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Free Indeed

A Focus on Meaningful & Mutual Freedom in Christ

ARC Guide Level 3
Ideal for those well acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.

Photo by Jill Wellington

The truth sets us free, but what is truth? It is more than abstract factual correctness. It is the fruit of which tree we are grafted into; the very language we learn from our Father upon our new birth.

John 8:31-32

31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32-33 English Standard Version

The Context

In the ramp up to his crucifixion, Jesus engages the Jewish leaders in a rather volatile exchange that nearly results in His stoning. Jesus is teaching in the temple testifying about Himself saying that He is light of the world, the Messiah and says to those who believed in Him that if they abide in the words He has just spoken about Himself then they are truly His disciples and that they will know the truth and the truth will set them free. The Jewish leaders take exception to the suggestion that they are not in fact free. They cite their political and heritage status as proof of their freedom but Jesus maintains that those who practice sin are not free but are enslaved to sin, and walk in darkness. Jesus cites their hatred of Him and desire to put him to death as proof that they walk in the footsteps of their murderous father and are indeed the offspring of the devil. This is what moves the elders to take up stones but Jesus disappears into the crowd to avoid death before His time.

What is Truth?

The Truth sets us free, but what is truth? It is more than abstract factual correctness. It is the fruit of which tree we are grafted into; the very language we learn from our Father upon our new birth. The Jewish leaders were not speaking a factual lie when they said that their ancestor was Abraham, nor that they themselves were not slaves in the social hierarchy. However, they were not speaking the metaphysical truth that Jesus was discussing. Jesus says that the one who claims Abraham as their father and yet walks and talks nothing like Abraham is a liar as Abraham walked and spoke by faith and the Jewish leaders walked and spoke by sight. Jesus likens this deep self deception of claiming to be something other than what we are, to claiming to speak the language of our so-called fathers and yet not speak their language. To say, for example, that we are Chinese, yet when a born and breed Han from China walks into the room and greets us in Mandarin, we don’t know the language and get angry at them for not greeting us in English! We are exposed as fraudulent in our claims. In the same way, if we do not know the voice of the Spirit of God and are offended when He speaks because we do not understand, then there is a good chance that we are not born of God. But, knowing this, the truth can set us free.

Free from Sin for Freedoms Sake

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 English Standard Version

It would be very easy, reading a verse like this, to think that what Paul means is that since we have been physically set free we should not bind ourselves to a physical or political yoke of slavery. We need to remember that Jesus says that the one who sins is a slave to sin or to their flesh. Other verses say a slave to our passions; that is to the unconscious visceral reactions of our bodies to any exterior stimuli. When compared with other imagery in the New Testament we find that what Jesus means is that the one who sins is a slave to their own body. Paul, on the other hand flips the situation on its head. The New International Version gives us a vivid image of disciplining the body.

No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:27 English Standard Version

In Paul’s analogy, he is discipling his body for a race or a fight. He trains others to run and fight, but would be a sorry excuse for a coach if he himself could not run or fight. What Paul and Jesus are saying is that either we are slave to our bodies or our bodies are slaves to us! We are either controlled by the flesh and the things of this world, or we submit to the Spirit and make our flesh the servant and slave of our minds. The idealists (of which I am one) are wont to remind us to take back our thinking from our bodies and to give it back to our minds–this I think is the idea behind freedom. If freedom is a state of being–a state of mind–that results in a physical reality then the Spirit unleashes our minds from our bodies and we can then understand the sayings of Jesus in regards to food being for body and not the body for food, only perhaps we will slightly adjust to say that the body is for the soul and not the soul for the body. Both are integral to the interface, the body is the primary interface; the slave, but the soul is the one who communicates through the body. The body may be in chains and the soul free, but if the soul is in chains then so will the body be. When the soul is set free the body will not be far behind.

No one who is master of their body enslaves another in body or mind to do their will; they are perfectly capable of doing the work themselves and indeed say to themselves regularly, “if you want something done right, do it yourself”. However, when ‘like minds,’ meet they spark genius between them and move mountains by the power of two or more souls who were masters of their own bodies and therefore of their environment. These are the truly free ones. They are not, necessarily, marked by wealth or status, or ascetism or poverty–they are those who tell their bodies to behave a certain way and obey.

The Spirit is Willing But the Flesh is Weak

However, the interface is broken. No matter how masterful we are over our environment it is still marred by secondary interfaces that, over time, have weakened us. We attempt to tell ourselves what to do, and end up crying out in frustration with Paul,

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Romans 7:24 English Standard Version

Every action done in the flesh leads to death and every action done in the Spirit leads to life–Paul concludes that Christ saves us from this body infested with death. Belief in Christ as the light of the world sets us free, as Jesus testified about Himself. Not free as in separated from our bodies of death but free from the control of the body, and indeed freedom to enslave the body to the soul to be used once again for intersoul communication.

The State of Affairs

Our bodies exude self absorbed death when they are in control and as a result we drive people away from us, whether they be controlled by the flesh or by the Spirit. People come together in the flesh when there is a common goal to legitimise, provide for and protect one another’s bodily well being. This is so engrained in us, that we all just thought, “well, what’s wrong with that,”. What’s wrong with that is that what or rather whom we are protecting one another from are other primary interfaces controlled by secondary interfaces. We fail in our common goal of intersoul communication and settle for the compromise of interbody cooperation.

People controlled by the Spirit, however, are not concerned about their own legitimacy, safety or provision because it does not rest in other people, nor even in themselves, but in the Spirit. They speak the words they are told to speak, they go where they are told to go and do what they are told to do without fear of alienation from their source of value. Those controlled by the flesh look on them as if they were the hyper-individual, but that is their own failed eyesight. If they were to look on them in the Spirit they would see that they are one with the Spirit and with all those who are also one with God; but again do not derive their value from one another nor their association with one another but with God alone. There is a deep love between them because of their deep love for God, their is a deep unity among them because of their indescribable unity with God and the ones who live by the flesh but claim to be redeemed are driven from their presence because the Spiritual ones don’t need those who walk by the flesh as much as they think they need to be needed by other people. This is the clash between the flesh and the Spirit. This is the battle for freedom that rages in the heart of every man, woman and child. The flesh cries out to more flesh for legitimacy, safety and provision and the Spirit rests full of value in the person of Jesus.

We who would be free and would tout ourselves as free in Christ, would do well to pay heed.

Ammi Ruhama Community Christian Union


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