The Spirit Has Freed You
In our current teaching series, we have been covering the foundational pieces of our faith that shape who we are as Christians and as Nazarenes. Recently, we talked about what happens in "the moment" that many of experience as the moment of complete surrender to Jesus. That moment is when we finally come to the realization that we need what God has been offering to us all along: salvation. God offers us, through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and the gift of life eternal. This is salvation. This is "the moment" when it all changes: we are justified, which means the slate of our past is wiped clean; we are regenerated, which means we receive a new life, a new beginning, a fresh start (the old has gone and the NEW has come!); and we are adopted, which means we are taken into the family of God, given a new name and all the benefits that are tied to our new identity.
This is an incredible moment that occurs in the life of any person who surrenders their life to Jesus. Some people grow up in the Church, never have a huge "aha" moment, but slowly grow in their faith and understanding of who God is, yet what is happening in their hearts and minds reflects the same incredible, life-altering changes.
Yet, it often seems that regardless of how one encounters "the moment" in their walk to Jesus, there is often a digression that includes an unwillingness to accept the justification, regeneration, and adoption that has been freely given. Picture sin as baggage that we collect over our lives prior to our salvation. The longer we live before meeting Jesus heart to heart, the more baggage we collect. Old relationships, old habits, old behaviors, and a variety of other things we'd like to forget just gather in the closet of our memories and we forget them until, at just the right moment, the Enemy of our souls points to that closet door and says, "Hey, don't forget about that!" Sometimes that whisper comes after our encounter with God's salvation, and in an instant, we seemingly forget that God opened that closet and threw it all out. That's what justification is for us. Yet, perhaps we are just spiritual hoarders, and so when God throws it out, we go and collect it back up and stick it in the closet for...you know...whenever we might need that.
Sometimes it extends beyond not accepting our justification to forgetting that we have been born again - or regenerated - that the old us is gone and the new is here. Or perhaps it's forgetting that in "that moment" God has given us a new name. A new identity. We are no longer the person we used to be. We are now a child of God.
This is what Paul is saying in Romans 8 when he reminds us that when we belong to Jesus - when our closet has been emptied, we have died to our sin, we have taken on a new name - we are no longer living under the condemnation of sin. We are no longer living under the punishment that sin brings. We are no longer living in the separation that sin brings. And Paul takes it a step further: not only are you free from those chains, you also have a new power that comes from the Holy Spirit at work in you. That Holy Spirit power has freed you, and it also resides within you as you follow the leading of Jesus in all you do.
No matter where you find yourself in your life - walking to Jesus or walking with Jesus - don't forget that the incredible things that happen in "the moment" of our salvation through Jesus Christ are life-altering not life-adjusting. You are not the same person. Live like it!