“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
What freedom have we been granted? When we accepted Christ as our Savior, what transaction took place? What were we set free from?
We read in Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We also read in Romans 8:2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
To really appreciate this, we need to understand that Jesus didn’t simply die FOR our sin. Jesus BECAME sin itself. Jesus became every reward sin brings, too, including guilt, condemnation, doubt, fear, anxiety and death. Jesus became all of this. By becoming all of sin and all of the side effects of sin, God poured His wrath on Jesus. Jesus died in sin. He went to Hell in sin. But God brought Him back to life while He was in hell to show that Jesus has authority over life and death…over the consequences of freedom and the consequences of slavery, over the consequences of love and hate. Sin was defeated, and death along with it.
It is written: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” II Corinthians 5:21 ESV
It is also written: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” I Peter 5:6-7
The humbling comes in when we have recognized what Jesus did on our behalf. Jesus did a thing that we cannot do for ourselves. When we see that this is what happened, we experience what the evangelists call “repentance”.
What is repentance? It literally means “Think Again!”, or “Change Your Mind.”
What, in our thinking changes?
If we have accepted this free gift of salvation, a work done by Christ, and have accepted it in our heart (Literally, all our mind and all our being), then we literally become a new creation.
It is written: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us” II Corinthians 5:17 – 19
One thing becomes apparent. WE did not do the dying, Jesus did. We did not do away with our past, God did. We did not bring the “new things”, God did. Everything is a free gift from God. Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves, and because we have accepted this free gift, we are completely and totally free from our past, our sin, our sin nature, our guilt, our shame, our fear, and any other thing that will cause us to be anxious where the provision of God is concerned.
And what did Jesus say was this provision of God? It is written: “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
So why do I still feel overwhelmed, and anxious and lack this abundance Jesus said I would have?
THAT, my friend is the million dollar question….that I just happen to know the answer to.
One thing slavery brings you , over time, is complacency. You become so familiar and comfoprtable with your chains that you hardly notice they exist. You buy into the idea that “this is just how things are”. You develop coping mechanisms that help you deal with the fact that, somewhere, deep inside, you know things are out of whack, but you are being told being enslaved to the world is “normal”. Psychology and religion teach you that if you can just think like this, or take this pill, or adjust your feelings, you will learn to cope with how difficult life is as a slave to sin. It all depends on you, and your willingness to continue wearing the chains that are enslaving you. In principle, we are being taught how to be happy in our chains.
Operant Conditioning and other Behavioral Modification tools are used by governments, the Press, religions, and psychology to persuade you to change your thinking from one mode to another. A powerful tool used, as a subset of Behavioral Modification is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The presuppositions of NLP might even sound good or true or even altruistic. Keep in mind, however, that these are the tools of Politicians and Advertising agencies and many writers. The meanings of words are changed, subtly, until the real meaning of a thing can actually be confused for its opposite. (Read Orwell’s, “Animal Farm” for a very stark treatment of this fact). The underlying premises of these things is that you will always want to move away from pain towards pleasure, from fear to comfort, from difficulty to ease. The world will appear to have these things, ready and waiting for you if you will just leave the chains alone.
I took a course in “copyediting” for the Marketing Industry. The introduction to the course taught me that all advertisement, all political manipulation, all people who want you to buy whatever it is they are selling, use the following (and a host of other) tactics to get you to buy into it:
1. Fear – Fear of lack, fear of pain, fear of loss, fear of the unknown and unknowable.
2. Envy – Create a desire in you to covet what others actually have or might acquire before you do – a play on fear of loss.
3. Pride – Create in you a belief that if you have whatever they are selling, you will be above others, better than others, more popular than others (A play on the fear of loss), happier than others, and if you can get it before your peers get it, you will be in a superior position to be admired and praised, as you clearly had the “wisdom” to acquire what you didn’t really need before others felt the urge to envy your acquisition.
These are just 3 of the hundreds of tools applied in the arts of manipulation, Fear, Envy and Pride, but all the rest have their root in these three items. All these are tools of slavery that teach you that self-esteem is more important than anything else on earth. All I have to do is distract you long enough to make you believe what I am selling will make you happy and solve your problems.
Persuasion, real persuasion, is based on facts, manipulation is based a high degree of fact and a small margin of unsupportable speculation and supposition. That small margin only has to be spoken in a way that it entices an emotion in you to cause you to react to it (That is where NLP techniques are used). The more you hear it, the more you believe it. The more you belive it, the more you want it. It doesn’t take much for you to believe any lie if you hear it repeated often and in earnest, with the voice of authority. Think of what Jesus had to say to the Scribes and Pharisees and their religion.
These are things I became familiar with, and used, until I came to understand what walking after Christ actually means. I learned through the sincere, but misguided teachings of my religion how to be a salesman, not a disciple. I learned how to lead, but not how to serve.
It is written: “Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. But it must not be like that among you.On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many.” Mark 10:35-45
Remember that in my earlier blogs I made this claim for myself: “I am just one beggar telling another where I found food, shelter and water.” I have discovered I am wrong. It was a “catch phrase” I was taught in Seminary so that I could manipulate someone into feeling like I was one of them, on their level, and sympathetic to their plight, even if I clearly was not. I was in error using this phrase.
And in illustrating my error, I hope to shed some light on the million dollar question.
Here is the error of that phrase. Simply put, it places the listener in a position to have to look at me, not Christ, as proof of God’s love. It is a misdirection, not a revelation. My state of being in Christ is revealed without having to say anything. If I am a child of the Living God, through Jesus Christ, it will show, above anything and everything else, to the degree I have accepted the freedom Christ has brought me.
So, even though I had come to understand that I was free, I still called myself a beggar. That is not only an error in my thinking, it is also arrogant of me to say something like that. The arrogance comes from the presumption that I know better than God what God has done in me. The error is that I am no longer a beggar. I was, in effect, misdirecting my listener and telling him that, although I am saved, I am STILL beggarly in my life. I have openly denied the freedom and gifts Christ has bought for me on the cross. I just told my listener that, you may be saved, but your life will still probably suck. And I am learning that that is just not the case.
It is written: “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father! ”The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ — seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:15-17
The suffering Paul mentioned was the fact that He and other Christians were being persecuted by both the Church of the Pharisees and by the Romans.
The reason I am not a beggar is because my accepting Christ as my savior also means I am literally adopted by the LIVING GOD, creator of the Heavens and Earth, and all that exists therein. I am HIS son. I can call him daddy, and not be considered silly for doing this (At least not by God, the rest of you are up for grabs).
Just as, and because of, Jesus put to death all sin and the side effects of my sin, I am no longer bound by my failures, my sin, my weaknesses. I am a new creation. A new life form. For fear of losing you, I will not go into what this has proven to mean at the DNA level. It is a very complicated subject. But you are now a new creation. OLD THINGS ARE DEAD AND GONE. They died when Christ died. You are risen because Christ rose.
It is Written: “Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.” Romans 6:4-7
When you accepted the completed work of Christ, you accepted that you were once dead in your sin, and now are a new creation, alive in Christ. Sin and death no longer have power over you.
It is Written: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2: 1 – 10
Just like I am no longer a beggar, but an Heir to the Throne of Heaven, I can tell you that, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, so are you, an Heir to the Throne.
All that has to change is your thinking (beliefs, mind, heart). The world’s rules and thinking no longer apply to you. In fact, as a Child of God, the more you try to walk after the world, the more difficult it will be to understand what God wants for you in this life. Your misery will multiply.
In order to defeat fear, lust and pride you need to understand that you are no longer guilty of your past, and you are no longer the same you that used to exist. All the old stuff died with Christ, and your freedom was paid for. It was paid for by Jesus. You are no longer a slave to fear, Jesus killed it when He died on the cross in your place. You no longer need to worry since God has nothing but good intended for your life.
BUT WAIT A MINUTE! THINGS STILL SUCK IN MY LIFE!!
OK, I’ll buy that. but…It is written: ” For as he (you, me, anyone else) thinketh in his heart, so is he…”
You become your thoughts (your beliefs, desires, will, etc). Christ died for all your failures. you are not destined to fail if your heart is to follow Christ. It is all how you believe you are.
While it is true that there are universal principles at work, and you can actually get what you ask for, you will also reap what you sow. God is not a vending machine, or an ATM. But if serving Him means you need certain things to be true in your life, ASK. He will be faithful to supply your need.
It is written: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14
CAVEAT LECTOR: Be careful what you ask for…you may get it. Jesus said, “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son”. Is what you are asking for going to glorify God in the Son?
Earlier I quoted Mark 10:35-45. How does this compare with what I have been saying about not being a beggar? My mind is changed, and is changing. The worlds values no longer seem as important to me as serving Christ does. My heart is in the trans-formative state of becoming Christ like. My old beliefs and habits are falling away to the degree that I am willing to let God work in me through the Holy Spirit. I surrender to God, and am being made into the likeness of Christ.
One thing I am learning is, even though I may have tremendous need, and am experiencing hardship, I can still serve God by serving my fellow man. I no longer want to pray for a Cadillac and a huge house because that only serves my self. We have enough self-serving Christians as it is. What I find myself truly wanting to do is to walk in whatever way God leads my heart to walk.
I am no longer bound by my sins. And they were many and very grievous ones, at that. I am forgiven and am free to have the mind of Christ.
Why is your life still so overwhelming?
Simple. Lay down your life to Christ. Learn of Him. Learn to see your situation as He sees it. What was once unbearable becomes bearable. What was once overwhelming becomes very manageable. Fear no longer rules your heart. Fear has no place in you. The love of God overwhelms fear so that it cannot live in you. Without the distraction of fear and anxiety, you are more able to see solutions that never occurred to you before. Lust becomes a memory, not a plague. Pride falls before the feet of Christ. You have absolutely nothing he wants or needs, except you. He loves you.
CHANGE YOUR MIND, CHANGE YOUR LIFE
It is written: “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.
Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.