Staying Free In Christ

I’m glad you have your validation and freedom in Christ. That’s how its supposed to be. It would be good to understand the core elements that allow this and see how they can be transposed to other forms of gathering.

– Muppet to MJ on a previous thread

Some people find a freedom in Christ initially that is later overtaken by some form of religious behaviour set. Yet we’d all agree from scripture that we should have freedom in Christ.

What does this mean in a practical way? What are the things that we already do to help others engage with their freedom in Christ, as well as ourselves, and how do we see these things expressed in different kinds of gatherings? Different gatherings would include blogs or online communities like this one, organised church bodies, home groups or just plain fellowship with other Christians that you see reasonably often.

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RavingPente


35 thoughts on “Staying Free In Christ

  1. Freedom in Christ means being free not to sin.

    Of course, different churches have put new rules in place to stop people sinning … with best of intentions. But this just puts people back under law.

    “Christians must not go to the cinema on Sundays” … that kind of thing.

    On the other hand, some churches just ignore what God has clearly stated in New Testament Scripture.
    The ordination of practicing Gay Bishops is one area.
    Allowing the Pastor to divorce and remarry is another area. (so much for being the husband of but one wife!)

    Some churches turn a blind eye to blatant immorality, while demanding tithes and offerings from their members … which usually funds the immorality.

    The truth about how much money was taken in a Lakeland will never come out … they have refused to make any statements about it.

    What we do know is that while Todd Bentley was screaming for Angels and encouraging the worship of Angels, Baptising people in the name of the Father the Son and the Bam!, and living a rock-star life {with Sex (interns), Drugs (alcohol), and Rock and Roll (wild worship music)} he was pretending to be this specially anointed “New Breed” person.

    Well. Theologically, Bentley is completely demonic. No Angel working for the most high God would say, “tell them about me … they need to believe in me to believe in the supernatural”.

    That is Satanic.

    That is not freedom in Christ.

    Being free not to sin, means being free to resist the temptation of a willing intern. Being free not to sin means declining the opportunity of fleecing lots of punters who are chasing a sign and not waiting on Jesus and looking to get to know Him. Being free not to sin means not taking people’s eyes off Jesus and onto yourself instead.

    The Hero Preacher too easily succeeds in that!

    Phil, Brian, Todd … Joel Osteen is such a bad teacher he has a 26,000 congregation! But he is putting them back under the Kosher Food laws.

    What a disaster he is. He can’t even say on television that Mormonism is not true Christianity.

    “if he says he’s a Christian, that’s good enough for me”

    It was ever thus.

    Now I am depressed. So I will have a Coffee!

    Shalom

  2. For me validation and freedom in Christ is about being free to “be” who you are and who you are becoming as He conforms you into His image.

    He has made us all unique with something to offer each other to build each other up.

    Freedom as a community happens when we allow God to build His church and work with Him in doing this, rather than trying to control how it happens.

    Validation happens when we have permission to be who we are and do not need to get any self worth from what we do.

    Very simplistic and harder to achieve in practice I know.

    Some of the things I’ve noticed about this blog community is that the coordinators genuinely serve the community for service sake. Peoples giftings are expressed in a way that benefits one another – there are no titles or offices.

    Sorry babies are crying – I’ve got to go!!!

  3. There are many types and consequences of freedom resulting from a freedom from the rule of sin.

    We are free from one kingdom – that of the flesh which is darkness and sin, and leads to death, and have become part of the Kingdom of Christ, which turns the ways of the world upside-down.

    The poor are blessed in this kingdom, because even though they are poor, they can still know God; know the King; be heard by Him. They don’t have to pay to have access. (Which is why the modern teaching on tithing etc really is awful; it seeks to undo the freedom which Jesus gave them.) The meek are blessed in this kingdom, because even though they are meek, they still receive the inheritance of sons of God. In the kingdom of the flesh, the poor receive nothing, and the meek are trodden upon. So any who enter the Kingdom of God are ultimately set free from this kingdom of darkness resulting from sin. These are just two obvious examples.

    Colossians 1:13-14: ” 13For He rescued us from the (AG)domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of (AH)His beloved Son, 14(AI)in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ”

    We were captive to sin, and to a system resulting from sin, and now we are free because we know the Truth.

    The truth is that only He and His Grace saves us, through the work of Jesus Christ, and not through any work of our own.

    So we are set free from having to try to be saved. No wonder His burden is easy and His yoke is light. We are set free from the tyranny of sin in our lives, from being slaves to our own sinful desires, when we know Him and his love enough for our desires to be replaced by His. Then we are not subject to the flesh, but He becomes our ruler instead. Only when we let Him rule are we freed from the tyranny of our selves.

    I still struggle with this, and I think there are aspects of freedom that we grow in – I guess this is the process of sanctification.

    We are also freed from condemnation, when we know that our only Master is Him, and it is only His judgement that counts. So we must not condemn ourselves or others, usurping his place. This sets both us and others free. This is also a freedom from sin, because it is a sin to put ourselves in His place.

    We are freed from the tyranny of religious systems which tell us we should do particular works in order to be saved. These are another form of sin; of man trying to take control of what belongs only to God.

    Anyway – I could go on, and probably will at some later stage. But I can tell I’m beginning to ramble because I’m tired! Heretic is about to write something else, which I also agree with.

  4. “For me validation and freedom in Christ is about being free to “be” who you are and who you are becoming as He conforms you into His image.”

    And I could not agree more – absolutely. It’s a real relief when you truly know that you don’t have to conform to anyone else’s picture; you can just rest and trust in Him, as He completes his work in you. And then condemning yourself seems like criticising His work in you. Just have to be patient sometimes.

  5. I think one aspect of being free is not needing someone or something to give me my identity whether that be:

    * a “church” institution (“I am of Phil”, “I am of Brian”)
    * a movement that is new and happening or successful or growing (“I am part of XYZ and it is really awesome”)
    * a log of spiritual brownie points (“I saved six people this year”)
    * miraculous proof that I am of the elect (“I got a feather/jewel/gold dust”)
    * a guru who is right about the scriptures that I can trust

    It’s not bad to be associated with a group of believers or a successful organisation, or to see results or miracles or to get good teaching. But they are not the life Jesus brought me. I don’t need them.

    My Father loves me and I have a relationship with Him. From my point of view nothing else really matters.

    So I don’t care that much if people think I should be this or that, or do this or that, or believe this or that. It does not matter. I listen though. Because Father may be speaking to me through them – but if he is not, it does not matter what people say or believe.

    So Bull, about freedom meaning freedom not to sin that seems like the wrong emphasis to me. Jesus says that if you love me you will keep my commandments. To me this means that if I have and keep and abide in Fathers love I will keep his commandments without having to measure myself against some set of behaviours someone calls “sin”.

    As my theological backing I call on Genesis 3. We need to eat of the tree of life and not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

  6. “Freedom as a community happens when we allow God to build His church and work with Him in doing this, rather than trying to control how it happens.”

    This really speaks to me. It makes me think of trusting my Father.

    Jesus says we need to come as little children. I think we are little children. Totally dependent. I think we can trust Jesus to build his Church without our having to control it (he said he would).

  7. “Freedom as a community happens when we allow God to build His church and work with Him in doing this, rather than trying to control how it happens.” – Muppet

    Yes, I think that is true as well. Allowing God to work in people rather than trying to control His work in people, is very important, I think.

    Maybe some practical ways we can support this happening, might be:

    – obviously seeking to love others in a serving way, rather than trying to get them to do what we want;

    – giving up our agendas and anything that hints of emotional or spiritual manipulation, coercion or pressure towards others;

    – conciously rejecting the typical ways in which the world measures things, such as by numbers; and focussing on the unmeasurable as character and love;

    – refusing to discriminate between individuals on the basis of their appearance, status, richness, race or gender, and looking instead at character and what kind of thing emerges from them over time;

    – holding off in judgement because we may be judging God’s work in a person – He is infinitely patient, and we don’t know what process a person is going through with Him or how long it will take.

    – seeking to grow in fruit of the Spirit such as patience, being slow to anger and so forth, can also help preserve the freedom of others.

    – encouraging and affirming one another in our different walks, where we see each other exercising trust and faith in God.

    – staying humble towards one another

    I think we can do these things in any setting.

  8. It’s God that calls sin, sin.

    If we ignore all those references to what says are abominations for example, aren’t we only reading/telling part of the story and describing only part of God’s Character?

    The point is, there things that God Himself is disgusted by. Yet without Jesus, we end up doing many of these very things. With Jesus, we are free and we do not need to succumb to temptation.

    That’s real freedom. The freedom to say no.

    Shalom

  9. I don’t have a Bible handy.

    Read Jude. Read Romans 1.

    When the word Abomination is used … it means God is disgusted by something.

    I’ll tell you something else as well. In Habakkuk, the prophet is having an Argument with God. He starts off saying to God “look at the state of your people … and You are doing nothing about it!”

    “I am actually. I am bringing the Babylonians!”

    “That’s too much Lord! Your eyes are too pure than to behold iniquity!”

    In the end, Habakkuk is told that Jerusalem will fall and the Jewish people will be taken away as slaves etc … and he ends up Praising God!

    That’s a paraphrase … but I wanted to get to the notion that has been preached for years. “God is so pure that he cannot look on sin.”

    That is not true … God does see sin taking place. He has to. And when Angels have sex with Humans and Humans have sex with Animals, that actually disgusts God.

    He sees every lie. Every rape. Every bit of Gossip. Every broken promise.

    It makes Him angry and upset. Occasionally He is disgusted with us. The point is, we were under the overwhelming compulsion to sin before. (not everything, of course, but we would do something)

    Now, while we are not free from those desires, they are not now overwhelming. It boils down to who or what we love more. Jesus, or those habitual, besetting sins?

    I also need to say the following: It is not a done deal. It is a way of life. It is a process of sanctification.

    We have been Justified (clothed in God’s Righteousness, reckoned as being Right before God.)

    We are being Sanctified (God’s Holiness being produced in our lives … being shaped and perfected in God’s Hands … we are being recycled/salvaged – this is salvation right there)

    We will end up being Glorified when we come into His presence.

    Those three aspects come from Paul’s teaching.

    Sanctification is the process of Discipleship.

    We are all in the same boat. I mentioned before that Phil Pringle is not more anointed than any of us. He is on the same road of Discipleship as the rest of us. If he preached that and truly believed that … everything would change for C3. It would become much healthier. A big problem is the competition between Brian and Phil. (it’s quite childish too … my church is better than your church na na nana na!)

    The Hero Preacher(tm) problem is everywhere … not just pente churches. We prefer to focus on someone we can see and hear with our physical eyes and ears.

    Now I am depressed.

  10. Bull wrote:
    “big problem is the competition between Brian and Phil. (it’s quite childish too … my church is better than your church na na nana na!)”

    competition – sounds like they need to show to themselves they are doing or being better than the other, meaning they are beset with pride. If that is really the case they will end up in enmity with each other – and with God. But maybe – hopefully – it isn´t that bad, and even better there may come something where their pride will fail them and they might be humbled for their own good.
    At least they seem not to delight in themselves alone but delight in their churches.

  11. I don’t know Phil but I’ve known Brian. Brian has never struck me as being proud. He has had to go throgh so many personal struggles and battles, I think God has kept this in check.

    When you look at Brian you do see someone who has been blessed and prospered by God. But when you get beneath the surface you can see the pain and trials that have gone along with this.

    God is most interested in building character in all of us. The rest, the systems of church that we operate in etc are just vehicles for this to happen.

  12. I think C3 and Hillsong mainly ignore one another. I’ve not noticed any overt rivalry. I think they compete in their marketplace, but geographically they don’t seem to overlap too much. Maybe you’d get a small C3 in a large Hillsong area, or vice versa. I guess musically there has been competition, or something that looks like either that or parochialism. For example, when I went to C3OF, they only ever used worship songs that had been written at CCC. I enjoyed the contrast when I started attending a different C3 that played songs from C3OF, Hillsong, and anywhere else that wrote something worth using. I think its a bit like competition between the major banks – they can’t ignore eachother completely, they do use ideas from one another where they see that they work, and they compete for who has the biggest share of the marketplace, needing to differentiate themselves somehow. But I never picked up any hostility when I was there. At the more local church level, I actually knew people attending both my local C3 and Hillsong – and Dayspring for that matter.

  13. Happy New Year RP. In regards to former thread, do you think sainthood could involve administering a Christian website with tact and grace :o) It certainly is a lively and honest place to talk and discuss and 3 cheers for the work you and others have done.

    I think there are people in those churches that take what’s taught with a grain of salt but Im concerned about others that take it so literally. I know members of big churches that fit into both catergories. Its not possible to have freedom in Christ if one is caught-up in the “dubious” teachings. I was caught-up myself for a time and friends and family now say, oh we’re glad your out of that scene. i apologise for letting LF get to me a bit too. It just hit a nerve re sainthood, also im not into the catholic version just know that people they consider are people that have helped the community and lead a v Christian life. That of course can be many people in life. And “Sunday” christians don’t cut it. Ive seen it for myself people that go to every conference, meeting but in real life have not changed for the better (in some cases). Ive noticed PP calls the congregation saints often and this must be a giant ego boost and flattering but really….off the topic. Also with freedom comes knowledge of Christ, fully understanding. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing in regards to the Bible.

  14. RP – “But do these churches help people stay free in Christ”.

    Not in isolation! I think God leads us through many experiences in life. My involvement in Hillsong was very positive, but then I did take everything with a “pinch of salt” as MJ mentions. I guess I was lucky in that I had a balance of work, leisure church etc that I was comfortable with, and was very comfortable saying “no”.

    Other peoples experiences are very different, but there is good to be taken out of every circumstance if we learn how to respond correctly.

    On the topic of competition between Brian and Phil, I know there were discussions of joing together under the banner of “Australian Christain Churches” (I think its called that – all the pentecostal denominations were going to join together). It fell through due to “Questions of Leadership”!!!

  15. Being free in Christ is an easy thing to talk about but often not so simple to achieve. I personally wouldn’t have fealt free in Christ if I had stayed at Hillsong – I left when the mantra was “Being in leadership or being trained for leadership” – the outworking of this was not going to mix with where God was leading me – so I wasn’t really left with an option other than to leave – and trying to join other congregations didn’t work either, so to this point I’ve never been back.

    Though I do have friends who go to Hillsong who work throgh the challenges their membership brings up, and for them they are free in Christ. The worry is how to help those who are trapped in guilt and works etc???

  16. I agree Muppet, have listened to a leadership meeting where the head minister talked about “laying down your lives” for the cause so to speak. That is so dangerous, to be saying that and to be agreeing with it. Your giving yourself over to a “cause” with probably a heartfelt promise to God but you end up running around like mad to do things for a church/cause and never fully looking after your own needs and the needs of your “own” family/friends/community at home

  17. Yes MJ the “cause” was always a little dull for me. In meetings we would talk about maintaining momentum so that people would feel that they belonged to something larger than their own personal lives. But often it was momentum for momentum sake, and asking why do we do what we do was a little subversive.

  18. yep belonging is a big part of life, and identity, its a huge hole to fill for some and that style of organisation can fill it for you with activity/group dynamic/_________fill in the blanks. you feel you are are part of God’s ordained movement so you don’t feel “wrong” or bad about it. Its a funny/strange thing to be involved in. When you stand back or listen to others with awareness (as i did where i went) you see clearer. A church is a great place to worship God in too…..you see so many and think “this must be the place to be right now”

  19. Yes. It’s getting into maturity that seems to be an issue, where you get beyond “needing” the pastor and beyond the pastor “needing” the congregation for that matter. A lot of the pastors I’ve met get their self worth from being needed by a congregation. The bigger the congregation the bigger the mutual need being met and the more validated they feel in their ministry (not saying that many aspects of those ministries are not important though).

  20. very important to have elders, i had a great elder who would never just answer questions himself but would grab a bible and look at the issue with me and we would come to an answer, sometimes not. Yes maturity. Some older Christians ive met have less than younger. Its about grasping the truth, its a process

  21. Coming to an answer together shows mutual respect (and no one knows it all – we all still learn). I like how you described in your current church that you can interupt and ask questions of the preacher. It’s a funny western phenomenon to “give the pulpit” to a preacher and then mark him/her out of 10 for their delivery.

    I once spoke infront of some newly saved street kids. They were totally unaware of our etiquete and shouted out all the time. It was fantastic, but couldn’t be done in front of a large congregation. I guess this is supposed to be done in small groups while key speakers maintain the vision and direction of the Sunday services.

    On another point:
    The heart of the messages were often fair enough (ie supportig everyone in their everyday lives) but the outworking was the problem as no one had much time for an everyday life if they did what they were supposed to in service of the church.

  22. “The heart of the messages were often fair enough (ie supportig everyone in their everyday lives) but the outworking was the problem as no one had much time for an everyday life if they did what they were supposed to in service of the church.”

    Yes, that was a problem. In the end, you had to exercise some discipline of your own – work out for yourself what kind of balance was needed. Its tragic when some people give everything to the service of a particular church, then leave for some reason and find they have nothing and no-one outside it. The other problem was that many people, including many pastors, seemed to regard church related work as important, with other outside work regarded as an irritating necessity, only to fund church activities or provide a witness. I knew one girl who worked for Scripture Union, who felt sorry for the rest of us who weren’t really serving God in our work lives – in her opinion!

  23. That’s a paraphrase … but I wanted to get to the notion that has been preached for years. “God is so pure that he cannot look on sin.”

    That is not true … God does see sin taking place. He has to.

    – Bull

    Absolutely. The concept that Father cannot or will not observe sin is ludicrous.

    And when Angels have sex with Humans and Humans have sex with Animals, that actually disgusts God.

    Again with references I might change my mind but this sounds like us projecting our emotions onto Father unless he has actually said this somewhere.

  24. He is like an earthly father I believe. I see my children transgress or do something, say something i didn’t agree with but i am only concerned and sad, but still love them dearly. Of course i am not as good as God and sometimes I lose my patience. We have to be informed on life ie: drug issues as we need to be aware and prepared.

  25. When the word Abomination is used … it means God is disgusted by something.

    I am not sure. Lets check this out. A quick search for abomination and my first hit is Lev 11.

    And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

    11They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.

    12Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

    Lev 11:10-12

    If abomination means that Father is disgusted by something then Father is disgusted by us eating prawns and shellfish.

    Bull I can only conclude that the premise is not correct and that abomination does not mean that Father is disgusted by something. I personally will continue to eat prawns and oysters after reading this verse.

    I can understand that it is tempting to do this but attributing emotions to Father is an error-prone business unless he does it himself. We just end up putting our own emotions onto Father and so we justify ourselves.

    Personally I think projection is a major problem both inside and outside the church. I think it introduces an apparent absolute or “principle” that is not really there in the scripture.

  26. In the current church Muppet we can interupt yes, but we are pretty courteous about it. Our minister is fantastic, he usually doens’t say outragous things or alarming things or silly things (unless its funny). Its a congregation of about 50. We have an open annual general meeting and we can look at the accounting papers. Its all out in the open. well i hope so :o)

  27. I find one of the most profound scriptures is when Jesus says, the greatest commandment is “Love Thy Neighbour” Sounds v easy but hard to put into practice sometimes. Its easy to love the lovable but hard to tolerate the kind of unlovable. I used kept hold of this scripture when i studied counselling as i had a few of my own prejudices. And it takes time to understand human behaviour, how we tick….

  28. “I can understand that it is tempting to do this but attributing emotions to Father is an error-prone business unless he does it himself. We just end up putting our own emotions onto Father and so we justify ourselves.”

    Very well said Heretic. I agree.

    “Sanctification is the process of Discipleship.”
    I disagree. Sanctification is complete when we are saved. Now it’s about discovering what’s under the promised land given to us by God. His Spirit reveals to us what He’s aready done and accomplished at the cross and at our ‘First Love’.

    I do not believe in the ‘Progressive Sanctification’ doctrine. I found it completely works based and saw that it didn’t free people in Christ, but bound people to try and become more holy as time progressed. It is a very unfriutful doctrine.

  29. One of the hardest things I find in ‘remaining free in Christ’, his my zeal to see people set free. This, or me defending truth to the point I become bound.

    To remain free, I have discovered that if I put Christ before myself and others, I can rest and remain free. This means I operate in good health and remain healthy in my relationships to people who need help finding freedom in Christ.

    In this I understand what Paul means when he says “I am a slave to Christ”. For we will be slaves and servants to men like Christ if we hold onto Him above all other things.

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