This weekend my Pastor, Steven Furtick, preached a powerful message entitled “God at the Gate.” The sermon was the first in the current series (This is your) Permission Slip. The series is designed to biblically show that the Bible is not a prison sentence, it is a permission slip to live a life of liberation. The remainder of this blog is what God ministered to my heart through this sermon yesterday.
In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve freedom. In Genesis 2:16-17, it says, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” In response to this command, the enemy (represented by the serpent) twists God’s command by questioning God (often the genesis of all sin begins with a questioning of God’s word or goodness). Genesis 3:1-3“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat from ANY tree in the garden?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say you must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”
Did you catch that? God gave his creation freedom, the enemy is the one who binds us. God gave Adam and Eve freedom to do whatever they wanted. The enemy then convinced both Adam and Eve that God was keeping them from something by not allowing them to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. That’s how the enemy works. Satan aims to convince you that following Jesus is like serving a prison sentence, keeping you from being able to live a life of freedom. God wasn’t trying to keep them from something, he was giving them liberation! God told them not to eat from the tree in the middle because he knew the results would be death!
I believe that one of the biggest reasons people are unwilling to follow Jesus is because they believe following Jesus is about do’s and don’ts and about following rules and regulations that keep them from enjoying life a life of freedom. To their defense, I believe the church is part of the reason they feel this way. Churches today (not all, but a majority) have been known for pointing out the faults in others. Examples include but are not limited to: if you become a Christian, you can’t go out with friends, you can’t drink, you can’t watch ‘R’ rated movies, you can’t make mistakes…etc. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that when you surrender your life to Christ, He (emphasis on He being the Holy Spirit) will begin purging you of some things that He wants to clean up in your life. The problem is that too often we (I’ve been guilty too) place the things that God is ridding us of in our personal lives as a filter to what others can and cannot do upon joining the family of God. We have created an image that you must clean up your life and become perfect before God will accept you and that is completely untrue! God will meet you right where you are!
In essence, we have created a picture of a God that is entirely different from the God of the Bible. You see, God desires to redeem, restore, and reunite with his children who have wandered from Him. It’s time that the church begins getting on the same page with God. God wants to set us free. That means me. That means you. That means that person who we believe is so far from God.
Being a follower of Jesus is not something that limits us, it liberates us!
What if we started today showing people who Jesus REALLY is rather than who we have made him up to be in our own legalistic minds? I believe we would see Kingdom impact like never before! Make the decision today to show the world that following Jesus is not a list of rules; rather, it is a permission slip to experience LIFE! God has always desired that his creation experience freedom! He created us to experience freedom in the beginning and we messed it up by giving into the lies of the enemy. Because we messed it up, God had to make another way for us to experience freedom, this time it was by the death of Jesus who took our rightful place when he died on the cross for our sins. We can live in freedom again!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:10-11