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It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (NASB)
I love this phrase: it was for freedom that Christ set [me] free! Yet so often I do not walk in that freedom. The verse goes on the say that I am to stand firm and not be subject to a yoke of slavery. I like the way the Message version puts it: “Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”
But my problem isn’t with other people putting a ‘harness of slavery’ on me. Instead, my problem is myself. I put the yoke of slavery on myself. A yoke of sugar-dependence. A yoke of self-reliance. A yoke of self-importance. A yoke of non-submission. A yoke of excess weight. A yoke of self-loathing.
I am right there with Paul, saying that the things I want to do, I don’t do, while those things I don’t want to do, I do (Romans 7:15-20). But, also like Paul, I proclaim, “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ [my] Lord!” (Romans 7:24).
Experiencing Freedom in Christ
So, what do I do? How can I experience the victory that is mine in Christ?
This is a question I will be asking and answering until I reach glory. However, I know there are some things that make a difference.
- Memorize Scripture. John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that I might have abundant life. And Matthew 11:29 says that His yoke is easy – not the burden of servitude that I put on myself. I know these verses because I memorized them years ago. But memorization of Scripture is not just for the young – it is for every believer. The more my mind is filled with the Word of God, the more it can seep into my soul.
- Play Christian music. One of my current favorites is So Will I, also known as 100 Billion Times, by Hillsong United. The phrase “And as You speak, a hundred billion failures disappear,” speaks right to my self-slavery. It reminds me of the freedom that comes from total forgiveness. It ministers to my soul in the dark place that I hide from everyone. Worship guides me to experiencing freedom.
- Get up again. When I fail, which I do, I don’t give up; I get up. Success is getting up one time more than you – or I – fall down. I will fall. I will fail. But by God’s grace, I will get up again. How? By remembering the victories of the past, the faithfulness of the Lord, and the promises of His Word. I am not alone in this struggle against my self-imposed burdens. Jesus is always with me (Hebrews 13:5).
- Focus on helping others to freedom. Isaiah 58:6 is another favorite verse about freedom. The Lord is speaking to Israel, but the truths are applicable to all believers in all times. God cares less about our fasting from food, and more about freeing the oppressed. The best way, the only sure way, to bring others to freedom is to bring them to Jesus. As I take my focus off myself, I am less likely to be entangling myself with sin that will steal my freedom. The question I must ask is, “Whose yoke can I help break today?”
- Remember the Lord. Remember especially that He is “my refuge and my fortress…a shield and bulwark…” (Psalm 91:2, 4). Remember that He will deliver me to freedom. It is a freedom that will not be fully realized until “the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). But it is assured.
There are many more steps I could take – prayer, being in the Word, worshiping with other believers – but these are the ones that are helping me in this season of life: Remembering the verses I’ve memorized, and memorizing more that will sustain me in the years ahead. Worshiping through music. Getting up every time I fall and fail. Focusing on others. Remembering the Lord – remembering His faithfulness, His goodness, His history of working in and for me.