December 3-4, 2016
Oxymorons are figures of speech in which seemingly contradictory words appear side by side to describe a concept. They are often humorous and intriguing. Like Jumbo shrimp. Military intelligence. Harmless crime. Non-fat ice cream. And especially, “Christian psychiatrist.” I know the title of today’s Stepping Stones 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 to “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; or the release from captivity or slavery?” Or, “freedom is the absence of control, being independent.” So how do we get freedom by being controlled?
This is a lesson we see clearly and learn frequently throughout life. Obeying the rules or controls 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 college or 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 the control of 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, stop fighting the way of God, put on the daily armor (read here for more on the Armor of God), and let the Holy Spirit control your mind and actions, you become free from the world and are supernaturally empowered by God to achieve your unlimited God-given potential. You are increasingly released from the control and condemnation of sin and then free to truly become the one He created you to be and live the abundant life Christ died for so you could have.
Unfortunately, this law of life runs contrary to the world’s misguided system. That’s why the concept seems like an oxymoron. So Satan’s trick or lie sounds like this: you are smart and independent enough on your own, and thus, do not need to submit to any controls in order to live freely. Or nobody loves you and will look out for your needs as much as you will, so don’t submit to anyone else’s control and game plan but your own. 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 direction, by default, you will be using either your own near-sighted or Satan’s destructive path. Not a very smart decision, as those paths lead to disaster.
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 and 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 live the life that is WITHIN REACH. Whether you live in freedom with God in control or you live in turmoil with you in control, it’s 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 I submit to Your Holy Spirit and let You control my thoughts and behavior, I feel more alive, more real and in so much less turmoil. Give me 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 how 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