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Monday, March 17, 2014

Because!

Do you know what "because" means?  In the simplest of terms, it refers to a "direct reason" for something occurring.  In fact, if we were to look at the origin of the word, we would find it stems from the term "by cause".  When we are reading through scripture and come to the word "because", it is kind of like when we come to the word "therefore".  We need to stop and pay attention to these "little" words we may just gloss over at first.  "Because" sets out the reason for something occurring - some action happening.  "Therefore" refers to some set of facts already established acting as the reason we can move to the next thought or action.  These words are rich in meaning, as they give us a point of reference for the "reason" we can believe or act upon what it is we are reading.  As my kids were growing up, it was the hardest thing to not answer their questions with a "Because I said so, that's why!"  I doubt I am the only parent who wanted to take the easy way out on this one!  It is so much easier to say it is "because I said so" - but do they really "get" it?  Not usually.  The same thing is true with us and what God sets out for us to act upon - if he simply said "Because I said so, that's why!", do you think we'd be prone to act upon it?  Likely not!  We don't understand the "why" yet and we are creatures who need to know the "why"!  We need the dots connected - it helps us take steps when we see one action leading to another.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.  (Ephesians 1:7-10 MSG)

In the scriptures, we are declared "free" in many different ways.  We are free from condemnation, guilt, our sin, the penalty for our sin, our past, the limits of our inabilities, etc.  The list is quite extensive, but you get the idea.  Now, why is it we live so far "below" our level of freedom?  Maybe it is because we haven't really thought of the "because" by which our freedom became a reality and how reliable that "because" really is!

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah - blood poured out on the altar of the Cross - we are free people.  There is the "why" behind our freedom - the blood of Christ, shed on our behalf, applied to the Cross at Calvary - the purchase of our freedom from sin and the penalty for that sin.  It was by the blood of Christ that our understanding of God's grace was opened - it was the blood that made a way possible for us to share in this understanding.

Adam and Eve only saw the two trees - one of life, the other of good and evil. Which do you imagine Satan wanted them to taste of first?  If they tasted of the one called "life" - do you think they'd have been inclined to experience good and evil?  Not likely!  So, he presented them with the one which would open their eyes to experimenting with good and evil - knowing full well God would not allow them to experience eternal life without a means of restoring them to their innocence!

Freedom was compromised that day in the garden - freedom was returned to us that day on Calvary.  Freedom was the farthest thing from our reach without the intervention of the Cross.  Yet, once the Cross provided the "bridge" for our freedom, we were free to cross over and taste of the tree of life.  What we could not experience without the Cross was provided free of charge, unearned by any of our own effort.  What we can now experience because of the Cross is total, permanent, and complete freedom.  So, we best be walking in what has been provided!

If we could see luscious trees full of ripe fruit on the other side of a ravine, hunger deeply set into the fabric of being, all while we stand in the barrenness of desert land, would we be prone to use the bridge provided to cross over to the other side?  Probably so!  Why?  It makes sense, it satisfies a need, and we'd be considered silly if we just ignored what was right in front of us.  Yet, so many of us live in the barrenness of desert rather than using the bridge provided to cross over to the fullness available in Christ Jesus. It isn't because we are comfortable in our present state - but BECAUSE we haven't trusted the bridge as being provided for US!

Some of us hesitate to fully cross the bridge between past (bondage) and present (freedom).  We are stuck in our ways - settling instead for the barrenness of the desert.  We don't make the connection with what God has provided and what it is we so desperately need.  Here's the truth:  BECAUSE you have been born with a sin nature, you need a means by which to "bridge" the gap between your sinfulness and God's righteousness.  BECAUSE you have no means by which to bridge this gap yourself, God has provided completely free of charge a means by which the gap can be closed - Jesus.  BECAUSE of every action Christ took on our behalf, the way has been provided for our total freedom.  BECAUSE of his provision, we are declared free.  BECAUSE we take the bridge provided, we ARE free!  You and I ARE free - not just walking toward freedom, but totally and completely free.  What God has declared to be free is free indeed.  Now, isn't it silly to stay in the barrenness of our bondage when we have been granted so much in Christ Jesus?  Just sayin!