THE TAKE AWAY
No Excuse Part 3
The Character of Freedom
By Kersley Fitzgerald
In Galatians 5, Paul talks about how we're free from the law to live in Christian liberty. Verses 19-23 offer an interesting look at what that means. It starts with a description of what it means to follow the law — a long list of things we should not do like fornication, sorcery, heresies, murders, etc. The description of freedom is a different type — love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. It's not that freedom gives us the right to break the law. It's that freedom gives us the opportunity to be something greater. Our identity becomes our hearts, not our actions.
Second Corinthians 6:6-7 starts with that thought — a description of the heart that lives in freedom. Then it goes on to describe the actions that are a natural consequence of such a heart — actions that characterize a wide-open, spacious life.
...with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right…Our Character
…with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness…: The ESV says "purity, knowledge, patience, kindness." It takes strength to make innocence and moral purity a priority. It takes strength to intentionally step back from every situation and contemplate the truth of what's really going on. And then add patience/endurance/constancy/steadfastness/longsuffering and gentleness/benignity/kindness to that strength? Superheroes have nothing on what Jesus expects of us.
…holiness, and honest love…: This screams against everything our fallen little minds tell us: we can only be holy, we can only be influenced to live by the Holy Spirit, if we are living a "wide-open, spacious life." Expansive, open, deep-breath life goes hand-in-hand with rejecting what the world tells us we must have (honor of men, sexual fulfillment despite circumstances, success according to our timeline…). Indulging in what our flesh tells us we needs is contrary to godly, unfeigned, agape love. Sinning to meet our perceived needs is never, ever love.
This also highlights something of God's character that we have a hard time understanding: His holiness and His love are in unity. As my pastor recently said, God is not holy and love. His love is a holy love and His holiness is a loving holiness. We like to latch onto the love part because we think it will get us out of tough spots and deserved repercussions. Or, sometimes, we cling to holiness because it's a lot less messy to live by a list of do's and don'ts. The free life is both.
…when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power…: The NASB is more literal here: "…in the word of truth, in the power of God…" "Word" here is the Greek logos, which makes these phrases make more sense together. Logos is a living voice expressing an idea through a word. It is Jesus and the identity and character of Jesus. "Power" is the Greek dunamis, "the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature." The power of God comes forth when we relate His truth to the world. When we speak truth, God manifests His power. And that is part of the freedom He offers.
…when we're doing our best setting things right: The Amplified says, "…with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend]…" "Righteousness" is dikaiosune. We know it means integrity, virtue, purity, etc. But it also means to be and act out of one's true nature. All of that stuff mentioned above is what our nature in Christ wants to be. It doesn't want to be indulgent or grouchy or selfish or self-seeking. It wants to be wise, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and sincerely loving no matter our exterior circumstances.
Do we believe that enough to choose to walk toward it? Under any circumstance? Truth is, if our character aligns with Jesus' wide-open, spacious life, the temporal circumstances we live under won't matter.
2 Corinthians 6 and the Wide-Open, Spacious Life
Responsibilities and Circumstances
The Character of Freedom
Freedom in Relationships
Image Credit: Jean Edmonds; Great Blue Heron; by permission
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life
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