by Pastor James Lee
Frank Sinatra once sang, “I’ll do it my way.” Miley Cyrus now sings, “This is our house, this is our rules… we run things, things don’t run we, don’t take nothing from nobody.” Is it any surprise that one of the first things that comes from the lips of our children is “mine”, and keeps coming from ours, just in a more sophisticated way? That’s me. That’s you. That’s all of us. Let’s be honest about it. I believe we would all agree that there is no shortage of things to repent of on a daily basis in light of His grace. At the very least, we are far more independently minded than we realize, especially as those who publicly profess Jesus as “Lord”… with the added irony, that we succumb by default to some temporal servitude elsewhere. We’re not nearly as “free” as we boast, but when life hits our self-appointed demi-god status, we get upset with said freedom. Our remaining flesh insists on being captains of our own ship. That’s the madness, insanity, idolatry, irrational nature of our shackled “emancipation”. The tune of our Western post-Enlightenment edict screams the maxim “It’s My life! My choice! My body!” Of course, we know it’s nothing new. It’s as old as sin, “Did God actually say… you will not surely die!” Yet, that’s the song of our own arrogance and self-sufficiency when it surfaces. Whether we’re teenagers yelling at our parents because we think we know better, or we question God’s perfect wisdom by worrying, or we think we deserve better in life, or the ways we approach church commitment, or how we disregard godly counsel for what we want, or assume that something is ultimately our accomplishment and possession – our degrees, our opportunities, our homes, our money, our stuff… Thus, we tend to enthrone our own timetables, expectations, desires, standards, not with a conviction of accountability to God, but with an attitude of autonomy from Him.
But we’ve never been our own. And what we have has never been our own. Thus, every time we think that, we believe the age old lie of our supposed self-autonomy. We couldn’t create ourselves, let alone sustain ourselves. We live and breathe as the universe is held by His personal power without a sweat. We need to eat and sleep. God doesn’t need. We struggle to consistently love others like we would want to. We can’t figure out our problems that we ourselves created, only to have the audacity to blame God despite everything good He has given us and everything bad that we puny and fallible and limited and fallen sinners have made a muck of all on our own. It’s a divine miracle and mercy that Louis Armstrong can sing “It’s a Wonderful World.” It’s not as bad as it could be, but we looked at the creation, and knowingly suppressed the truth about the Creator (Romans 1:18ff). In the midst of that blindness, our loving God intervened!
If left to myself, I would have never sought after God – I did not find Him; He found me! He did not stumble across me by accident or hope or wait for me to ask for His mercy or wish that I as a spiritually dead person (Eph 2:1) with no desire for Him at all, then would somehow one day “return the favor.” Rather, He set His loving affections on the criminally undeserving and stopped us from continuing on the path we were on. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He has loved us, loves us, knows all our sorrows, cares for us as we experience the consequences of our own sin and of living in this fallen world. He commits to love us, and we’ve done nothing to merit or earn it. He set His affections on us, formed us in our mother’s wombs, preserved us, called us, saved us, gave us new life! Creationally, not just consequently by redemption, we’re not our own. Our lives belong to the Lord!
Here are at least 8 reasons why we’re both joyfully and soberly not our own:
1. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Were Never Our Own
- Genesis 1:27 – God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
- Revelation 4:11 – “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
2. We’re Not Our Own… Because He Chose to Redeem Us Before We Ever Came to Be
- Ephesians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
- 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 – He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
3. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Have Been Freed to His Loving Lordship
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
- Galatians 5:13 – “Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh.”
4. We’re Not Our Own… Because He Bought Us Back At An Incomprehensible Cost
- Romans 8:32 – He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
- 1 Peter 1:17-19 – If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
5. We’re Not Our Own… Because He Adopted Us Despite Who We Once Were
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
- Galatians 4:4-5 – “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
6. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Belong to Him Completely and Eternally
- Romans 6:5,11 – For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- John 10:28-29 – I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
7. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Now Embrace Him Willingly, We Love Him!
- 1 Peter 1:6-9 – In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
- 1 John 4:18-19 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
8. We’re Not Our Own… Because He’s Left Us Here With a Privileged Mission to Fulfill
- Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- 1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
True freedom is being enslaved to the Lord, and anything outside that is a self-deception that leads to disaster. As a young Christian, I remember hearing Jay Adams ask the question, “Where is the train most free: ‘confined’ to the tracks, or ‘free’ to roll on the dirt?” We were designed by our Good Creator to enjoy the freedom and joy of living in a trusting and submissive relationship to Him. There is a dramatic contrast between the Absaloms, “Oh that I were king,” and John the Baptists, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
Alexander Maclaren explained, “Liberty does not mean doing as you like, it means liking as you ought, and doing that. He only is free who submits to God in Christ, and thereby overcomes himself and the world and all antagonism, and is able to do that which it is his life to do.” James Montgomery Boice wrote, “There is no such thing as absolute freedom for anyone. No human is free to do everything he or she may want to do. There is One Being in the universe who is totally free, of course. That is God. But all others are limited by or enslaved by someone or something. As a result, the only meaningful question in this area is: Who or what are you serving? … Since you and I are human beings and not God, we can never be autonomous. We must either be slaves to sin or slaves of Jesus Christ. But here is the wonderful and very striking thing: To be a slave of Christ is true freedom.” Jesus Himself warned in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
For the child of God, what a joy to confess, that we’re not our own! We belong to the Lord who loves us! What gratitude overflows and strong security to say that we are who we are, by the grace of God! John Piper said, “When we belong to Jesus, we’re finally able to make God look glorious in our lives.” The greatest happiness in life is to be a slave of the glorious Christ! To be a slave of Christ is true freedom!