“Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever practices sin is the slave of sin… Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed”, John 8:34-36.

If a free man becomes a slave he will have a hard time adapting to that sort of life and to a new life style. The same might be said of a slave coming to freedom – it might be harder for such to adapt than to carry on being a slave. He might prefer to carry on being a slave because it is the life he knows even when freedom is appealing. Were a man free before becoming a slave and be made free again like Joseph, it would be easier for such to live as a free man then because he would have the ways to live in freedom engraved in his mind and remembrances still. But we know people live in bondage and sin from birth and there is no other life or living they have ever experienced before. Even when they sing the songs of the Lord in church, seldom have they experienced freedom from self and sin. People sing, but not in freedom. “Take the noise of your songs away from Me; for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments”, Amos 5:23. We should never forget that sin has arranged a way to sing God’s songs too, that it has learned its own way of being a Christian too, by believing without doing or by doing without believing truth as being real or reality. Therefore, there is no knowledge or experience of a life outside sin free from its burdens, there is no living without the habits, the ways and all other things we may ever take from living a certain way in a certain place. People have become whatever they may have learned, experienced, imagined or heard about. This is why Americans are as they are, Indians as they have learned or become; and sinners are living as they have become, being fully acquainted with death and all its ways.

Once people become convinced they should change – whatever reason is given them to do so – there is this danger to perform having an old heart or ways adapting to new ways they may have heard about; or, having been granted a new heart from heaven, they go on living by old habits and conceptions which were born and forged through death within and are the cause of death also; or, having that new heart they start performing and do not live for real because they saw many performances in the Christian world and believe to submit to them is what the Christian life is all about. We will keep in mind that there are those who try to live by the new ways they may have heard about while they were not made new, and those who will try to reinforce a New Life through old habits of living. Even though both are hypocrites, I believe many such who have a new heart and try to stick to old ways are mostly living out of ignorance, satisfying an old love towards sin and sinfulness which could and should be brought to death instead of kept alive, nourished, camouflaged, excused, avoided or entertained. Is there a reason to think of avoiding a fight against something dead? And the death to self Christ offers freely is sure. We will speak only of such who have repented, confessed and forsaken all sins and to whom Jesus has unbuckled the belt sin was binding and keeping them captive with through a genuine infilling of the Holy Spirit, and not of an unholy one. I believe, also, people are forced to learn new ways and to engrave them in their habits and living minds by being made conscious of the opposite of whatever they should be or should be found doing. I mean that people are tempted to lie so they might have an opportunity to speak the truth even better, becoming aware of the dimension, the range and the applications of those lies which are knocking at their doors. This is why Jesus stressed the point so much of one having to deny oneself to be as one should become. I believe, too, self denial is but very little compared to what must happen next, even though self denial may be the entrance to it all.

Once one has found God – and He is for real and not a mere belief – many things and many changes take place within us and those should reshape our outward world for us as well. The reality of God aside from feeling and from the forcing Him down upon our believing, will determine the reality of those changes we will experience inside of us. If God is real, so will those changes be. And the reality of the blessing in whatever we do outside will determine the solidifying and the permanency of all we are and are able to do without feigning. And if God is real in us, so should we believe that those changes are for real too. Nevertheless, many believe Jesus will make us free from temptations and not from sinfulness. I mean that, whatever temptation comes to challenge a real changed man, it will never have a grab on him again. Why should God avoid temptations to come our way at all then, if we are dead? Because we should have that kind of confidence in us, because we should have Jesus in all of us for real, we may assume that sin could stare at us continually and we could face as many temptations as God allows us and we will either be able or become able to say, as Jesus said, “… for the ruler of this world comes, and he has nothing in Me”, John 14:30. But let it be a reality we see happening in front of our eyes as we are made to be for real, and not a supposing faith adventure of any kind at all.

When God is real in us He has such confidence in the Life He has put within man that He allows all kinds of temptations to near that man to reshape his habits for him and through them, and cause all his being to look at things through a new light shed upon them because temptation is near and so is God. Those temptations challenge a real Life to come out of us into a real practical living when we indeed have It in us. God does never walk for us, but He walks in us through us all as we walk. The Lord unties the knot from which we should know how to come out. That walking out of it will be a great help in the refreshing and reshaping of our minds and habits as we walk. That’s why I believe that a minute of obeying to those who know will teach them more than a week of reading and studying. “Whoever … will observe … shall understand”, Ps.107:43.

When Jesus uses the word “indeed” He just means it is not an adventure and it is something man might not believe to be possible as well. It also means man has something to do because God has unbuckled the belts which kept man in captivity and sin. We read many times in Scripture the words “come out” and we need to walk out as Lazarus walked out of the tomb by reacting to our Lord’s powerful voice. Peace shall be a work of righteousness, Is.32:17, and not a vacation resort. We will be free to work righteousness instead of using our time to fight sin. By coming out and by doing the opposite of what temptation is trying to bring out of us, is nothing but opening our eyes to the way which is set before us because temptations cause light to be shed upon our way out. Temptations which are allowed by God are eye-openers and not giants who will swallow us up. By doing the opposite instead of murmuring or of being passive, or of becoming enslaved again (especially in the beginning stages of the Christian Life), will reshape our minds and will calm down all storms of fears we may have become bound to by consolidating the real knowledge in us that God will never excuse sin within any of us but will rather fully save from it through His Life in us.

Habits, ways and new beliefs that are to become natural habits to us need to be engraved and established in the software of the minds of men and women who met Christ as Paul did. By doing the right thing one has very little chance of not learning to be as Christ wishes us to be made and to become. And Life needs to become natural in and through us as we are taken through the school of obedience by being tempted, challenged and tried along our way. Trials are not there for God to see what is in us, since He knows the heart of man already, but to challenge us into doing something the right way, to carry on doing whatever God has left us with, to do, through the proper Life, using heavenly weapons. Trials are showing us all the steps we should take also even indirectly, when tried, they are light to those stairs we should take upward and not downward. Any man becoming discouraged when tried does so due the love towards self he intends to keep alive and untouched still. He is refusing to do his work and, therefore, looks to trials to become discouraged. Discouragement shows the amount of love towards self there is entertained and nourished secretly still, that self which God is trying to bring to a sure end right there through those trials. By denying oneself and by taking the next step doing what is right instead of becoming discouraged, enraged or inactive by believing we do not have anything to do because the flesh was denied, one opens the door to that kind of lightness and rest and to that light yoke Christ has assured us of being there. We rest in the absence of self, since it is dead. It is self who tires us down and not work or circumstances.

Since time is short, Christ only unties the knots sin has made in the grave cloths around us. We should have Peter as an example: he was imprisoned and chained and after all chains fell down, the angel told him to walk out. He did so and did not believe what was happening to him until he had realized how real it was, and maybe because he had already made up his mind he would die and was at rest concerning it and sleeping. Nevertheless, when he realized he was free he had walked out already and the reality of what was happening to him dawned upon him outside the prison, when he was walking in the streets of freedom. He understood after he had obeyed and the revelation was sweet and graceful to him then. By causing us to work out our own salvation and to come out of loosened or opened chains, Christ achieves the “indeed” part of the promised freedom by renewing our minds by reinforcing the reality of truth upon and inside us all. It is by and through it that we become renewed in our minds because we realize things as real because they are so. We should never look at real things as unreal, just as we should never look at unreal worldliness as real and appealing to us. That’s when our views, ways, habits, joys and, in fact, all things change – even those things we thought needed not to have a change. By presenting our bodies and minds as a living sacrifice, by engraving habits into us by doing as temptations and trials cause us to do or not to do, we become new, reshaped and are renewed in our minds. That’s the message Paul tried to bring through to us in Rom.12:1,2. The “indeed” part of the promise is fulfilled then. Through those doings out to freedom our mind is fully renewed and we become aware of the will of God for us then. “Whoever … will observe … shall understand”, Ps.107:43.

Because this is truly so, we may assume that self pity, murmuring, being slack and discouraged, rage and many other things which storm our hearts and souls during trials and temptations are foolish things and work directly against all wisdom. Even though doing the opposite of what temptation tells us to do is not always the way out or wise to do, doing the opposite of what our hearts tell us to do during those times is what will reshape our minds and wisdom for us. There is a difference between what temptation says and what it caused our hearts to say, do, think or believe. We should know that “… God, with the temptation will also make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it”, 1Cor.10:13. We should only dare to take it and to walk out of a lifelong imprisonment since we are free to go and to sin no more. That realization will take old of us as we walk out and we will be amazed. Amen.

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José Mateus