Many a child has watched the clock count down to the last school bell on the last day of school before summer.
Then they burst through the school doors with a William Wallace burst of “Freeeedom!!!”
No more alarm clocks, homework, lunch lines, math. Only three glorious months of doing what they want. Sleeping in. Watching cartoons. Playing games. Going swimming. Seeing friends.
Yet they are not entirely free to do what they want, are they? They are free from one kind of restraint. But they still have to eat the green stuff at dinner, mind their manners, entertain little brother while mom is busy, take out the trash, etc., etc., etc.
Teenagers chomping at the bit to become adults and “do whatever they want” find the same thing. They do get one kind of freedom, but also a greater burden of responsibility.
Proponents of “free love” in the 60s found that their actions weren’t really free. Disease, unexpected pregnancy, and no long term security were not what they bargained for in their freedom.
There’s a sense in which no one experiences entire freedom to do whatever they want.
The Bible says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17).
There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. We’re either yielding to the flesh or the Spirit. Sure, we have to yield to parents, employers, family, the police, etc. But all of those are within the context of the flesh or Spirit. Sometimes we yield to others in an effort to keep life running smoothly—ultimately a desire to please ourselves.
Some who most desire the freedom to do what they want are the most enslaved to their own passions.
What does it mean, then, that “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”? (2 Corinthians 3:17). Or “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”? (John 8:36). Surely that doesn’t mean the “do whatever I want” kind of freedom, does it?
No. The death of Jesus Christ freed us from:
- The law of Moses that people in the OT were under. “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). The book of Galatians was written to people who had freedom in Christ yet thought they had to go back under this yoke. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
- Sin and death. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). We still have to battle sin, but its power over us has been broken. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:5-6). By God’s grace, we have the ability to fight it and win now. And we still have to face physical death (unless the Lord returns before that happens), but not the second death in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). Even physical death has lost its sting, because death takes us to God (2 Corinthians 5:6-10).
- Condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
- Darkness. “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).
We have also been freed to something.
- God our Father. “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
- Sanctification eternal life: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
- Light. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'” (John 8:12).
- Grace and Mercy. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
- Rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
- Sufficiency: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
- Heaven. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
And so much more!
So what kind of freedom is this, exactly?
The Pulpit Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:17 sheds some light: “The liberty of confidence (ver. 4), and of frank speech (ver. 12), and of sonship (Galatians 4:6, 7), and of freedom from guilt (John 8:36); so that the Law itself, obeyed no longer in the mere letter but also in the spirit, becomes a royal law of liberty, and not a yoke which gendereth to bondage (James 1:25; James 2:12) – a service, indeed, but one which is perfect freedom (Romans 5:1-21; 1 Peter 2:16).”
We’re freed from trying to earn righteousness with God. When we believe on Jesus as Savior and Lord, He cleanses us and enables us to do everything God wants us to do. We serve Him as His children, out of love, by His grace.
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.
Charles Wesley, from “And Can It Be”
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)
I’ve thought at times what it would like to have complete freedom to do what I wanted – and conversely to not do what I didn’t especially want to do. I can tell you my life would be complete chaos! I love that God has given us forgiveness and eternal life. He has also given us the freedom of choice so that when we choose Him, it is our choice. Great post!
Me, too. When we do what we want for very long, it doesn’t usually go well. And when we don’t do what we should. So glad for His grace!
Perfect topic for today! You’re right; our freedom in Christ is truly the best type and much better even than our freedoms as Americans. Melanie raises a good point too; having total freedom wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing.
When I started looking up a few verses on the topic I found it a rich study.
A powerful post indeed Ms. Barbara. Few stop to consider the spiritual freedoms we have, the Christian liberty we are given, and how hard we have to work to maintain and protect those in today’s world. Thank you so much for speaking truth into our lives this day ma’am.
Thank you, JD. I don’t think I had studied this topic this thoroughly before. It was a rich study.
praising God for all the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. He has set us free indeed. i’m so grateful. the enemy has no hold on us.
Amen. It was a neat study to see all we’re set free from and to.
Great points, Barbara. We often idolize what freedom means, but even freedom comes with responsibilities. Those responsibilities don’t negate the freedom, but if they are grounded in values, our freedom remains a gift and doesn’t become just another idol.
That’s a good way to put it–that freedom comes with responsibility. Even spiritual freedoms.
Barbara, I so appreciated reading here today. Our spiritual freedom and the liberties that come with it are such a good reminder that with that freedom comes responsibilities. Thank you so much. Your post went right along with the message our pastor preached on Sunday morning.
Freedom is an intriguing topic n vital. It encompasses so much. Christian freedom is the pure essence of it, freedom from condemnation that only Christ can offer. Thk you for your post.
It was a rich study to see all we’re free from and to.
I continually come back to Elisabeth Elliot ‘s assertion that the essence of Christian freedom is the power to obey. We are free to say no to ourselves!
That’s a neat way to put it. Instead of being slaves to our desires, which usually ends up in a self-destructive way, we’re free and able to say no.
Amen Barbara, Truth be told. Such a poignant message for us all.
Barbara, I love how you cover so many different aspects of freedom. My teens crave the kind of freedom that has no restraints. But, as you shared, that kind of freedom often leads to painful consequences. I’m so thankful for all the things I’ve been freed from and freed to, so to speak.
So helpful to see what we are freed from and into in these lists. Thanks, Barbara, and thanks as always for the many Bible references!
This is a whole Bible Study by itself! Thank you for shedding much light – and thank God for giving us REAL freedom.
I may have already said this but it is worth repeating…Real freedom comes from Christ alone.
Stopped by from Grace & Truth today.
This is a succinct way of stating the truth, Barbara, “There’s a sense in which no one experiences entire freedom to do whatever they want. We’re either yielding to the flesh or the Spirit.”
Barbara, thank you for your beautiful and inspiring piece. It is important to remember to not enslave ourselves again after we have received Christ. So grateful for our Savior.
I loved the part you said – we have been freed to something. Thank God for the freedom we have in Christ to be all that he has called us to be. Thanks Barbara
What a great study on the truth of freedom!Thank you for sharing so much wisdom.
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