In Luke’s 2nd Letter to Theophilus (aka – the book of Acts) he records what Peter said as they were awaiting the promise of the Holy Spirit in an upper room of a home they were meeting in, which eventually they received at Pentecost.
Judas, one of the 12 – who betrayed Jesus was prophetically spoken of in the Psalms, and Peter quoted two of these instances. First, Psalm 69:25; “Let his dwelling place be desolate, and let no one live in it”. Second, Psalm 109:8; “Let another take his office.”
But upon further investigation, these Psalms go on to describe other aspects of Jesus rejection and crucifixion;
Psalm 69; “Let their dwelling place be desolate; Let no one live in their tents. For they persecute the ones You have struck [Jesus], and talk of the grief of those You have wounded [Jesus]. Add iniquity to their iniquity, and let them not come into Your righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”
These words are heavy but they show that Judas, alongside many of the religious leaders who conspired together have been blotted out of the book of life.
In Matthew 10, Jesus sent out the 12, and commanded them to go and “preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” Did you know that Judas was among them and did these things too?
Jesus spoke about the day of judgement saying many would come to him saying Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy, cast out demons etc. His response was; ‘depart from me, you who practice sin, I never knew you’.
We can learn an important lesson from this. The way we know that we, or anyone else is born of God isn’t that we heal the sick (although we should), it’s not even to cleanse lepers, raise the dead or cast out demons. We should be doing all these things because God has told us too, but these aren’t what authenticate our faith.
John wrote in his letter that “we know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin”. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is a Holy life. Now I want to be clear that John isn’t teaching sinless perfection because he also wrote that “if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
But when Jesus sets someone free from their sins, they are truly free indeed. They are not enslaved any longer, but are free not to sin.
Paul explained in great detail in Romans 6, 7 and 8 what we were saved from when we were buried with Jesus in baptism, and also the freedom from sin we experience as we walk according to the Spirit, no longer as slaves to sin, but those who have been liberated, freed from that bondage, and now slaves to righteousness.
The bible is very clear that a slave does not abide in the house forever (John 8:35), but a Son does.
“If anyone sins”, is a rare occurrence when we walk according the Spirit, but if we do; and “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I want to emphasize that God also purifies us from all unrighteousness. It’s not just the past penalty of our sins Jesus deals with, but the bondage and power sin has over us. When Jesus frees us we are free from sins grip over us, which means we can live free from it.
Christians are in many different places when it comes to bondage. Some have never been baptized under their own faith, having repented – and so they haven’t yet been buried with Christ, and can’t go on to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Disclaimer: Please note: when I say ‘they haven’t yet been buried with Christ’, I’m not saying they aren’t going to heaven. I believe in Gods grace there will be those in heaven who were not baptized into Jesus Christ. But the question does remain… is our faith authentic if we reject this command of God to be baptized? Maybe there are circumstances where this proves to be true because of wrong teaching, impossible circumstances etc. But that’s up to God to decide not us. The command is there, and as faithful believers we should obey.
When a person is baptized, in a very real sense they are cut off from their old life, a spiritual burial occurs. God accomplishes something powerful through it, according to our faith. This is what the bible teaches.
Moving back to our primary subject for this article – there are others who are in bondage because they haven’t yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2), and so they can’t put to death the deeds of the flesh by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:13).
Others have both been baptized and filled with the Spirit, but continue to present their members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin (Romans 6:13). With an emphasis on one particular member of our person – Paul goes on to say; “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
So if you’re in bondage to sin, if you are a slave to it, and want to break free, but haven’t been able to, what should you do?
First, if you haven’t yet been baptized in Jesus Christ, under you own faith – God commands you to do this. This is the burial of the old man, and it’s impossible to be truly free unless you do this. This is the tool God has chosen to use to bury the old man. We aren’t talking about infant baptism here, but a baptism of repentance into Jesus Christ, under your own faith, not the faith of your parents, family members, or anyone else.
Secondly, if you haven’t yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit, there are two ways to receive him. First, to seek God yourself like the early Church did at Pentecost. Many people have been baptized in the Spirit in this way. This is what happened to me personally when I was 16 years old. I sought God and was filled! The second way is to get someone who has the Holy Spirit to lay hands and pray that you receive the Holy Spirit. This happened in Acts 19, after they were water baptized into Jesus Christ, Paul laid his hands on them and the received the Spirit, then they began to speak in different languages and prophesy.
Thirdly, if you have been baptized under your own faith into Jesus Christ, and if you have received the Spirit but still find yourself in bondage – I would encourage you to get rid of every stumbling block in your life. If it’s your TV – get rid of it, if it’s ungodly music – delete it, throw it out. If it’s an ungodly relationship, reform it – or end it.
You may even need to fast, you definitely will need to pray and call upon the name of the Lord for salvation from any sin that you are a slave too. Seek God until you are free, and ask other believers who themselves are free to pray with you and for you.
Finally, know this – the assurance of your salvation isn’t in your theology, it’s not in what people say, but it comes from the witness of the Holy Spirit himself. Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus; “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” When you are free from your sins, you know it – your conscience is clear, and it’s clean. You just know that you are no longer a slave to any sin. The Spirit in you is your assurance.
You have Gods immovable promise; “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Call upon the name of the Lord today!