Living in the Freedom of the Spirit-Part 1

by Wayne Barber

The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3:17, says "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."  It's amazing how many believers think that this is a license to do whatever they please. That's absurd! Freedom is never the right to do as we please but instead it is the power to do as we should. Paul goes on to show where this liberty, this freedom, originates: "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God" (v. 5). This is New Covenant vocabulary. 

Paul continues: "who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (v. 6). In the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, lives in us to do through us what we could never do! He enables us to be what is demanded of us. Our adequacy, like Paul's, is in Christ! Because of this, Paul was confident that his ministry was authentic. Unlike Moses, the "glory of God" was in Paul, not just upon him! As Paul said, the Old covenant was "with glory" but the New Covenant was "in glory" (v. 3:11). Christ is the Glory of God! The good news of the New Covenant is that He comes to live in the lives of believers—and unlike with Moses, His glory does not fade away! His glory is in us, ever seeking to manifest itself through us!

Living in the freedom of the Spirit is living in the power and divine enablement of Christ, who lives in us. This brings about several visible results. First, it means the passion to speak without fear. When Christ lives in us and we are allowing His Spirit to use us, then He gives us an incredible ability and passion to speak the truth of the gospel without any fear. Paul says "therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech!"  The hope that Paul speaks of is the word elps. It is the expectancy and the certainty of something! There is no "uncertainty" in this word.

Paul's certain hope that he speaks of is the fact that Christ, "the glory of God," lives in him. Paul says because of His life in us we "use great boldness" in our speech. "Use" is in the present middle, which carries with it the idea that something or someone is enabling him to do this. "Boldness" means frankness, honesty, clarity, nothing hidden!

I hear people say that they are afraid to reveal that they are believers. I have to believe that they do not understand who lives in them. Christ, the glory of God living in us, gives us the confidence to openly and with boldness speak of Him as the mediator of the new and better covenant, which dismisses the Law and brings the glory of God to live in us! Paul contrasts his boldness to speak with the apparent lack of it in Moses, because Moses knew that the glory was fading away (see v. 13).

Oh, folks, the glory is not on those who preach law and the performance mentality! Why can't believers understand this? What the Law says is death! It is condemnation! It kills every self-effort! The Law hardens one's mind to the gospel of Christ. Listen to verse 14: "But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ."

"Hardened" is the Greek word poro. It means "callous," like a thick skin that is so dense and hard that it is "insensitive." A synonym of that word is the word sklerno, from which we get "sclerosis."  It is something that hardens over time. You see, when law is preached over and over, those who hear are blinded to the gospel! They are in bondage to having to earn their righteousness. They don't understand that the law cannot produce what it demands. When the law is preached it cannot awaken the heart and produce action that will meet it's standard.

Only in Christ is there life! Only His Spirit gives life! "Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" (3:16). Only when we are allowing Christ to live in and through us do we have something good to say and a divine motivation and boldness to say it! What a message we have to share with a lost world. Next time we will continue looking at the results of living in the freedom of the Spirit.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad