IMPORTANT STEPS TO EXPERIENCE FREEDOM IN CHRIST
(By: Neil Anderson)
EVALUATING YOUR PAST
It was for freedom that Christ set us free. - Galatians 5:1
How does God intend for you to resolve hurtful, controlling past experiences? In two ways:
1: First, you have the privilege of evaluating your past experience in the light of who you are now, as opposed to who you were then. The intensity of the primary emotion was established by how you perceived the event at the time it happened.
Remember: Your emotions are a product of how you perceived the event, not the event itself. As a Christian, you are not primarily a product of your past; you are primarily the product of the work of Christ on the cross.
The flesh, which represents how you processed those events according to the world and without Christ, remains. But you are able to render it inoperative.
When a present event activates that primary emotion, many people believe what they feel instead of believing what is true. For example, people who have been verbally abused by their parents have a hard time believing they are unconditionally loved by Father God. Their primary emotions argue that they are unlovable to a parent figure. They believe what they feel and their walk is off course. Believing the truth (God's Word) and walking by faith in God's Word of who God the Father says you are in Christ is what sets us free.
Now that you are in Christ, you can look at those events from the perspective of who you are today. Christ is in your life right now desiring to set you free from your past. That is the gospel, the good news that Christ has come to set the captives free. Perceiving those events from the perspective of your new identity in Christ is what starts the process of healing those damaged emotions.
God's good news about our identity is revealed in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." This is what you must believe first in order to be set free from your past.
FORGIVING YOUR PAST
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. - Ephesians 4:32
2: The second step in resolving past conflicts is to forgive those who have offended you.
After encouraging Cindy, a rape victim, to deal with the emotional trauma of her rape, I said, "Cindy, you also need to forgive the man who raped you."
Cindy's response was typical of many believers who have suffered physical, sexual or emotional pain at the hands of others: "Why should I forgive him? You don't know how badly he hurt me!"
"He's still hurting you, Cindy," I responded. "Forgiveness is how you stop the pain. You don't forgive him for his sake; you do it for your sake."
Why should you forgive those who have hurt you in the past?
First - forgiveness is required by God. As soon as Jesus spoke the amen to His model prayer -- which included a petition for God's forgiveness -- He commented: "If you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:14, 15). We must base our relationships with others on the same criteria on which God bases His relationship with us: love, acceptance and forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35).
Second - forgiveness is necessary to avoid entrapment by Satan. I have discovered from my counseling that unforgiveness is the number one avenue Satan uses to gain entrance to believers' lives. Paul encouraged mutual forgiveness "in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11). Unforgiveness is an open invitation to Satan's bondage in our lives.
Third, we are to forgive like Christ forgave in order to keep our hearts from bitterness. Paul wrote: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31, 32).
Your act of forgiveness will set the captive free ... then you will realize that the captive was you!
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)