Isaiah 61 proclaims the amazing reality of God as purposed in Christ. He came to set the captives free. He came to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim release for the prisoners who are bound; to comfort all who mourn. What an amazing promise. When Christ entered the synagogue at the start of his ministry, he opened the scroll containing this passage, read it in the presence of all and declared that these verses were now fulfilled in Him.
In Christ, our hearts are healed. We are set free from the power of sin and death. We are released from captivity to the evil one. We are comforted and brought into His marvelous joy and peace. God restores us completely in Christ.
I experienced this peace when I was saved. I walked with God in such freedom and joy. I had never before experienced joy like this. I was free and I knew it. I loved God and I enjoyed His presence. As time went on, however, I began to struggle. Peace seemed to be barely within my grasp and I thought my relationship with God was being slowly taken away somehow. I knew I was saved, but the experience that salvation was becoming fleeting.
I could not seem to figure out how to get back to this place of peace. Did I need to do something different? Pray differently? Read my bible more? I went to conferences, read books, listened to sermons, trying to figure out what went wrong. I prayed that God would forgive me. That He would restore me. That he would clean my heart and make me free again. I felt like I was hitting walls and I began to despair.
Gal. 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
What I did not realize was that I was beginning to try to live the Christian Life. I was moving into the realm of trying to work things out. I began to think that I somehow needed to do something to experience the peace of God.
As Paul speaks to the Galatian believers, saying, "Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?" What is the truth that Paul is exhorting the believers to obey? He's saying is Christ not enough? Do you think that you received the Spirit of God by doing something? Or did you receive Him by faith -- just believing in Him? It's by faith, I realized. Simply by faith. The truth is that the work has been done. All the promises of God as Yes in Christ. Fulfilled. Accomplished. And we live in them by faith alone.
It is for liberty that Christ has set us free. Do not return to a yoke of bondage, Paul admonishes us in Galatians 5. It's simple faith. It's not about trying to do things to earn God's favor or to become more Christ-like. I was slowly becoming religious, trying to do Christian things, but was losing the love-base, the reality that God did for me what I could never do for myself. Paul tells the Ephesian church, "It's by grace that we've been saved, through faith. It's a gift from God. Not of yourselves, that no one can boast."
It's all God. His transformation within us. His work. His Life. And it's complete. Finished. So we rest and believe that what He said He would do, He has actually accomplished in us, Now.