“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1).
I hope you all had a joyful and happy Thanksgiving 2015. Hopefully, the Friday after Thanksgiving has not left any of us high on hangovers from surfeiting the joys of food and drink. I’m sure we all have much to be thankful for. I also hope that Friday, known to consumer America as “Black Friday,” has not left us recovering from hangovers of a different sort, that of recuperating from the consumer frenzy of countless bargains stores are offering would-be bargain hunters, and running up debt some can ill afford.
The essential meaning of Thanksgiving is the celebration of freedom from a life from bondage and persecution. It is to live free with the liberty to choose how to live one’s life without imposing our ideology upon others. The original Pilgrims had fled to the new world in 1620 to escape religious and political persecution in England and Europe. So much history has been written since the Mayflower brought those spirited freedom-seekers to the new world. Much of the events occurring in the timeline of US history remain unknown to the common American. We know the mere highlights. The original colonizers of America were still subjects and liable to the English crown across the Atlantic. But travel was far cry from today’s more rapid pace of movement, so the crown’s rule was somewhat distant, if not less effective. But without realizing, these freedom-seekers had actually stepped into space and time unlike any other before their generation, a time warp of sort. They were planting the seeds which would usher mankind into a new age never before seen in man’s history. Of course, it was not without trials and tribulations: from a colony to an independent American nation of migrants; from the Louisiana Purchase to the Texas revolution and annexation, to the California gold rush and western expansion; from slavery and the civil war to civil rights; from an agrarian to industrial society; from the industrial world to the scientific world; with two world wars in between and the threat of an all-out nuclear conflict; from the war against terror to the environmental impact war; the story of man marches on.
Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York – Symbol of Freedom (Wiki Commons)
In every age and time man is asked to make a choice between bondage and freedom. Whatever we have said and briefly covered aside, this has been the mode of life from the beginning. It goes back to Adam when he had to choose for man between bondage and freedom. He chose bondage. And ever since man’s struggle has been to attain that illusive freedom that seem to escape us. However, we somehow apprehend it in our present incarcerated circumstance, whether it is slavery, the environment, the war against terror, or some form of ideology, but we still grapple with what true freedom truly means, let alone apprehend it. It seems like man is forever in a state of bondage, and freedom is just a pipe dream. After struggling and overcoming one form of bondage, like a stump of tree that’s not fully destroyed, it sprouts again and its insidious fruits abound and rear its ugly repressive head.
The reason for this is made clear by Jesus Christ, He said, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matt.7:17-20, NLT). Apparently, it seems like Jesus was taking us back in time to the very beginning, where the problem between bondage and freedom started with Adam and the two trees in Eden. Remember God specifically spoke about with Adam and Eve, one was the ‘good tree,’ the “Tree of Life,” while the other was the ‘bad tree,’ the“Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” (Gen.2:9) The two trees are symbolic and represented freedom and bondage; good and evil, life and death. We know the story, Adam was banished from Eden because he chose to eat from the ‘bad tree’ (bondage). Eden represented the presence of God and the ‘good tree’ or the Tree of Life (freedom). Even so, the “Tree of Good and Evil” existed in Eden, meaning, nothing happens outside of God’s sovereignty.
The Bible specifically said, “After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the Tree of Life” (Gen.3:24; 3:6). So the road to true freedom was cut off because of Adam’s sin, when, with Eve they ate the forbidden fruit from the ‘bad tree.’ The two trees are metaphors of the way of life God lives by, the Tree of Life which brings freedom, and the way of life opposed to God, which brings bondage.
Because the archangel Lucifer had earlier rebelled against God, he became Satan and the chief adversary to everything the God of Love stood for. (Isa.14:12-17) So man had a choice to: follow God or follow Satan – freedom or bondage? And that has been man’s lot since Adam – this constant and unending struggle of choosing between freedom he has been shut out of, and the bondage he chose to live by. Yes, this relentless fight between good and evil, God and Satan. Adam came out of Eden with a stem of the Tree of Good and Evil to plant outside of Eden, and man has been eating its fruits of bondage since. But the story does not end there…
Dachau Death Camp, Germany – Symbol of Bondage and Death (Wiki Commons)
But God, out of the greatness of His Love for man promised to send His Son, the second Adam, to right the wrong the first Adam had made by putting mankind on the path to freedom. Four thousand years later, in a town called Bethlehem, a baby is born to Mary and Joseph. They were chosen to raise Jesus. (Luk.1:29-33; Matt.1:20-21) The Scripture is plain that Jesus was no ordinary human, the Bible says, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). The prophet Micah referred to Jesus’ divine origin, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago. From the days of eternity” (Mic.5:2, NASB). He was Jesus, the Son of God, sent by God the Father to save mankind from bondage to sin and bring freedom in His Son. Paul affirms this, saying, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1).
How does true freedom, which has been lost to humanity since Adam, enter our lives so we can apprehend it? The tree of bondage, the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” has to be uprooted so the tree of freedom, the “Tree of Life,” may take its rightful place in man. The tree cannot be cut, for it will sprout again, but completely uprooted and destroyed. Jesus said it this way when He taught a Jewish leader by the name of Nicodemus, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:5-6). So Jesus speaks of a complete rebirth – of uprooting the old tree and planting a new tree. A new life to replace the old. That is the only way out of this dilemma which plaques man to no end. It seems like every good man does is always cancelled out by evil, so our good intentions are forever nullified, no matter what. That is life lived under the Tree of Good and Evil. Even the ‘good’ in this tree God declares as “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa.64:6). So even the good we do does not free us.
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Human problems are simply the product of ignorance which emanates from dwelling under the Tree of Good and Evil and eating of its fruits. The history of human experience bears out what the Scriptures attest in mankind’s suffering and inhumanity to each other. Man does not have the barest inkling of what it means to live under the “Tree of Life,” for man has not tasted that life since Adam before the fall. Metaphorically speaking, we have to get up from sitting under the “tree of the fruit of good and evil,” and sit under and eat the fruits from the “the tree of life.” (Gen.2:8-9) The “tree of life” represents God’s Son, His Spirit, and God’s Love. (Rom.5:5; 1 Cor.13)
That’s the first step. The second is to realize that we are still living in a fallen world, and not every human has chosen to receive Jesus and the way of freedom God offers. So, freedom is something we have to constantly fight for because of opposing forces. We fight for our freedoms because the devil who deceived Eve in Eden does not let up with his work of deception. Peter says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. So, be alert and of sober mind” (1 Pet.5:8). But there’s no reason to fear. It is for this very purpose that God our Father sent His Son. God wanted Jesus to defeat Satan at his game of deception and sin, and conquer the devil for man once for all time. Jesus did this, so we can have our victory over the enemy vicariously in Him.
Jesus’ Temptation and Crucifixion Are Twin Acts of God Which Freed Mankind (Wiki Commons)
When Jesus fought the devil on man’s behalf, there were three areas of life the enemy chose to deceive Jesus. If Satan had succeeded, we would not have a Savior today. But Jesus came out victorious. (Matt.4:1-11) It is these same three areas I call “The 3-Drivers of Life” that Satan continues to deceive man and spiritually holds man in bondage. No matter where we live, sustenance (health), security (happiness), and material wealth (abundance), are the three areas of life which people give 100 percent of their time and attention. Of course these material expressions affect our spirituality because the source of it is spiritual – from the arch deceiver himself. These are the three areas in which God has promised to bless us and more, and ultimately be given immortality which the enemy cannot deliver. (John 3:16) The enemy’s ploy is to replace God’s promises with his own, which are his promises from the tree of ‘good and evil’ which deceives man into bondage and sin. Yet, the two are far cry in comparison – the devil can’t give man immortality, only God who imparts all life, both physical and spiritual, can promise that. Recall how Satan deceived Adam and Eve. They are counterfeit blessings. He wants to displace God as our true Provider and put himself in God’s place (Isa. 14:12-15). That is the difference. That is why the enemy will pose in the form of light, when in fact he comes from the depth of darkness and bondage. (2 Cor. 11:14)
Note Jesus taught us how to fight for our freedoms. Jesus was fully human and had natural proclivities like any other human. He was tempted as we are in His natural human appetites (Heb. 4:15). Each time He was tested by the enemy, He used God’s words to defend Himself, He said “It is written…” three times for each temptation. (Matt.4:4, 6, 7, 10). He did not react through His human wisdom and did what seems right in His own eyes, but committed Himself to God. His weapon was God’s Word. By referring the enemy to the Word of God, Jesus was stating the foundation of our freedoms in God’s Word. The Word of God is the literal Word, the Bible, and is also the Personified Word, Jesus Himself. Both are one and the same, one is utterance of the other, and leads us out of the path of bondage into freedom.
Also, Jesus fasted. Jesus fasted 40 days, but many of us cannot do the same for health reasons. The beauty of what Jesus did was He fasted for us. He took our place in the battle for the soul of mankind. That battle will never be fought again, for it was fought once for all time by Jesus. That was God’s determination. (Matt.4:1) This is an impossible battle for man – can one who is held prisoner with his hands, feet, and neck, cripplingly chained do battle with his captor? But more than that, man was incarcerated beyond his knowing (spiritual), how can he free himself from such a bondage? Such was the lot of man when Jesus appeared to save humanity. Be thankful that battle has been won! But in our freedoms there will be skirmishes so to speak, and if circumstance warrants, Jesus said His followers will fast. (Matt.6:16-18) We can miss meals (partial) or do daily fast with medical advice, but realize this, we can fast only because Jesus has already done it for us – in His footprints. Our fast can become unfruitful if it is turned into a self-righteous act just as Jesus cautions us. The reason we fast is so the devil’s strongholds which blinds us is destroyed and removed so we can see the will of God for us. O yes, Satan can turn these “3-drivers of life” into his fortress in us if we let him. We do not become indebted to “the 3-drivers,” but to God’s Love. In everything, in all our actions, nothing else must influence and motivate us but God’s Love. (Act.10:38; Eph.2:10)
These human appetites don’t leave us when we become Christians. They remain with us for as long as we are humans. They are not wrong of themselves, but we must not invert the priority. These three material aspects of life must not become gods we idolize in place of the true God. That is the devil’s objective – that we make them into idols of worship. If Jesus has taken all our cares in these three areas and more, then we have no burden but the burden of Christ’s Love (Matt. 11:29-30). Paul said, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to Love one another, for whoever Love others has fulfilled the law (free and not under the law)” (Rom.13:8). We are not to become indebted to “the 3-drivers of life” but to God’s Love. Love is the source of all true abundance and blessing – the three areas of life and more, and in due course immortality.
The third step to freedom is that we cannot defeat the devil’s wiles and deceptions, but Jesus has already conquered Satan in our place, so we can vicariously live in and through His victorious life by the power of the Spirit. Paul said, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Cor.5;21, NLT). This concept of vicariously walking Jesus’ life in us is a life of living faith. It’s the anthropomorphism of Jesus in the life in the believer, and brings, “The blessing of the Lord, it makes rich, and toil adds nothing to it” (Prov. 10:22, JPS emphasis added). This vital promise makes redundant the performance/reward incarcerated life of the devil. The blessing and good we seek for our lives and that of our families – the kind of life that doesn’t come with the baggage and bondage of negative repercussions and all the heartache, sorrow, and gloomy consequences – has nothing to do with our toil and labor or performance. Did Adam and Eve plant the garden Eden? Did the children of Israel gave themselves the Promise Land? No, It all has to do with God’s unconditional Love for man, and manifested to man in His Son. By freely giving and sacrificing His Son, the Father brought man into a union with Him to make this life of Love and abundance possible. Yes, we will “toil,” but we’ll toil in our field of dreams. (2 Thes. 3:10) Adam did it in Eden. It has been said that if you find something you enjoy doing, you will never have to “work” another day in your life. The question will always be, ‘where is this field of my dreams?’ That, only God can reveal, but first you have to be walking in freedom. The choice will always be man’s to make to find his dream-life. It starts with freedom!
The Triune God – Symbol of True Freedom & Love (Wiki Commons)
We cannot Love genuinely while in a state of spiritual bondage. We have to be freed like Israel was liberated from Egypt to freely serve God in the Promise Land. Satan will deceive us into thinking we can live “freely” while living under incarceration to sin, but the negative fruits of greed, covetousness, jealousy, pride, hatred, unhappiness, the stress of life, and all its undesirable aftermath says otherwise. It’s not authentic freedom, it’s bondage through deception. We can only Love freely on a daily basis through the Spirit who gives us this victory over the bondage of our fallen depraved nature that’s driven by these “three drivers” of life.
I sincerely hope God will give you the wisdom and heart to give your life to Jesus, receive Him as your Savior, and be overflowing with the knowledge that truly frees us from bondage. He is the Personified Word of God, as He is the literal Word of God, the Bible.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for visiting!
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life” as a Bulamanriver.* Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
* Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my book.
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.