Freedom

April 25th 2024

Freedom

The concept of freedom is at the very center of what makes the gospel “good news.” Not only have we, as Christians, been set free from our bondage to selfishness, but we have also been released into a freedom that is focused on serving Christ and others.

The Apostle Paul addresses the topic of freedom in several of his epistles in the New Testament. From those letters, there are at least four aspects of freedom worthy of our consideration:

Freedom from the Law

First, Paul's teaching clearly distinguishes between the Old Testament law, which once bound believers, and the freedom found in Christ. This stark contrast underscores the transformative power of Christ's sacrifice and the shift in believers' responsibilities. He emphasizes that believers are no longer under the rituals and regulations of the Mosaic Law, but rather, are now under grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are called to live by the Spirit and in obedience to Christ.

Paul often wrote about freedom in his letters to the early Christian churches. He stressed the concept of spiritual freedom in Christ, emphasizing that the constraints of sin and legalistic rules no longer bind believers. Instead, they are free to live in obedience to God and to serve others in love.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul declared that, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal 5:1). He went on to caution against using this freedom as an excuse for sinful behavior, and instead, urged believers to live by the Spirit and to bear the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:13–26).

Freedom to Love and Serve

Paul also wrote about the importance of using freedom to serve others and build up Christ's body. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he taught that believers should use their freedom not to indulge their own desires, but to consider the needs of others and to strive for the common good (1 Cor 10:23–33). Believers are not just called, but are responsible, to use their freedom to serve one another in love, and to build up Christ's body, thereby fulfilling their purpose as servants of God.

Scripture speaks extensively about the importance of love and service to others. Jesus summarized the entire law in two commandments: to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37–40). This demonstrates that love is at the core of Christian belief and practice.

Regarding freedom to love and serve, Galatians 5:13 states, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." This verse highlights that our freedom in Christ is not an excuse to indulge in selfish desires but rather a call to serve others in love.

Additionally, 1 Peter 4:10–11 says, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

The Bible emphasizes that our freedom in Christ enables us to love and serve others selflessly, allowing the using of our gifts and talents to glorify God and benefit those around us. Paul's writings on freedom emphasize the transformative power of Christ's sacrifice and the responsibility that believers have to live in accordance with the Spirit, serving others and building up the church. By embracing this freedom in Christ, believers can experience true liberation from sin and live with purpose and meaning in their lives.

Freedom in Christ

Next, Paul teaches that through faith in Christ, believers are set free from the power of sin and death. They are no longer slaves to their sinful nature but are significantly empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life of righteousness and holiness. This emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit reinforces the concept of freedom in Christ and its importance in believers' lives.

The Bible teaches that freedom in Christ is a central aspect of the Christian faith. Here are some other key verses that discuss this theme:

John 8:36 - "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." Jesus himself declares that true freedom comes from being set free by Him, indicating that believers can experience true liberation and freedom through faith in Him, which brings them joy and peace.

Romans 8:1–2 - "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." This passage highlights that through Jesus, believers are freed from the condemnation of sin and the consequences of spiritual death.

2 Corinthians 3:17 - "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." This verse underscores that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers brings about true freedom and empowerment to live according to God's will.

1 Peter 2:16 - "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God." This verse strongly emphasizes believers' responsibility to use their freedom to serve and honor God, rather than indulge in sinful behavior. This stress on responsibility underlines the importance of living in obedience to God and serving others in love.

With these passages in mind, Scripture is clear: True freedom in Christ is not just about personal liberty, but also about living in obedience to God, serving others in love, and fulfilling the purpose for which believers have been called.

Freedom from Fear

Lastly, the Apostle Paul teaches that believers have been set free from the fear of condemnation and judgment because of their faith in Christ. This means that we can approach God confidently and boldly, knowing that we are justified by faith and not by our works.

One of the most well-known verses about freedom from fear in the Bible is found in 2 Timothy 1:7, which states, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” This verse emphasizes that as believers, we are not meant to live in fear, but rather in faith, power, love, and a sound mind.

The Bible encourages us, as believers, to trust in God and find peace in His presence, knowing that He is always with us and will never cease to help us overcome our fears. This points us to the reality that true Christian freedom flows from the transformative power of Christ's sacrifice, and produces within us a desire to obey God from a heart of gratitude for the grace we have received.

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Author: Dale Thackrah

Dale Thackrah is the Executive Pastor at Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert, Arizona. He is currently a D.Min student at Talbot School of Theology. He has been a pastor for eighteen years in California and in Arizona. Dale and his wife, Shawna, have two children: Noah and Kenna.