Faith

What Are You Yoked To?

It’s a strange thing being yoked to your sin. Stranger still when you don’t even realize it but when you are in the midst of walking away from God slowly, you can’t see it. You just keep walking. And the moment things go wrong, the moment something hits you like a ton of bricks you start to wonder where is God?

This is a common scenario for many of God’s own people. People who have accepted the free gift of salvation, but who have allowed the cares of this world to choke out their joy. It doesn’t have to be this way though.

See, you may still be a sinner. You may fall short, mess up, and do foolish things, but you are also free. Free from the bondage of sin, if you choose to exercise that freedom. But you have to choose and that is not always easy. Sometimes it easier to stay in our safe, comfortable, familiar little corner. Easier to keep on messing up, because facing our shortcomings and worse, changing them, can be so unbelievably challenging.

What Are You Yoked To?

Change is not always easy, I know. But it’s not impossible either. The Bible tells us that we have all sinned in Romans 3:23 and if we say we are without sin we are liars in 1 John 1:8 and 10.

So we are all sinners, right? Whether we try to or not, it happens. Some sins are easier to avoid. If you don’t want to steal, don’t take something that isn’t yours. Don’t want to be a liar, then tell the truth. Prefer not to be considered lazy, get your stuff done. But some are harder. Sins that are tied to our emotions are harder to control. Don’t believe me – get cut off in traffic and see how you react. Or be overcharged in a store. Or listen to anyone talk about something new they are buying while you struggle to put food on the table.

See, it’s hard. Big or little, sin creeps up daily because it’s part of who we are. The sin nature is as much human nature as hearing, sight, or touch.

So if it’s so much part of us, how do we overcome it?

The short answer, of course, is Jesus.

Ye Shall Be Free Indeed

John 8:34-36 reads, “Jesus answered them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever; but the Son abideth ever. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’”

The servant of sin. Ouch! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a servant of sin, and it’s no fun. Sure it may be at first, but not for the long haul. Not if you are one of God’s. The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 makes that clear.

So what about you? What are you serving right now – God or sin? It’s God right? I mean, we are all going to collectively nod along and say, God, because who wants to admit to serving sin?

But if you said that you are fully serving God, are you being 100% honest with yourself at this moment? Is there nothing holding you back, nothing keeping from being perfected like in James? Nothing that needs to be dealt with, changed, cleared up, or addressed? John makes it clear that if you commit sin you are the servant of sin.

Big or little, it doesn’t matter. It owns you.

Do you want to be owned by that sin, or reclaimed by the One who conquered death and can cleanse you of all? Do you want to be made free as Jesus stated in verse 36 of John chapter 8? This verse contains powerful words from Jesus Himself.  Can you read them and believe them?  Are you as confident in Jesus’ word as the Psalmist who in Psalm 91:2 declared, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress… in Him will I trust.”

Claiming Your Freedom

So how can you claim your freedom? How do you claim the freedom that Jesus spoke of in John 38? Well, let’s look at the church in Galatia which was struggling with the law and grace.

See while the church in Galatia had the teachings of grace, and by all appearances were a New Testament church (as Paul refers to them as brethren in Gal 1:2), they just couldn’t quite grasp the freedom that Christ offered.

And I guess when you think about it, it makes sense. They were trying to change hundreds of years of both religion and tradition, much of which had been twisted and changed as well as ingrained into their daily lives.

Paul addresses this in his letter to the church in Galatia. This was not done in a harsh or demeaning way. Rather Paul attempts to show them the greatness of the gift of grace – and we should count our blessings he did because we now have this account to learn from as well.

In Galatians 3:13 Paul writes, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.” To understand just what the curse is though, we need to go back to verse 10. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Now before we start blaming Paul, who is just the messenger here, we need to realize that Paul is quoting Deuteronomy –  27:26 to be exact.

And it here we learn the curse of the law – break one, you break them all.

But Jesus, through His death, freed us from the law and the curse of the law as we read in Galatians 3:13 – and we should all thank God that He did.

Called to Liberty

So what in your life is holding you back? What is your stumbling block? What in your life can be referred to as the sin that does so easily beset you as in Hebrews 12:1? Is it weighing you down? Keeping you up at night as you struggle and fret? Or preventing you from running with patience the race that is set before you (Heb 12:1)?

I hope not, but I am willing to say that for some, there is something. There is something that is holding you back, keeping you up at night, and preventing you from walking closer with God.

But, fear not, as we are told numerous times in scripture. Because we were not called to be filled with sin, to be filled with doubt, fear, worry, anger, anxiety, anxiousness. We were called to be filled with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith (Gal 5:22-23).

And I am here to tell you that you have been called to liberty. You have been freed from the bondage of sin and you can be liberated from the shortcomings in your life.

This knowledge is stated repeatedly in Galatians. Chapter 5 verse 1 reads, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hadYoked To, What Are You Yoked To, Sin, Salvation, Jesus, God, Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, Sin, Faith, Hope, Hope In The Chaos made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Did you read that? The liberty that Christ has made us free.

No longer are we ensnared and trapped with the weight of sin. No longer are we to be slaves to the ungodly and the things of this world. Rather, we are free. And we are to hold onto that promise, and not be swayed by outside influences. Those who would say God won’t want you because you did this, or thought that. Those who would tell you that your salvation is a ticket that can be revoked if you don’t live up to the terms and conditions, the fine print on the bottom. No, we are told to stand firm on the promise that Jesus broke the bonds that sin had on our lives.

Not a License to Sin

I’d be remiss if I just ended here and told you only about your freedom and sent you on your way thinking that because you are free in Christ and no longer bound by any rules. See, we do have freedom, we do have liberty in Christ. But this is not a license to sin. This is not a blank check to do as we please all the days of our lives.

Rather, this is a reminder that while we are no longer under the weight of the law (because Christ paid that penalty for us), but we are accountable for what we do in that liberty and with that freedom.

Paul clearly spells this out in Galatians 5:13-14 when he states, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Though shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Galatians 5:13 clearly states that: “brethren, ye have been called unto liberty.” Jesus came to break the bondage of sin and called us unto the best liberty, greater than we can know even living here in the US.

Paul clearly is reminding us here that we are invited to freedom from sin through salvation, but, we are not to use this freedom as an excuse for allowing our human nature, our sin nature, to have control over our lives. Rather, we are to love and serve others, and remember that Jesus summed up the whole law in Matthew 22:37-40 when He told us to love God first with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, but also to love our neighbor as ourselves. Verse 40 states, “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

All the law. Jesus clearly reminds us that love is the most important thing.

Moving Forward

So today, I invite you, if you have allowed yourself to become ensnared and entangled with sin, if you have allowed yourself to be controlled by doubt, fear, insecurities, or pain, hand them over to God. Hand over each and every one of these items. Those are your weights, and they are keeping you from the liberty you can have in Christ. And they are keeping you from your true calling in Christ.

Turning them over is not always an easy task, I know. Sometimes we hang on to our sin, unsure of who we will be without it. So wrapped up in our sin we don’t know any other way.

But we need to. We need to ask for forgiveness and take that often long walk back to God.

If you have chosen to walk away, to distance yourself from God, or if you have simply taken one too many liberties in your freedom as a saved sinner to return back to the one who can give you peace, comfort, and forgiveness. To exercise your ability to ask for forgiveness and be cleansed from all unrighteousness as we are told in 1 John 1:9.

This is not always an easy task, I know. Some sins are so ingrained in who we are that we don’t think we can be any other way – but I assure you, you can. You can renew your determination to walk in the newness of life that was so promising when you were first baptized (Rom 6:4).

If you are allowing your sin nature to win, to control your life, make a new dedication today. Repent, ask for forgiveness, and enjoy the liberty that Christ died to give to you.

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