Freedom in the Gospel
March 4, 2008, 3:09 pm
Filed under: gospel

“The gospel, applied to our hearts every day, frees us to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God.  The assurance of His total forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ means we don’t have to play defensive games anymore. We don’t have to rationalize and excuse our sins. . . . We can call sin exactly what it is, regardless of how ugly and shameful it may be, because we know that Jesus bore that sin in His body on the cross. With the assurance of total forgiveness through Christ, we have no reason to hide from our sins anymore.”

– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs, Co: NavPress, 1994), 22-23.


Bridges says that “we don’t have to play defensive games anymore” or “rationalize and excuse our sins”.  We have been set free.  And yet we constantly find this type of behavior in the church among Christians.  I still find it in my heart.  I struggle and fail, so I go into hiding.  I get criticized and my knee-jerk reaction is to defend myself and rationalize.  I make moves to cover myself, rather than moving towards the cross again to find that I have already been covered.  That’s why we must never move beyond the gospel.  We must return to it again and again, not because it is “basic”, but because it is sufficient.

Sometimes I think that part of the problem with us not “getting the gospel” comes because we don’t trust that others in the church “have the gospel”.  If we are honest about our sins with other people, would they treat us as God would treat us?  Enough of us probably have some painful experience in the past that would lead us to answer that question, “No.”  Gossip happened.  Slander happened.  Self-righteous judgment happened.  People began to look at us “differently”.

This brings me back to Ephesians 4, where we see that as we live lives worthy of the gospel, we will mature together.  Consider the following verses :

v.1 – “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

What does that look like?

v.2 – “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

v.15 – “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

With what end result?

v.16 – “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  

So, as I do my part to “get the gospel” and therefore to treat others with humility, gentleness, and patience (because I am a sinner myself, just like them), I can bear with the failures and sins of others, speaking the truth to them, but with a loving heart (not self-righteous).  This will enable them to “experience” the love of the gospel and not just “know it in their heads”.  And this encourages them to begin to live in the freedom of the gospel more and more.  And as they “get the gospel”, they begin to treat others (including me) in that same way, and I am able to live out that freedom as well.

Getting the gospel and living in the freedom of the gospel doesn’t happen when we’re “flying solo”, but it happens in community.  As each of us do our part, we will mature in this freedom together.

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