Are we as free as we think we are?

Yes and no.

First, Christian freedom and American freedom are different things. American freedom is a liberty from oppressive government, whereas Christian freedom is freedom from sin. Christian freedom is more than that though!

A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all; subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all; subject to all.

Martin Luther

A Christian is free from all and servant to all. Free from subjection and bound by duty. Both are vital aspects of Christian freedom even though they may seem paradoxical.

We are tempted to (and often tend to) focus on what we’re free from and lose sight of what we’re freed for.

To be blunt: We all have a master – is it sin, which leads to death? or is it Jesus, which leads to freedom and eternal life?

3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free from sin. 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:3, 6-7, 17-18 (ESV)

Pastor Ben tells about a fishing trip and freeing the fish from being trapped in the water by throwing it on the land.
Be free!

We are slaves to righteousness like a fish is a slave to water. That is where our life and freedom are found!

Jesus’ freedom was faithfulness to His Father and he remained free despite being captured, tortured, and crucified.

It is finished.

John 19:30

In Christ, we are free.

Pursuit of Wisdom

The pursuit of wisdom for wisdom’s sake is in itself futility.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 1:2 (ESV)

“Vanity” is the same word as futility and the name, Abel, which is the first recorded death in the Bible.

All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

Ecclesiastes 3:20 (ESV)

The highest value is God. Do not eliminate the highest value, because God is what gives us meaning.

It’s important to learn these cycles to have wisdom, but without God there isn’t meaning to these cycles. They’re just cycles.

Knowledge does breed more difficulty and pain in the world, but this isn’t without an upside if you have God as your highest value. In other words, there’s pain/angst/worry/fear that comes with knowing more about this broken world, which can then draw you closer to your walk with God and grow your faith.

What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

Ecclesiastes 1:15 (ESV)

The mysterious can’t be figured out. Questions always lead to more questions!

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1:18 (ESV)

It’s not that ignorance is bliss, but that the pursuit of wisdom itself is unending and ultimately pointless. Aristotle states it fairly well, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8 (ESV)

We are to still pursue knowledge and wisdom, but to always keep God at the center of it all.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:1-6 (ESV)

God grants us knowledge and wisdom as we have need of it, and never all of it. God knows things about me that I don’t know about myself. God even gives us knowledge of Him, but there’s lots of room for mystery. True knowledge of God is too much for us to grasp!

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Romans 1:19-23 (ESV)

When we try to understand everything about God, we inevitably make him smaller and negate faith. (Pastor’s book recommendation on the perspective of trying to know God: The Domestication of Transcendence by William Placher.)

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV)

If we could understand God, then He’s not big enough. We’re not supposed to understand the mysteries of God.

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:19-21 (ESV)

It’s interesting to note that “futility” here is the same word that’s used for “vanity” in Ecclesiastes 1:2.

Not Good Enough

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in the one point has become accountable for all of it.

James 2:10

Good people are good enough for the world’s standards, and even some religions. Being a good person alone just isn’t good enough by heaven’s standards. We need Jesus!

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:23-24

Workings of the Spirit

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:27

This is a lovely verse that I just keep reading over and over. The Holy Spirit is a working person of God living within me, as a baptized follower of Christ. Wow.