Bible Passage: Galatians 5:16-26
If you visit the old Fremantle prison, you might hear the story of serial escapee Moondyne Joe. He twice escaped prison in country WA, and twice more in Fremantle – one time almost under the noses of his guards! Although Moondyne Joe had a flair for escaping, the law would invariably catch up to him.
We are all a bit like Moondyne Joe. But our guilt is to a higher authority: God. But God loves us so much that he sent his Son to take our punishment for us. In trusting and following Jesus, God grants us an absolute pardon; more, we are adopted into his family. We are given the guarantee that when Jesus returns, we shall be remade to be like him – perfect and holy. And until the day when we see God face to face, God takes up residence in us by his Holy Spirit. Day by day, God by his Spirit seeks to guide us and lead us along the best path for us – his!
As Christians, we have been once and all set free from the guilt and sting of sin. But our freedom isn’t just something that starts at the end of our lives. The freedom won by Jesus on the cross is already ours. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking what that looks like in practice. We’ve considered how we can live in freedom from worry, guilt, shame, bitterness, loneliness and legalism.
This week, we’re taking a slightly different tack. Rather than exploring another “case study” in freedom, we’ll be looking at the key to living in the freedom that Jesus has bought for us. This key, writes Paul in Galatians 5, is letting the Spirit guide our lives.
As Christians, we are now people with two inclinations: our natural inclination that lives in sinful antagonism to God and his ways, and a new inclination that comes from the Spirit of God living in us. Although our old self and the Spirit of God within us desire opposite things, they both claim to be able to give us purpose, meaning and fulfilment in life. The difference is that our old, sinful nature which lives in antagonism to God, cannot live up to it’s promises. To allow it to rule over us is to choose to live in antagonism to God; it is to refuse to let the Spirit guide our lives; it is to reject the freedom which Christ Jesus offers us.
Freedom, however, comes not through fighting against our old self, but through surrendering to the Spirit of God. Freedom comes when we are convinced that God loves us and wants what is best for us. Freedom comes when we don’t buy the lie that something other than God can give our lives purpose and meaning. Freedom comes when we trust that God loves us just the way we are. Freedom comes when we are so captivated by the goodness of God that something of his character starts to be formed in us.
But if freedom comes through surrender, what do we have to do? And is that even the right question?