October 22, 2012
Jumbo shrimp. Military Intelligence. Harmless crime. Non-fat ice cream. Even, christian psychiatrist. These are all oxymorons, figures of speech in which seemingly contradictory words appear side by side to describe a concept. I know today’s Stepping Stones title sounded a bit contradictory, telling you that in order to really be free, you must be controlled at the same time.
At first glance, the instruction, “be free by being controlled,” sounds impossible. You are probably thinking, “Isn’t the definition of freedom the ability to self-rule without restrictions or controls; release from captivity or slavery? Isn’t freedom the absence of control, being independent?” So how do we achieve freedom by being controlled?
This is a lesson we see clearly and learn frequently throughout life. For example, obeying the laws of the land provides freedom from the confines of prison. Submitting to your teacher’s control, instruction, learning principles, and strategy allows greater freedom to choose the vocation you want. Submitting to your coach’s control provides you more freedom from anxiety, pressure, and fear when you face a difficult opponent. Submitting to a theatre director or music teacher produces great freedom to explore the art, maximize your expressiveness, and freely become the art form.
The same is true spiritually. As you submit to the Holy Spirit, you become free from the world and are supernaturally empowered by God. So stop fighting the way of God, put on the daily armor (more on the Armor of God), and let the Holy Spirit control your mind and actions. You will become increasingly released from the control and condemnation of sin. You will be freed up to become the one He created you to be.
Unfortunately, this law of life runs contrary to the world’s misguided system. That’s why the concept seems like an oxymoron. Satan is trying to trick you into thinking you are smart and independent enough on your own. His message is that you do not need to submit to any controls in order to live freely. Observing the examples above is easy. But submitting our inner thought world and our entire being to an intangible person often seems beyond our me-centered agenda and vision. If you don’t choose God’s controls, by default, you will be using either your own near-sighted ones or Satan’s destructive ones. Not a very smart decision, nor is it a good place to live.
Today, look at the controls in your life that allow you freedom. Be thankful. Then, look at areas in your life that aren’t working out well. You most likely need some stronger controls or guidance in those areas. When you sin, confess it immediately. This gets you back into unimpeded fellowship with God, and places the Holy Spirit back on the throne of your life. In an important decision today, invite the Holy Spirit to guide you. Really submit to His guidance, observing and experiencing how it plays out. Let Him live in the depths of your spirit. His work can liberate you completely to be the person God intended you to be, and to live the life that is WITHIN REACH. Having freedom with God in control or turmoil with you in control, is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, My desire to be in control is constantly getting in the way. By doing things my way, I am continually sabotaging myself. I know that when Your Holy Spirit is controlling my thinking and behavior, I feel more alive … more real. Give me the strength to be humble and to withstand the discomfort I feel when I am not in control. Help me realize I am never really in control of very much anyway. Show me the freedom You have for me when I live the way You designed me to live. I pray for humility to allow the Holy Spirit to think for me, live through me, and love on me. I pray this in the freeing name my savior, Jesus Christ; and all God’s people say – AMEN!
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10