Exercising Spiritual Independence
Spiritual independence is not without responsibility. Each person who accepts their spiritual independence is required to conduct himself or herself in a way that honors both the gift and one who gave it. As the Apostle Peter wrote:
“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
– 1 Peter 2:16-17
And as Paul counseled:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
– Galatians 5:13-15
Neither is spiritual independence absolute. It is contingent upon justice, intelligence, maturity and fairness. It is liberty, not license. We can serve God without fear of men, but we must also recognize our divine obligations to one another. Have self-respect; but not self-admiration. Serve your neighbors and your brothers, looking out for their best interests; but do not exploit them for your own advantage or attempt to exercise unjust power. (Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24) Do not accept your own independence and then imprison your brother. (Matthew 18:21-35) Remember, the sheep belong to Jesus, not to men. It is not our kingdom, we are just its ambassadors.
We share these thoughts to encourage our brothers and sisters to accept what Jesus fought hard to deliver to us – spiritual freedom, liberty and independence. Instead of looking to men for guidance and approval, look to the spirit. The Spirit of Truth coupled with the Father’s indwelling Spirit will bear witness with you as to whether you are experiencing spiritual independence or are suffering from spiritual abuse.
And if you discover to your shock that you have somehow fallen victim to spiritual abuse, do something about it immediately so that you can protect your eternal future and not be led into the pit. (Matthew 15:14) Spiritual independence is both a gift and a responsibility. But the rewards are self-respect and dignity now, and in the future, eternal life. Let no man disqualify you, cheat you, or deprive you of the prize. (Colossians 2:18)