A few weeks after I had heard 'Life' spoken to me from the Lord, I was putting laundry into the washing machine when I clearly heard the word 'Freedom'. Nobody else was in the room with me, except the Holy Spirit. I know it was The Spirit talking to me.
I accepted that word from Him, and immediately recalled the verse in John 8:36 "So if the Son sets (or 'makes' NASB) you free, you will be free indeed." (NIV)
So, He was pointing out to me that I hadn't been living out my freedom, the freedom that Christ the Son had died to give me. I had taken on self- or man-inflicted bondage, often touted as 'holy' or 'righteous'. I was living a 'good Christian life', had a nice family, doing what many saw as Biblical, but yet my heart was not truly living in freedom. Those were only outward actions that were admired by many, and my intentions were to be pleasing to the Lord, but my heart wasn't living in freedom.
Galatians 2:19 in The Message kind of sums up much of where I had been.
"What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily."
The way I see it is, if I choose to succumb to "rule-keeping, peer-pleasing", then basically what Jesus accomplished on the cross isn't effective as far as it pertains to me. Jesus gave up His precious life and blood for not only my sins, but to set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). If I don't live in that freedom, then I am basically rejecting what God's gift to me is. (I challenge you to read thru Romans 8, at least thru verses 1-6. But much of the rest of the chapter talks lots about Life & death, Freedom and bondage.)
Galatians 5:13(AMP) says, "For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another."
We were called to live in Freedom. Not lawlessness (see 1 John 3:4). "You say, “I am allowed to do anything”-—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial." (1 Cor 10:23)
When I talk about Freedom I am not at all saying, "Anything Goes!" because it doesn't. Scripture is clear about particular things that are sin. But past that, much of what the church sees as 'sinful' is simply religious-spirited opinion. Take drinking wine, for example. Hot topic in some circles, but I dare to bring it up. Scripture makes it clear to "Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Eph 5:18) In 1 Tim 5:23 Paul admonished Timothy to use wine medicinally, and Jesus' very first public miracle was turning water not just into wine, but really really good wine....the BEST! (see John 2:1-12)
Nobody will convince me that drinking wine under all conditions for a Christian is a sin. That is just opinion. It often becomes bondage forced on others. But it is not supported by Scripture. Therefore, according to Scripture, drinking wine is permissable. It may not be beneficial, but that's a different issue. It is allowable. But many times we take our opinion that because it might not be beneficial in my situation, it therefore mustn't be beneficial in your situation, either.
I heard a story by Bill Johnson who was traveling with a fella, and Bill offered him a candy. He turned it down, saying that God had told Him that he wasn't supposed to eat candy. Turns out that a couple years previous God had asked this man to sacrifice or fast from eating candy. He hadn't imposed the 'no eating candy' on anybody else, but he had imposed that candy-fast on himself for years, without having asked God if he could now eat candy. He had actually put himself in a type of bondage because he had assumed that what God had once asked him to do, was still the 'law' for him. He hadn't thought to inquire of the Lord about the issue.
I urge you to honestly ask the Lord to reveal to you what bondage you may be under, and then ask Him to set you free from it. Inquire of the Lord in all matters, and don't accept man's ideas blindly. If the Son has set you free, then YOU ARE FREE! Live in that freedom. Make the cross applicable to your life.
Question for You: Do you feel under obligation alot, or do you feel free most of the time?