Life and Freedom

One of my favorite secular artists, one whose talent and skill I really look up to, died this year. Perhaps you’ve heard.

My sincere prayers and condolences go out to Tim Bergling’s family at this intense time, and I can imagine how they’re wrestling through it all…

How is it that someone like Avicii, who has it all – money, fame, fashion, the latest tech – could end up at this point? And it’s not as if we haven’t heard of this before – Michael Jackson and Johnny Ringo are two more, and there are many, many similar cases.

How is it, that someone who has everything our culture seeks after, works for, lives their lives for, can end up with such a hole in their life, so bound by their existence, that they feel obliged to take their life?

If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you might have anticipated where I’m going with this: money doesn’t buy you happiness, fame isn’t the meaning of life – God is our meaning (Colossians 1:16), our joy, and our hope in this broken world (Romans 15:13). He is indeed, our complete freedom (John 3:16).

And you are right in guessing the direction I’m headed in with this article. Perhaps it gives you peace to know the truths stated above, but what use is there in knowing these truths, if we don’t live them?

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)

Let’s talk about sin for a moment. Not any off-the-top-of-your-head sin, but sin addiction in particular. How many types can you name? Take a moment to think about it.

A few that came to my mind include: pride, lust, a tendency to lie, and greediness. These are some of the things the Bible calls “fleshly desires” (a full list is laid out here: Galatians 5:19-21). If you’re like me, some of these things you might really struggle with on a day to day basis. You might even call yourself bound by them; at least, I might. I encourage you to keep one in mind that you struggle with in particular…we’ll get back to it in a second.

As humans, we have two natures (Galatians 5:17–18): one we are born with as human beings – the result of the great sin – and the other we inherit through the reception of the Holy Spirit. One has a desire for things of the flesh/evil, and one has a desire for holiness.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

Back to that sin you have in mind. Let me ask you this: when you indulge yourself in this particular sin, in the deepest sense, would you consider yourself free? Would you consider yourself alive?

Let me share with you one of my all-time favorite quotes by John Piper:

“Freedom is doing what you love to do – if what you love to do is what you ought to do. And transformation is the change of our hearts so that what we love to do is what we ought to do. The freest of all people in the universe are the people who do exactly what they like to do – and not suffer for it in hell, but instead rise with Jesus in ever increasing joy! And that happens through a transformation, so that what we love to do becomes what we ought to do, and we fall out of love with the things that we ought not to do.”

Whoa. If you didn’t fully get that, I encourage you to read it again.

Let’s take a step back for a second: imagine something you’d really, really like. Perhaps it’s that house you saw on top billing, perhaps it’s a BMW i8, an Audi R8, or an iPhone Xs Max. Really picture how you’d feel if you finally got what ever it is, that unique smooth slide of a first unboxing, excitement slipping through your veins as you inhale the musty-fresh smell of your new designer home…

Can you imagine if you had that desire for Christ? Can you imagine?

So how do we achieve this level of transformation in our lives?

If you’ve ever tried to break a habit, you’ll know that it doesn’t come easily. However, Christ has made a way for us:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 2:18 (ESV)

Christ gave us the Holy Spirit so that we have been set free from the chains of sin (Romans 8:2)!
We don’t have to rely on our own strength (Philippians 2:13), because we serve an awesome God. And our seemingly endless desire for something more has been satisfied more than we can imagine: life with meaning. An eternity with meaning (Philippians 1:21).

However, this requires practical work from our side. We need to constantly seek His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), place our trust in His plan (Romans 8:38), and pray for His guidance (Philippians 4:6), all on a daily basis. (Luke 9:23).

This new year is a fantastic opportunity to start over and create new goals, and I’d encourage you to use this time to reevaluate your life. Perhaps some of your new goals will be with an eternal purpose in mind…

Here are some ideas you might consider:

– Start a Bible reading plan with a friend (Romans 15:4-5) ^1

– Challenge yourself to pray daily (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

  • Get an accountability partner (Proverbs 27:17) ^2
  • Get plugged into a church (Hebrews 10:24-25)

And lastly, I hope and pray that this article challenges your heart. So often Christian texts are cool to read, an interesting thought, but I earnestly hope that this isn’t another one of those in your life.

^1 Check out the YouVersion app for some fantastic plans.
^2 Here are some questions to get started: https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2008/may/accountability-questions.html (I personally use Chuck Swindoll’s set)

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