By Patrice Burrell, Crosswalk.com
Women are often confronted with many vices that challenge their ability to live out their true freedom in Christ. Often, we need to be reminded of John 8:36 (NLT), which declares, "So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free." There are four areas, in particular, we will all face and have to overcome the enemy's lies as it pertains to our freedom. Nevertheless, God is faithful, and the Word of God is true. Let us take comfort in knowing we can hold fast to our God-given freedom and choose to believe we are everything He says we are. Our identity is solely defined by the truth of God's holy Word.
1. Freedom from Sin
First and foremost, we can rejoice that we are eternally free from the bondage of sin when we accept God's gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This is forever settled on earth and in heaven. Scripture assures us in Romans 8:1-4 (NLT),
"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit."
Even though the enemy of our soul will always try to make us believe false narratives such as we must earn our salvation, we must work in order to maintain our salvation, or we can lose our salvation if we mess up, the truth of God's Word always points us back to Calvary. Since salvation is a gift we could not have initiated, we simply receive this gift through the finished work of Jesus. Does this mean we are incapable of sinning? Of course not. Our humanity will not allow us to live sinless lives. However, just because we may sin does not mean we are enslaved to sin.
As disciples of Christ, our objective is to accept God's grace that is evidenced through the process of sanctification. In other words, we are all still a work in progress. Yet, we do not seek to actively practice sin just because we have God's grace. When we sin, we can quickly repent and be reminded of our freedom in Jesus. We can no longer be in bondage to sin because we understand that the power of God lives within us, giving us the ability to stand firm in our liberty through Christ Jesus. The goal of believers should always be to live a life that offers glory and honor for our precious gift of salvation.
2. Freedom from the Past
Every so often, we can expect to be reminded of our past. By this, I mean the person we once were, the lifestyle we once lived, and the ungodly actions we committed before accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. We may be triggered by someone else or even have flashbacks prompted by our memory. The devil is ever so clever and subtle that he will use any scenario possible to make us feel bad about ourselves. The poor choices we once made reflect our old nature and can seemingly flood our souls at any moment given the right set of circumstances. And if we are honest, we may even have made decisions since accepting Jesus into our lives that we are not so proud of. All of this can leave us feeling embarrassed or ashamed over things from our past.
Walking in freedom from our past requires us to intentionally and constantly press forward to the future we have in Christ Jesus. God offers us the strength to rise above our past and not allow it to hinder our present or future. In Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT), Paul tells us, "No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
As a former persecutor of Christians, I can imagine Paul had many opportunities to be reminded of his past. Instead, he consistently chose to fix his eyes on Jesus. We, too, are running a "faith race" and must press on despite the things from our past we have had to overcome. For runners to succeed in their race, they must stay in their lane and look ahead - not back. And so, it is likewise for us. We, too, must choose to keep our focus on the future and the expected end God has for us so that we can live in freedom from our past.
3. Freedom from Fears
At some point in our lives, we all experience fear, no matter how brave we may be. Fear can manifest in many forms. Some of the fears especially intimidating to women are the fear of failure, rejection, and inadequacy.
The fear of failure can be paralyzing because it will prevent us from taking action out of fear that our actions will only result in loss and not the fulfillment of achievement. We feel it is pointless to attempt success because, in the end, we will only end up experiencing defeat. The fear of failure can also be related to perfectionism. If the only way we are willing to attempt success at something is when we are guaranteed there is no way possible we can fail, or otherwise we delay action, then we fear failure.
The fear of rejection can sting us to our core. After mustering up enough courage to become vulnerable, we must face the risk of not being accepted. Sometimes we push past our fear of failure and are bold enough to take action, but then deal with the reality of rejection over the very thing we took a step of faith to pursue. Have you ever been there? I sure have, and rejection in any form is not the easiest pill to swallow.
Let's not forget about the fear of inadequacy. Plainly put, this is when we just don't feel enough - good enough, smart enough, pretty enough - you can fill in the blank here. The fear of inadequacy is laced with insecurity. We pick ourselves apart, judging all of our flaws. We allow everything we are or are not good at doing to become magnified so much that we feel inadequate. This fear of inadequacy will influence how we perceive ourselves, project ourselves, and limit our ability to receive the abundant life God has designed and desires for us to live.
But the good news remains, we can be free from all fear! 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) states, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." Isaiah 43:1 (NLT) reminds us, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine." We belong to God, and He promises to rescue and redeem us from fear. God wants us to be filled with peace, not fear. Whenever fear encroaches to threaten our freedom, we can call upon the Lord because He will deliver us. He promises that when we feel afraid, we can put our trust in Him; we can run The Rock and be confident fear will not steal our freedom.
4. Freedom from the Opinions of Others
When we live fully in the freedom of Christ Jesus, we are able to live free from the opinions of others. If we care so much about what others think of us to the extent it impacts our decisions or the way we view and feel about ourselves, we are not living fully in the freedom Jesus extends to us. This will often lead us down a path of living to please people and can have the same impact as an unhealthy addiction. In this case, it is an addiction for the approval of men instead of the sole satisfaction that should sustain us from having the approval of God.
If more women truly lived free from the opinions of others, we would have less comparison but more collaboration, less competition but more camaraderie, and less contention but more celebration of each other, especially among Christian women in the Body of Christ. There would be no need to get caught up in illusions of image and status. Rather, our value would be placed on championing our identity in Christ and cheering each other on in genuine, authentic ways that support our fellow sisters.
Who would imagine something as simple as the opinions of others could trip us up and cause us to stumble in the area of our freedom? But we must remember that it is often the little things in life - the small foxes - that build up over time, eventually offering significant (negative) impact. Galatians 5:1 (NLT) says, "So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law." Therefore, we must be vigilant and on guard against anything that might attempt to yoke us to any bondage of this world. We are to love others, but never be bound to their opinions or become tied up with trying to please them.
May our resolve always be to please God above all things and maintain the freedom we find in Him. As we devote ourselves to this cause, we will walk in freedom all the days of our lives. Psalm 119:45 (NLT) declares, "I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments." The more we ground ourselves in the truth of scripture, we will be able to use it as a sword against the lies of the enemy whenever our blood-bought freedoms are attacked. There is no challenge to the liberty we have through Christ Jesus that the power of God has not already defeated. We are victorious, and we can live in complete freedom.