Many people consider Christianity – and others have made it to look – like a prison. Like a series of rules and rites that somebody has to keep. Fortunately, this view is very far from true. Jesus Christ didn’t come to put our lives under a yoke of rules and ordinances, but to make us free from these and from sin. As the Word says in Colossians 2:13-15 :
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcised of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."
What happened on the cross was not humiliation but a triumph. On it our Redeemer triumphed against the principalities and the rulers of this world, with first the chief prince of this world (John 12:31), the devil. On it, He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances, all the "do" and "do not" that were against us. And Paul explains it further:
"So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in respect of a festival or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ. Let no one beguile you of your reward in false humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head, from which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, increases with the increase of God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances - "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all are to perish with the using - according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in will religion and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." (NKJV-KJV)
Is there somebody that criticizes you for festivals, food and rites? Have you probably concluded from what others have told you that Christianity is a series of ordinances, rules and rituals? Do you probably believe that to be a good Christian you have to do this and that every Wednesday and Friday and the so and so every Sunday? If you have heard and believed things like these, let me tell you that they are nothing else than commandments and doctrines of men. Nobody has the right to judge you for food, festivals or something similar. Nobody has the right to tell you that you are not a good Christian because you didn’t keep the so and so abstinence from food or the such and such ritual. All these "are a shadow of things to come". All these were part of what Christ blotted out with His triumph on the cross. He made us free from these and from sin. Do you still feel condemnation for the so and so sin that happened sometime in the past? If this was committed when you were not a Christian or if it happened while you were a Christian but you have confessed it to God, HE HAS FORGIVEN IT AND FORGOTTEN IT. DO NOT REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS FORGOTTEN. Of course take your lesson but don’t bring it to your mind as it was never cleansed, as Christ’s blood was never shed for it. His blood has cleansed you from this and it cleanses you from all sin. As I John 1:7 says:
I John 1:7
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin"
And again Colossians 1:14
"In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins"
Do you feel weak? Do you feel that your flesh is very strong? Do you want, like Paul, to say:
"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
"Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Paul asks, to give the reply immediately:
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
The law not of the letter but of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has made us free from the law of sin and death. We are free NOW!There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus! And again Paul says:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."
As the Galatians that tried to return to the law, so also some Christian denominations today, preach a Christianity full of ordinances, from which however Christ has delivered us. Let’s stand fast therefore in the liberty by which He has made us free. He has delivered us from sin (Romans 6:18). We are righteous, sited in the heavenlies NOW (Ephesians 2:1-7)! This didn’t happen because of our works. This does not depend on our performance. This is solely the fruit of the triumph of Jesus Christ on the cross. Let’s not think even for a moment that we could gain through our works or achievements what only the blood of Christ made possible: our justification before God, our re-birth, our cleansing from every sin and our salvation from the law of death and sin.
And passing to the words of the Lord in John 8:
"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed on Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, `You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
A man can be really free ONLY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. Nobody else can make him free from the domination of the body of death that Paul mentioned. Christ is the only liberator. Wherever His spirit is there is also liberty says the Word (II Corinthians 3:17). And this Spirit is in you! As Galatians 4:6 says:
"And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out Abba Father"
and Colossians 1:26-27
"the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Christ the liberator, the hope of glory is in you (Colossians 1:27)! You are free NOW!
"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
Freedom: the other side
Apart however from those who have made Christianity to look like a sum of ordinances, rules and rituals, there is the other side as well, that should also be avoided. At this side we have those who use freedom as an excuse for sin: "Am I not a Christian? Am I not saved by grace? Has Christ not made me free? Then it is fine to do whatever I want". In this category we have those who claim that they are Christians, yet the way they live is almost no different than the way those who don’t know Christ live. When the people of the world see them they feel confusion and wonder what difference really makes to be a Christian. Against this dangerous way of thinking and living, Paul warns:
"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."
And Peter repeats in I Peter 2:15-16
"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men - as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for MALICIOUSNESS, but as bondservants of God."
Though we are free, we should not use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, as a cloak for maliciousness. As Paul puts it in Romans 6:
"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."
A man is a slave of the master he obeys. Will we again obey to sin - to what Christ gave His life to make us free from? "CERTAINLY NOT" is Paul’s answer. And he continues:
"For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
It is wrong to believe that there is no problem if we give some place to sin. There is a wage for this, "and the wages of sin is death BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD" And as Galatians 6:7-8 repeats:
"Be don’t deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap.
He that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting"
To conclude: let’s therefore "not use liberty as an opportunity excuse to the flesh but (let’s) through love serve one another."