Freedom has long been a cherished ideal, and people typically are willing to pay a high price for its benefits. We celebrate freedom in many ways—through memorials, cook-outs, music, fireworks, and other traditions. People have lived and died for freedom, and this certainly should be appreciated; we need to be thankful for whatever freedoms we have. Taking them for granted is not good because we may not always have them. Remember that freedom comes at a price, and that price of bloodshed is not something to take lightly.
That said, Christians should realize that, being citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom (Phil. 3:20), they have a freedom far greater than physical freedom within an earthly nation. To understand this, we must realize the bondage into which sin puts us. Paul writes of being “slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:17), and Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). Sin enslaves, and it pays the wages of death (Rom. 6:23). When Cain brooded over his rejected sacrifice, God warned, “if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:7). Sin will capture, enslave, and kill us.
“But God…” (Eph. 2:4). God enacted a plan, by His grace, through which people may come out of the slavery of sin and be free. Jesus came “to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). The truth makes us free (John 8:32), and “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
That freedom from sin, however, is not freedom to do whatever we desire, for “how shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:2) Grace, as great as it is, is no license to sin (Rom. 6:1; Jude 4). Therefore, how we think about this freedom in Christ is critical. “Free” is free from sin, not free to sin. While we maintain our freedom to act, we are still called on to act in a way that is consistent with God’s expressed will. To that end, Paul writes,
“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. ‘For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another” (Gal. 5:13-15).
Peter agrees: “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (1 Pet. 2:16).
Even in matters of conscience, where we have liberty, we must be careful about the effect our actions have on others: “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 14). We have liberty in many matters, but we have no right to run roughshod over others. That attitude will never be compatible with love, through which we serve one another rather than bite and devour.
As in physical freedom, spiritual freedom came at a price, one that is far greater than we can quantify. Know “that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). God purchased our freedom with the blood of Jesus. Failing to appreciate this will leave us in spiritual atrophy.
Freedom came at the price of the cross of Jesus. It also comes at the price of our own crucifixion. Paul was clear about freedom in his letter to the Galatians, but he was just as clear about the Christian’s crucifixion with Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
Let’s appreciate the freedom we have from sin. Let’s never use that freedom (or any other freedom) as an excuse to do what is wrong, for Jesus died for us that we might live for Him (1 Thess. 5:10). This should make us eternally grateful.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:1-2).