Liberty

Throughout history, people have suffered under the rule of oppressive powers or governments.  Some people have suffered as slaves to harsh owners.  The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and were harshly treated so much that they cried out to God for deliverance (Exodus 2:23).  Even in more modern times, people have been oppressed by unjust powers.  Before the American Revolution, people felt the oppression under the British rule.  Patrick Henry made his famous speech in which he said “Give me liberty or give me death.”  His speech reflects the feelings of many who are oppressed; they strongly desire to be free from their oppression.  When people have rebelled against oppressive powers, wars have been fought as they sought liberty.  Today we have many freedoms, so we may not appreciate the liberty that we currently have.

And yet, each one of us, as sinners, was a slave to sin.  John 8:31-36 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’”  The Apostle Paul described it in Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”  As sinners, we were slaves to sin.  We suffered the consequences of our sins.  Sin can be a downward spiral in that one sin leads to another and one act of lawlessness leads to more lawlessness (Romans 6:19); it eventually leads to death (Romans 6:21).  Before we were Christians, I believe that we all desired liberty – freedom from the power of sin and freedom from the consequences of our sin.

Through Christ Jesus, we have liberty.  Jesus read the following scripture about Himself in Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”   We are set free from sin when we obey the gospel.  Romans 6:17-18 “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”  Yes, Christians are now slaves to righteousness, but righteousness is not the oppressive master that sin was.  Romans 6:20-23 “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Being a slave of God and of righteousness is far superior to being a slave of sin.  Now we have a loving master who works for our good and gives us eternal life.

Since Christ has given us liberty, we should feel free and rejoice in our freedom.  When a captive bird is set free, it stretches its wings and flies away.  When a prisoner is set free, he now can go anywhere he pleases.  We live in a free country.  That means that we are free to go where we desire and do what we want.  But even though we have freedom, there are still laws and ordinances that we must obey.  We cannot destroy someone else’s property.  We cannot willfully harm another person.  We cannot steal from our neighbor.  We are free, but even in our freedom there are restrictions.  As redeemed disciples of Jesus, when we are set free from sin’s control, we should also feel our freedom.  But that freedom does not include freedom to sin again.  1 Peter 2:16 “As free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.”  Our liberty is not to be a covering for evilness.  Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  Our liberty is not an opportunity to fulfill the sinful desires of the flesh.  Once we are freed from sin, we cannot again be entangled in the evilness of the world.  2 Peter 2:19-21 “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.  For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.”  After we have been set free from sin, if we go back under sin, our situation is worse than before.  Therefore, our liberty in Christ is not a liberty to sin. 

Rejoice in the freedom wherein Christ has set you free.  You are now free from sin and its consequences.  Instead, you are a slave of righteousness and holiness.  Your desire should be to your Father in Heaven who blesses you and gives you eternal life.