Sep 22, 2008

Devotional - Liberty by the Holy Spirit

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  (2Co_3:17)

As we have seen, the old covenant of law produces spiritual bondage in those who attempt to live under it. The great heavenly remedy for that bondage is the new covenant of grace, because it produces spiritual liberty. This liberty is a work of the Holy Spirit. "Now the Lord is the Spirit." The life-giving Lord of grace is the Spirit of God: "the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2Co_3:6). 

Living by rules and regulations ("of the letter") has a deadening, binding spiritual effect on people. This is how the Pharisee's "ministered." "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders" (Mat_23:4). Jesus came to liberate people, to set them free. This is why Jesus ministered by the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luk_4:18). As Jesus, the Son of God, humbly served the Father, the Holy Spirit empowered Him to rescue captives, to release the oppressed. 

Rescuing people from sin and unrighteousness is the fundamental, liberating work of Jesus. "And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Rom_6:18). Now, we are free to grow in a life of righteousness. Our newfound freedom is not for personal indulgence. It is for the serving the Lord. "As free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God" (1Pe_2:16). Now that we are free, we can use our freedom to lovingly minister to others. "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Gal_5:13). 

Another wonder of Christ's rescuing, liberating work is that He wants to save us from self-dependent striving to develop a life of godliness and loving service. He accomplishes this by the work of the Holy Spirit. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom_8:2). As we walk in humble dependence, the Holy Spirit imparts to us the life that is in Christ Jesus. This liberates us from the tendency to rely upon fleshly human resources, which are inadequate (due to sin and spiritual deadness).

Dear God of all spiritual liberation, I praise You for setting me free from sin and the service of self. Now I ask You to work in and through me by Your Holy Spirit, setting me free from self-striving in my service of You, in Jesus name, Amen.