Tag Archives: set free

UNITED WITH HIM

UNITED WITH HIM

“For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. 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 should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. For we know that, since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:5-11.

That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it!

As we were saying, Jesus’ death in our place has many more implications than the forgiveness of our sins. Our faith in Him has produced a spiritual union that affects everything about our lives. When we were baptised in water, we witnessed in a physical act our identity with both His death and His resurrection. Jesus’ death and our acceptance of His death for us by faith cancelled our debt of sin and broke sin’s hold over us. The Holy Spirit raised our dead spirits to life, reconnecting us to God, to His life and to His power which enables us not to sin.

In our old state, before we believed in Jesus, we had no power not to sin because the pull of our old nature was towards disobedience. But now, in Christ, sin’s hold over us had been broken. God has restored His own nature in us and the Holy Spirit is united with our spirits so that we are able to respond to His prompting towards trust and obedience.

Paul put it this way: just as we died with Jesus symbolically in our baptism, so we also died in Him in reality when He died on the cross. In the same way, just as we rose symbolically from our watery grave, so we also rose from the dead in Him. His resurrection guarantees our life because He can never die again. Death is the cut-off point of this life. What happens afterwards depends on what happens here and now.

This has all happened in the unseen realm, legally if you like. We have been legally declared “Not guilty,” and our debt has been cancelled. God has removed all the barriers between us and Him. We have access to Him without sacrifices or priests, through Jesus our High Priest and Mediator. Our status has been changed from “sinner” to “son”. We are in Christ and since He is alive, we are alive in Him.

But where do we go from here? From God’s perspective everything has been done. It’s not about “what we will be” but “what we are”. We have not only been forgiven, rescued and set free; we have also been made perfect in Christ. Our entire past has ceased to exist. We are free from its debt and its guilt and shame, to pursue who we now are.

So, Paul says, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Since this is all a fait accompli, act on it because, and as if it is true. “But,” you say, “that’s all very well, but I still cannot do the right thing on my own.” But that’s the point. You have been set free to choose to obey God rather than the dictates of your old selfish and rebellious nature. Once you have made your choice to obey God because you value Jesus more than yourself, the Holy Spirit supplies the strength to do it.

That’s what Paul means by “count”; reckon, accept that it is so and make your choice accordingly. The Holy Spirit is in you to enable you to carry through on your decision. Every time you deliberately choose to obey God, it becomes easier to do it the next time. In this way you will be strengthening the divine nature in you and putting to death the old nature which is already potentially dead in Christ.

God has equipped us with two sources of power – the Holy Spirit and His Word. Look at this Scripture:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that, through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort…” 2 Peter 1:3-5a.

It has happened! Now make it happen.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Did God Mess Up?

DID GOD MESS UP?

“But Agrippa did answer: ‘Keep this up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me!’

“Paul, still in chains, said, ‘That’s what I’m praying for, whether now or later, and not only you but everyone listening today, to become like me — except, of course, for this prison jewellery!’

“The king and the governor, along with Bernice and their advisors, got up and went into the next room to talk over what they had heard. They quickly agreed on Paul’s innocence, saying, ‘There’s nothing in this man deserving prison, let alone death.’

“Agrippa told Festus, ‘He could be set free right now if he hadn’t requested a hearing before Caesar.'” Acts 26:28-32 (The Message).

What frustration! Why did Paul have to go and appeal for a hearing before Caesar? He could have walked out of there that day a free man. He was jumping from the frying pan into the fire! Caesar meant Nero! Nero meant God-hater, crazy, bully, murderer! What justice would he receive from him, especially when there was no legitimate charge against him?

Had God made a mistake this time? The timing of Agrippa’s visit could have been changed. Why did he not visit during Felix’s governorship and hear Paul’s case then? If only! If only! It sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? Do we not react like that when we land up in a frustrating situation that could have been so different if only…

It all depends on whose viewpoint we take. God said to Paul, ‘Rome!’ Because it was part of his package Paul said, ‘Yes, Lord!’ This was no surprise to him. The fact that he was declared innocent after his appeal did not frustrate him like it is frustrating us. No, He didn’t mess up. God’s plan was right on track — Rome at Rome’s expense because God wanted Paul to stand before Nero.

But why Nero? God knew very well that Nero would never respond positively to Paul’s message. In fact, He knew that Nero would condemn Paul to death! He should have sent Paul scurrying in the other direction, as far from Nero as he could possibly get. But that is not God’s way. He was not out to save Paul’s bacon. Nero had to be given the opportunity to make his choice, just as Felix, Festus and Agrippa and all the august assembly that heard Paul that day.

This is the mystery of God’s ways. Although he did not know it, in Paul’s package was a violent death at the hands of a cruel and unscrupulous king. But in the mercy of God, He had to give Nero an opportunity to hear the truth about Jesus and make a decision which would affect his eternal destiny and Paul was the one He chose to do it.

As far as Paul was concerned, he had accepted without reservation his package for life, no matter what it held for him. He died on the day he met Jesus. His life was no longer his to control. He belonged to Another and he was at His beck and call to carry out His command.

Think of the benefits to every succeeding generation of Paul’s incarceration in Caesar’s palace in Rome. How many letters did Paul write from his prison cell, chained day and night to a Roman guard? What treasures of truth he learned in those lonely and uncomfortable days and nights which he generously imparted to the many believers he had left behind on his travels in Europe and Asia! How much poorer would we be without Paul’s experience and wisdom to which we have access two thousand years later!

Did God mess up? Definitely not! He knew what He was doing when Paul could have been set free but was sent to Rome to face Nero!

Who Is Really Responsible?

WHO IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE?

“But Jesus shot back, ‘You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?’ When He put it that way, His critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered Him on.” Luke 13:15-17 (The Message).

Could the synagogue ruler have answered Jesus, ‘But my animals are not under the law of God like we are’? From his perspective he could have been right but Jesus never viewed life from the human perspective. That’s the difference between Him and us. Our logic is human. Jesus always thought God’s thoughts. The very essence of our new life in Christ is to learn to think God’s thoughts instead of our own.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV).

So what was Jesus’ perspective on this woman’s condition? Satan! He was the culprit. But, lest we assume that we are automatically Satan’s victims, we need to understand the way he works. Neither God nor Satan has any power over the gift God gave us – the freedom to make our own choices. We choose according to what we believe. God calls us to respond to truth while Satan works through deception.

In this woman’s case, somewhere in her life something happened that gave Satan his opportunity to sow lies into her mind. She believed his lies and emotional pain followed, which blocked out the truth of God’s love and caused her body to become as twisted as her mind.

Satan’s lies are always directed at discrediting us, other people and, eventually, God, resulting in feelings of fear, anger, rejection, insecurity, unforgiveness, bitterness and worthlessness which are the ideal breeding ground for demonic harassment. The devil’s ensnarement comes in the form of mental, emotional and physical bondage from which there is no escape except by diagnosing the lie and replacing it with the truth which, said Jesus, is the key to freedom.

People in this condition desperately long for someone to rescue them. There is not a person in the world who can do this except Jesus. He came from the Father to bring both grace and truth to His world. Only He can set captives free; no psychiatrist, psychologist nor counsellor can reveal the truth to the heart of the sufferer. No medication can cure the mind of the lies which hold people prisoner to mental and physical ‘illness’.

How tragic that our medical scientists, in their human ‘wisdom’, have chosen to bypass, ignore, and reject the only person who has the power to set people free, Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace. Every malady has a ‘diagnosis’ and is so catagorised that its real cause is masked by the name of some or other disorder. We are satisfied as long as we have a ‘diagnosis’ even if there is no ‘cure’. Our conditions are ‘managed’ while Jesus came to set captives free.

His anger was aroused by this heartless ‘religious’ man who saw more value in his animals than in a woman whom Jesus deliberately called ‘a daughter of Abraham’. She had has much right to freedom as the animals whom he faithfully led to water, even on the Sabbath, because was a member of God’s covenant people. Freedom from the shackles of emotional pain is the inheritance of believers in Jesus. Have you come to Him to set you free?