Freedom; April 20, 2019

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

I have heard this verse quoted many times, but our sinful human nature really tends to cloud understanding of it. In the first place, the lead statement is upsetting to rigid Trinitarians. We do experience God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but the Bible blurs the lines between them a good deal. We “invite Jesus into our hearts,” but He comes by His Holy Spirit. God created the universe, but He did it by His Word, that is, the Son, (John 1:1-3) and Jesus Himself said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) And how do you distinguish between God, who is Spirit, (John 4:24) and the Spirit of God? I do affirm the Trinity, because Jesus explicitly told us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19) but I think the theological concept of the Trinity sometimes becomes just another box into which we try to fit God. The other difficult thing about this verse is the whole idea of liberty/freedom. Few things are as precious in American history and culture, with the Founding Fathers saying things like “Give me liberty or give me death,” and “He who would trade liberty for security deserves neither.” However, that very easily devolves into a discarding of all rules and regulations, including those set by God for our good. Today marks the day when the world held its breath, between Jesus’ crucifixion and His resurrection. Jesus died to free us from sin and its penalty, death. It doesn’t take much perception to realize that most of the people around us are slaves in some way to sin. It’s much harder to recognize where we ourselves are in bondage to sin. The freedom of the Holy Spirit that Paul speaks of here is the freedom not to sin, to walk in the fullness of life that God has provided for us. (John 10:10) Spiritual growth is a process of liberation, as we successively get rid of all the things that have bound us. Charles Dickens gave us a picture of that in the character of Marley’s ghost, who was bound with chains made up of all the things he had valued over the things of God. A popular – and anointed – song about heaven is titled, I Can Only Imagine. We indeed can only imagine what total liberty is going to be like, be it is part of the inheritance of God’s children.

I am as headstrong as anyone else. My mother had an expression with which I can identify: “independent as a hog on ice.” That is rather comical to picture, but it shows the absurdity of rebellion against, and attempted independence from, God. I am finding that there is great peace and joy in knowing that I can do nothing apart from Christ, (John 15:5) but through His strength I can do everything He asks of me. (Philippians 4:13) I’m not there totally yet, but I deal with people constantly who are hardly there at all. I am not to put them down, but speak the truth in love to them so that they may indeed discover the liberty that is the Spirit.

Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. Help me walk it out in all I have to do today, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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