We are Free from the Penalty of Sin

As we continue talking about our freedom in Christ, we understand that the most important freedom we have is our freedom from the penalty of our sin. Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (CSB) Jesus has paid the penalty for us!

In J. Vernon McGee’s Commentary on Romans, he writes that verse one should literally read, “Therefore now, not one condemnation.” Isn’t that an amazing thought? There is nothing for which God condemns us. We don’t need to worry about being condemned because Jesus took care of our penalty for sin on the cross. As Believers, we do at times, fall into sin. But we don’t have to stay there, and when we repent and ask forgiveness, God forgives, and we are free. He does not condemn us. If we feel any condemnation, it comes from the enemy. It is Satan who sits on our shoulder pointing out our faults and failures, condemning us, telling us we are not good enough to be a Christian, telling us that God couldn’t possibly love us and that because we failed we have lost our place in God’s family. The Apostle Paul tells us, “not one condemnation”, is placed upon us! We are justified. Justification can be defined as, “Just as if I hadn’t sinned.” The dictionary defines justification as, “the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.” That is just what Jesus did for us on the cross. His death on the cross paid for the penalty of our sins. He took our sins upon Himself.

Our verse tells us also that “the law of the Spirit of Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” In J. Vernon McGee’s commentary, he states, ‘“The law of the Spirit’ means not only a principle of law, but also the authority which is exercised by the Spirit. ‘The Spirit of life’ means the Holy Spirit who brings life because He essentially is life. He is the Spirit of life. ‘In Christ Jesus’ means that the Holy Spirit is in complete union with Christ Jesus. Because the believer shares the life of Christ, He liberates the believers.” Isn’t that amazing? Because we share Jesus’ life, we are freed because of what He did for us.

So, how do we go about sharing in the life of Christ so that we may be liberated? We must believe that Jesus is God’s Son, was born of a virgin, lived on earth to preach and teach about who God is, was beaten, tortured, and crucified to pay the penalty of our sins, was buried for three days, resurrected, and ascended to Heaven to reign with His Father. We must repent (ask forgiveness) of all our sins, ask Him to live within us, change us, and endeavor to live for Him, and then thank Him for His grace to us. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (CSB) Once we have accepted Jesus as Savior, we can receive freedom from our sins.

If you are looking for that freedom, take that step forward. Ask Jesus to save you from your sins and live inside of you. Don’t put it off. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “…now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation! You will find that it will be the best decision you have ever made. Then you will experience that freedom from the penalty of sin and death, and you will find that you are living with peace and joy in your heart.

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Fear Ensnares – Trust in the Lord Brings Freedom

Fear can stop us in our tracks.  It can paralyze us; it can stop whatever dreams we have from coming to fruition.  Fear of what others say or think of us can trap us into a prison so that we just stand still.  Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (KJV) Our verse says that fear of men can ensnare us.  Trusting in God can release us from that prison of fear.

Fear of other’s thoughts and opinions of us can hinder us from stepping out into our dreams and ambitions.  However, we must trust in God’s opinions and His thoughts of us.  If He is calling us out of our comfort zone, there will be plenty of people ready, and willing, to put a damper on our desire to fulfill that call.  However, we must trust that God knows the best for us.  If He has called us into an area for our growth, He will give us the ability to accomplish it. He will encourage us to push forward.  When we put our trust in what God says about us, we can break free of the fear of what others may try to do or say to hinder us.

Our verse today says that when we trust in the Lord, we are safe!  Chains of fear are broken.  When we are fearful of failure, we can remember, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 CSB) When we are fearful of other’s opinions, we can go to God’s Word and read the myriad of verses of how He loves us and how precious we are to Him.  When we are fearful of a doctor’s diagnosis, we can remember that it is by Jesus’ stripes that we are healed. (I Peter 2:24)

When we are afraid, God tells us in Isaiah 43:1 “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” (NIV) Trusting God will bring peace and joy.  (John 14:27, Psalm 94:19) We can say with David, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 NIV) Trusting in God gives us courage and boldness.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (NIV)

We can step out into areas that we may not be comfortable in. We can also step out in faith into areas of ministry, knowing that God is with us, encouraging, guiding, and giving us the boldness to reach out to others who need to hear of His love for them.  We need not allow fear to hold us back because we know we are safe with the Lord when we trust in Him.

The Truth Shall Make You Free

As we continue to study on our freedom in Christ, our Bible Journaling comes from John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (KJV) Most of us usually have a poor image of ourselves. We have believed the lie that comes from the enemy that we are unlovely, we are incapable of doing what God has called us to do, we can’t possibly be a child of God because we are imperfect and we sin, on and on it goes.

But God tells us something different. Our verse says that we are to know the truth. Some may ask, “What is truth?” or “Who’s truth?” John 14:6 tells us, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” (NASB) The only truth is Jesus Christ, and truth comes from Him! The Bible says that Satan is a liar, in fact, the Bible calls him “the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Therefore, anything he has to say to us is a lie! That verse also says that “there is no truth in him.” (NASB) The enemy loves to whisper his lies to us in order to cause us to fall, and then when we do fall, he condemns us for falling after we have believed his lies. That is his trap. Only truth comes from God!

So, how do we counteract the enemy and his lies. We believe the truth of God’s Word and what He says to us. We believe God’s Word about who we are in Him. By turning to Jesus, reading the Bible and believing in our heart what it says to us, we then embrace truth and knowing that truth will set us free from the bondage that Satan would have us be under. We can break chains of bondage by believing God’s report instead of the enemy’s lies.

Unfortunately, for some, it is very difficult, especially if they were raised in a household where they could do nothing right, were constantly being criticized, called worthless, and degraded with every breath they breathed. After living a lifetime of constant attack, the mind tends to believe what it hears, and sometimes it takes a lifetime to counteract what it has always heard and believed. Filling our minds with the truth of God’s Word is the remedy for a life of poor self-image. We can take what God says about us to heart, hide it deep inside, meditate on it, and allow it to radically change our minds and our thinking.

I Peter 2:9 tells us that we ”are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.” (NLT) I John 3:1 tells us that we are God’s children. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has thoughts and plans for us, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (NASB) Isaiah 49: 16 tells us, “”Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” (NASB) Isaiah 43:4 says, “…you are precious in My sight, …you are honored and I love you…” (NASB)

Now, if God calls us precious, if He says we are chosen, if He calls us His children, if He thinks about and plans for us, if He has our names inscribed on the palms of His hands and is continually listening to our prayers, don’t you think that means we are worthy? Don’t you think that means we are able to do and be what He calls us to do and be? We must stop believing the lies of the enemy and walk in God’s truth and freedom. It is time to allow the truth of God’s Word to makes us free.

Freedom from Fear

Fear. It’s something each of us deals with. Some people are enslaved by fear to the point that they won’t step out and tackle something new. Some are afraid of something that may happen to them. Some are so fearful that it paralyzes them emotionally and sometimes physically. Our Bible Journaling comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV) Notice the verse says that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Fear comes from the enemy!

Satan’s whole purpose is to “kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10) He wants to derail us in our walk with the Lord. He wants us so paralyzed in fear that we become ineffective witnesses for Christ, and our lives are in bondage to the fear that holds us. On Sunday, my Pastor spoke about how Satan speaks to us, telling us we are less than what God says we are, degrading us, telling us we can’t do this because….” In the process we become bound by what the enemy is telling us because we allow him to demean us in our minds. We can be locked up in fear.

But our verse tells us that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Instead He gives us power, love, and a sound mind. Fear can be debilitating to the point of becoming a psychological disorder. Some people are afraid of being out in crowds or around people, that is called agoraphobia, and they are holed up in their houses, afraid to step outside. I have never experienced that kind of fear, but I do have a fear.

I am totally deaf in one ear due to an illness I had as a child. My fear is that I will lose my hearing totally in my good ear and go completely deaf. To this day I don’t like being in totally quiet rooms, I must have noise, the radio or TV, in the background. A few years ago, I experienced an ear infection that was so bad that I lost a part of my hearing in my good ear. My husband could stand next to me and yell in my ear and I could barely hear him. It scared me badly. I experienced the closest thing to being totally deaf, the thing I feared the most, and I was in a panic. Praise God for His healing and antibiotics and medication to clear the ear infection. I did regain my hearing, however; my hearing was diminished a little. I’ve worn hearing aids for about 30 years, and my hearing continues to decline. Losing my hearing completely is still a fear, but God has helped me through that experience, and it no longer is as strong of a fear as it was before. I have learned a little sign language, so that I will be able to communicate with others. I’m grateful for friends who are sign language interpreters and help me out when I don’t understand something. I’ve also learned to read lips a little.

There are other types of fear that can cause us to step back and not be who we are called to be. We can also be fearful to step out into an area of growth that God is calling us into. We must believe that we are who God says we are. We must remember that it is God who gives us the ability to do what He has called us to. When I first started doing my blog, I was very hesitant. Several years ago, a prophetic word, that I was to begin journaling and I would be ministering to others, was spoken over me. First, I had never had a prophetic word spoken over me before and I wasn’t sure just how to take it. After consulting with my Pastor and talking to some others about what I felt God was leading me to, I launched out. It has been a slow beginning, but I am now beginning to see some rewards, small ones, but rewards none the less. I had to believe that I was able to do what God said I could do and not allow fear to stop me from being obedient to step into my calling.

We must go to God’s Word to reaffirm what He says about us. Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (NASB) God promises that He will not forsake us. (Psalm 37:25) Ephesians 4:8 tells us that He leads us out of slavery. “Wherefore he saith ‘When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.’” (KJV) Philippians 4:3 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) Jesus gives us the strength and helps us to step out into whatever it is that we need to do.

We can follow God and His call on our lives because He does not give us the spirit of fear, He frees us from it. All we need to do is allow Him to free us from that fear and surrender it to Him.

I Walk in Freedom

As we continue our study on freedom, our Bible Journaling Scripture today is from Psalm 119:45, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” (NLT) What does walking in freedom mean? Politically, walking in freedom involves following the laws that have been set forth by our Constitution and legislators. As long as we abide by the law of the land, we have freedom. When we violate those laws, our freedom ends, and most likely will end up with a loss of that freedom.

Spiritually, our freedom comes when we follow God’s laws and when we accept Christ as our Savior. He frees us from our sin. As we mentioned in our last post, just because we are free to do what we want, we should not go against the precepts that God has laid down for us, or we will we be in bondage to sin and depravity. We are not to continue in sin for we will find ourselves in a position of rebellion and back to the bondage of sin, and discipline will be given to us for that disobedience. Just as we are free in our country to live as we please, when we violate the laws of the land, there is a punishment that will be given. Break the speed laws and we receive a speeding ticket. Do it too many times and we lose the privilege of driving. The same holds true with following God’s commandments. When we violate the precepts found in the Bible, God has no choice but to administer a “come to Jesus moment”. Willful sin cannot be a part of the Believer’s life. Yes, we do sin, but we are not to make it a continual choice, we are not to live in sin. When we sin, we are to ask God’s forgiveness and endeavor to do better. He promises to forgive us of our sin (I John 1:9) and set us free.

The Apostle Paul dealt with this with the early church. In I Corinthians 6: 12 Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (NASB) Meaning, we can do what we feel is right, but it may not necessarily be the best thing for us to do. Peter struggled with this in that he seemed to act according to who he was with. In Galatians 2:11-21, Paul confronts Peter. Peter was eating with the Gentile Believers until some of James’ friends from Jerusalem came, and then he ate with them and distanced himself from the Gentile Christians. He was afraid of what the Jewish Christians would say if he ate with the Gentiles. This caused some Jewish Believers to follow Peter’s example, and Paul had to correct Peter publicly, because it showed inconsistency in his behavior. There was nothing wrong with eating with the Gentiles. However, the Jews had been raised not to eat with uncircumcised people (Gentiles), who were considered sinners. Therefore, Peter, even though he had the freedom to eat with the Gentiles, didn’t show the Jewish Believers the freedom that he had in Christ by his actions.

In other instances, if we know something we do that we do not consider sin, is a stumbling block to those who see it as sin, and we cause that person to backslide, then we are abusing our freedom and causing a fellow Believer to fall. Romans 14 deals with this very thing. In this example Paul is talking about eating meat that has been offered to idols. If a fellow Believer considers it sin to eat meat and we don’t, then it is advisable not to eat meat in their presence, that way we will not cause them to stumble. Their faith may not be as strong as ours, and so we must help them continue in faith and to grow.

Freedom also involves a level of maturity in how we act, speak, and show our faith. As an example, in some circles, Christians believe it is ok to drink alcoholic beverages. They believe they have that freedom as Believers, and they may have. However, as I see it, there is inconsistency in their walk with the Lord. Yes, the Bible says it is ok to drink, but not to get drunk. The Bible even says to drink wine as a medicine for your stomach. (I Timothy 5:23) But like my Pastor says, “When you take one drink, you are drunker than you were before.” It is not a good idea to engage in behavior that the world engages in because it will ruin our witness before them. They will say, “Well, if they can do that, what makes them different from me?” It can show them that God hasn’t made a difference in our lives and they feel that there is no desire to become a Christian.

So, walking in freedom requires us to use discretion in how we live. If we want to be consistent, show the world that Christ has made a change in us, and be an example to others, we must use our freedom wisely, and then we will be truly free.

Freedom is Found in Christ

In the United States we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th. There is much celebrating as we remember what was given so that we can live in a country where we are free to live and worship as we please. There is also a Spiritual freedom that comes through belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Our Bible Journaling today comes from John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” (CSB)

First off, we need to know the definition of freedom. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines freedom as “the quality or state of being free: such as the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action, liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another.” Spiritually, we are free from the power of sin over our lives once we become Born-Again Believers. However, that does not mean we will never sin. We still are human beings who are not perfect and do sin. But that does not mean that all is hopeless. God forgives our sin when we repent and ask for His forgiveness. If we are free in Jesus does that mean we have a license to do whatever we want, even go against God’s law and will for our lives? No. The Apostle Paul dealt with this issue in Romans 6:1-2. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (NASB) There were some in the church who were teaching that because God would forgive their sin when they asked forgiveness (I John 1:9) then they could go out and live any way they wanted, including returning to their old life. What they forgot was, with sin comes consequences and that means discipline from God. Paul had to deal with this issue in the church a lot, it seems.

Freedom doesn’t mean that we can return to our former lifestyle without having to suffer the penalty for disobedience. Just as we in the United States have freedom to live as we please, there are still laws that must be obeyed, or we suffer the consequences.

Today there are still those who think that once they have become Christians, they have an insurance policy to get into Heaven. They think they can go out and live like the Devil himself without repercussion. But Paul says no, there must be accountability and we must be obedient to God and His Word to ensure that we are living holy, justified lives. So, what does freedom in Christ mean? It means that we are free to follow Him and His precepts, Not only are we free from the penalty of our sin, but we are also free to love and worship God and have a close relationship with Him. We are free from Satan’s hold on us and we are free to follow God, free to choose to live a life of joy, peace, and restoration.

We are also free to believe what God says about us. Sometimes, I have a hard time accepting what God says about me. I know myself, and I know I don’t measure up to God’s standards. I look at myself in the mirror and what I see doesn’t please me a lot of the time. But when I look at myself through God’s Word and see what it is that He says about me, then I realize that I must quiet the sound of the enemy in my head telling me that I’m not who God says I am. God says I am His (Isaiah 43:1), He says I am precious to Him (Isaiah 43:4), He says I am loved (Jeremiah 31:3), He says I am beautiful (Isaiah 62:3, Ephesians 2:10), He says I am accepted (Ephesians 1:3-6), and He says that I am restored (Psalm 23:3). We have freedom in Christ to believe what He says about us and to live accordingly. We can then rejoice in our freedom. I am so thankful that God provided a way for me to enjoy the freedom I find in Jesus. My heart is full of peace and joy, knowing that I have freedom in Christ. You can also know that freedom. If you have ever asked Jesus to save you from your sins, now is a good time. 2 Corinthians says, “…Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.” When you accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation you can begin to enjoy a life of freedom in Him.

Clinging to God Brings Life

Our relationship with God is determined by how close we are to Him. In today’s Bible Journaling, God says we are to cling to Him because this is our life. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (NASB) Our life comes from God, physically and spiritually. In order to receive the blessings of God, we must choose the pathway He has laid out for us and we must be obedient to His Word.

In Hebrew the word “L’Chaim” means “to life”. This is a common toast given at Jewish weddings. It is a blessing upon the new couple for a long and happy life. In our Scripture today God is encouraging Israel to turn from their rebellion by being obedient to Him, and walking closely to Him, thereby choosing the life God gives over the death that disobedience and rebellion brings. Israel had been contentious from the moment they came out of Egypt. They were always complaining, going against everything the Lord had directed them to do, and because of their disobedience, a whole generation were kept out of the Promised Land. Israel continued, even after being in the Promised Land, to rebel and follow the idols of other nations. This brought about judgement upon them. God had to punish their disobedience. However, He promised restoration if they chose to follow Him and live the life He laid down for them. He had given them the law by which they were to follow. If they chose to follow Him closely, life was theirs, if not then they would receive curses.

It is the same for us as Believers. God desires a close relationship with us, and He wants us to stay close to His side, live holy and pure lives, offering our last ounce of devotion and love to Him. By walking in the pathway He has for us, we receive eternal life. Blessings will be ours; a life of peace and joy will be our reward. By accepting Jesus as our Savior, and promising and endeavoring to live holy lives, we are guaranteed salvation and a life in eternity in Heaven with Him.

We must remember also that our lives are a shining example of the work God has done in our hearts. When we live pure, holy, and clean lives before the world and love God with all our heart, it is a testament of what Jesus has done for us. Our obedience brings a light that shines, reflecting Jesus’ light in us, and directs them toward God. When we live lives that are so radically different from the world, it becomes a beacon. Just as a lighthouse gives out light to keep ships safe in the harbor, the light of Jesus directs the world to a safe harbor into the arms of God and life.

When we read our Bibles in daily study and quiet time, pray, gather with fellow Believers, follow the instruction given in His word, and show love to others, we are choosing life over death and blessing over curses. Not only do we benefit from obedience to God, but so do those around us. They see how our obedience to Him affects our lives and it makes them desire what it is we have. We witness to others with our lives. The adage, “witness to others and when necessary use words” is so appropriate and true. Our lives are an open testimony of what God has done in us. Love God, live in obedience, and show His love to others. That is how we win this world for Jesus and receive life!