Freedom in Christ
One of the pursuits of those following Jesus Christ is freedom; freedom from negative thoughts and feelings, freedom from sinful habits and freedom from the devil. In the pursuit of freedom such as healing or deliverance, a better marriage or home life with family, “freedom 55” and financial resource, we must remember that we must “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matt 6:33). We must not enter worry in our quest for freedom but must make sure it is our first intention to seek his kingdom. In other words, we are to love and obey the Lord firstly, before we seek after any other goals in life no matter how significant, even freedom… Sometimes I have seen new Christians who are hell bent in going after the devil. Other times there are those who attempt to set themselves free from sin. Others try to live such spiritual lives there is an unhealthy disconnect with the world around them. All of these are seeking freedom but without a proper point of beginning. I believe there is a scriptural order when it comes to experiencing freedom in Christ.
Freedom in Christ
We are going to begin to study Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus with the underlying thought of “freedom in Christ”. Ephesians is a book of discovery which I believe gives us some biblical direction with regards to freedom. We will discover about our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We will seek out proper personal sanctification which is like having a bath in a spiritual sense. We will grow in our understanding of relating to each other, whether in family, friendships or the church. And we will learn how to submit to God and stand firm against the enemy of our souls, the devil.
Remember the Lord’s Prayer in Matt 6:9-13… This passage has a divine order with regards to freedom. Our Father and Thy Kingdom comes before personal needs, the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from the enemy. Freedom in Christ is about a journey of growth and maturity for those who are willing to do the homework, so to speak. We have a wonderful teacher in the Holy Spirit as he walks us through the Holy Bible. Let’s take some time this morning to gather the overview of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians.
The Apostle Paul was a missionary who spent considerable time in the city of Ephesus. We see
for a brief time at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18-21), and then he spent more than two years discipling to the church at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-41). Ephesus was a very prosperous port city engaged in regional trade, it housed the famous temple to the Greek goddess Artemis, it was a very spiritual and religious city, signs, wonders and conversions to Christ by Paul’s preaching in the synagogues and homes, and persecution by the silversmith Demetrius which caused a riot which led to Paul leaving the city. Nero was emperor in Rome but this was before the persecution described in Apostle Peter’s letters. Ephesians and Colossians are very similar in composition and by adding Philippians and Philemon we have Paul’s prison letters. It is interesting to note the Apostle John wrote of Jesus addressing the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2; the believers were hard workers, they did not tolerate wickedness, they persevered, endured hardships, did not grown weary but they did forget their first love with Jesus. This tells me the priority of God for all that we do is the pursuit of Jesus.
Ephesians – The Big Idea
The Apostle Paul is not addressing any theological or moral failure in the church of Ephesus. He is giving well-defined truth both spiritual and practical, with regards to growing in one’s Christian faith. This is why I believe Ephesians offers some clear guidance with regards to the freedom we can enjoy in Christ, again, both spiritually and practically.
We see that the Ephesians begins with a formal greeting – “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:1-2). The letter carries on and is divided into two distinct segments; one theological and one practical. The first three chapters highlight salvation, grace and forgiveness, one family all in relation to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The second segment has to do with the lifestyle of the followers of Christ with each other, in marriage, family, at work, the world in general and ending with awareness of spiritual warfare. Paul ends with a closing benediction – “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Eph 6:23–24).
Why is Ephesians so important? Ephesians highlights significant topics with regards to what it means to be a Christian, in faith and lifestyle. There are powerful key verses in Ephesians that help us with both the spiritual and practical experiences of life. Over the months ahead we will begin to look at these verses and discover how they relate to our Freedom in Christ.
As we consider Freedom in Christ it is important to give some definition to freedom. We are not talking about political freedom or freedom of speech. We cannot individually “climb out on a limb”, so to speak, and find freedom without remaining attached to the tree. Biblically speaking I believe there are two aspects of freedom to consider. Firstly, we are free from sin, self and satan. Secondly, we are free to become all that God created us to be. We cannot experience the second point fully until we have dealt with the guilt and shame of sin, selfishness and the schemes and strategies of the devil. How does freedom happen? God makes us spiritually alive by giving us a new heart in Christ. God transforms our heart by his Holy Spirit. Our heart becomes loving towards God and our new family. It sees Jesus Christ as our best friend and desires to love him as the Lord and Saviour of our life. By faith, we give our life to Jesus and receive his forgiveness and freedom from sin. We grow in our Freedom in Christ as we engage our free-will towards obedience and righteousness. The end result is we become God’s workmanship. We become all that God created us to be. Let’s pray…