I receive John Eldredge’s daily devotional electronically each morning from www. ransomedheart.com . Since freedom4captives tends to be a heavy due to the subject matter and because what I read this morning seemed to apply to the overall message here, I wanted to share some encouragement…
Those who want to be in a true love relationship with Jesus, and to pass this on to others, fight along side Christ against legalism and oppression because love can only be expressed in freedom. It is the Holy Spirit who fills us with “love, joy, peace…” and “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” Any system that feels oppressive, that kills the human spirit, any system devoid of freedom, is one where the Spirit of the Lord is not present… at least not in His fullness. Without freedom, we quench His Spirit. Without freedom, we cannot choose to love. But this does not mean we live in license to sin…
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me… if you do not love me, you will not obey me.” Obedience to Jesus and His Word comes from a heart of love, not the heavy handed control of any religious system or church leader—not from mandated giving of your time and money, not from a list of do’s and don’t’s, not from signing membership contracts, not from having every aspect of your life scrutinized and controlled, not from being yelled at from the pulpit nor being watched through one’s “community group,” not from any external control… but rather obedience to Jesus and His Word comes from His work within you and the resultant heart of love overflowing from and to Him. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
One cannot legislate love, therefore one cannot legislate obedience. If legalism had worked, Jesus would not have come down so hard on the Pharisees. They had pride, control, oppression, legalism, and hard-heartedness nailed down like no one else… and Jesus blasted them consistently…
Counting on Our Vanity and Blindness
The core of Satan’s plan for each of us is not found in tempting us with obvious sins like shoplifting or illicit sex. These things he uses more as maintenance strategies. His grand tactic in separating us from our heart is to sneak in as the Storyteller through our fears and the wounds we have received from life’s Arrows. He weaves a story that becomes our particular “Message of the Arrows.” Counting on our vanity and blindness, he seduces us to try to control life by living in the smaller stories we all construct to one degree or another. He accuses God to us and us to God. He accuses us through the words of parents and friends and God himself. He calls good evil and evil good and always helps us question whether God has anything good in mind in his plans for us. He steals our innocence as children and replaces it with a blind naïveté or cynicism as adults.
At the same time Satan is at work reinterpreting our own individual stories in order to make God our enemy, he is also at work dismantling the Sacred Romance—the Larger Story God is telling—so that there is nothing visible to take our breath away. He replaces the love affair with a religious system of dos and don’ts that parches our hearts and replaces our worship and communion services with entertainment. Our experience of life deteriorates from the passion of a grand love affair, in the midst of a life-and-death battle, to an endless series of chores and errands, a busyness that separates us from God, each other, and even from our own thirstiness.
Part of Satan’s grand strategy of separating us from our heart, once Jesus has drawn us to an awareness of being his sons and daughters through believing faith, is to convince us that our heart’s desires are at core illegitimate.
c. John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance , 107–9