Friday, September 21, 2012

Free Indeed: Slaves of righteousness; free from sin

And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man [Paul] could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” - Acts 26:32, ESV

Upon first reading this verse, I thought the situation rather tragic. Paul did not have to go to Rome--which proved to be the death of him. He could have gone free. Why did he have to appeal to Caesar? It seemed senseless and unfair. But, later, when God's Spirit was bringing me into obedience and submission to Himself, I realized that Paul could not have gone free, because he was not free in the sense that Agrippa and Festus believed he could and should have been. For Paul said:

"I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem..." (Acts 20:22)

Paul was a slave of Christ. He was bound and compelled by the Spirit of God. He knew that he was not his own, but that he was bought at a price. He knew that he was a slave of righteousness. He had no will of his own--only God's will. And it was God's will that Paul testify before Caesar. God even confirmed this to Paul by saying in Acts 23:11, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

Who does this remind you of? The Man who prayed, "Not My will, but Thy will!" The God-Man Jesus Christ!

Paul himself declares, "Follow me as I follow Christ!" (1 Corinthians 11:1)

The Lord Jesus is Paul's example--the One who was co-equal with God the Father, and yet did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a SLAVE...He emptied Himself of glory and came to serve rather than be served! Jesus Christ never even spoke a word that the Father did not tell Him to speak! He was not free in the sense that we understand freedom--doing what is right in our own eyes. No; He was free in God's definition of the word: COMPLETELY FREE FROM SIN! Not under bondage to sin and free to do that which is right--free to follow God in ALL things!

He offers that same freedom to us: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free!" And "he who the Son sets free is free indeed!"

In the same way, you and I, if we have submitted our lives to Christ, have said, "Not my will, but Thine." We have no right to ourselves. We have no right to call the shots in our life. If we have submitted ourselves as a living sacrifice, which is our reasonable service, then God calls the shots in our lives, and we humbly obey.

The beauty of it is that God is no cruel task-master! "At His right-hand are pleasures forevermore" and "no good thing does He withhold". God desires that we be satisfied in Him.

As C.S. Lewis once said, "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." Let us accept the gift of His grace and be satisfied with all that He is!

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