I remembered a story we taught at one of the children’s camps that my prayer partner and I used to conduct in Children’s homes in the East of Sri Lanka.
To ensure that it didn’t fly away, stones were tied to the foot of a pet baby bird. Years later the decision was made to let it go. The stones were removed. However the bird didn’t know that it could now fly. Even though it had its freedom to be as it was created to be, having been tied down in the past had shaped its mind. “Do not fly away” had got drilled into its mind and the stones had made it impossible for it to do so that even now when it was allowed to and also told to “fly away” it simply couldn’t. It couldn’t function in the way God had created it to be because of man’s intervention of going against nature. Imagine if this bird had been an eagle. What a waste if it couldn’t soar and reach its heights!
Often we allow our experiences and our fears and what others have knowingly or unknowingly drilled into us to shape us prohibiting us from living in the way God has created us to be. They are like the stones that weighed the baby eagle down which prevented it from flying in its fullness.
To live in fullness of the way we are created, it is vital to understand who we are in Christ. We are the children of God, sons and daughters of the King of Kings, we are the royal priesthood and we have been created in His image and in His likeness.
Once we understand this, we can begin to comprehend the freedom that we have in Christ. Once we are a new creation in Him, we have been set free. It is sad that many of us continue to operate like the baby eagle as if the stones were still tied to its foot. Legalism – rules and regulations full of “dos and don’ts” is one of the many stones that weigh us down. Even our fears that we would or could sin and our fears for the schemes of the enemy tie us down from seeking God’s Kingdom.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death – Romans 8:1-2.
We are now free from the law of sin and death and instead of that we now have life!
Why did Jesus have to pay the price for us, to be born on earth let alone be crucified on the cross? Isn’t it to restore us to wholeness from what was broken by sin?
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires – Romans 8:5
What is the fruit of the Spirit? Isn’t self-control one of the 9 attributes of the fruit? Of course there is a possibility of being tempted. Peoples weaknesses tend to differ in different areas. However, the deeper our relationship with God, the deeper we are rooted in Him, the fruit of the Spirit (mind you, the fruit is not of our flesh) is more evident too.
We are indeed cautioned to be careful that we don’t fall:
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
Then follows the assurance:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it – 1 Corinthians 10:13
The original Greek word for ‘temptation’ in this verse is defined as follows:
putting to proof (by experiment [of good], experience [of evil], solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication adversity:—temptation, X try.
If we are living by the Spirit, we KNOW that God is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear! When we feel weak, we allow the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26-27).
Jesus states among other things He was sent to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). If that is the case then why are we, who are followers of Jesus, making prisoners to law and oppressing people by our laws? Isn’t this one of the reasons Jesus rebuked the Pharisees?
Making choices as a safety precaution is a mature thing as long as our precautions don’t restrict us from obeying God. But why are we imposing “dos and don’ts”? In fact many “Christians” not only impose law by taking a verse out of context from God’s Logos, but also add head and tail to it by adding their own laws. Where the Bible states, “do not get drunk”, people add “do not drink” so you avoid the temptation of getting drunk. The same people would state it is not right for a man to reach out to a woman and vice versa as you could get emotional and fall into sin. Does the Bible say that? What are the consequences of taking away a balanced interaction? Then couldn’t someone in the same way get emotional and fall into sin with the same sex? Would we prefer to be the ones to push others to do that with our laws or put people at risk to reach out for help from an unbeliever as the believer isn’t available to do so? Likewise, do the same people not touch a knife to prepare food as you may then be tempted to murder someone with that knife? Yes, we will lack self control if we are walking in the flesh as that is a fruit of the Spirit – not an act of the fleshly nature.
Let us not cage people with our law but let us walk in the freedom we have by living in the Spirit. Let Him lead us on the path that He has for each one of us, to bring glory to God and to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. Let us not be boxed in by our own laws and end up being rebuked like the Pharisees.
Imposing man made rules and traditions to safe guard from temptations show FEAR for sin and shows that we are walking in the flesh. If we were walking in the Spirit, we would be trusting God that His Word holds true and He is indeed faithful to not let us be tempted.
Let us live in the Spirit, loosening all the stones that weigh us down from doing so, remembering that without holiness we can’t see the Lord and allowing the Spirit to lead our steps so that we are walking in the perfect will of our Heavenly Father!