Our Greatest Hope Promises Our Greatest Freedom
The good news of the gospel offers the ultimate hope—hope of complete freedom from sin. The fullness of that hope is not going to happen in this life, but it will happen the moment we pass out of our bodies into the presence of Christ in heaven. Paul boasted of this hope to the Colossians when he wrote,
We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel (Colossians 1:3-5).
The believer in the gospel has a promise that he never lets go of: He will never die, but will be presented to God as holy and blameless by Jesus Christ, whose blood redeemed and reconciled him to God. I love these verses!
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister (Colossians 1:21-23).
What a hope we have who have trusted in Jesus Christ! Did you notice what this hope in the gospel produces? Look again at Colossians 1:3-5. This hope produces faith (the opposite of unbelief) and love (the opposite of idolatry). We live to love with Jesus because of the hope of ultimate freedom from sin and life eternal with Him. In the meantime, we wait eagerly for our full redemption by living to love with Jesus. When we wake up each morning and pray our own Live to Love prayer, we position ourselves to experience a great measure of freedom from many things that formerly controlled our lives and made us miserable. Let’s rejoice in the Lord for the things He liberates us from. We’ve already discussed three of the biggest ones in previous chapters: pride, unbelief, and idolatry with its anger and control. As if those three things were not enough, God is intent on setting us free from much more. In this article, let’s look at two more: fear and bitter jealousy.
Freedom from a spirit of fear
When we live for ourselves instead of living to love, fear reigns. What if I don’t get what I need? What if this person doesn’t like me? What if I lose what I have? and other such questions plague us, even if we don’t consciously think about them. When we live to love with Jesus, fear has no place to live in our souls, because we know we have eternal life and are loved by God. John, the beloved disciple, taught this truth in his first epistle. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18). “Perfect love” describes a love that has finished its course. This course begins with the love that comes from the Father in heaven, and then flows through His Son, through us, to others. Once we see the love of God flowing through us to others, then love has completed its course. That’s why God has loved us—so we can live to love like Jesus did. What comfort and confidence we have as we live to love! When we live to love with Jesus, we are free from fear.
Freedom from bitter jealousy
Dr. Larry Crabb, who is the author of Sixty-Six Love Letters, described jealousy as “a desire to feel loved, to enjoy good relationships, to be affirmed, to see yourself worthy of respect and entitled to a pleasant life.”1 What did he mean? Think about Lucifer jealously feeling entitled to all the glory, honor, and blessings of God. If we use Dr. Crabb’s definition, jealousy must be one consequence of the Fall. We may push down our natural feelings of entitlement, but it seems to be part of our human nature to expect, or at least to want, to be treated by God and everyone else as if we were worthy of being the center of attention and everyone else’s first consideration. When we think that way, expectations of God and others, and of life’s circumstances develop. Then when we don’t get what we want or what we think we deserve, bitterness rises in our hearts and spills out on others, defiling many.2
Living to love with Jesus frees us from the bitterness that jealousy implants as we learn to place all our expectations in Christ. We finally have a powerful weapon to wield against bitterness and jealousy. We have peace and assurance from knowing that the sustained direction of God’s will for us has always been toward our highest good—our restoration and transformation—so comparison, competition, and discontentment lose their power. How can those destructive attitudes survive in the face of such love? As God opens the eyes of our hearts to understand these things, He creates a freedom from feeling the need to compare ourselves with others, which used to spawn bitter jealousy in our hearts.
Have you experienced this freedom? God is a faithful Father who continually pours His love into His children. As we experience His love, our own desire and ability to love Him and others like He has loved us frees us from jealousy and fills us with gratitude for the opportunities He gives to love and trust Him and to love others in His name. We also trust God to give exactly what we need to become more like His Son. When we live to love with Jesus, we are free from that jealousy and the other emotions of our old fallen nature that are associated with not getting what we think we deserve.
To what degree are fear and bitter jealousy present in your life? How many of your relationships are affected by these two unwanted intrusions? I’ve wanted you to see that the gospel applied to our lives and the people God puts in our paths frees us to live to love with Jesus. We don’t need to be afraid because God loves us and is with us. His love satisfies the needs of our souls. He cares for us so much that He gave His Son for us. And if He gave His Son for us, how much more would He give all that we need to glorify Him in this life?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)
We also don’t need to be jealous of others because we trust that God is giving us what we need to please and glorify Him. Sometimes we forget God’s purpose for our lives and the blessed hope of the gospel, therefore we need to be reminded repeatedly of these things. Please take a moment and give thanks to God for His love, the gospel and the hope it provides, and the freedom you enjoy as a result of believing in Jesus Christ.
- Dr. Larry Crabb, Sixty-Six Love Letters: A Conversation with God That Invites You into His Story (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 132.
- “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).