Our theme for this month: “A New Year, A New Beginning”
Our Bible verse for today: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “The more spiritually mature you are, the more freedom you will experience.”
In John 8:30-36 Jesus taught a fascinating lesson about what it means to be truly free. His audience was the Jewish people, who as a nation had experienced centuries of slavery and bondage under the rule of nations like Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. But worse than their physical captivity was their enslavement to sinful lifestyles. Ultimate bondage is not mere physical bondage in a political sense, but it is bondage to sin which leads to a lifetime of rebellion against God.
Jesus’ point was that those who put their faith in Him as Savior (thereby having their sins forgiven), and then who choose to follow Him as Lord and become His true disciples (engaging in a lifetime of spiritual growth), they will “… know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (verse 31) … because “… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (verse 36).
Spiritual growth results in true freedom. Simple faith in Christ frees us from the eternal penalty for our sins, but spiritual growth brings us insight which enables us to see and understand the reality of situations as they truly are. The Holy Spirit develops in us a Biblical worldview which enables us to see people and situations as God sees them. This is the genuine truth of the situation and it frees us from the deceptions of the world. Second, spiritual growth also frees us from the bondage of habitual patterns of sinful living.
Then a third way in which spiritual maturity brings freedom is that it frees us from the bondage of legalism. A spiritually mature person doesn’t need rules and regulations to keep them in line. Instead, he or she has learned to hear the voice of God and to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. God has created a big beautiful world, filled with things and activities that we are free to enjoy. But it takes spiritual maturity, sensitivity, and discernment in order to live that way without abusing your freedom. Spiritual growth makes that possible.
Two of the best resources I have ever found to help Christians learn to live free in Christ are the Bible studies “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” by Henry Blackaby; and “Hearing God” by Dallas Willard. Completing either or both of those studies in 2020 would make a great New Year’s resolution for the person who is committed to doing things that will help to accelerate their spiritual growth.
Tomorrow I have one final thought I want to share with you about spiritual growth, and then we will think about the important relationships we all have and some things we could do in 2020 to strengthen them.