I always hated being told the definition of “insanity.” Growing up playing sports, my father always told me: “Hunter, what you’re doing is insane. You’re doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.” The most frustrating part about it though is that he was right. In golf, I was continually trying to persist in the same practice routine when it was going to do nothing for me. In football, I was continually tackling incorrectly, which put me in some dangerous situations. In track, I was continually failing to recognize when I should speed up in order to pass my competitors. Perhaps the most insane thing I’ve ever done, and I suspect I’m not the only one who have found themselves in this position, is that as an early Christian I was continuing to live a life of habitual sin and expecting God to be okay with that because I was “saved.” Boy, was I wrong.
Galatians 5 is an amazing passage of scripture, and you’ve probably heard it quoted quite frequently, specifically for the twenty-second verse: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It’s a good text, a “pretty” text in the sense that it sounds good, but what we don’t hear preached on very often is what is to follow: “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Where did this comment come from? What is Paul talking about? Let’s take a look back at the beginning of chapter five. Paul opens this chapter by saying, “For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
You know what you don’t ever hear about (at least to my knowledge)? A slave, who has been set free, going back to their chains. Wouldn’t that be insane? We would say, “You’re crazy! Don’t you know what you have been freed from? You have been set free from pain, torment, submission, and quite possibly, certain death!” However, whether we would like to admit or not, do we not do the same? As those under the blood of Jesus Christ, we have been set free from sin: We have been forgiven, redeemed, and propelled forth into a glorious eternity with our risen savior, yet despite all that, we still say at times: “I rather have my chains (sin), again.” Speaking candidly, in my early years of being a Christian, I still wanted my chains. I wanted to still indulge myself in the world of pornography, but what it took to get me out was someone coming alongside of me and discipling me. I needed someone to show me there is a better way. Side note: Do you have that someone?
I had to realize that the freedom that I received from Christ is not to be used “as an opportunity for the flesh” (Gal. 5:13) but rather to love God more fully. We cannot fully love God if we are completely in love with something else, like our sin. God is a jealous God, and he “is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). We are called to live a life that is in pursuit of our savior, who has gone to great lengths to ensure that we do not have to live a life in chains anymore, but rather a life in submission to his will. I’ve heard some say negatively, “Christianity is just going from slavery to one thing onto another.” This is true from a wordly standpoint, but let’s look at this eternally: Would I rather be slave to something that kills me or something that gives me life? It’s your choice. It’s my choice. Freedom has set you free. Are you living free?