July 19, 2017

Freedom of choice

The good news of Jesus Christ means that I am accepted before God in Christ. This is absolute acceptance, unconditional, a matter of pure sovereign grace. It never changes and does not depend on what I do. Pleasing God is not about my goodness but depends entirely on what Jesus has done.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3–6)

As today’s devotional says, to this a legalistic person might say, ‘That’s antinomianism; it will give men a license to sin!’ But they do not understand; being in Christ means being a different person, a person who does not want to sin, but to live a godly life. While I do have the freedom to follow my sin nature, being in Christ is powerful. As Paul said:

“I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:21–25)

Just as salvation from the penalty of sin is found in Christ, so also is the solution to this inner battle against the power of sin. The only way to win it is to remain in Christ, abiding in Him:

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:6–15)

This tells me to walk in Christ in the same way as I received Him — by faith, trusting Him alone for my salvation AND for the ability to say no to sin and live as God teaches me to live. He restored my freedom of choice. Once my only choice was sin, but now I have another options — the ability to say yes to Jesus, a wonderful gift from Him. To the legalists of his day (who suggested that we could live in sin because grace covered it, Romans 6:1ff) Paul wrote similar words:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:16–18)

As I read this, I’m thinking that if a Christian gets caught up in rules and rituals and forgets grace alone saves us, how then could an unsaved person make any sense of it? How can sin be conquered by having it totally forgiven? How can I live a godly life by trusting Jesus rather than doing all I can to keep God’s commands? All I can say is that the ways of God are beyond our ways!

My precious Lord Jesus Christ, I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and here on earth as well because this is Your choice for me. Because of You, I am holy and blameless, loved, Your child. My life is on the course You have planned for me, not to glorify me, but to bring praise to You and to Your glorious grace. In You, I’m free to choose, and because of You I deeply desire to walk according to Your will.

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