Thursday, February 5, 2009

What is Freedom

What then is the freedom we seek? It's the ability to live our lives in obedience to the Holy Spirit. The enemy's plan is to lie to us to get us to live in our power and desires-to live in the flesh. Living life this way leads only to more sin. This actually renders the believer entirely incapable of advancing the kingdom of God. Satan loves that. In contrast, Jesus offers us truth and grace, the two spiritual realities that lead to freedom. Truth is the direction God desires to take us, and grace is the means He uses to get us there. I say this in the case of Shelton. He came to my office moderately depressed, and surely mentally tormented. He had met his wife nine years before, after they had corresponded for a year by mail. Shelton knew from this that there had been one sexual relationship in Susan's background. It was not an issue for him; it took place before they were married and it did not bother him that she did not come to the marriage bed a virgin. Both of them had been saved about the same time. So for eight years their marriage had been blissful. The Lord gave them three children. However, Susan came under conviction that she needed to clear the air concerning some past issues. She finally told him that there was not simple one relationship but several dozen intimate relationships before she had met Shelton. Upon this admission, the enemy stole in and played upon Shelton's hurt and fear that followed the revelation. "You did not marry a wife; you married a prostitute," Shelton told himself. Although he knew all those relationships had been forgiven by Jesus Christ, Shelton still lived in a state of sheer mental torment. He said, "I can't even stand to look at her. If it were not for the children, I would divorce her." I knew that I was dealing with a problem where quoting Scripture would not be meaningful because the emotional baggage and trauma that he carried was overwhelming his thinking. So I said, "Let's pray." I began to cry out to God and said, "Concerning your dear wife, I am going to ask God the truth about her. Is she a prostitute or a forgiven woman?" In a matter of seconds, the Holy Spirit spoke to Shelton's heart and said, "She is pure by My [Christ's] blood." Then Shelton sensed the Lord saying, "But you have become defiled by not accepting what God has declared as clean. You have allowed the enemy to defile your own heart. "Shelton's extremely harsh judgment of his wife's actions before salvation had inflicted such bitterness on his soul that he was actually destroying himself. As I prayed and then Shelton prayed, God uniquely brought His grace and truth into Shelton's heart. He cried out to God to help him forgive his wife and release her and to allow the peace and joy of God to replace the bitterness and torment in his heart. God did exactly that. Through his tears, Shelton said, "I think God has released me and my wife from our sin!" Shelton went home that day and embraced Susan, asked her forgiveness, and they both had a quiet night of restoration, redemption, and love. I believe God salvaged their marriage that day in my office. God used truth to take Shelton where He wanted him to go, and He used grace as a means to get him there. That day the enemy lost a key battle. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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