Why do so many people flee from following God? I suppose it comes from a desire to be free. What does freedom mean to most people? It means being able to live however they want to. But if they follow God, they feel they can’t do that. Instead, they have to follow a series of dos and don’ts that will put a crimp on their happiness.
I think that a lot of what Paul faced, these questions of “Shall we sin so that grace may abound even more,” and “Shall we sin because we no longer under law but under grace” came because of this kind of thinking. These people simply wanted to live however they wanted to.
But is true freedom simply the freedom to live however you wish? Or is there something more to it?
I think there is something more.
Let’s put it this way. One problem I face in Japan is whenever I’m dealing with Japanese electronic goods, the instructions are always in Japanese. Now my Japanese level is okay on a speaking level, but reading and writing is another thing altogether. I can do it to an extent, but whenever I do my Japanese blogs, I make sure my wife edits it to get rid of any embarrassing mistakes.
At any rate, I bought a new Blu-Ray recorder recently, and was trying to connect it with my TV and our cable box, but because the instructions were in Japanese and I couldn’t understand them. As a result, I was left trying to figure things out on my own, and was in utter frustration for hours.
At least, though, I had an excuse for not following the instructions.
So many other people who can read Japanese try installing their Blu-ray recorders, or computers, or other electronic goods, and just think, “Who needs the instructions? I’ll just do what I think looks right.” And they end up, like me, in total frustration. Is that freedom?
In the same way, people look at their lives, and God tells them, “This is how I designed your life. This is how it works best. Just trust me, and you’ll find blessing.”
But people say, “Forget that, God. I’ll do things how I think is best. I’ll do things my way.”
In doing so, however, they destroy their relationships with their wives and children and the people around them, they make decisions that destroy their health or even their very lives, and ultimately, they end up in utter frustration. The happiness they sought by doing things their way ends up utterly eluding them. Is that freedom?
And that’s what Paul says in verses 20-21,
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of ? Those things result in death!
In other words, “Yes, you were ‘free’ from God. But what did your ‘freedom’ get you? It brought you shame? It was destroying you.
But when we put ourselves in God’s hands, and we follow his leading, what happens?
The benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Like I said yesterday, the idea here is that we become whole. And eternal life doesn’t start with heaven. It starts here on earth, living a life that is full and complete. Why? Because we are living as we were designed to live. That’s true freedom.
The key to freedom? Trusting God. Trusting that he knows best. Trusting that he loves you and actually wants your best. And because of that trust we have in him, offering our lives to him every day. As we do, that’s when we find true freedom.
How about you? Have you found true freedom?