Grace For The Journey
What does it really mean to have freedom in Christ? In what way is the Christian actually free? And does this mean he or she will never sin again? Working our way through Colossians 2:11-15, we have studied the Christian’s Eternal Fellowship with Christ and Eternal Forgiveness through Christ. Today we will look at third and final blessing in this text:
We have Eternal Freedom in Christ.
Here’s what the Bible says in Colossians 2:15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
Understanding Christian freedom
Requires our remembering
Where we were before we believed.
We once were enslaved to sin,
Trapped under the power of sin.
Charles Wesley wrote of sin’s enslavement in the great hymn “And Can It Be?” Here’s the way he described his own life before Christ:
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.”
This hymn text accurately describes every believer before his or her coming to faith in Christ. All Christians were once held captive to the forces of darkness. The Bible describes the forces of darkness in verse 15 as “principalities and powers.” These are the demonic rulers and authorities that are continually at war with men and women, powers that work in opposition to Christ.
These principalities and powers are the demonic rulers and authorities who reign in that realm to which the Christian once belonged, the realm of Adam, the realm of sin; that old neighborhood where the “old you” used to live before the old you was “cut away” (Colossians 2:11), before the old you died and was buried with Christ (Colossians 2:12).
Back when the Christian was previously
United with Adam instead of with Christ
(Back in the old life),
These principalities and powers
Held sway over him.
Many unbelievers live under the sway of principalities and powers without even realizing it. They may even boast of their freedom, but the irony is that they are not free, at all:
An unbeliever is not free to not sin.
Just think that through. No unbeliever is free to not sin. It doesn’t matter who you are if you are an unbeliever. You are not as free as you may wish to believe. Just try not sinning. No unbeliever is free to not sin. Every unbeliever is enslaved by sin. Sin is his or her master and lord. Sin reigns.
What did Christ do on the cross?
He defeated all the demonic rulers
Who reigned over those connected to Adam.
Christ defeated the work of the enemy!
This is precisely what the Bible describes in verse 15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He (Christ) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
Christ conquered all the principalities and powers,
All the forces of darkness that held people captive to sin.
Christ disarmed them and defeated them.
Paul says in the second part of verse 15 that Christ “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” The picture is that of a conquering king like a Roman emperor who travels to a distant land and defeats the enemy. The way the emperor proved that he had defeated the enemy was by bringing him back in chains. A Roman general would march off to war, conquer the enemy, and then return to Rome, parading all the defeated rulers throughout the streets so that everyone could see the enemy in chains. It was like saying, “See these enemies in chains?! They can’t harm you! We have triumphed over them!!”
In a time before 24-hour news and the internet, people could not turn on a screen and follow a war. Evidence of a war’s being won was the conquering king’s bringing back the defeated foe in chains. Often there would be like a train of these enemies all chained to one another, ultimately chained to chariots and paraded through the streets as a public spectacle for all to see and for all to rejoice.
Christ’s work on the cross has “disarmed principalities and powers,” defeated the rulers and forces of darkness. Jesus has “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them.” In essence Jesus says, “If you are united with Me, these principalities and powers no longer enslave you. I have triumphed over them that you may have eternal freedom!”
If you are a Christian . . .
Remember that the “old you” required
A spiritual operation
Because the old you
Was dominated by the flesh,
Dominated by the old sinful desires
That held you captive.
Through your faith in Christ,
God “cut away” the old you and
Gave you a “new you,”
A new nature,
A nature empowered
To live in a way
That pleases God.
You are now dead to the old you
And you have life in the new you.
One of the great challenges for the Christian, however, is the struggle with the sin that remains in this world. Never forget that . . .
“While sin no longer reigns, it remains.”
Sin’s power has been broken for the Christian,
But it is still there and we can still fall into sin.
Thankfully, when we sin as a Christian we are not jeopardizing our salvation. We have eternal fellowship and eternal forgiveness in Christ. We are connected to Him forever. We cannot be un-united to Christ. God keeps us connected in Him. Praise God for that!
But in this fallen world, we occasionally fall into sin. And when the Christian sins, his or her relationship with Christ is not as sweet as it once was.
Like a husband who speaks an unkind word to his wife, the relationship is hurt. The two are still married, of course, but the relationship has soured until the one confesses to the other and asks for forgiveness. Similarly, the Christian has eternal forgiveness in Christ. Thankfully, all sin is forgiven. The Christian is free and no longer enslaved to sin.
However, the Christian can still fall into momentary sin. And when the Christian does sin, thankfully it is not his marriage to Christ that is at stake. The Christian is still part of the bride married to Christ, but the relationship has soured. The relationship will continue to be unsettled until the Christian confesses and says, “I’m sorry, Lord. Please forgive me” (1 John 1:9). Only then is the sweet fellowship with Christ felt and known again.
You are free in Christ, so don’t go back over to that old prison and – as the Bible puts it in Romans 6:13 – don’t, “present your body parts as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead.” Rather, as the Bible teaches in Romans 6:11, “Consider yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Remember to tell yourself that you are dead to the old you.
When tempted to “cross the tracks” and go back over to the “old you,” over there in that prison cell where you were once connected to Adam and enslaved to sin, remind yourself that you are dead to sin. When tempted by lust, pride, anger, or bitterness, don’t cross the tracks and live in that sin even for a moment. Rather, remember that God has “cut away” the old you. You are dead to that old way of life and you now have freedom in Christ to not sin.
So . . . You say to yourself, “I’m dead to that. I died to that old way of life. That’s been cut away and I now am free to enjoy fellowship with Christ.”
- When someone says something that hurts you, rather than returning evil for evil, choose to live in the power of your new life and say to yourself, “I’m dead to that” and walk away.
- When the conversation at the work turns to filth and lewdness, choose to live in the power of your new life and say to yourself, “I’m dead to that” and walk away.
- When tempted to pick up that old habit – smoking, overeating, drinking – say, choose to live in the power of your new life and “I’m dead to that” and walk away.
- When the old feelings of yesterday’s hurts resurface, rather than re-feeling the hurt and pain, and rather than becoming bitter and resentful, choose to live in the power of your new life and say, “I’m dead to that.”
- When an image on a screen, whether on TV or a computer or a phone, catches your eye and lures you to cross the line and spend a little time indulging your flesh say, choose to live in the power of your new life and say, “I’m dead to that.”
Always Remember . . .
Sin will take you farther than you want to go,
Keep you longer than you want to stay,
And cost you more than you want to pay.“
You are dead to the old you. You are free in Christ. Live in the joy of that freedom this week!
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”