With July 4th, Independence Day, still fresh in our minds, I thought I would post some thoughts on the freedom we have in Jesus!
This is something I've shared with a few people lately who have struggled with the concept of deliverance and overcoming sins that seem to have a hold that won't let go. And this is a concept that has helped me a lot even as I've taught it, so I figured it might help a few other people as well.
This post is for those of us who know what we're supposed to be doing, how we're supposed to act, what a disciple of Jesus looks like, but find ourselves falling seemingly uncontrollably into the captivity of those things that have a hold on us over and over again. It could be something like smoking or drugs, or a sexual sin like pornography or homosexuality, or it could be something like an uncontrollable anger or apathy or laziness. But whatever it is, we know it's not right and that Jesus died to set us free from it.
I believe there are two parts to deliverance.
#1: We have to accept our identity of being delivered.
This was brought to light for me so clearly by a phenomenal sermon preached by my Pastor recently. (You can watch it on YouTube here. It was one of those rare sermons that fundamentally changed my way of thinking, so it's certainly worth a listen.) The point of it was essentially that Jesus has already paid the pride...we just have to receive what He has already bought for us. We have to possess it and take ownership of it, much as the children of Israel had to do to conquer Canaan. God had given them the land...they simply needed to take possession of it. (I realize you may be thinking "that's not as easy as it sounds", and I grant that, but the main point to take away here is that it is already ours, even if there are some battles to fully take possession.) Reference Scriptures like 2 Peter 1:3, 1 Peter 2:24, Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 2:13, Romans 8:17, and many, many more, and notice the past tense nature of these promises!
Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This verse is key to our understanding of our own deliverance. As long as you continue to define yourself as someone who's gay, or who just can't control his temper, or can't help the way she feels, you will struggle because you are in a battle against what you believe to be inherent in your nature. But if you can separate yourself from the behavior rather than being identified by it, and realize that you have a new identity in Jesus, you will have come a long way towards beating the sin.
But what about the struggle that then ensues? You may hesitantly accept that God has given you the inheritance, but there are still those giants and cities with large walls in the land. What do you do about them? How do you overcome? That's where the second principle comes in.
#2: Don't stop dipping in the Jordan until you're delivered!
Now what in the world do I mean by that? Some of you may understand that reference and some may be lost. I want to hasten to say that it doesn't mean you keep getting baptized until it takes...just as Jesus only had to die once for it to be efficacious, there is only one baptism, and when you identify yourself with His burial through it, it's done. You have been born again into a new identity. So what do I mean by this? Look back with me to a story in 2 Kings.
2Ki 5:1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2Ki 5:2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
2Ki 5:3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
2Ki 5:4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
2Ki 5:5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
2Ki 5:6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
2Ki 5:7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
2Ki 5:8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
2Ki 5:9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
2Ki 5:10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
2Ki 5:11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
2Ki 5:12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
2Ki 5:13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
2Ki 5:14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
- I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Canaan’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
- My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
- I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
- I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till rest I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”