“I am William Wallace!” the legendary leader shouted to his Scottish brethren in the movie Braveheart. After resisting the repeated attacks of the tyrannical English King Edward the Longshanks, the men were ready to give up.
“And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You’ve come to fight as free men…and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?”
“Fight?” a wearied warrior countered. “Against that? No! We will run. And we will live.”
“Aye, fight and you may die,” their mythical leader replied. “Run, and you’ll live…at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take…OUR FREEDOM!”
Freedom is a core value in the Western world. It’s also those most overused, misunderstood word in the English language.
Years ago, a chain of convenience stores posted the word “freedom” in big letters over their soft drink machines. They celebrated the “freedom” they offered their customers to choose from a half dozen different soft drinks. For this William Wallace and the forefathers of countries around the world died?
Of course not. People in totalitarian countries assuredly enjoy the option of different soft drinks. But it begs the question: What is the meaning of freedom, and how can we attain it?
Join us as look delve deeper in today’s daily Bible conversation.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Isaiah 33:10-36:22. Chapter 34 presents God the way many people view him: angry and vindictive, waiting for the slightest misstep so he can punish us. God was indeed angry at the time. Edom was an heir of the promise by virtue of being the descendent of Esau, Abraham’s grandson. Israel descended through Jacob, Esau’s brother, which made the nations cousins, so to speak.
Not only did the people of Edom worship idols, but they had also acted treacherously toward Israel. One hundred and fifty years later, Obadiah offered similar prophecies condemning Edom. Edom, however, wasn’t alone in receiving God’s condemnation, for every nation was deserving of destruction because they were entangled in the clutches of sin.
This is the reason God sent his son Jesus to the world (which chapter 35 implies). To offer us the ultimate sacrifice for sin. For our sin. But we have something the people in the Old Testament didn’t have: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit living in us (John 14:23; Colossians 1:26-27; Ephesians 1:13-14). No one can live the perfect life, but because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven and the Trinity lives in us, enabling us to live for him.
One other note: Chapters 36-39 break away from prophecy to give us some historical context for chapters 28-35. They parallel 2 Kings 18:13-20:19.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
“You, my brothers, were called to be free,” Paul wrote in Galatians 5:13, which sounds like something William Wallace would say.
Our freedoms allow us to make choices that people in previous generations didn’t enjoy. We can worship as we choose, marry whomever we choose, pursue any profession that we choose, and voice our dissatisfaction about our government without fear of retribution. But freedom can be a mixed blessing—just ask people from newly freed countries. Since winning their freedom, Russia has become thoroughly entrenched in corruption and overrun by the mafia.
Our freedoms allow us to surf porn, pick up sexually transmitted diseases, and gamble ourselves into bankruptcy and personal ruin. Extreme examples to be sure—but the possibility to live without restraints is definitely one of the pillars of freedom.
Paul though, continues his thought: “But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature” (verse 13).
Then Paul compares the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, appear on the list of vices.
Is freedom the right to indulge in any of these vices? Technically speaking, yes.
But Paul was a addressing a deeper freedom. Not a freedom to do indulge these practices, but a freedom to be who we really are. A freedom to be the men and women God had in mind before he created the heavens and the earth.
You see, when we give our lives to Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The deepest part of us is no longer us but Christ.
Take a look at the fruit of the Spirit in verse 22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are all the character traits of Jesus. When he becomes the deepest part of us, they become the deepest part of us as well. But they need to be freed.
Previously, our sinful nature gravitated toward Paul’s list of vices. We couldn’t help ourselves. We may think we’re free, but we’re not. Yet Paul says that the Christian has been unchained. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” he wrote in verse 1.
If you have given your life to Jesus, the truest part of you is the fruit of the Spirit, and not the works of the flesh. And the deepest freedom is not the right to live without restraints nor the release from bondage to tyrannical oppression–it’s the freedom from the bondage to sin and the freedom to be who God created you to be.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- How does it feel to know that the truest part of you gravitates toward the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh?
- What helps you believe it? What prevents you from believing it?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.