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Born Free

Colossians 3:1­-10 - If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.  Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is on account of these that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also put them all aside:  anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."
"Born Free" is the heart-warming story of a lion cub named Elsa who was adopted as a family pet. But Elsa was not created to live in captivity. She was born free and was meant to live free. However, when freedom came, it was a real struggle for Elsa to appreciate her new freedom because she had lived so long in captivity. The young lioness found it extremely difficult to separate from the life she was used to. Finally Elsa was able to break free of the old ties and adapt properly to the environment for which she was created.

Many growing Christians are like Elsa! God has given us a brand new life of freedom in Jesus Christ--we've been born free! (See John 8:36 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.) Now God wants us to live in the good of that freedom. He does not want us to be held captive by any sin. But what a struggle it is to break free from the old habits and hangups. At times it seems impossible, but God's Word assures us that victory is possible. Romans 6:14 says that "sin shall not be master over you." We are born free!

Realization

Realization is understanding and appreciating all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Verses 1­4 above indicate that when we became Christians we received much more than "fire insurance" and a "ticket to heaven!" When we committed our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord there was more than forgiveness of sins involved in the transaction. We died with Christ (v3). We were raised with Christ (v1). We have been given new life in Christ (v4). We will be glorified with Christ (v4). Now let's repeat these truths and make them personal. God sees an old Dave Reid crucified with Christ. God sees a new Dave Reid resurrected with Christ. The new Dave Reid is therefore freefrom the penalty and power of sin. God sees every Christian this way! Although each Christian still has physical life on this earth, he now has new spiritual life within him, and the source of this life is not earthly. The source and center and focus of this new life is Christ Himself who is now in heaven--unseen by the world in all His glory. At His return every Christian will share in that glory--and it will be plain for all to see (v4). These are fantastic truths! We cannot "feel" these facts now but we know them to be true--we realize them. (See Romans 6:11.)

Constant realization of our position of freedom in Christ is a long step forward to daily victory over sin. Remember the post-World War II stories of Japanese soldiers who made themselves captives to certain jungles in the Pacific? They struggled for years in the jungles because they didn't realize that peace had been declared and that they were free men.

Aspiration

Aspiration is setting your mind on things above and not on the things of this earth (v2). Now this does not mean that we are to walk around with our heads in the clouds and never think about our earthly responsibilities such as homework and returning borrowed books and paying bills on time! It means, rather, that the center of our attention and interests and thoughts should be in the things of God. (See Philippians 4:8.) If our new life is bound up in the Lord Jesus Christ, then our minds should ultimately be set on Him--a Christ mind-set! If your mind has Jesus as its focal point you will not be hung up with sin. Think back on some of your closest moments with the Lord--did you feel like sinning then?

All right, you say, those times are beautiful, but they are rare in my life. How come I'm always struggling with sin? Listen, setting your mind on things above does not happen automatically. Until we get to heaven there will always be within us that which opposes aspiration. That is, as long as we have our present bodies there is within us a sinful tendency which the Bible calls "the flesh." In other words, every Christian has within him two capacities, tendencies, or natures: a divine nature because of his new spiritual life in Christ, and a sinful nature (the flesh) because of the present temporary condition of his earthly body. Even though every Christian has the Holy Spirit to empower the new life, there is still going to be conflict because of the flesh. (See Galatians 5:17.) But aspiration leads to victory! It's like owning two cars--an old one and a brand new one. You are free to drive the new one, but you must take a definite action to stop driving the old car. Aspiration is driving the new car, or "putting on the new self" (v10). Aspiration includes putting gas in the new car. Bible study and prayer, worship, and Christian fellowship are high test gas! Reading trashy magazines and watching lousy TV shows and movies is not aspiration! It is like putting bad gas in the wrong car. If this is how you've been running your life lately, then don't even expect victory over sin! Setting our minds on things above will not only keep us from sin, but will continually result in a more Christ-like life. (See v10 and Ephesians 4:22­24.) Another way to describe aspiration is "walking in the Spirit." (See Romans 8:4 and Galatians 5:16, 25.) Like walking, aspiration is not automatic, but is learned and practicedstep by step.

Mortification

Mortification is considering the members of your earthly body as dead to sin (v5). Now this in no way implies literal amputation or mutilation of our bodies. It implies, rather, a ruthless rejection of all habits and practices which we know to be wrong. (See Matthew 5:29­30.) Remember, as far as God is concerned, the "old you" has died in Christ. Therefore "lay aside the old self with all its evil practices" (v9). In terms of the illustration above, mortification is keeping the old car in the garage. Don't even "test drive" it. Many Christians think they can take the old car out for a little drive every once in a while, but they risk ending up in an accident. Involvement in impure and greedy activities such as sexual petting or "me first" tactics is like driving the old car (v5). These things are not pleasing to God (v6). We used to drive the old car because that's all we had (v7), but God has judged it as no goodand given us a brand new one--not just a new paint job on the old model! God has condemned the old car to the "garage of death." Let us leave it there where God has placed it! Remember, the old car won't go very far if there's no gas in it! You say you don't have victory over sin? Where are you buying your gas lately--and for which car?

The RAM method (Realization, Aspiration and Mortification) may sound a little "canned," but the basic means of how God expects us to live in freedom from sin is contained in this simple formula. God does not want us chained or captive to any sin in this life. We will not be perfect until we get to heaven (see 1 John 1:8), but victory over sin in our lives is possible. We've been born free!
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