And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.” Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.” The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”
There are strong parallels between the story of Paul above and the Born Again christian life. In Roman times it was illegal to punish a Roman citizen without first convicting him of a crime in a properly constituted court. This legal protection was not available to non citizens who could be punished without a trial. When the centurion in charge heard that they were in danger of punishing a Roman without trial, he rushed to ensure this did not happen. He asked Paul to confirm he was a Roman citizen and asked how he obtained his citizenship (he knew Paul was ethnically Jewish). Paul told him he was a Roman citizen by birth. The centurion was impressed and told Paul that he too was a Roman citizen but that he had paid a vast sum of money to purchase this status.
When we are born again, we are born into the kingdom of God and we get all the rights and privileges that come with being a child of God. We did not have to pay anything for this, Jesus paid the price. So many people are trying to be like the centurion and buy their way into God’s kingdom through good works and good living. We need to embrace the truth that through the new birth we are born free, not earned free though our works!
There are three big deceptions out there that keep Christians from true freedom:
1> Performance – The belief that I have to do certain things to earn God’s love and acceptance.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
1 Corinthians 1:28-29
and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
2> Legalism – The belief that if I obey a set of rules and regulations, this will make me Holy.
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
3> Self Righteousness – The belief that the good things I do through my own strength can make me right with God.
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
When the Bible says, the truth will make us free (John 8:31-32), it means the truth of the Gospel that when you are born again, you are born into total freedom and all the privileges of being a child of God. If you do not understand and believe in your heart that you are free, you will never act or feel free (Proverbs 23:7a).
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.