Keeping Your Freedom
Pastor Steve Ellison
July 4th is a lot of fun and a timely reminder about the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. It also provides an opportunity to remind ourselves of a much more important freedom. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come “To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1 NASU) Jesus attributed it to himself in Luke 4. Furthermore, Jesus said in John 8:31-36, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'? Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (NASU)
Paul expounded on the theme of freedom in Christ in Galatians 4 and 5. He pointed out that prior to our new birth, we were slaves to sin (our inability to keep the Law). Galatians 5:13 points out a significant danger in the Christian life, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (NASU) Even though Christ has freed us from the bondage that we were in, we can put ourselves back into slavery. In fact there are at least a couple of ways we can return to bondage. Some of us seem unable to believe that we really have freedom and liberty in Christ. It is sometimes comforting to us to fall back into a legalistic understanding of the Scripture. Somehow it seems easy subject ourselves to a performance based attempt at pleasing the Lord by keeping the Law. We failed miserably at that before being born again and any attempt now will end in failure. Dear Christian, avoid that trap.
There is a second way to back away from liberty and freedom in Christ and fall into bondage. Rather than bondage to the Law, I speak of bondage to the sinful nature of the flesh. Paul described it this way, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 NASU) Just a few verses later Paul wrote, “The deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-22 NASU)
Freedom must never be seen as liberty to act in immoral ways. That my friends is nothing less than bondage to sin. Many have rightly said that “sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay”. There is much truth worth pondering in that quote. Christ has set the believer in Him free so that the believer can follow Him in loving obedience, not because it is a requirement but because of returned love. We love and obey because Christ first loved us and set us free for that very purpose.