No Longer!
      I recently heard a teaching from Beth Moore on Romans 6, particularly verses 5 and 6 which read, "Since we have been united with Him in His death, we will also be raised as He was.  Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin."  To this Moore added, "Some things in our lives need to be told "no longer."  She spoke of those things that hold us in captivity, what have often been referred to as "besetting sins," for truly, they set upon and hold us in a bondage we can never in our own strength break free from.  Freedom is found only in Christ, at His cross, in His death and in His resurrection.  What things, bondages, sins, in our lives, must we say "no longer" to?
    Romans 7 has often been pointed to by many in the church as an example of what the Christian life is to be.  In that chapter, Paul wrote of his own struggle with such bondage, saying, "I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it.  Instead I do the very thing I hate."  For many, this is what is accepted as "life in Him."  We have intentions of doing good, doing the "right thing," but because of the weakness of our flesh, we will often, very often, do what is wrong.  Paul writes of the constant inner struggle between the good desire, and the wrong action.  What so many miss is what Paul goes on to say in chapter 8, verse 
3, "God destroyed sin's control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.....and for all who receive Him and the fullness of His life, the power of sin, and our bondage to it, is broken, and we "no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit."  In effect, Christ did not come to leave us in chapter 7, but to take us into the fullness of chapter 8.  Has He been able to take you and I?
     Watchman Nee wrote that Paul found his freedom in Christ because he came to "the condition of knowing what to hate as well as what to desire............the apostle was so unwilling to live a life in sin that he was determined to get out of it.  It was due to his hatred of it and his determination to find an escape that he found deliverance."  I know of few who don't hate what the fruit of their particular sin or bondage is doing to their lives, but just as few seem to possess the determination of Paul to be rid of it, replaced by a unquenchable desire not only for freedom, but for Christ Himself.  When Paul saw and encountered Christ on the Damascus Road, he saw that in Christ, his life needn't any longer be one of trying to keep and live up to a code of conduct, the keeping of laws that he would ultimately fail at, but one that would be in Him, "really free."  Are you and I living such a life today?
     What is it that you need to say "no longer" to today?  Moore said that we need an "outbreak of freeing grace."  Where do you need that in your life right now?  Where is your captivity?  What attitude, habit, addiction, emotion, abuse, fear, or worry hold you in darkness, bound and beaten?  In your own strength, you cannot and will not be free, but in Him, at the cross, in the power of His resurrection, you can, we can, say "no longer," desiring above all else to partake of the fullness of His life.  Against such, no chains can hold us, no prison bars can keep us.  We are free.  Really free.  Held in bondage no longer.

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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