Category Archives: Freedom in Christ
Compiled by David Murray
“And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4).
Christ’s nearness: For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:44)
Christ’s coming: When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. (Matt. 2:10)
Christ’s birth: And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. (Luke 1:14)
Christ’s availability: Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. (Luke 2:10)
Christ’s Word: This is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. (Matthew 13:20)
Christ’s value: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
Christ’s home: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Matthew 25:21)
Christ’s resurrection: So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. (Matthew 28:8)
Christ’s reproach: Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:23)
Christ’s power: Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Luke 10:17)
Christ’s salvation: Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
Christ’s too-good-to-be-trueness: But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” (Luke 24:41)
Christ’s ascension: And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (Luke 24:52)
Christ’s marriage: He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. (John 3:29)
Christ’s joy: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).
Christ’s re-appearing: Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. (John 16:22)
Christ’s answers: Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24)
Christ’ prayers: But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13)
Christ’s healings: For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city. (Acts 8:7-8)
Christ’s conversions: So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. (Acts 15:3)
Christ’s finishing line: But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
Christ’s Kingdom: For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
Christ’s hope: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Christ’s people: That I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. (Romans 15:32)
Christ’s servants: Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy. (2 Corinthians 1:24)
Christ’s Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22)
Christ’s faith: And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith. (Philippians 1:25)
Christ’s unity: Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Philippians 2:2)
Christ’s strengthening: Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (Colossians 1:11)
Christ’s Spirit: And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
Christ’s return: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
Christ’s love: For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. (Philemon 7)
Christ’s refreshing: Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. (Philemon 20)
Christ’s reward: Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Christ’s trials: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. (James 1:2)
Christ’s faith: whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
Christ’s sufferings: but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings. (1 Peter 4:13)
Christ’s glory: that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:13)
Christ’s sanctification: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 4)
Christ’s preservation: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 24)
Paul Tripp states, “My existence has been taken over and altered by powerful and unstoppable grace. No matter how great my sin, no matter how foolish I am, and no matter how messy my track record, grace will ultimately win. God’s kingdom will come. His will will be done.”
The following is an article by Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida titled
GOD THREW A STONE
As I’ve said before, God speaks two words to the world. People have called them many things: Law and Gospel, Judgment and Love, Critique and Grace, and so on. In essence, though, it’s pretty simple: first, God gives us bad news (about us), and then, God gives us Good News (about Jesus).
This is perhaps most clearly seen in another incredibly well-known (and incredibly misunderstood) passage of Scripture: Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in the act of adultery.
The scribes and Pharisees catch a woman in the act of adultery, and drag her before Jesus. Can you imagine a woman who ever felt more shame than this one? Literally caught in the act of adultery? Unfathomable. They tell Jesus of her infraction, and remind him that the law of Moses says such women should be stoned. Then they issue a challenge: “What do you say?” They’re trying to trick Jesus into admitting what they suspect: that he’s “soft” on the Law.
Confronted by this test, Jesus bends down and writes in the sand with his finger. Now, we aren’t told what he writes, but I think it’s instructive to look at the only other instances in the Bible where God writes with his finger. The first is obvious: The inscription of the 10 Commandments on the stone tablets. The second, though, is less well-known.
In Daniel 5, King Belshazzar is having a huge party, at which “they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone” (v. 4). Suddenly, a hand appears and begins writing on the wall. When Daniel is called in to translate the writing, this is what it is revealed to say: “Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” There can be no doubt that these are three words of judgment—i.e. Law. “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” Has a more chilling word of judgment ever been uttered?
So the two other times God wrote with his finger, he wrote law. I don’t think, therefore, it’s a stretch to think that when Jesus writes in the sand with his finger, he’s writing law. I like to think that perhaps Jesus wrote, “Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Certainly, whatever he wrote, the function of his writing is clear: it serves to reveal the sin of those gathered.
Far from being “soft” on the Law, Jesus shows just how high the bar of the law is. How do we know? Because the scribes and Pharisees respond the same way that all of us respond when we are confronted with depth of God’s inflexible demands—they scattered. Beginning with the oldest ones, they all, like the rich young ruler, walked away defeated.
When Jesus and the woman are left alone, and she acknowledges that no one remains to condemn her, Jesus speaks his final word to her: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11). This is where the story gets misunderstood.
“Aha!” we cry. “See! Jesus tells her to shape up! He leaves her with an exhortation!” But look at the order of Jesus’ words: First, he tells the woman that he does not condemn her. Only then does he instruct her to sin no more. This is enormous. He does not make his love conditional on her behavior. He does not say, “Go, sin no more, and check back with me in six months. If you’ve been good, I won’t condemn you.”
No. Our Savior does so much better than that.
Jesus creates new life in the woman by loving her unconditionally, with no-strings-attached. By forgiving her profound shame, he impacts her profoundly. By refusing to condemn her, he sets her free to do what she has no doubt already pledged to do on her own: leave her old life behind.
Like the adulterous woman, we are all caught in the act—discovered in a shameful breach of God’s law. Though no one on earth can throw the first stone, God can. And he did. The wonder of all wonders is that the rock of condemnation that we justly deserved was hurled by the Father onto the Son. The law-maker became the law-keeper and died for us, the law-breakers. “In my place condemned He stood; and sealed my pardon with His blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior.”
So now we can sing:
“Free from the law—oh, happy condition! Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Christ hath redeemed us once and for all. Once for all, oh, sinner receive it; once for all, oh doubter believe it; Cling to the cross, the burden will fall, Christ hath redeemed us once for all.”
“There on the cross your burden bearing, Thorns on His brow your Savior is wearing; Never again your sin need appall, You have been pardoned once for all. Now we are free—there’s no condemnation; Jesus provides a perfect salvation: ‘Come unto Me,’ oh, hear His sweet call, Come, and He saves us once for all.”
It has been my experience that for many who are struggling with a strong worldly desire, the idea that freedom will be found by embracing the affections of the gospel seems too simple for such a complex issue. Chalmers would say, “they do not see the love of God in sending His Son into the world. They do not see the expression of His tenderness to men, in sparing Him not, but giving Him up unto the death for us all. They do not see the sufficiency of the atonement, or of the sufferings that were endured by Him who bore the burden that sinners should have borne. They do not see the blended holiness and compassion of the Godhead, in that He passed by the transgressions of His creatures, yet could not pass them by without an expiation. It is a mystery to them how a man should pass to a state of godliness from a state of nature – but had they only a believing view of God manifest in the flesh, this would resolve for them the whole mystery of godliness. As it is, they can not get quit of their old affections, because they are out of sight from all those truths, which have influence to raise a new one.”
It is the application of the gospel that is the surest means of casting out the old affection. Chalmers also writes, “We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart than to keep in our hearts the love of God – and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than by building on our most holy faith. The denial of the world which is not possible to him that dissents from the gospel testimony, is possible, even as all things are possible, to him that believeth.”
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
The love of a worldly desire cannot be expunged from the heart just by speaking about how worthless it is. We all know that things like pornography, drugs, and drunkenness are dark places yet those attached to them, continue it. A heart will not depart from a strong desire by a single act of resignation. What reigns in the heart will not easily give up occupancy to another … that is unless Christ the Sovereign appears with his charm and great power to subdue our moral nature and take control.
It is through the preaching of the gospel, corporately or privately to ourselves, that we behold God as in a way that we may love God more than our sin. Chalmers writes, “It is there (through the gospel) and only there, where God stands revealed as an object of confidence for sinners – and where our desire after him is not chilled into apathy by the barrier of human guilt…It is the bringing in of this better hope, whereby we draw near nigh unto God.”
In contemplating the gospel, the sin that grips us is brought into true light and when enabled by faith, which is God’s gift, we can see the face of the glory of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). It is through the gospel that we can understand that we have a full pardon from our sin, gracious acceptance by God, a love that is above all loves, a release from the spirit of bondage and tyranny of our sin, our adoption as children of God, deliverance from sin’s power, a faith that is revealed from heaven, and a new nature that is dead to the influence and reach of worldly desires.
Tomorrow will be the final article in this series and will explain how the truth of the gospel makes the demands of the gospel our heart’s desire.
When we try to bring a new affection in to replace an old affection, it is more successful than simply trying to stop what you are doing. When you just stop something that has been a strong desire, you still have to encounter the charm of what it offered and the pleasures it gave. The end result is that this will eventually fail because it does not address the heart and exposes our moral failure. A new affection must be offered that does address the heart and brings with it a charm and pleasure that is enough to overcome the first influence.
Our sinful hearts will not consent to the misery of being without the charm and pleasure of an affection gained nor will it turn to frivolous replacements. The reason is that to give up the first affection is torturous, requires extreme discomfort and misery to fight. Also very seldom does one overcome a desire by reason or by being pampered. It is only by replacing a subordinate desire with a greater one. It is the application of something else to which becomes the stronger and more powerful influence in a person’s heart.
Chalmers writes, “But what can not be thus destroyed, may be disposset (deprived or disposed) – and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind.”
Tomorrow I will address that it is not enough to understand the worthlessness of what enslaves you but one must value the worth of the things of God far more.
Whether it is pornography alcohol, drugs, or anything that enslaves you; the only way you will truly be set free is to acquire a new affection. The new affection must be greater than the one that enslaves you. To help understand this, I am riding the shoulders of the Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) and his sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” Taken from the text 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Chalmers first point is “A moralist will be unsuccessful in trying to displace his love of the world by reviewing the ills of the world. Misplaced affections need to be replaced by the far greater power of the affection of the gospel.” He points out that love has two conditions that we are to regard. The first is when the object of love is not in our possession and so it is a desire that we have. The second is when the object of love is on our possession and so it becomes indulgence. When we are under the impulse of the first condition, we are urged on a path or are pursuing an activity for our gratification. It can become consuming and crowds our mind with ambition to acquire it. Often in this pursuit, we can become weary and even acquire a distaste for what we are doing, yet the desire is so strong that if not substituted, the chase continues.
The common way we attempt to deal with a strong desire and the pursuit is to cut it out or simply put – just stop it. Chalmers points out that our heart will rise in resistance. To simply try and stop a pursuit or habit leaves a negative and cheerless vacancy behind it and it will fail.
I will continue this defense that to be set free from the world affections of things such as pornography, new affections must replace it and they must be stronger and greater than the powerful pull of pornography. Point two from Chalmers tomorrow.