“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Free will

 Often, free will is seen as self-will. In other words, I get to do whatever I want. To the sinner, self-indulgent and willful as we are, doing whatever we want seems to be the greatest freedom.

That is what the children of Israel expected once there were delivered from Egypt. But, they found that the Lord had something different in mind when He thought of their freedom. Statute after statute, law after law, religious ceremony after ceremony came forth from Christ to Moses to the people. And they hated it; at least most of the adults did. So Jesus made them spend their lives doing donuts in the desert sands until (if ever) they would surrender to His will instead of their own.

To them, freedom meant eating all the fatty, juicy flesh food with all the trimmings which they had in Egypt, but 10 times more of it. Oh, freedom in Canaan would be heavenly!! And they never lived to see Canaan. If they had entered in they would have polluted it worse than the Canaanites had. Therefore, free-will was not to be.

Jesus never lived for Himself. “For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me.” (Rom. 15:3). He was made under the Law. “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal. 4:3-5). Our Savior, the Lawgiver, was made to live under the Law.
Ellen White, in Desire of Ages, p. 466, wrote of the only true freedom.

These words offended the Pharisees. The nation’s long subjection to a foreign yoke, they disregarded, and angrily exclaimed, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, Ye shall be made free?” Jesus looked upon these men, the slaves of malice, whose thoughts were bent upon revenge, and sadly answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” They were in the worst kind of bondage,—ruled by the spirit of evil.
Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin-slavery from the soul. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” sets us “free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2.
In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.
The only condition upon which the freedom of man is possible is that of becoming one with Christ. “The truth shall make you free;” and Christ is the truth. Sin can triumph only by enfeebling the mind, and destroying the liberty of the soul. Subjection to God is restoration to one’s self,—to the true glory and dignity of man. The divine law, to which we are brought into subjection, is “the law of liberty.” James 2:12.

David wrote, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” (Psa. 68:17,18). Little did the Israelites at Sinai know that the only way to remain free from Satan was to be held captive to Christ. Christ liberated them and immediately took them as His captives! They thought that freedom from Egyptian slavery meant living however they chose. But, they got the shock of their lives! Captivity under Christ was harder for them than Egyptian slavery, even though they had been beaten every day there. Only a few of the adults ever surrendered to the captivity of Christ. The vast majority died fighting against subjection to Christ and never saw the land flowing with milk and honey, the beautiful land, where the necessarily heavy hand of the Lord would rest.

As sinners, we are poisoned with sin. We immediately fall to Satan’s temptations to be like him. Our only hope is to be fully under the control of Jesus, to learn of Him and be charmed by His grace and truth, His Law and His love.

This is why Paul called himself, “the prisoner of the Lord.” (Eph. 4:1). And he strove to be the Jesus’ prisoner. That was his life goal.

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:8-14).

Perfect conformity to Christ was Ellen White’s goal, as it was for all the apostles and prophets. Free-will subject to the Law of God and the grace of Jesus—the only true freedom of the will. This is why she had no problem with the Law of God, and neither has any other of the Lord’s saints. “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” (Psa. 119:126). “The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Psa. 119:72). “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2Cor. 10:4,5).
But, the unreconciled and unsurrendered always are repulsed by the Law and make up their own rules for salvation . “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with Thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Psa. 94:20). “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:8-9).

Jesus told the parable: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” (Matt. 12:43-45). Notice, that the mind and will of the person freed from Satan had been cleaned up by the Holy Spirit, but no attempt was being made by the saved person to fill the mind with the knowledge and power of God. That’s when Satan lawfully claimed that soul as his property.

Free will apart from the Law/Bible/Spirit of Prophecy is closely akin to the eastern mystical practice of meditation—emptying the mind of everything in order to communicate with the personalities that exist in the astral planes. To the extent that we are not filled with the word of God, Satan can control us. We are not our own. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1Cor. 6:19). Our natures are born ready to live apart from God and His righteousness. Left to our own, we are captive to demons.

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord….
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” (Rom. 6:11,13-20).

Of course, the yielding to righteousness must come through first yielding to our Friend and sacrificial Lamb, Jesus. As we read above, “when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.” Only under the power of His love and grace toward me can I ever yield myself to Him, and then to His righteousness.

The steps to a free will are so simple, even a child can understand them. 1) Daily open the Bible and pray (Jn. 5:39;Rom. 10:17); 2) Slowly but surely be overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit’s rendition of the love of God for sinful man seen in His word to us and be imbued with deeper yearnings in prayer (Jer. 15:16;Dan. 9:2-11); 3) In obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, surrender the will to the love of the Savior (Mk. 10:50;Heb. 4:10,11); 4) Receive the Spirit’s power to want to obey (Jn. 1:12;2Thess. 2:13,14); 5) then, Choose to obey as you are resting in Jesus’ love and in His own beautiful life of obedience to His Father (Ruth 1:16,17;1Sam. 17:48-50;Rev. 22:14).

Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith. Steps to Christ, p. 48.


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