The Freedom of Dependence

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 1, 2015 1 comments

by Logan Ames

In a few days, our nation will celebrate 239 years of independence. Some who couldn’t care less about the true meaning of the holiday will simply use it as an occasion to party, barbeque, and watch or set off fireworks. Some will do those same things as a celebration of the freedom that allows us to do them. Others will simply walk tall with pride and boast of our freedom and independence while honoring those who sacrificed to give it to us. Those two words - “freedom” and “independence” - have become synonymous with each other and with the Fourth of July. But I submit to you that they are not necessarily the same. We may have gained national independence and freedom from the control of another country on July 4, 1776, but our freedoms have been mostly established within the boundaries of the Constitution and we have still had to DEPEND on each other for many years.

In our present society, many are finding new and brazen ways to challenge restrictions on independence. Criminals and suspects demand respect from law enforcement officials rather than respect the badge and authority. Men are “identifying” as women and vice versa. We now have a former NAACP leader who was found to be white, but still said, “I identify as black.” In my opinion, these are all attempts to be independent, to be unrestricted by any authority or even by the most basic boundaries God gave us within our own bodies. As soon as one restriction is defeated, they move on to the next one, with the ultimate goal clearly being independence. The lie from the enemy is that being independent will make one totally free. Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). That would include those who think they are not sinning because they don’t believe in God or his standard, which really just means they are making another attempt at utter independence. The more we fight against depending on God and others, the more we fall into sin and become even more captive.

The Apostle Paul continues his writing on the difference between life according to the flesh and life according to the Spirit in this week’s passage, Romans 8:9-17. He explains that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the grave is the Spirit that is within us and can give us life, even though our bodies are subject to death (v. 11). He then goes on to say that those of us who claim to be followers of Christ and claim to have the Holy Spirit in us have an “obligation” to put the “misdeeds of the body” to death by the power of that Spirit (vv. 12-13). This is where many who struggle to accept the Christian faith and the calling to be a disciple of Jesus will point their collective finger and say that believers aren’t really “free” because they have an obligation. I’d like to explain my thoughts on what Paul says about this going forward in the passage and how he echoes Jesus himself.

Paul states that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (v. 14). Evidently, he recognized that some might think that belonging to God makes you a slave. He says that this is not the case because receiving the Holy Spirit makes us God’s adopted children, which then makes us “co-heirs” with Christ (vv. 15-17). Think of yourself as a child and your relationship with your parents. Are you their slaves? Certainly not. Yet, you still have certain obligations that are generally for your long-term benefit. You might have a curfew. You are hopefully limited in the amount of time you can spend on the television or computer. You are forced to eat healthy foods you might not like. You might not have the freedom to reject these things, but you are still their child no matter what you do. You have an obligation to obey THEIR rules since you belong to THEM.

In the same way, receiving the Holy Spirit and becoming children of God means that we are HIS children permanently even if we make mistakes. So, allowing the Spirit to lead our lives rather than the flesh is something we do out of obligation as children. Some have criticized our Lord by saying that he sets a list of rules and tells us we must follow them if we want to be with him for eternity. That’s not the type of obligation I’m talking about. Jesus made it clear that our place with him is not dependent on our righteousness. “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:35-36). This was a follow up to the earlier verse I quoted about being a slave to sin. If we were to become slaves in God’s family, we could be tossed away the first time we acted in an unrighteous manner. But as CHILDREN, we belong to God FOREVER. Once we are free from being a slave to sin, we are free INDEED! The extra emphasis is used to show that it is final.

Children need to depend on their parents. Nothing can change their biological relation, even when they mess up. Therefore, they are free and have a permanent place in the family. So, they are free AND dependent at the same time. They rely on their parents out of obligation because they know that their parents know what is best. Do you have this type of relationship with your heavenly Father? Do you submit to him willingly or does he have to drag you kicking and screaming? If independence is what you are after, you’re not going to find it in a relationship with God. He knows what is best for us because he created us. He knows how to walk us through the sufferings that are coming our way, but he also desires to share his glory with us. If you belong to him and are led by the Spirit, you are free. That freedom and blessed assurance is something to celebrate! I urge you to view your relationship with the Father not as slavery, but as intentional dependence. Continue to rely on his Spirit to lead you through life. As we celebrate freedom and independence as a nation, remember your freedom that comes through your dependence on the Father.

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Unknown said...

LOVE this message... very well put Logan. Thanks for sharing this biblical perspective on a day that most would like to ignore any part that God has in our Nation. Seems that's the trend of society, pitifully. I really enjoyed reading your message. Thanks for sharing.