|Posted on July 9, 2020 at 10:10 AM|
The July 4th celebrations of our national freedom always lead me to consider the true freedom God has given each of us in Christ. Paul urged us to, “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5: 1). This personal liberty we have in Christ serves as the foundation for all other forms of freedom we may enjoy. And like all other forms of freedom it isn’t free. It was paid for with the sacrifice of God’s only begotten son.
Our liberty in Christ is not simply the freedom to do or say whatever we want. Unfortunately, many have confused the liberty we have in Christ with a liberation from any kind of moral or ethical restraints. They also confuse the grace of God with his mercy and consider themselves free to practice unrestrained hedonism (the philosophy of doing whatever feels good). The resulting lifestyle is self-centered and frustrated leading to all forms of addiction to whatever promises to relieve their pain. They have mistaken liberty for licentiousness and are still very much in bondage to their own desires for temporary satisfaction.
Neither is our liberty in Christ conditioned upon our own efforts at rule-keeping and strict adherence to a moral code. Many have fallen into a religious performance trap thinking their freedom in Christ is their own ability to know and do what is right. They often confuse the praise of men with the approval of God and go to great lengths to prove beyond doubt that they are indeed “the greatest in the kingdom”. Their concept of freedom in Christ is interwoven with their preconceived notions of “what would Jesus do” defined by their own interpretation of the law (the letter). Because their lifestyle is so obviously different than the licentious believer (they hang out in the church house rather than the crack house), they consider themselves free to criticize and judge those who are not like them. Their yoke of bondage, though different, is every bit as real as others.
The personal freedom we have in Christ is not about us doing whatever we want or even what we think we should but doing what God wants. The way we know and experience this freedom is through the personal leadership of the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, living inside the new person he has made us to be. Our decisions about what to do or say are not based on our own knowledge of good and evil, neither are they based on our natural desires for pleasure rather than pain. Like Jesus we do what we see the Father doing and say what we hear the Father saying based entirely on our faith in the personal leadership of the Spirit in our everyday lives. Our liberty in Christ is the freedom to do what the Spirit leads us to do.
Because God is love and Jesus gave us the new command to love like he does and the first element of the fruit of the indwelling Spirit is love we may be assured that our freedom in Christ is to fulfill our high calling of God to love others like Christ. In short, we are free to “be Christ” to others daily. It is in this freedom, paid for by Jesus on the cross, that we are called to remain steadfast. And doing so will keep us from becoming “entangled again in the yoke of bondage”. The freedom to love others like Christ is the underlying foundation of our God-given liberty as individuals and as a nation. Without our liberty in Christ we will soon lose all other freedoms.