Emancipation Proclamation

I recently saw Michael Bublé in concert, and he opened the show with the classic song, “Feeling Good,” which crescendos with the declaration, “Oh, freedom is mine!/ And I know how I feel/ It’s a new dawn/ It’s a new day/ It’s a new life for me/ And I’m feeling good.”

I don’t know Michael’s intentions, but the song struck me afresh that night—could anything better sum up the experience of being a Jesus follower?! Freedom, indeed, is the birthright of those of us born again in Jesus.

In the days following the concert, the song kept playing over in my head. It started to make me really think about the freedom we have in our new life in Christ, our identity in Jesus, and our relationship to sin. Before I came to believe in Jesus, I, like every other human, was a slave ruled by my old owner, Master Sin. However, when I united with Jesus, I took on His identity and characteristics (see Romans 6). I joined Jesus in His death, and I was brought back to new life with Him—I was given a permanent, new identity. My old sin-ruled identity died the moment I believed in Jesus, instantly and permanently cutting off my relationship with old Master Sin. Old Master Sin has no power over me now nor ever again. I have a new authority; I belong to Jesus and I live for and serve God alone under His great grace.

Oh, freedom is mine! And I know how I feel! It’s a new dawn! It’s a new day! It’s a new life for me! And I’m feeling good!

In this new life sometimes we still have to be reminded not to live as our old selves. When we allow any sin to “control” us, it’s like crawling back looking for old Master Sin and wrapping ourselves up in our broken chains. Not good.

Gloriously, as we Christians walk in our identity and faith, we learn to embody more and more of what we actually already are (free people). In our new life, we discover that we don’t set out to obey a list of laws, we set out to yield ourselves to Jesus, acknowledging that only through His power can we walk in His ways.

I want to keep my eyes on Jesus and let Him fill me and guide me. The battle is already won. I can rest in the King who won my victory, putting my focus on claiming and living out the free and righteous life He won for me.

By focusing on living in the grace and freedom of my new identity in Jesus, I can look forward to that freedom spilling over into my relationships with others. I also need to be on guard for the opposite, as I have come to learn that when one continues to live as though shackled to the chains of sin, that bondage spills over into one’s relationships with others (and negativity and judgmental attitudes and legalism can creep in).

In John chapter eight, we find that as Jesus sat in the temple courts to teach people gathered around Him, the Pharisees and teachers of the law barged in with a woman in tow. “They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery’” (John 8:3-4, NIV). How audacious and disruptive and disrespectful to Jesus and to the temple and to everyone who was gathered there listening to His teaching (not to mention the woman). Their ignorance and ravenous need to find a way to trap Jesus led them to lose all decorum and dignity.

Jesus was patient and slow to speak as they kept questioning and badgering Him to condemn her to a stoning. Finally He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NIV). They all went away one by one until only Jesus was left with the woman standing there. He tells her, “Then neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11, NIV). Jesus did not shackle the woman with a sexual identity. He did not define her by her sexual behavior. He gave her the freedom to leave her life of sin, to go and sin no more.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”
(John 8:36, NIV).

In First Corinthians we read, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NIV, emphasis added). I love this blatant clarity of what having a new life in Jesus looks like and who can have it—how totally radical and life changing and available it is. Free from your past. Free from sin having any power over you. Notice how it says, “and that is what some of you were,” not, “and that is what some of you are.” Glory! If you are in Christ, do not buy nor sell the lie that your identity (or that of any believer) is tied to your temptations or your past behavior.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not
let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”
(Galatians 5:1, NIV).

Freedom is mine! And I know how I feel! It’s a new dawn! It’s a new day!
It’s a new life for me! And I’m feeling good!

Thank you, Michael Bublé, for the inspiration to explore the freedom we can have in Jesus. So much goodness. And we’ve only scratched the surface…

Destiny Teasley lives in Nevada, where she is a lover of the arts, pop culture, and travel (you'll often find her daydreaming about being in Israel or Disneyland). She delights in encountering beauty in the world and helping others to see and celebrate it for themselves. Destiny studied at Baylor, UNLV, Oxford, and Dallas Theological Seminary. You can find more of her writing at her blog,whentherockscryout.com .