Some Great Words of Wisdom from Ryan…
A couple months ago I had a life changing conversation with two good friends.   I walked into the coffee shop with the chains of life wrapped all around me but left with these same chains shattered and the sweet aroma of God’s freedom enveloping my mind and heart.   It was truly a radical and amazing night.  But before I go into more detail about this meeting, let me first explain more of my background to better encapsulate this experience.
I was raised in a believing household.  There was brokenness just like every household but my parents truly did their best at making sure we stayed involved with the Church.  I accepted Christ as Savior at a young age but didn’t fully grasp or understand this decision (to a certain point) until my 10th grade year of high school.
I attended a youth mission trip to Juarez, Mexico in 1997.   I was more or less forced to go on this trip by my dad since I wasn’t in a good place spiritually at this time.  God surrounded me with amazing people of the Church and for the first time in my life I started to begin to understand who Jesus really was and is.   A foundation for my life was being built brick by brick through a continuous revelation of God’s love for me.
However, instead of pursuing the Freedom of Christ, I pursued an image of what kind of person I thought I needed to be to gain God’s favor (this has been my mindset literally up until 3 months ago.)  I was a people pleaser and would spread myself thin with commitments just for the sake of not disappointing people.   I was putting the chains of obligation, rules and checklists on myself.  I sought to impress other believers and ultimately impress God through my actions.
To be honest with the reader, this mindset of adding more law on top of existing law has only caused me much heartache and some broken relationships.  Much of the time I had little desire to follow Christ with a whole lot of obligation and guilt being the vehicle of my motivation.  I was a Pharisee and bad one at that since I rarely lived up to the standard I set for myself for many years.  This only amplified the insecurities of my life and minimized the freedom I may have experienced.
To wrap this up, let’s go back to the coffee shop.   Two guys (you know who you are) spoke words straight from the Holy Spirit into my life in regards to God’s Freedom.  I can write a book about what God downloaded into me that night.  All of these years of reading the Bible, attending Bible studies and church you would think that I would get it.  It only took me 17 years and unfortunately a lot of believers go through their whole life and never get the freedom part.
Here’s what God revealed to me….
My sin, past present and future, was paid for on the cross.  God DOESN’T see it anymore.   The only one who can stop God from seeing our sin is God Himself right?  Jeremiah 31:31-34 states “…their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”  Faith and desire to follow Jesus replaces a guilty conscience.  Hebrews 10:22 states, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Last year I would have told you that yes, I know this.  But I still believed that while God has forgiven me, He’s still aware of my sin and I’m constantly disappointing him.  Again, here we go with the weight of the law.  The only thing pleasing to God is our acceptance of the blood of Christ, not us!  Hebrews 10:9 states, “Then He said, “He sets aside the first to establish the second.  And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
I feel so many men of the Church have this same mindset I have had for so many years.  The chains of an image to obtain or a checklist to complete will yield nothing but a prison for one’s heart and mind.   Christ came to fulfill the law and free us from it at the same time.  It’s truly a paradox as we’re set free to be slaves for Christ.
For the first time in my life I feel free.  One might say that if God truly doesn’t see your sin anymore then that gives you a free ticket to sin as much as you want.  The truth is, is that we’re always free to sin rather we’re saved or not.  But when you understand that your sin is already washed clean and God the Father has given you a clean slate forever, beginning now, you will find that sin has less power over your life.
God’s salvation for our lives is the most awesome love story ever told.  I’m truly humbled to be His servant.  I urge all of you to step into His freedom and break the chains of guilt, obligation and checklists.
Ryan S.