Here in America, we value freedom. Freedom to choose this thing or that thing, freedom from oppression and from the shackles of slavery. In my discussions with people, I am occasionally asked how I can believe in such an oppressive book as the Bible; they say that the Bible is outdated, or closed-minded. I have responded by saying that quite to the contrary, the Bible has not oppressed or enslaved me, but it has liberated me and set me free. You see, freedom is just an illusion, if you are still a slave to sin, still a slave to negativity, depression or the lusts of the flesh – and there are a great number of people in churches today even who are still bound by these things.
So today, we will be studying how Jesus Christ can give us true freedom from sin and self, and how as a result of His redemptive work, we can be truly free.
There is an important principle about freedom, and that is you cannot be truly free if you are not free in your mind, in your thought life, or free emotionally. We need to be free in all of these areas to be truly free, and many of us are still bound in one or more of these areas. Even people who consider themselves to be “open-minded” free in their minds or “free-thinkers” they are still enslaved without knowing it… they still think bad thoughts, selfish thoughts, unclean imaginations, pessimism, depression, etc. They can’t save themselves from these things, but still proclaim that they are free. So who then can be free? The Bible says in John 8:36 whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed. True freedom can only come by Jesus Christ. How then do we receive this freedom? Let’s begin our study today by looking at 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Back in March of 2014, we did a detailed study of the strongholds listed in verses 5 and 6. Today however, we are going to focus more on exactly how we are given victory and freedom in Christ Jesus.
Look at verses 3 and 4… how many people today understand that right now we are in a war? I have heard some Christians complain and say that the people of the world don’t seem to have the same struggles or problems as we do. The reason for that is because they are already dead! If you are fighting two enemies and one is mortally wounded and the other is still struggling against you, which one will you go for first? We are in a war, but our weapons are not of this world, not carnal, not fleshly; but praise be to God they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. These weapons are not mighty of ourselves, but through God. We can not wield or handle these weapons by our own strength or power, but only through the power and Spirit of God.
Now where is the battlefield? Where are these strongholds to be pulled down? They are in your mind! Look at verse 5: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Notice that it says to bring into captivity every thought. This is your mind, the battle is in your mind and the strongholds to be pulled down are also in your mind. Notice also what verse 5 says to do: bringing every thought to captivity to the obedience to Christ. Take special care to realize that this is not your obedience, but Christ’s obedience.
So then, what is the obedience of Christ? Turn to Romans 5:19:
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
We know that the one man who was disobedient and made all of us sinners was Adam. Because of Adam’s fall, this is why today we have sickness, disease, poverty and death in the world today. God never designed any of those things for us. But when he fell, those things came upon us, why… because God made Adam to be the federal head of all of creation. Adam served as the representative for all of creation, and as he fell, so too did all of creation.
Now when I was just learning about all of this many years ago, the first thought that came to my mind was “that’s not fair! Why should I suffer for someone-else’s mistake?” However God designed it in such a way that as we keep reading, we see the glory of Christ, and it is actually a burden lifted of of us, because we are not sinners because we sin – we sin because we are sinners. And it is this truth that makes the second half of verse 19 even more glorious: that by one Man’s obedience many shall be made righteous.” Oh thank God for this scriptural truth. By the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, we are made righteous – right with God.
Most believers are very quick to agree with this verse that we are made righteous by Jesus, but whenever we fail, we feel as though we lose our salvation or that God is angry with us now. The reality of this however is that we have just read in the Bible that we are made righteous not by our own obedience, but by the obedience of the One, Jesus Christ. If you believe that you lose your righteousness when you disobey, then you really believe that you had had righteousness because you obeyed. However the Bible truth is laid out for us in this verse, it’s not of ourselves, but through Christ’s obedience.
Now whenever I teach this, there is always a critic that says “so this means we can live recklessly and disobedient!” – No… there is a place for our obedience, but it is a fruit of our right-standing with Christ and not a work. Let’s go back to our text in 2nd Corinthians 10:6:
“And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Notice that verse 6 is a direct continuation of verse 5. When our obedience is fulfilled, then all disobedience is revenged-upon. Our obedience is spelled out in verse 5, to bring every thought, emotion and imagination into the captivity of the obedience of Christ Jesus; and when we are actively doing this, it is Christ that revenges all disobedience. You see there is still obedience, but it is not the root of righteousness – that is Christ. Obedience is a fruit, and it is effortless.
How can it be effortless? Because it won’t be out of character anymore, it won’t be something on the outside, but it will be natural. If I told you to keep blinking your eyes, it would actually become difficult after some time, but it may surprise you to learn that you naturally blink your eyes over 28,000 times per day – it’s effortless when it is natural.
So what is natural for us in Christ? Matthew 6:31-34:
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.”
See verse 31? One of the primary ways, that we take a thought, is by speaking it. We see a news report about a new virus, and then we see “I’ll probably be next, I always get sick!” or we sneeze once or feel a pain somewhere and say “I hope I’m not coming down with something!” My friends, let’s take a lesson from Jesus here… don’t take the enemy’s thoughts!
Verse 33 tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (again not our own), and He takes care of everything else. Focus on Christ, and bring every thought into the captivity of His obedience, and our victory and freedom is assured. Evil is in the world, pressures will come, but we are never told to grab hold of them and take them, we are told to not let them steal our attention away from Jesus! And as we continue to see Him, that is when the fruits of His Spirit will flow through us and overflow out of us for all to see, a new nature, an effortless change and true freedom, all through Christ Jesus.