Freedom in Christ

The cross of Christ gave us freedom from guilt and the performance driven life. However, we move on from the gospel when God does not meet our expectations. We don’t fix our eyes on the cross when we are disappointed with God. As a result, we take the cross for granted.

If we take the cross for granted, we will:

  • Lack joy.
  • Be spiritually dry or dead.
  • Have no passion for God.
  • Always be looking for something else that will satisfy.

Are you not tired of being tired? Are you not tired of trying to make life work by neglecting your time in the Word of God and prayer?

If we live in the freedom of Christ:

  • We will break away from joy robbing obsessions.
  • We will break from guilty driven life.
  • We will grow in faith and in holiness.

Isaiah, to the Israelites who were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, spoke of their heart conditions. Isaiah used the pronouns “our” and “we” to give us detailed descriptions of what took place on the cross.

We esteemed Him not (v. 3), we considered Him stricken by God (v. 4), and we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own ways (v. 6). In addition, Isaiah gives detailed descriptions of why Christ had to suffer death: He took our infirmities, carried our sorrows (v. 4), He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities (v. 5); and, by His wounds we are healed (v. 5).

The cross that gave us freedom from sin is not held captive by our hearts. As a result, our hearts flatter the flesh to make much of ourselves. If we want our hearts to be captivated by the cross, if we want our hearts to come alive, if we want to be set ablaze…we must abandon ourselves.

When Jesus came, he was not recognized and not even attractive. He had no beauty, no majesty, no outer attraction. Instead, He was despised and rejected by men because he was identified as a man of sorrows and suffering (vs. 1-3).

Illustration: If someone took a picture of our leadership team, shepherds, and the staff, and asked non-members of New Life to point out the senior pastor and the pastoral staff, they may never guess. Pastor Eric could be mistaken as a Korean corner grocery store owner. I asked Pastor Chae what people may think Pastor Sam as. His response? A hotdog-eating champion. Pastor Chae said that Pastor Sam can down 10 hotdogs in 3 minutes.

On the other hand, Pastor Chae would never be identified as the Children’s Pastor, because he looks like he owns three nightclubs in Houston. Sang could easily be mistaken as a prison guard. Lisa Tran? People will see her and say, “You own a nail salon, right?” What can I do for you? Six dollar, I do for you. Why you not have boy friend?

All kidding aside, there is no attraction about the New Life staff. But, in spite of us, God is leading our Church. My point is, you don’t have to be significant nor maintain a prestigious position in society to be used by God. You don’t even need to be outwardly attractive. God will accomplish His will through us as long as we embrace the cross that freed us from guilt and legalism.

We often make promises to God that we cannot keep. God, if you help me through my problems, I promise I will pray more. Lord, if you help me get through my difficult marriage, I promise I will read the Bible more. Lord, please help me find a mate and I promise I will fast more. We operate as if our future promise of obedience can solve our present struggles. Whether you know it or not, our future promises of obedience can make us feel more guilty when we fail, and as a result we condemn ourselves (we never completely fulfill our part).

Paul called himself the “the worst of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15-16). Paul wasn’t paralyzed by guilt or fail to recognized his own sinfulness; rather, he exalted God’s grace and he marveled at the mercy of God. Therefore, we must not approach life with “what I can do for God” that leaves us feeling guilty and defeated. Our approach to life must be what God has already done for us on the cross to free us from guilt and self-condemnation.

How do we break away from the guilt driven life? Have a genuine gratitude for what Christ accomplished on the cross for our sins. Thus, the cross of Christ empowers us to resolve to be disciplined daily to cultivate a gratitude for the cross.

Richard Foster said, “God has given us the disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The disciplines allows us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.” Our will power and determination will never measure up. Therefore, survey the old rugged cross.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Let us daily seek the Lord at the foot of the cross, so that the power of the cross will urge our hearts to be in the Word and prayer.

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