Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I?”. My Pastor posed this question to us on Sunday. I would guess that most Christians know the right answer; I mean, really, “We are children of the Most High God”; “Sons of God,” if we have received the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yet, the question remains how many of us REALLY believe that in our heart? Is it just intellectual knowledge, or is it REAL?
You may want to ask yourself if the next sentence sounds like you: “I feel that I need to be producing something or performing in some way, to be valuable in my own eyes and to God”. You see, if you answered this question honestly, you may have discovered, that you are still wearing the slave clothes of the old nature; You may still have one foot in Egypt, so-to-speak. Even after God delivered Israel out of slavery, it’s noteworthy to remember, that it took 40 years to get slavery out of Israel. They wandered in the desert for a long time before they entered the promised land.
For many of us, we know the truth, but are we really living it? God loves us based on who we ARE, not what we DO for Him. However, if your like me, that’s a hard thing to grasp. My self-esteem and value has always been tightly wrapped around what I did for a living — my dreams, aspirations and ambitions; these were the things that gave me identity. My Pastor mentioned that after the Civil War many of the slaves still couldn’t believe that they were free; some just kept living in slavery — because that was all they knew. In John 10:10, Jesus states, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The enemy, of course, wants us to continue to walk in shame, guilt and works; so we carry around in our hearts a spirit of slavery. This, in turn, prevents us from fulfilling our destiny in Christ and living life to the full. If he can rob us of our true identity then we will continue to live like slaves.
The juxtaposition of these two ideologies is subtle: on the one hand, God wants us to know He loves us — apart from works; yet, on the other hand, “….. faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead,” (James 2:17). So there is slight difference between these two thoughts, and yet to live free means being able to understand how the two pieces of this puzzle fit together. Someone once said that “the freedom that Christ gives us, it’s not so much about what He has set us free FROM, but what He has set us free TO BECOME.” We do not have to do “works” to please God or earn His favor; yet, when we truly understand the unconditional love and forgiveness we have IN CHRIST, then our hearts want to serve Him.
Here is a good example of what I mean: There are two people serving at your church side-by-side; the one man serves out of a sense of duty and obligation, inwardly and outwardly, trying hard “to be a good Christian,”; however, he often finds himself stretched thin and worn out; the other man is also serving, but he has a sense of joy and a kind of endless energy that flows from with-in, because he knows he is free and loved by God regardless of what he “does”. To any of us, it may be virtually impossible to tell the difference –but there is a huge difference!
Here is an exert from Galations 4:21-31:
Tell me, you who desire to be under law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married.” Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? “Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
“Therefore, Isaac-types have the freedom of desire. We don’t labor slavishly under the burden of having to do what we don’t want to do. We are free to do what we love to do and to do it forever in perfect joy. For God has caused us to be born again by the Spirit of his Son, and is shaping our desires according to his will.
“For freedom Christ has set us free! Stand fast, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery,” (John Piper, Hagar and Slavery vs. Sarah and Freedom).
Let’s say “NO” to identity theft and “Yes” to Jesus. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31-32).