"Free at Last. Free at Last. Thank God Almighty, I'm free At Last."
What do you think of when you hear or read that quote? Do you think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who made this quote famous? Do you think of freedom from this life? Do you think of freedom from incarceration, bondage or oppression?
When I hear this quote, I think of the freedom I found in Jesus Christ. I'll be the first to admit that I've spend a great deal of my life thinking that I was free but in all actuality I was a slave. I believed I was free to come and go as I pleased, sleep around as I pleased, talk as I pleased and even be addicted to various substances and gambling as I pleased. But at the end of the day you know what I found out? I was still a slave. I was a slave to my own fleshy desires.
One day during worship service I felt "out of place" when the worship leader instructed the congregation to lift up "holy hands" to God. I didn't think I was worthy to lift up my hands to the Lord because in my mind they were far from holy. I realized that I truly wasn't free. By the time I came to this realization it was already too late because I had now been bound by something else - something even stronger than my past sins. I was bound by a defeated, shameful spirit. I was bound by condemnation. It wasn't the condemnation of my peers, relatives, or even church members. I was bound by the worse form of condemnation: self-condemnation. The enemy whispered some lies in my ear and I believed them. He told me once a ______ always a _____ you fill in the blank how it pertains to your life.
I believed that I had gone too far, crossed the line and was outright unforgivable. I began to hold my head down in shame and think there was no use in praying because I couldn't understand what God would want to hear from a sinner like me. My mind couldn't even conceive the notion that my thoughts were so far from the truth.
But then I read Romans 8:1-4 and I came to learn that I couldn't be good because "I" couldn't be good - not without the help of the Holy Spirit, that is.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.And so he condemned sin in sinful man,in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Why was I walking around with my head hung low when the Word of God clearly told me that there was NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus? I was in Christ Jesus yet I was still feeling condemned. The holy men of times of old couldn't live holy (without the Spirit of the Lord). Why did I think I was any different. Whenever preachers declared that I needed the anointing because it was the "anointing" that destroys the yokes of bondage, I thought they wanted me to jump around or speak in some strange tongue. I mastered going for sprints around the church and falling out but I didn't understand that the anointing was the power of God working in me and through me.
At this point in my life I thought that I no longer had to follow every letter of the bible to a "T" (we do) but I also thought that I had to "act" like I had the anointing instead of allowing God to deliver me and endow me with His Spirit. I was a slave to self-condemnation and a slave to the Law. But the apostle Paul explains to us that God's law was powerless because of the flesh - the very demon that I was battling. So God in His infinite wisdom, had to come down to earth Himself in the flesh (Jesus) to live holy and become the perfect sacrifice so that I could be reconciled back to Him.
I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a whole lot of trouble to go through for someone that doesn't even appreciate the sacrifice. God sacrificed Himself for me. I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that Jesus Christ was God manifested in the flesh, died on the cross, rose the third day and now sits at the right hand of God. I could handle that He was conceived immaculately and born of a virgin. I believed that He healed the sick, raised the dead, and turned water into wine but I struggled with the fact that He could forgive me. I struggled with the fact that I was worthy enough to lift up "holy hands" and worship a holy God being so void of holiness myself.
Thanks be to God that since then I have come to understand the significance of what Jesus did for ME on Calvary. He set me free. I can lift up Holy hands at my desk, in the car, in my house and in the sanctuary and not feel guilty. Now I feel guilty when I don't worship Him. No one has to prompt me to worship Him and no one can tell me that I am unworthy to worship Him - not even myself.
Free At Last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, I'm free at Last.