Live Free or Die

There is only way to truly be free of the chains of sin and death that daily bind and bring us ruin: to find our life in Christ and not in ourselves.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

Earlier this week, I was driving in to work listening to a sermon by Levi Lusko titled “Liberty or Death” in a study through the book of Galatians called “Off the Chain.”

Pastor Levi talked about how the whole book of Galatians can really be summed up in one simple phrase:

Liberty or death.

While mid-stream into the teaching, I passed a semi truck with eerily similar snake graphics and the phrase “Live Free or Die” emblazoned on the top of the back doors.

Both this teaching and seeing the truck struck a chord deep within me. I have spent too much of my life and far too many days in the past several years bound up in sin, shame, guilt, condemnation, depression, and death. There is no freedom trying to be the good religious married guy, the doting father who does everything right, the brother who never stumbles.

Trying to be “perfect” is an exhausting exercise in futility. Our strive for perfection ruins us in the process and murders any chance that we have for real and lasting joy.

The reason is simple. When striving for perfection, or trying to do better (both of these originate from ourselves) we cut ourselves off from the only source of life, freedom, joy, and true holiness. We cut ourselves off from Christ.

Christ doesn’t want you to be perfect. I’ll say that again but bigger in case you didn’t catch the full weight of what I just wrote:

Christ doesn’t want you to be perfect.

Wait, but aren’t there verses in the Bible that tell us otherwise?

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48 (NIV)

God doesn’t want us to be perfect. He commands us to be perfect. But it’s not something that he expects us to achieve through our own merit or effort. In fact, I will go so far as to say it is blasphemous to try and be a “good Christian” or a “perfect saint”.

Blasphemous, because it makes the cross of Christ meaningless. It takes his perfection and replaces it with a cheap, pitiful imitation: our “righteous” deeds.

Toward the end of his great opus, the prophet Isaiah penned these haunting words:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.— Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)

Isaiah teaches us that it is not our sinful acts that are like filthy rags. It is our best efforts. Our “righteous” acts. The things we get right.

And in case that didn’t sting enough, consider that most every Bible translation has cleaned this passage up considerably from the rawness of the Hebrew text. The Hebrew word for “filthy rags” is equivalent in English to menstrual garments. Or in modern vernacular: a bloody tampon.

God is showing us that even at our very best, we are disgusting to God. Even in top form we fail utterly and miserably. Our best acts are disgusting to Him.

I’m not implying that we shouldn’t do acts of mercy, or strive for justice, or pursue personal holiness. In fact, quite the opposite. In Christ, everything we do is meaningful and real.

But that is the key. When we are in Christ, it is His perfection that God is pleased with, not ours. He is our perfection. We live and work and move out of that place instead of trying to work into that place.

Trying to be perfect is a road that leads only to death.

Allowing Christ’s perfection to wash over us and then spur us to good and fruitful works is massively important. It is the only way we can truly be free, and the only road to real and lasting joy.

Christ doesn’t want you to be perfect.
He already is.
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