It's ironic that many things that we think are going to be so exhilarating and freeing actually become the very things that enslave us.
As I was reflecting on some things God put on my heart over the past year-- some areas I need to grow and change in-- I realized a theme. Almost every item on the list was something freeing:
-payoff and avoid debt
-live simply-- without constant need or want for more.
-live healthy and be active
-do not use people to fill emotional needs
-learn and grow
It's as if God was saying "Brianna, don't be a slave to any of these things."... To debt, materialism, other people, poor health, my own selfishness.
As Christians, we are called to be free. Ruled by nothing of this world. Yet, even as believers, we still seek. Many appeals of the world seem so freeing: money, sex, self-image.
I have to admit that I quickly slide into a place of entitlement and desire for liberation: "I'm free in Christ. I shouldn't feel oppressed. If I just did this, said that, bought another, I would just feel so much better." Or would I? It certainly feels like it sometimes. I've realized that the more I want something, the more I'm invested in it, and the more it matters to me, the easier it is to convince myself that it will truly make me feel free to have it or do it. This desire is put upon a pedestal, above everything else, my idol. Like tunnel vision, I can't see anything else around me. I forget that I'm called to something else... to someone else.
Ephesians 6:24 struck me this morning: "Grace to all who love our Lord with an undying love." An "undying" love. Woah. A living, sustained, consistent, unshakable, "undying" love. This is how I want to love the Lord. So I thought, what does that mean?
It is biblically so clear that God is concerned about the condition of our hearts. He does not want a robot or a rule follower or even a type A teacher that writes down everything God wants her to do then checks it off the list. He wants me. All of me. All of my love, all of my passion. He wants that pedestal. He wants to be at the end of that tunnel, with my eyes fixed upon Him.
Interestingly, the rest of Ephesians 6 is about slavery, obedience, and resisting the Devil. Slaves are commanded to obey their masters with "sincerity of heart" just as they would obey Christ; not to win favor but to "do the will of God from [their] hearts."
As Paul writes about ways to defend ourselves against the schemes of the Devil, he exposes the plot:
"For our struggle is not one against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Notice the words used here: struggle, rulers, authorities, powers, forces.
These words point to the fact that Satan's work is a work of oppression. He has power and ruling in this area. This is a work in which he has authority. It may have a veil of simply being about flesh and blood, but he is actually the puppeteer; the master. And what are we? The slaves.
As a defense, Paul tells us to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist" (Ephesians 6:14).
And what does truth do? Based on what Jesus said, "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
We are not called to be slaves. What I instinctually want to write here is "we are called to be FREE!" And then run along joyfully in my liberation and bliss.
However, the opposite of enslavement is not just freedom in this case. It is so much more:
We are not meant to be slaves. We are meant to be sons.
The spirit does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15
So you are no longer a slave but God's child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:7
Jesus came “to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Galatians 4:5
This is huge for me! It explains how I can deal with the same sin over and over again, thinking I have surrendered it to God, fulfilled all of the right things to do on my checklist and voila it should be gone! I should be free! So why do I fall right back into it?
This goes back to that concept of God being concerned about our hearts. As I struggle with a recurring sin, I go through every avenue to fix the sin. But my heart is still obeying that master. Instead, God wants me to seize my sonship and recognize who I am IN HIM. Not in myself. When I look at my sin through the eyes of a daughter loved and accepted by Christ. Adopted. Made clean. Sought after. Not just freed but made an eternal heir of the King... The sin starts, little by little, to be exposed for what it is. A snare. A master. But as a daughter of the King...
I am not a slave.
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. Romans 8:35
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22