Let Freedom Ring in Our Hearts

Christ has come “7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:7 [NRSV])

Let Freedom Ring

As we celebrate the freedom of our bodies by means of a culture that’s based on the importance of individual choice, it’s important to remember what true freedom means and the source of the that freedome.

Merriam-Webster defines freedom (the quality or state of being free) as: [1]

a :  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b :  liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another :  independence
c :  the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care>
d :  ease, facility <spoke the language with freedom>
e :  the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedom>
f :  improper familiarity
g :  boldness of conception or execution
h :  unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>

The Promise of Freedom

In a Messianic prophecy in Isaiah, he says, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”[2] Often this, along with many other prophecies about Jesus were interpreted literally. Jesus himself, tried to clear this up. He was here for spiritual freedom.

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38 I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”[3]

Living in Freedom

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.[4]

As we walk daily with Christ, we should be seeing a depth of freedom in our walk that continues to grow. What does spiritual freedom look like as you live it out daily with him?

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. [5]

Galatians gives us a clue in the phrase, “do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” We can, therefore, fall back into the sin that enslaved us and the burden of not allowing Christ to be the center. Jesus wants to be the source of our freedom.

34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.[6]

Paul talks about freedom in his writings many times as well. In Romans, he says, ”14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” [7] Dominion means, “the power to rule”,[8] or, in other words, the power to boss you around.

For an analogy, think of ruled and bossed around in the sense of going to school. When we were in school, there were rules we had to obey. There were places we had to be by certain times and assignments and homework that had to be turned in by a certain time. These things were determined by a litany of adults including teachers and school administrators. In our analogy, the dominion of sin is now what’s telling us where to be, what’s due when, and demanding that we show up when it says to show up so that we will live in eternal separation from God.

When Christ came in, he gave us the right to walk out of the school building and never go back in. We are never required to turn in another assignment or to finish up anything that any of the requirements that were placed on us under the leadership of sin.

Christ gave us something in return. It wasn’t another set of rules and regulations, though. He didn’t rebuild the law of sin and death, version 2.0. Instead, he set up a new standard, one that brings life. This standard is: choice. We choose Him; we choose life and obedience. We choose to submit ourselves to Him, even to the point of enslavement to God, as Paul says.

17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. [9]

The Complication of Choice

It’s tempting to take our definitions of right and wrong and turn them into black and white codices for how people should behave. We can see how the choices we’ve made have been beneficial and, therefore, we want all the people around us to have the same benefits. In addition, we can more easily relate to others who have prioritized their lives in a similar way to us and who have had similar experiences to us.

The more we live this way, however, the more we damage the very root of the freedom that Christ brings. Everything about coming to Christ hinges on us making choices. If we expect others to have made or to make the exact same choices we do, we can often inhibit their growth process in Christ. They must choose Christ because of their choice, not because of your choice.

The Risk of Choice

Choice is one of the most powerful freedoms that exists. This is also what makes choice so dangerous. We can choose poorly just as easily as we can choose wisely. When we are making the choice, only rarely do we think we are making a poor choice. Hindsight is a great teacher. It is much easier to see unwise choices in others.

Because we can see consequences to others choices sometimes more quickly than they can, we often want to try to tell them how to live. This can be very dangerous to us and to our relationship. It is dangerous to us because we begin to view our life and our choices as the standard that others must be striving to achieve. It is dangerous to others because as soon as you let others convince you to make choices for you, you’ve handed over the power of one of your greatest assets to them.

This isn’t to say that we never try to help another person or talk to them about what they’re doing. In fact, the scriptures indicates specifically otherwise. In Matthew 15, Jesus talks about immediately addressing sin issues and the power of God that comes between people who are deeply concerned about working out troubles.[10] Paul talks about gently rebuking those who are sinning as a way to help fulfill the law of Christ.[11]

The point of these two passages of scripture are to indicate that we are to help each other reach deeper into the heart of God and be more like Jesus. The influence that we’re trying to avoid is reaching out to try to make others look more like us.

Freedom in the Context of Daily Life

We know that Jesus has set us free from sin and death. As Christians who are deepening our walk with Christ, we should be watching to see that the law of sin and death is falling away from us. But, in all the complexity of life, how do we know if it is?

In order to know this, we must know who we are in Christ. Oftentimes, a situation is confusing to us because we can’t see who we are trying to become in Christ. When that happens, we don’t know what to say yes to and what to say no to. As we know who Christ is making us to be, both in the general sense of Biblical promises for what he’s given and individually for our gifts and our talents, the fog of life begins to life and we can clearly see what’s beneficial for us.[12]

References

[1] “Freedom.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 July 2015. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom>.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 61:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 8:31–38). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Co 3:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ga 5:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 8:34–36). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 6:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[8] “Dominion.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 July 2015. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dominion>.

[9] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 6:17–18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 18:15–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[11] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ga 6:1–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[12] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Co 6:12–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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