 2018 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.