Be still and know that i am God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus is here with you (yes in Ephesians 1:3 Paul refers to the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus”. I take that to mean in His humanity He saw God as His God and Father).
“The key word is not just to know that I am with you – but that you know Me and even more important that I know you. From your conception I have known you – from a young age you have known and accepted that I am real – but there came a time when your eyes were truly opened and in a full flush of wonder you came into a different dimension of ‘knowledge’ – a dimension where you met Me in a new way – From that moment on I knew you too in a new way, because I started a relationship with you – where you could meet and speak to me. Now as time is passing I am drawing you deeper and deeper into knowing Me. My word speaks of Jesus as a ‘Mystery’ and though that Mystery is revealed under the New Covenant – while it is revealed there are yet such riches in that Mystery that there is a deeper and more intimate knowledge revealed of Me as you walk with Me, hence Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17 – and the aim is twofold – to give you hope – and to open your eyes to the power that is available to you to live the life – the new life of freedom I have given you. So my continual invitation to you is to keep close to Me and to walk step by step in the way and power of the Spirit”.
Today I was reading in Acts again (Ch 21), describing Paul’s arrested in Jerusalem. John Stott makes the point that from that time onward Paul was never free again. Yet, as I considered this, it came to me that despite his physical bondage and captivity he was still, perhaps the person with the greatest freedom. He understood fully what it meant to be set free from the bondage of the law, yet he used the law to open a way to preach the gospel, without falling into bondage again. So it is important that we understand that the freedom that the gospel brings is a spiritual and mental freedom and not a physical freedom. There are many people who are in bondage to sickness, pain, captivity, disability, poverty etc yet have a sense of the complete freedom which comes with a true understanding of the gospel. Take Joni Ericksen-Tada as an example.
If we look again at Galatians 5, there is a clear choice set before the readers: either to live by gratifying the sinful nature v 16 and performing the acts of that nature or by being led by the Spirit. This is clearly describing before and after our conversion. At first glance we easily pat ourselves on the back as we read the list of the acts of the sinful nature, because they seem so obvious and awful and we would never act like that, yet in vs 17 Paul reveals the real state of affairs in every Christian’s life (including Paul’s, that’s why he could speak from experience). We each have two natures, although the sinful nature has been suppressed and we have been set free from its cloying hold, it still remains a factor in every Christian’s life. Thus Paul can say our two natures are “in conflict with one another” and he says these ominous words in that vs “so you do not do what you want“. Wow! So we may not be involved in debauchery, drunken orgies and the like, but there are many acts of this sinful nature which still can trouble you without you realizing it, just to mention two: Idolatry, worshiping anything other than God, for instance yourself, your family, whatever. He demands our whole heart, mind, body, strength etc. Then there is the sin of ‘muttering’, which made God so angry on a number of occasions in the OT. It is so easy to join in the general chorus of complaint against everything that is going wrong in our country. Oh yes, are these things worse than what the Israelites experienced 3 days into the desert with no sign of water or food? Or when plagues broke out among them in the desert? When we complain we are implying God does not know what He is doing, or that He is powerless to change things. How does that affect our testimony in general conversation when we go along with all the negative comment? There are many more but the important point I want to make is that though we are free we need to be careful to maintain and grow in that freedom.
So the battle for freedom from the bondage to sin and ourselves is ongoing. What are we to do about it? Try harder? That puts us back into bondage to the law again. No – the answer is to remind ourselves of the central gospel message in his book in ch 2:20,21. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life that I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me”. And to repent and start afresh in faith and trust of His power and to live in step and in the power of the Spirit. That is true freedom.