Jesus declared that when the Son of Man sets you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36). Surprisingly, we see so many believers still living in bondage. This is all because of religion and traditions of man which make the Word of God of no effect (Mark 7:13).
Most believers are living frustrated lives. They believe so much and yet they experience very little of what believe. They confess that they are born again and have been set free from sickness, disease, poverty and the dominion of Satan and yet they continue to be bound by these evils.
So what is freedom?
Freedom means different things to different people. True freedom is effortless.
However, for the majority of believers, freedom in Christian life is something that we need to work hard for.
In Acts 22:25 -28 we encounter a story of Apostle Paul and the centurion after the former had been bound with thongs. He said to the centurion: “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman and uncondemned?” The chief captain told Paul: “With a great sum obtained I have this freedom.”
I really liked Paul’s response, that “may be your freedom cost you a high price but I was born free”. In Zimbabwe we call all people who were born after 1980 “born frees”. These people were born after the liberation struggle during which many lives were lost. The freedom fighters paid a huge price for us to have an independent Zimbabwe. Those who were born after 1980 were born free because the price had been paid by these freedom fighters.
On the other hand, Jesus paid a great price for our freedom through His death, burial and resurrection. There is no need for any believer to live in bondage because the devil was defeated on the cross. Unfortunately, some of us haven’t had this revelation yet. It all comes down to the way we think.
“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). All the experiences of our lives can be directly linked to the condition of our hearts. The freedom in Christian life can only be experienced once our hearts have been liberated, because all freedom starts at heart level.
This is why in Proverbs 4: 23, the Bible says: “Guard your heart with diligence for everything you do flows from it.”
Knowing the truth will make you free. In John 8:31-36: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, You will be made free?’Jesus answered them: ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave doesn’t abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’
Jesus was talking specifically to the Jews because they were serving God and trying to have a relationship with God based upon a religious system that kept them under bondage. This is very common in our churches today. Most believers are trying to “earn a relationship with God based on their works”. Good works don’t earn you a relationship with God. It is through having an intimate relationship with God that we are able to do the good works. Religion has created self righteousness and legalism in the body of Christ today. The biggest deception that we have in the Church today is the deception of self righteousness.
Most believers are so focused on how many times they pray and fast. How much tithes and offerings they pay every Sunday. They believe this is what will make them righteous. While all these acts are very noble, they don’t make you righteous. Righteousness is a gift which is obtained through faith not works (Romans 5:17).
There are two sides to self righteousness and both in keep people in bondage. One of the bondages that self righteousness can produce is making the word of God of no effect.
“All too well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, “Honour your father and your mother and He who curses father or mother let him be put to death. But you say If a man says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban (that is a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7: 9 -13).
The Jews were teaching that there is a way that a person can be righteous by keeping the law, even if it meant that they had to bend the law to do so. The fact is that we can never experience any form of freedom if we are not set free from the deception of legalism, self righteousness and the Law.
Another area of bondage that self righteousness produces is guilt and obligation. In Romans 3: 19-20, the Bible says: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
The Law or the Commandment was given to make people see and understand that no man can be righteous by keeping the law. The Jews were serving God under a system where their relationship with God was governed by rules, regulations and law that could never make them prefect or acceptable to God. This is the very thing that these people needed to be set free from and this is the very thing that many people need to be set free from even today. Most of our churches today are bound in legalism and self righteousness.
In Romans 3: 21-26, we are told: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law, is revealed being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
When we know the truth about the finished work of Jesus Christ, and believe in it, and put our trust in it, that truth will set us free from trying to serve God under a system of rules, regulations and law as we see in most of our churches today.
Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @dougmamvura