John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. Acts 1:5
Like most of us, I grew up thinking that freedom meant doing whatever I wanted. Looking back, I know now that I had wonderful, loving parents, but at the time, I thought they were too strict. I was jealous of those kids who appeared free to do whatever they wanted. I remember thinking, When I grow up, I’ll do things my way. I might make mistakes, but at least they’ll be my mistakes. I’ll be free to do as I please.
I had no idea what a prophetic statement that would turn out to be. I followed my way, pursuing the instant gratification of whatever I desired. In doing so, I developed an impulsive pattern of giving in to whatever I wanted. By the time drugs came along, I was accustomed to simply following my appetite. I’m free to live how I want. In pursuing my natural desires though, I became enslaved to them. Drugs weren’t my biggest problem. They were just the symptom that exposed my greatest life problem – following my way.
In my addiction, I learned that giving in to my way wasn’t really freedom at all as my way inevitably enslaved me to my own self-destructive nature. In the disastrous consequences of my addiction, I cried out to God, asking how to be free. He responded that I must daily do whatever it takes to abandon my way to follow his. Paradoxically, I find freedom now in daily surrendering my right to follow myself.
We do not save ourselves. Through Jesus death on the cross, God has provided our salvation. He has pursued us, but now, he desires that we respond by pursuing him. If we want to be filled with God’s Spirit and if we desire to be transformed, we must daily surrender our path for his.
As Christians, God’s Holy Spirit dwells in us. We can have very different experiences though, being filled a little, or a lot, depending on our response to God. In following ourselves, we can grieve (Ephesians 4:30) or quench (1 Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, as we follow our way, becoming enslaved to ourselves. Conversely, we can, through our obedience to and pursuit of God, be filled with his Holy Spirit, finding blessed life, joy, and freedom in his way.