Asher Witmer

rediscovering Jesus

Have You Found Freedom in Your Christian Faith? how wanting more isn't enough

How would you describe your experience in the Christian faith? Vibrant, life-giving, transforming, attractive? Or does it feel more shallow, hypocritical, ritualistic, or alienating?

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More and more people, today, are becoming disenchanted with denominations. They are weary of the “our-denomination-is-better” mindset, crossing denominational bounds as they look for a fuller sense of truth and faith. They want more than what they experience in church, and whenever anyone wants more, anything else is basically up for grabs.

Some eventually leave the faith altogether because they can’t seem to find what they are looking for.

There is nothing wrong with wanting more. I want more. And I will be concerned the day I wake up not wanting more.

But wanting more isn’t enough.

Dissatisfaction is an emotion we feel whenever our needs aren’t being met, and it’s not a sin to feel it. In fact, I suggest it is out of our control as to what emotions we feel in life. We need to explore where they come from, and be honest about our responsibility leading up to them. But feeling dissatisfaction is not a sin.

However, setting out in a search for more with only a sense of dissatisfaction to go on is not enough to get what we might actually be looking for.

Freedom in Christ

The apostle Paul asked the church at Colossae if with Christ they died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if they are still alive in the world, do they submit to regulations—“do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”?

He said regulations like this are according to human precepts and teachings. They have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Col. 2:20-23)

Many of us today—many of us reading this blog—are tired of man-made regulations being put on people in the church that, as Paul said, give an appearance of wisdom and godliness, but really have nothing to do with redemption. These rules are not doing any good at transforming people’s hearts.

All kinds of sin and immoralities go on even in churches with the strictest of standards, and because of that we are tempted to stop, drop it all, and run.

And that is not always a wrong choice.

But it is never enough.

Not if we truly want life and freedom. Not if the “more” we are looking for is a closer walk with God and becoming more completely transformed into His image.

Christian freedom is not about freeing ourselves from regulations; it’s about freeing ourselves from. . .ourselves.

Most of us in search for something more stop after chapter two in Colossians, lean back with a hearty amen, grab our Bibles and set out to show the rest of Christendom how they’re getting things wrong. Many of us fail to keep reading into chapter three where Paul addresses what true faith and freedom in Christ actually looks like.

“Seek the things that are above…”

“Put to death what is earthly in you…”

“Put away all anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk…”

“Do not lie…”

We tend to skip over these types of things in our conversations about Christian liberty. Why is that? Is it because we don’t want more? We don’t want God?

On the contrary. I believe we do want more. We do want God.

But I also believe our expectations for “more” have been drastically shaped by a modern mindset that acquiring more does not require less of ourselves.

I believe we struggle to be honest about the flesh and how often it rules us. We shrink at the idea that we must die to—even kill—our own personal will and desires in order to gain true freedom in Christ.

And I believe we wrestle with this because, for many of us, we have spent our whole lives living in a fear of not being good enough for God. We’re afraid of Him, and not because He is so powerful. We’re afraid of Him because we’re not sure He cares about us. We are unconvinced He won’t arbitrarily sweep us into the pit of hell for wearing the wrong color of shirt, or too short a dress.

A life shaped from that kind of fear cannot handle the possibility that indeed something within us has to go, and can you blame someone for that?

Justified by Faith

But here is where we learn the Gospel. Here is where we discover how to get “more.” It’s much more compelling than a sense of dissatisfaction, and it provides direction for sorting through the baggage of our different religious backgrounds.

Christ is all and in all.

We do not overcome ourselves, our sinful habits and indulgence in the flesh, by sheer willpower. We overcome all this by simple faith in Jesus Christ because He has already conquered.

Because of Jesus, I can have a relationship with almighty God. His Spirit dwells within me, and it is through that relationship I find true, vibrant, freedom.

I am saved by grace through faith. (Eph. 2:8-9) Grace is the power to obey. The ability to walk in righteousness. It is by grace we “put to death what is earthly within us.” And this grace is received when we, in faith, walk in obedience to Christ.

Grace does not come to us as we lie on our beds and swoop us into a state of perfect righteousness, obliterating from within us the desire to sleep in, lust, or over-eat.

Grace comes as we submit to Christ, seeking to do His will one step at a time.

That’s faith. All it takes is simple belief that Christ actually has conquered all sin and death and that we, too, are now dead to ourselves and alive to righteousness.

We are justified through Jesus Christ. It takes faith to believe that, but in that faith we are indeed justified. And not only that, we have peace with God. (Ro. 5:1) The reality of something horribly wrong abiding within us that must go collides with the reality that Jesus is already at work within us, through our faith, making us holy and righteous, restoring a peaceful standing with our Maker.

A Faith That Gives Freedom

Paul ended his exhortation to the people of Colossae by telling them to “put on” compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving one another. And why?

Because the Lord has forgiven you.

Above all, he said, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Col. 3:12-14)

We get “more” in our Christian faith not only by leaving what is dead and ritualistic; we get “more” as we walk, by faith, in obedience to Christ. Obedience doesn’t mean we are perfect, or that we never sin again. Paul explained in Romans that we live in a broken world. All of us groan inwardly, waiting for the day of redemption. Even those of us who have the Holy Spirit within us wrestle against our flesh.

But he also said that we can be sure everything works together for good as we wrestle (or suffer) against the evil within ourselves. God will complete His image in us if we continue to walk by faith in obedience to His will. (Ro. 8:18-29)

It’s okay to be honest about your experience in the Christian faith, so far. It’s not wrong to want more, if you do. In fact, you probably should!

But wanting more is not enough.

Experiencing and living in true freedom takes faith. Faith in the Person and finished work of Christ. And, as you deepen your relationship with Jesus, as you walk in faith believe that His righteousness is being established in your heart, you begin to experience life, peace, and joy.

Have you experienced inner transformation because of faith in Christ? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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About Asher Witmer

I am a son of God, husband, father, and difference maker. I love helping people sort through hard questions they face and rediscover Jesus. I have written three eBooks dealing with church frustrations, and send out daily posts addressing faith, church and relationships.

  • Charlotte Miller

    I love this!!!! And have found it to be truth in my life! Christ is All I need! God used Colossians 2 and 3 to bring me face to face with a God who required more than I could give of myself even as a plain Mennonite mom. I am so thankful for His grace, His faithfulness and for the faith that rises in my heart to follow Him! Even faith is a gift that God gives us! I thank God that there is a stirring of long stagnant waters and I pray that a God would continue to give you words we need!

    • Thanks for sharing Charlotte! I completely agree!