Real freedom = internal freedom

By Dave Henning / July 4, 2017

“Real freedom is not the external freedom to gratify every appetite; it is the internal freedom not to be enslaved by our appetites.”- John Ortberg

In Chapter 12 (“Temptation: How Not to Get Hooked”) of The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg tells of when he and his wife fly-fished for the first time.  Reflecting on what he learned from the guides, John quips: “To a fish, life is ‘see a fly, want a fly, eat a fly.’  A rainbow trout never really reflects on where his life is headed.”

You’d think, Pastor Ortberg wryly observes, that fish would wise up when they see their friends go for a lure, fly off into space, and never return.  Aren’t you glad, John asks rhetorically, that we’re smarter?

Obviously, we give in to temptation as well.  Pastor Ortberg notes that temptation:

  • creates pain from the inside
  • tries to get our appetites and will to override our deepest values
  • strikes where we’re the most vulnerable

As a result, John offers five steps to stay in the flow when temptation knocks on your door.

1.  Ask for help.  Isolation makes temptation most powerful.  Therefore, John believes, the most common “way out” of temptation involves talking about it with another person.

2.  Ask, Where will this lead?  When living in the flow of the Spirit, it actually requires more mental gymnastics to walk down the wrong path than the right one.  You must silence God’s divine voice with you.  In turn, that keeps you in a state of spiritual and mental vagueness.  God never leads you to manage a desire sinfully.

3.  Remind yourself of your deepest values.  Simply trying to repress a desire wears you out.  John defines real freedom as the internal freedom from appetite enslavement.

4.  Monitor your soul satisfaction.  When we live with a dissatisfied soul, sin begins to look tempting.  God blesses you not through fulfilling every one of your desires, but freeing you from them.  Therefore, through Jesus, love, life, and connection are yours for the asking.

5.  Don’t stay down!  In conclusion, Pastor Ortberg offers a little picture of grace.  God’s glad you’re here.  Consequently, He’s not neutral about your existence.  As a result, never allow your feelings to discourage you.

Today’s question: Do you experience real freedom or internal freedom?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Sin – the deadliest force”

About the author

Dave Henning

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