Tending Towards Freedom
Freedom is a word that is very densely packed with so many good things we all yearn for in our lives. People talk about financial freedom, oppressed people talk about freedom from injustice, and some want freedom from the past so that they may enjoy the future. What I wish to speak to you about is spiritual freedom. We all are on a journey tending towards freedom, which means that we are tending away from bondage. Like the Children of Israel liberated from Pharaoh, we’ve been delivered from the harsh taskmaster of sin. Liberation, however, it is not enough, we must, like Israel, also make a journey away from bondage. We must make a spiritual journey away from the bondage of sin into the true spiritual freedom that God has for each of us.
Let us consider for a moment our beginnings. We are all, literally, descendants of Adam and Adam was the Son of God. It is written,
“Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.”
Adam is where we, the human race, began and enjoyed the purest form of freedom. The essence of Adam’s freedom was that he lived by every word that preceded out of the mouth of God. Adam’s Father told him what was right and wrong and Adam did not live according to his own understanding. This is why Adam and Eve did not know they were naked and is why God asked them who told them they were naked: because He never had. Mankind only knew they were naked after partaking of the forbidden fruit (contrary to Gods revelation). Living by revelation is the freedom that we lost through sin. Living by revelation is also the freedom that God wishes to restore to each of us through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
The Bible has not always been. Before the fall Adam lived a perfect life without ever consulting the Old or New Testament. In fact, no one had a Bible until after the children of Israel were delivered out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God through Moses and Aaron. Noah did not have a bible, Abraham did not have a bible, and Jacob did not have a bible. In fact, as far as we know, all the people who ever lived and served God before Moses came down from mount Horeb did not have any written form of the word of God. This means, to varying degrees, all the people before Moses lived like Adam did: through personal revelation from God.
Mankind began with total freedom in the Garden but since then the light of God grew dimmer until God saw fit to give Israel the law in a written form. I believe that the Law was a compromise given to man by God because we had lost our way so badly that we could no longer live by direct and personal revelation from Him. Moreover, the Law of Moses and the later books that make up the Old Testament were given to Israel as a teacher to prepare them to receive Christ. Consider these two scriptures:
“Wherefore the law was or schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
“But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
The laws of the Old Testament were an intermediary measure to teach Israel that the price of sin is death and to point them towards Christ. The Law never justified anyone by works because it was impossible for fallen man to keep it. God’s law was only meant to prepare Israel to receive salvation by faith in Jesus Christ through type and shadow. Once Christ came the schoolmaster (the Law) had finished its job and Israel was no longer to be under its tutelage. This also, by result, means we are no longer under the law either.
The law was bondage and was given so that all might be brought under the condemnation of sin in preparation for Christ. The law, being perfect, only showed us how sinful we were. The Children of Israel made a covenant to keep that law and thus they were hopelessly doomed by the judgment of that law until Christ would come. Now being saved through faith by grace it is no longer possible to become acceptable to God by keeping the law: that system has passed. In fact to keep that law to become more acceptable to God is an abomination because in effect, in God’s eyes, you are saying the sacrifice of His Son on Calvary is not enough.
We started in total freedom and gradually slipped from that freedom until we were all sold into sin and bound for death according to the law. This was the state of every man until the time of Christ. This was also the state of the religious system of the Pharisees, who followed the law to the letter. The law, as kept by the Pharisees, was oppressive and the exact opposite of the heart of God. Jesus demonstrated this when he came to His own and His own received Him not. In fact, the Scribes and Pharisees (who represented the very epitome of keeping the law) crucified God manifest in the flesh, the One that wrote the law they supposedly kept.
Since the time of Christ and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit we have been on a path away from the bondage of the law into the Glorious liberty of the Sons of God. As is it written in the book of Romans,
“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Like Adam and Jesus (who was the last Adam) we are to become the sons of God and live in the pre-fallen liberty enjoyed in Eden. True freedom comes through living by every word that proceeds from our Fathers mouth and that is the restored freedom we are heading towards. Everything in our personal Christian lives should be tending towards freedom. Moreover, everything in the body of Christ in general should be tending towards freedom too.
True freedom, the type that Adam enjoyed in Eden, is living without the law. We learn in the book of Romans that the law could not save anyone because of the weakness of mans fleshly desires.
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”
And from the apostle Paul we learn that through law of the spirit of life we can be free from the condemnation of the law of sin and death, i.e. the Mosaic Law.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The Spirit of Life is simply the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is simply the Spirit of our Father which is Holy Because He is Holy.
If we are under any law in this New Testament age it is the Law of the Spirit and not the Old Testament Law of sin and death. The Law of the Spirit was the original law that God intended Adam to obey. Before the fall, Adam kept the law of the Spirit through living by every word the proceeded out of the mouth of his Father God. The Law of the Spirit was the first law and thus takes precedence over and is superior to the Mosaic Law. The law of the Spirit is the law that Christ (as the last Adam) restored to us through Calvary and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost!
What specifically is the Law of the Spirit? It is simply to know God and obey his voice individually without going by what seems right to our natural minds. The Law of the Spirit of life is the very antithesis of the Mosaic Law, which is the law of sin and death. If we are being made into the image and likeness of Christ we must follow the Law of the last Adam, which is the Law of the Spirit. This law did (and still does) consist of only one ordinance: Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
When I see some people start to turn away from the freedom that Christ won for us and start to journey back towards the bondage that Israel suffered under the Old Testament law I am concerned. In some groups I see more and more emphasis placed on keeping the types and shadows of the Old Testament. Being messianic is proper if you are a believer who was formerly a practicing Jew. However, for a gentile to place great emphasis on any Old Testament practice is to turn back to the schoolmaster and to turn away from the freedom that Christ has granted us. To learn Greek or Hebrew is fine if you do so to seek greater understanding of the scriptures but when it becomes a way to have greater spirituality because you speak Hebrew like the Israelites did you start to come under their bondage. When a person thinks they are more pleasing to God because they keep certain aspects of the Old Testament law like the Jews did then it tends towards bondage and does not tend towards freedom. The Israelites would have been very wrong to return to Egypt and make their home there after God had so mightily delivered them out of that bondage. It is very dishonoring for us to turn back to the types and shadows, new moons and Sabbaths of the Old Testament when we have been delivered by grace through faith into the mighty salvation of Jesus.
Those who are delving into and keeping more and more of the Old Testament laws are not bad or evil people they, like Israel, are just misguided in their zeal to serve God. Paul explains their misguided zeal in the following scriptures,
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”.
We must understand that Israel had more zeal to serve God than we Gentiles could ever hope to muster up and through that zeal without knowledge they crucified their Messiah. Therefore, the path they took tended towards bondage and not towards freedom and it is not a path we want to repeat.
I know that when a person comes to you and says with assurance that Saturday is the true Sabbath and that keeping the literal feast of Passover is an eternal commandment it makes you feel like you should too. After all you want to do whatever is pleasing to God. However, what they are speaking to you is bondage and is contrary to the direction our Father is leading us to go. Here is a truth:
“True freedom lies not in keeping the types and shadows of the Old Testament but in living like Adam did in the Garden of Eden even before the law was given”
The direction that some people are moving in conforming to the image of Israel is dangerous and counterproductive in this age of the Holy Spirit. The over emphasis of the Old Testament types and shadows can potentially lead those that practice them into the same kind of spiritual death that plagued Israel before the first advent of Christ.
The Apostle Paul uncovers the root causes of legalism within us:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
It is my belief that spiritual principalities and powers are endeavoring to bring some of the most vocal proponents of the Hebrew roots theology into bondage through a spirit of legalism. Through bringing leaders into bondage these same principalities seek to bring those that follow them into that same bondage too. It is just like the Devil to use their very zeal against them… because in their rush to serve God they are not serving God according to the knowledge of Christ but are unwittingly falling into error. It is my sincere hope that they will come to realize that if the natural olive branch (natural Israel) could not keep or be justified by the law that we as Gentiles cannot hope to succeed where they have failed.
These modern-day Judaizers may object and say that they serve a Christ of grace also but do not be deceived like they are. Perhaps they will say that “we are just keeping the laws for the blessings”. This is a subtle lie though, because many believe they are more righteous by keeping certain aspects of the law and it is the earned righteousness that brings them blessings. If you begin to keep any of the law to have blessings through it then you are bound to the law and have left the grace of Christ.
We need to recognize that if a movement or a teaching is not tending towards more freedom (less law) then it is suspect. Examine such groups very closely to see if the end thereof is death and should be avoided. We are on a journey that will culminate in total freedom and liberty and we must be mindful of the direction that we and the movements we may be associated with are going.
Lastly, legalism is a very difficult spirit to break and it requires building trust in the grace and goodness of our heavenly Father. If you meet someone who has a great zeal for the Lord but not according to knowledge treat them gently because they literally believe that their acceptance by God is dependent upon their performance of these rituals. The best thing one can do is to love them, keep your own freedom clear, and pray that God revels more of His grace and acceptance to them.