High Way

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.

The first phrase of the above sentence is just glorious good news. You have been set free. The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of life, has set you free from all bondage by the power of love and life in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah! Whatever has bound you in the past no longer has power over you.

Taking the whole sentence together gives us another perspective. In Jesus we were set free from the law of sin and death. Do you see there are two paths here? The Holy Spirit, through Jesus, has set us free so that we can walk in the law of the Spirit of life rather than walking in the law of sin and death. So, there is a path of life and a path of sin and death. Formerly we were trapped on the path of sin and death. We had no choice, no escape. But then Jesus came and broke all the chains that bound us so that we could be free indeed.

Here is the point that we need to understand though. When Jesus broke all those chains that held us captive, we were no longer bound to the path of sin and death. We, however, no longer being slaves but rather free people in Christ have a choice. While Jesus paid the price of your ransom and set you free, He did not make your choice for you. That would only be another form of slavery. The scripture says that whomever the Son shall set free shall be free indeed (John 8: 36). In other words, Jesus did not trade your bondage for another form of slavery when He ransomed you. He didn’t buy you as a slave that is bartered and traded. He ransomed you out of the hands of the oppressor so that you can live as a truly free person with all the rights and responsibilities that inure thereto. Therein lies the rub. Where there is freedom and rights, there is responsibility.

Jesus didn’t redeem you so that you can run around in the darkness, a slave to the law of sin and death. Rather He shed His blood so that you would have the right to choose. He is not going to pick you up and put you on the path of life. He is not going to chain you to the correct road so that you don’t go wandering off like a lost sheep and fall back into the pit. He has purchased your complete freedom and is not going to take it away from you even if you make an absolute mess of your freedom.

You must choose. Are you going to walk on the path that is paved with the law of liberty in Christ Jesus, the path that love bought? Are you going to live the way of the path of life? Or are you going to keep dancing along the path of good intentions fallen short, the path of compromised ethics? Are you absently mindedly or even intentionally going to stay on the low path that leads ultimately to death and destruction? Look, you don’t walk the High Way without purpose and intent. You must make conscious decisions every day to come up higher. The road leading to life and liberty is one of choice and deep commitment. Your right to walk on it was guaranteed by Jesus but you must still choose to come up to the higher life. Little compromises along the way are going to create potholes in your road. Do not let inattention to the details of life damage your path. And do not forsake your values for convenience or benefit. Choose to walk on higher ground. It is the best and safest path.

Stain and Stench

John 16: 11

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

We are staying with the same Biblical text as the last two days but today examining what Jesus meant when he said the Holy Spirit would convict the world concerning judgment. This is another topic which we have turned on its head so let’s upright it.

Many people are concerned with judgment, especially people who do not understand the goodness of God. In this passage, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has already been judged. So, we all know by now, that Jesus was referring to Satan. Satan will meet his final judgment after Jesus comes back but the truth is, he has already been judged. We already even know his sentence, so what is going on here?

Guess what, you have already been judged too. If not, then why did God send Jesus to earth? He would not have had to send Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb if there was not already sin condemning us to hell. Now, however, the judgment which is upon you is the judgement of righteousness. If you are in Christ and have been bathed with the blood of his martyrdom, then you are clean, and you are judged pure and holy in the sight of God. Hallelujah! Jesus’ blood has washed us clean from the stain and stench of sin.

Consider this simple analogy. Let’s say I literally draw a line in the sand and tell you that everyone who steps across this line shall be considered innocent of all crime. Anyone who remains on the other side of the line shall be deemed to have committed a crime. Now, in truth the judgment has already been made. I judge that anyone who steps across this line is innocent and thus free. The judgment is in the law.

Okay, here is another example. You may be watching the winter Olympics. Let’s say that in a particular event, the rule is that you may not cross a specific line without incurring a penalty. The judgment is, “Whoever crosses this line will incur the penalty.” That is the judgment. All the judge does is collect the data. The person, who will decide what judgment you receive, is you. All the judge does is recognize your actions and then sentence you according to the previously determined penalty.

It is the rule which judges; it is the law which is judgmental. Thank God that Jesus freed us from the condemnation of the law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death,” (Romans 8: 2). I think this is a clear statement. You have been set free from the law of sin and death and the inherent judgment which accompanied it. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8: 1). You have been set free from the curse of the law and the unfavorable judgment which was upon you.

There are three crucial words, however, in the two quotes from Romans. Those three words are, “in Christ Jesus.” Everyone who chooses to cross the line and live “in Christ” has a favorable judgment on them. The have been granted the keys to the Kingdom of God and eternal life with His Majesty. Your sentence has been levied. You are free. Christ has set you free and whom the Son has set free is free indeed, or as the Names of God translation says it, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free,” (John 8: 36).

So, God has already judged you as His own righteousness in Christ Jesus (there is that crucial language again). You no longer need worry about judgment. Your only task is to step across the line and into Jesus. When you do, his blood is your judgment and his blood is perfect. You are redeemed and set free in the name and glory of Jesus.


John 8: 36

If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

We celebrate, today, the United States’ day of liberation. It is the day citizens stop and remember the lives and fortunes which were willingly sacrificed so that we might be free. This isn’t an idea which is restricted to the United States of America nor is it an ideal which is limited to corporate freedom. Personal liberty is every bit as important as political freedom. I would argue that neither is possible without Christ. This Fourth of July I ask you to think about your own personal liberty. Are you truly free?

Personal freedom, the liberty of our souls, is what Jesus was talking about in this verse. The people who responded to him kept thinking in terms of physical liberty. Remember, this is a people who were living with Roman occupation. Certainly their way of life was constrained by a political power but they considered themselves free. They said, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone” (v. 33). Jesus was talking about being enslaved to someone. He wasn’t talking about physical liberty. He answered them saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (v. 34). Jesus knows that our sin is prison from which we do not have the strength to free ourselves. Perhaps we can gain for ourselves partial freedom but not only is it incomplete, it is usually temporary as well. When Jesus sets us free, though, we are free indeed.

Like these men in the eighth chapter of John, most of us believe we are not slaves to anything or anyone, but I wonder. How many habits, social mores, customs, thoughts and old injuries are we actually imprisoned by? What would life truly look like if there were not imprisoning restraints? True freedom requires surrender. Isn’t that ironic? If we will give over our power and our control to Jesus and infuse it with trust then he can set us free and then we will be free indeed.

You Shall Know Me

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.           John 8: 32 

I am … the truth.                          John 14: 6 
If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.              John 8: 36 
Truth and freedom are all in one nice package; Jesus. If we will come to know Jesus who is the truth, the life and the way, then we shall at last experience true freedom and the peace which comes with it.

Jesus longs for us to come to know him in truth. He came into the earth to bring us back into close fellowship with the Father and he, Jesus, is the way to that close, personal fellowship. This is a key difference between Christianity and all the world religions. It also marks a significant departure from the Old Testament ways. It is not at all different, however, from how it was in the beginning when God first created humanity. Adam and Eve used to walk with God in the cool of the evening. Can you imagine taking an evening stroll through the garden with God? Can you see Him reach out and put His arm around you as you walk along the little stream that flows through the garden? Just as you cross over a little footbridge there is a bench and the two of you sit and visit. Maybe you don’t talk about anything important today. Perhaps some bugs draw your attention and you watch them. Can you imagine watching ants work while you sit and watch them with the one who created them? What might you say to Him? I suppose it would be a very interesting conversation. Before a few sentences pass I bet He will reveal some dazzling information about when He made the ant or some profound wisdom He draws from their example. Can you see the peace and joy that you experience as you sit there with your beloved Father? And Jesus looks upon the two of you and says, “It was all worth it.” Glory, Hallelujah! It is for that reunification, for that walk in the garden that both Jesus and God gave all. It is for this complete freedom in your spirit and the complete relaxation of your personality that all was done.

We read in Galatians 5: 1 that it was for freedom that Jesus set us free. This is a strange sentence, isn’t it? But it really does make a good point. Jesus did not suffer all that he endured just so that we can continue to live in bondage. We may answer Paul like the Jews answered Jesus in the eighth chapter of John saying that surely we are not in bondage. Are we not free people? Jesus said that anyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. Likewise, many of us are slaves to a variety of things. Perhaps we are bound by a bad temper when Christ has told us that we are to be gentle. Maybe there are still fetters on us from our past and we still react in ways that are not our free choice but rather spontaneous responses when certain buttons are pushed. Jesus is telling us that he came to set us free from all of that. Here is the key, though. This freedom, this life in Christ does not come from saying the sinner’s prayer. It comes through renewing the mind (Romans 12: 2). We must abandon self and come into close unity with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You know, we have the promise that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4: 8) and God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23: 19). That is a good word. Has He not said it, will He not do it (ibid). We think we are waiting on God to make a move in our lives but the truth is that He is waiting for us to draw nigh to Him and then He will draw unto us. He will not violate the free will that He has given us, so our relationship with Him is always in our hands. We have and can have whatever relationship we choose. I should warn you, though, this is not a decision that we can make in our minds. A quality decision of this magnitude can only be implemented by the heart. Your heart holds the keys. So even if your mind says, “Yeah, I want that kind of intimacy with the Father”, only your heart can open the doors and let Him in. When you do, though, in rushes freedom and overcoming love.

I pray that you find the strength of heart, the courage of soul, and the conviction of mind to reach out to your beloved Father and draw Him into the deepest folds of your being. I pray that you will be liberated from every tie which seeks to bind you to a life that is in any measure less than what God intended for you. May the truth set you free indeed.