Freedom is something that we all as human beings naturally long for. We want to be free so that we will be able to enjoy our lives to the full. However, our pursuit of freedom does not necessarily lead us to the full lives that we expect. In fact if God is excluded from our lives true freedom is never found.
The cry all around us then, is for there to be freedom. The last fifty years have seen an increasing allowance for free expression in people’s lives. The creed has been that you are free to do anything just so long as no-one else is hurt physically by what you do. And where has that left the society in which we live? It has left us in a mess. The promise has been that we will have fulfillment and purpose in our lives. What reality has delivered though, is lives that have never been so miserable. This is altogether strange because financially people have never been so well off. But emotionally, psychologically and most importantly spiritually we are in a mess. The promised freedom has not delivered. Where did it all go wrong?
The focus of all our problems is our relationship to God. Freedom which excludes God is never freedom. To purchase a gadget and operate it in a way which contradicts the maker’s instructions renders the gadget useless. In a similar way human beings have sought to live lives at variance with what their maker requires and the consequences has been disastrous. The lives people have chosen have fundamentally been selfish and pervaded by sin. So rather than being free, people without God and without Christ are in bondage; they are captives. Overseeing all this is the devil. He has taken people captive to do his will (see 2 Tim 2:26).
The reality of this bondage is seen in people’s lives. So many things are used to camouflage the yearnings of the heart. These would include money, power, religion, sex, sport and entertainment. The list is almost endless. Yet deep down in our hearts we know that all is not well. And whilst we are busying ourselves with seeking “life” there is, gnawing away in the back of our minds, the fear of death. Again we seek to suppress it, but it is real and it is there. In Heb 2:15 we read of those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Some may seek to convince themselves and others that when you’re dead you’re dead, but in the back of the mind there is always that nagging uncertainty.
If only people would wake up to the terrible slavery of their condition. They need to wake up to the reality of being bound by sin and selfishness, captive to the devil and unable to escape. With such an awakening men can then start to think about how God brings freedom. It is in Jesus Christ that we are released into this freedom. The Scripture says that if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). Sin keeps us as captive as slaves. On the cross, Jesus by dying paid the price to bring about our release. Paul says 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 (Gal. 5:1).
This leads us on to the challenge for all Christian people to live lives as free people. So easily as Christians we fail to do this. Rather than living as free people we start to live in a way whereby we seek to do things and generally act so as to earn freedom. This is wrong. We who are Christians and have the Spirit of God should live lives as free people. We are now free to obey God and please Him and that is the essence of freedom. True freedom has nothing to do with pleasing myself; it has everything to do with pleasing God through following His ways. This is what the Spirit brings about for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17b).
The Spirit is the great enabler in our lives. He is the one who gives us the ability to live in such a way as to please God. Non-Christians may think well of God’s ways and want to follow them, but are unable. This is what Paul is arguing about in Romans 7. In the flesh we are unable to please God. This leads Paul to cry out What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Rom. 7:24). And then to give the answer: Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 7:25). As Christians then our freedom is never for self-indulgence. We cannot say ”I am am free to do and say what I want.”. That is a deception. Our freedom is to do and say what God wants. And that is freedom!
So as Christians let us be diligent to enjoy our freedom in Christ through the Spirit. And let us urge our fellow human beings to see through the empty promises of freedom which are declared to them. Such promises are lies. Freedom is found in Christ and in Christ alone.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Newsletter from September 2009)