Every time I begin writing another post it seems like so much time has gone by and I don’t know where to even begin. Then I wonder what to write about. For starters, it has been a hectic, but good summer so far. I’ve done some traveling, summer school, and prepared for my brother’s wedding. It’s hard to believe he is married now! I was going to blog about his wedding and marriage but then I realized this verse kept coming to mind that I stumbled upon, so I want to unpack it a little and hope it encourages you like it has for me these past few days. John 8:36- “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” It’s a short verse and seems simple. It makes the Christian life seem like it should be a walk in the park, as if we will be free and no longer even have to fight sin. I catch myself thinking this way more times than I can count and get frustrated. “God, why do I still have to be struggling with this particular sin? When will I overcome the fight?” I think we miss the point when we think we must overcome sin with the snap of a finger. If the process were that quick and we were transformed in an instant, how would God be glorified? I realize that when I simply want to be carried out of brokenness for my convenience, I’m really just giving into my pride, and not wanting to allow God to will and work in my life for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
Sanctification is a process and God tends to use the times we struggle with sin to show us more of himself. I am not saying he is for sin or makes us sin. He makes it blatantly obvious that he abhors sin enough to send his Son to the cross. Romans 8:3 says “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” Jesus is the only one who is able to set us free from sin. Sin isn’t mere actions on the outside that we commit, it is who we are by nature apart from Christ. Back to my frustrating questions above, I understand that Jesus’ blood has saved me from sin, but I often disregard the whole point of that. The point isn’t so that I may live comfortably now, but that I would make Christ look like the beautiful treasure that he is. We aren’t set free from sin for no reason or for our own glory, but rather for the glory of God himself (it’s actually for our good and joy that the cross is about Jesus and for his glory, not our own). We don’t get to take hold of the finished work of the cross so that we may merely take Christ’s gifts, but rather take Christ himself. This is where I fear for many who think they know what Christianity is about and even profess to be Christians. I’m not saying it’s about works or duty apart from the blood of Christ. We are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, but Christ doesn’t save us just to leave us in our sin. We are set free from sin in order that we might pursue greater freedom, namely in Jesus. As Galatians 5:1 would say, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” The mark of a true, converted believer is a craving for new delights, new appetites, new affections. It is a life marked by repentance, which means that we turn from sin, not just because God commands it, but because we see that it offends our Creator that we would put finite things or people in place of our Infinite God. And in so doing, we progressively see that to feast on Christ is better than anything else this world has to offer. That is true freedom. When Christ sets us free, he opens our eyes and hearts to see that He alone is sufficient. The truth is that as humans, we all long for freedom, but we often look for it in the wrong places. I’ve never been taught a greater lesson from God than to see that he has allowed me to go through seasons of chasing what I think I need (sinful desires), only to find out that in my brokenness I have a deeper longing for Jesus. So yes, we still fall into sin even as Christians, but the difference is that true Christians recognize that true freedom is only found in Christ. If Christ is the only one who can set us free from bondage, would he not be the only one who can satisfy our deepest longings?
If you are like me and wonder why you have not “arrived” to where you feel you should be, know that Christ has you on your way and that he already chose you before the foundation of the world. He chose you before you even had the ability to lean on your own abilities and works for salvation. Be encouraged that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). The fight and struggle against sin in itself is a way that God is glorified because when we are discontent with sin, it reveals a greater clinging to our Savior. The same grace that saved you will also sustain you until the end where we will no longer have to fight against sin. God’s sovereignty and timing in saving and conforming His children into Christ’s image is a mysterious and glorious truth to rest in. Brothers and sisters, take heart and trust that you will overcome by God’s grace through his Son.
For Christ’s name,