And, as a result, there will be times when you will want to go back to the very prisons you escaped from, the prisons—of failure, perfectionism, religion, the past and the like—that deprived you of your freedom in Christ.
Paul’s surprise at the Galatians should not have been a surprise when he wrote: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6).
We can “slip back into the darkness” quite easily. And it’s serious business: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13). “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
I want to offer some help in holding the land of boldness and freedom. It is very valuable land, bought with a terrible price…the blood of Christ. Let’s check it out.
Gurus Who Loot the Land
Remember your danger: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
And one of the methodologies Satan uses to “sift us” is gurus. The gurus who loot the land of freedom and boldness can be found in our lives as well as throughout Scripture (Jeremiah 5:30-31; 2 Corinthians 1:24, 2:17,12:18; Hebrews 12:3).
Gurus are spiritual authority figures who supposedly have a special relationship with God and therefore deserve total, absolute submission.
Do you know what really irritates me?
People who take free and joyous new Christians and make them into sour, negative and judgmental Christians.
In Matthew 18, the disciples ask Jesus, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” In answer, Jesus takes a child and says, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (v. 3).
When Jesus talked about childlikeness, he was not talking about purity. Any parent knows that a child may be innocent, but a child isn’t pure. Jesus was, I suspect, talking about smallness, trust, joy and freedom.
The interesting part of that passage is what immediately follows. Jesus says: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (v. 6).
Of course, I believe that Jesus was literally talking about little children there; but, given its juxtaposition in the text, I believe that he was also talking about those who rob Christians of their trust, joy and freedom.
It happens all the time, often for good reasons. We think that there has to be more discipline, more obedience, more holiness and more sanctification…and all of that is true. It is just that those things don’t come from effort; they come from being free and loved.
The fact is, there are those who would rob you of your freedom. They may do it out of concern, jealousy or meanness; but, for whatever reason, don’t let them.
There is a biblical doctrine called “the priesthood of all believers.” That doctrine teaches, among other things, that no one can be your mother, your master or your priest, because no one is more qualified than you are.
There are many brothers and sisters in Christ who believe that they have God in their back pockets. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: They don’t.
Where did I get that information? “Do not be wise in your own eyes…” (Proverbs 3:7). “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12). “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you…Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the LORD” (Obadiah 2-4).
Freedom and boldness are gifts from God. Don’t let leaders take them away from you.
I have gone down a lot of wrong roads, following a lot of sincere, strong, articulate…and wrong leaders. There are three things I have learned:
First, I have learned that there are no infallible teachers or leaders. God had only one perfect preacher. His name was Jesus Christ. Be careful about everybody else, including me.
Second, I have learned that no teacher or leader should be judged on the basis of the size of the crowd, the bigness of the church, the glibness of the tongue, the sincerity of the voice, the certainty of the demeanor or the glitter of the ministry. (Hitler got a big crowd, he had a glib tongue, he was sincere and certain…and the Third Reich was nothing, if it didn’t have glitter.)
And third, I have learned that, when authority (other than God’s authority) is asked to be accepted without explanation, that authority is usually not from God. So, watch carefully for gurus who are out to rob the land of freedom and boldness.
Time to Draw Away
Read Ezekiel 13:1-3 & Matthew 11:28-30
Who robs you of your freedom and boldness? How can you guard yourself against gurus…and reclaim any lost land? No one has God in his or her back pocket. Follow Jesus Christ. Rest in him.