REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on June 14, 2016, is provided by Pastor Shan Gian who leads Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan. Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Negative and Positive Freedom”
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Os Guinness, a Christian author, says that there are two types of freedom: negative freedom and positive freedom. Negative freedom is freedom from oppression like political oppression, while positive freedom is freedom for something—freedom with a purpose. The problem in our culture is that freedom is only seen in light of negative freedom. Americans will loudly declare that they have freedom of speech or freedom to do whatever they want to do. Kids can’t wait until they have freedom from being under their parents’ rule or until they have freedom from school and homework.
Paul tells us that we are called to freedom, but he warns us not see this freedom as just negative freedom—freedom from judgment and wrath, because much like how the American culture promotes this, seeing freedom only in this way leads to living just for the flesh. Many of us today think similarly when we see the grace of Jesus Christ as an excuse to sin.
Instead, we should not forget to see our freedom in Christ as positive freedom—freedom with a purpose. Jesus has set us free not so that we can indulge in the flesh, but that we can, through love, serve one another, building up the body of Christ as we bless one another. Because the work of Christ has freed us from having to do good works to attain salvation, we are free to love one another without any fear of judgment or any need to prove ourselves—even to one another.
As we have been called to freedom in Christ, we should celebrate the “negative” freedom since we have been set free from sin and death, but let us also remember to embrace the “positive” freedom and strive to use this freedom for the purpose of building up one another.
Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 25
Lunch Bible Study
Read Romans 6:5-11: For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Questions to Consider
- According to this passage, what have we been set free from?
- What do we gain in our freedom in Christ?
- What does it mean for us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ?
- We have been set free from the enslavement of sin. Paul also says that our old self was crucified with him—meaning that we are free from being stuck in our old destructive patterns.
- Because we have been set free, we live united with Christ; and since death has no dominion over Him, it no longer has dominion over us either. This means that we can live boldly for Christ, without fear of condemnation or wrath, knowing that Jesus has defeated sin and death on our behalf.
- Being dead to sin means living in such a way where sin has no power over us. We are still tempted to sin, but we can say no to it because we are no longer enslaved to it—all because of Jesus. On the other hand, being alive in Christ means that we have been set free to live for a purpose, for the glory of Jesus. It means having joy and resurrection life in Christ.
How have you understood your freedom in Christ today? Did you experience any “positive” freedom? Take some time to pray and reflect and consider how your freedom can be used by God to bless others.