FREEDOM is my One Word for 2023, and 2 Corinthians 3:17 is the verse the Lord gave me concerning how to walk in freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. As Christians, the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, lives within us – our bodies are His temple “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”
(1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV)
But experiencing His freedom is not something that automatically happens. We experience freedom when we allow the Holy Spirit to be in control. He is in our lives to guide us, to teach us God’s truth, to comfort us during times of sorrow, to convict us when we sin, to intercede for us when we don’t even know how to pray, and so much more.
As I was reading in the book of Matthew this morning, this verse stood out to me. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9 ESV; citing Isaiah 29:13)
Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees and scribes for honoring their human traditions above the Word of God. “He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.”
(Matthew 15:3-6 ESV)
The meaning of this passage is clear. The human traditions the Jewish leaders called the “oral traditions,” were detailed instructions on how to live out the Torah (the 5 books of Moses). By the time Jesus was ministering to the Jewish people, the leaders of the Temple were honoring these detailed instructions on how to live out the Torah. In fact, in this example they were considered as of equal or even of greater significance than the actual Word of God. Jesus was rebuking them for teaching their traditions as doctrines they we required to follow.
This morning, the Lord reminded me that He is not pleased when I simply honor Him with my lips. Yes, our lips should honor Him. But God is primarily looking at our hearts. If we want to walk in FREEDOM, we must allow the Word of God to move from our head to our heart. Jeremiah understood this important truth, when he wrote these words. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)
Have any of you chosen One Word to focus on during 2023? If so, feel free to share your One Word and any lessons that the Lord is teaching you concerning it in the comments.