The Glorious Freedom of Grace
“For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). I will never tire of these words. As a matter of fact, the more I repeat them to myself, the more passionate I become about this life that God has given me, and the reason I am on this earth. For the last year, I have been neck-deep in the book of Galatians—reading, studying, re-reading, sharing, writing, discussing, pondering, and allowing the truth of God’s Word to transform me from the inside out. Freedom is a beautiful gift, and recognizing that true freedom only comes from God and cannot be undone by any man, undoubtedly alters one’s perspective on life.
But this freedom will not be uncovered until grace is revealed and properly understood. For me, this has just come in the last decade of my life. It was the summer after my seventh grade year when Jesus really grabbed hold of me and faith became my own, not just something handed down to me from my parents. I loved Jesus, and I wanted everyone to know it. I had been baptized as an infant, so the next step in my faith walk was to make a public profession of faith.
Traditionally, this was done at some point during high school, so I ruffled a few feathers when I decided to do this as an eighth grader. I knew that this would involve a meeting with the elders, and quite frankly, I was terrified. So, I prepared: I memorized the entire Heidelberg Catechism. And based mostly on that, I wrote an almost five-page testimony that I read to the elders. In it, I regurgitated much of the catechism and also referenced the Apostles’ Creed, the sacraments, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. This is what I thought they, and therefore God, expected of me. I did mention some personal experiences and acknowledged my awareness that I was saved by faith, not by works.
But do you know what word I never mentioned? In all my five pages, I never mentioned grace. I knew that I was saved by grace, but had no idea what it meant to live by grace. For too many years, I believed that it was up to me to keep God happy, as if I could somehow make myself become more like Jesus. So, I said the words, and did the things, and I meant it. Truly. Lack of sincerity was not the issue. The issue was that I had traded grace alone for grace a lot, and somewhere in the living of life, grace was forgotten. And it devastates me to realize that I spent all those years living as though Jesus wasn’t enough.
So many people in my life demonstrated a faith that ensured they were ready to die, but not a faith that knew how to truly live. The idea that abundant, eternal life is something that begins the moment we accept Jesus as Savior was completely foreign. Christian living was about do’s and don’ts, rules and lists, traditions and appearances. When my eyes were opened to the fact that the same grace that saves me also keeps me, I was ecstatic. The words, “It is finished!” finally declared the end of my striving. When I realized that saving grace is also living grace, it rocked my world. In gaining a fuller understanding of the radiant beauty of God’s grace, I began to uncover the glorious freedom that inevitably results. When strivings cease, I am free to take in these powerful truths:
And it’s all because of Christ. As believers, we know this. But do we truly grasp the magnitude of it deep within our souls? The immensity of what Christ has done drives me to my knees, and powerfully reminds me that without him, I really am nothing. But as Christ is formed in me, I continue to uncover the glorious freedom of God’s amazing grace. The repeated theme of freedom echoing in my mind and heart week after week has bolstered my desire to boldly live a life of freedom.
Friends, as those in Christ, we are free from checklist Christianity. We are free from striving to be enough. We are free from the grip of sin. We are free from condemnation. We are free from fear. And being free from those things then frees us to experience the abundant fullness of life that God has for us. We are free to preach the gospel.And a platform for that is not necessary. We all have spheres of influence where we have opportunity to show Jesus every day in the way we live. Does your life exude the gospel?
We are free to walk by the Spirit. The Almighty God lives in us! And he is sure to lead us to places that without him we would never dare go and do things far beyond our wildest imaginations, all for his glory. Are you willing to follow and obey?
We are also free to do good, not in an effort to be saved, but out of gratitude because we have been. Opportunities abound for us, both big and small, to evidence Christ in how we love and serve others. Are you maximizing opportunities to do good in Jesus’ name?
We are free to live free and stay free—no turning back. When Jesus first gets a hold of us, we often run with holy ambition filled with holy fire, passionate and determined, ready to take on the world for Christ. But then life happens. We get tired. We get discouraged. We find ourselves reverting to our old ways and old patterns of behavior. It seems easier to go back to what we knew than to muster up the courage to blaze a new trail. Don’t get weary. Don’t give up. Instead rise up and stand firm in the truth of the gospel. We are free to live and move and have our being by the grace of God and for the glory of God alone. Are you choosing to live freely, experiencing the abundance of eternal life right now? Freedom in Christ means that any chains of religious performance are broken, any shackles of ritualistic ideologies are loosened, any idols of truth-trumping traditions are torn down, and any prison door that has locked you up is thrown wide open. You are free to step out and truly experience the freedom for which Christ has set you free. Never forget that you were not created to fit the mold of any man. You were meant to break free, changed from the inside out, wonderfully transformed into the likeness of Christ. The grace of God sets you free, and you are free indeed! Celebrate the glorious freedom of grace every single day!