Galatians 5:1, 13 (NIV)
5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
13 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.
As we turn our attention to Independence Day and celebrate the freedoms we have in this country, what does it mean to truly be free? Free from what? Free for what? Often when freedom is mentioned it is freedom from anything that prevents me from doing whatever I want to do, the freedom to say what I want to say, go where I want to go, without restraint and someone telling me otherwise. We even quote the Declaration of Independence, our freedom is to experience,“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. So for example, we hear people complain when someone forces me to wear a face mask because it violates my freedoms. However, Biblical freedom is actually the opposite of this.
In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” In Jesus we find freedom, but this is not freedom to do what we want, Jesus purchased our freedom through his death. Freedom from what? Sin and our sinful nature. We are slaves to our own selves. Our selfishness (doing whatever we want to do) is what gets us into trouble in the first place, and leads to sin, missing the mark of God’s will, separating us from God, hurting others, and hurting ourselves. Jesus died to set us free from being slaves to ourselves, so that we can be free to live for and serve him and thereby to “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13). To those trapped in sin, this “freedom” sounds like slavery because we are now under someone else’s authority, and can’t do “whatever I want to do when I want to do it”. However what is missed is that God loves us even more than we love ourselves, and desires what is best for us, so while it may sound like slavery to God (and sometimes is even referred to as such in the Bible), the truth is that we are set free to follow God whose plans and will for us are vastly greater than our own. God’s plan leads us to abundant life (John 10:10) while our plans lead down a path of emptiness and destruction. God wants us to embrace true freedom in and through Jesus so we experience his life. But to do so involves receiving Jesus by faith, that his death and resurrection set us free from “the wages of sin” and our sinful selfish nature, and that he (and only he), forgives our sin, makes us right with God, and gives us eternal and abundant life. In our freedom we choose to surrender our will to his because his ways will always lead us to a full and satisfying life.
What is your view of freedom?
Freedom from what?
Freedom for what?
Would you say you are free? Why or why not?
Are you experiencing abundant life?
Do you believe Jesus brings true freedom and abundant life? Why or why not?
Have you trusted in him? Have you surrendered your will to him? If not, what is preventing you from doing so?
What is God leading you to do in response to his Word?