Freedom in Christ
Who are the really free people in the world? Are they the rich and famous? Are they the ones that everyone likes? Are they the ones with a great education?
I've got news for you: Most of the people that we meet are under a great bondage. They may look okay, but God's word describes it this way: " . . . While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." II Peter 2: 19.
That's right! For anyone who makes a steady practice of sining, he has traded in his freedom from sin, and has become a bondservant of Satan. Satan, the Bible says, is the father of lies. One of the names for Satan, Beelzebub, means "lord of the flies." Satan is a horrible master, doing the worst for his servants and never giving them a square deal. Who are some of his servants?
How has Satan enslaved people? People have three distinct styles of weakness, as described in
I John 2: 15-17: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Each one of us has a weakness in at least one of those three areas. Those who have the lust of the flesh as a weakness have a hard time being temperate in their eating, or drinking, or sex life, or with substance abuse. Those who have a hard time with the lust of the eyes have difficulty with materialism-they want to buy too much, or they may steal from their neighbors. And those whose weakness comes from the pride of life have a hard time getting along with others because there just aren't that many people interested in spending a lot of time doing the care and feeding of other's egos.
Man cannot save himself, all by himself. Without Jesus, no one can be saved. It's like James said in James 2: 10-"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Most people by the time they are 10 or 12 years old have already done enough sinning to deserve to spend eternity in Hell. It has happened so fast that they did not realize the seriousness of what they had done in taking someone else's lunch money, or sneaking a peek into the girls' restroom, or taking God's name in vain. Well did Paul say it in Romans 3: 23-"For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God."
Where does Jesus fit into all of this? Jesus came that man might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10: 10). He reflects the desire of God that no one should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3: 9) Jesus came that people might learn from Him about the Father who loves them so much, and that people might turn their lives around so that they become more like God. Jesus is our mediator (1 Timothy 2: 5, 6)--"There is one God. There is also one mediator between God and human beings—a human, the Messiah Jesus. He gave himself as a ransom for everyone, the testimony at the proper time." [International Standarad Version] Jesus is also our advocate or lawyer (1 John 2: 1) who pleads our case before God.
God is not going to force people to go to Heaven. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. The main task of this life is for us to decide, and to show God, whether we want to live in Hell or Heaven after this life is over. The way we live shows our decision.
Will many decide to go to Heaven? See Matthew 7: 21-27. Few will be going to heaven. Most people will fritter their opportunities away and then go to judgment unprepared. At the judgement, they will be judged according to their works (see Revelation 20: 11-15) . . . and the only works they have will be bad ones. Hell will be a very crowded place. No one in his right mind wants to go there.
Hell is a place of fire, extreme discomfort, and darkness. See these passages: Luke 13: 28; Luke 16: 25; Luke 17: 29, 30; Revelation 20: 10. And there are many more that talk about Hell. Hell is not a laughing matter.
What do we do to go to Heaven? It would help to make friends with the judge! For it is Jesus who will confess us before the Father (Matthew 10: 32, 33), and it will be Jesus who will be giving the verdicts (Matthew 25: 31, 32). We need to build a friendship with Jesus now . . . while it is the day of salvation . . . before it's too late.
Jesus asks that we hear about him (Romans 10: 17) and that we have faith in Him and in God the Father (Hebrews 11: 6); that we repent of living a life of sin (Acts 2: 38; Luke 13: 3; Acts 3: 19); He asks that we confess him before men (Matthew 10: 32, 33), and that we be baptized for the remission or forgiveness of sins (Acts 2: 38; Acts 22: 16; Matthew 28: 19). Is that too much for Him to ask of you, in exchange for forgiving your sins and taking you home to Heaven with Him? And he asks us to live a life as He would have us live it, instead of living it as Satan would have us live it.
When we have done this, we will be free indeed. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8: 36. He will help you stop your drug addiction, your alcoholism, your sex addiction, your compulsive stealing. Give Jesus a chance.
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