We are celebrating early in my little corner of "the land of pine trees and lakes". I hear the faint pop of fireworks as I write tonight on this Independence Day eve. Celebrating the birth of America's independence and freedom from Great Britain is a wonderful time in our country. Amazing favor from God!
I have found that there is so much more to freedom than the initial action of being set free. I suspect that all those enslaved through history have encountered this realization. Certainly the Israelites looked back toward Egypt several times on their journey to the promise land.
In Galatians 5:1, Paul reveals something interesting. "So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free..." (NLT) Staying free. My mom once said to a loved one, "there are more ways to be in prison than to be behind bars." Have you found this to be true? Over the years I have been held captive in a few areas of my life and if I'm not careful, I can return to bondage easily. Why is that? Why is it so much easier to return to the unhealthy familiar than to move forward in the healthy new? Once again Paul can shed light on this dilemma. Galatians 5:16 (NLT) says, "So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." He goes on to say in verse 19, "...and the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict." For most of us the real work of staying free begins after we are set free. In the Expositor's Bible Commentary the authors have these thoughts, "It is not always enough to "will" something, for good intentions are not always carried out. Our wills must be energized by God Himself."
Fortunately, we have a lot of help from our "energizing" God! Phillipians 2:13 has these words of encouragement that have brought me comfort many times when I worry that I might not be able to withstand this battle within me. "For God is working in you giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him." Thank you Lord!
I never want to over simplify "staying free" for those who are in a battle for their very life. It is a process and we will always need to vigilant to watch over our hard fought victories. Satan, the great enemy of our souls, will continue to try to take back lost ground. Be alert!
In my next post, we will explore this subject further. I certainly don't have all the answers but what I have learned in my own life, I'm willing to share. Wouldn't hard earned experience be wasted if we didn't use it to help someone else?
Until we visit again...