Christian Liberty: Discovering and Enjoying the Freedom Christ Purchased for Us

We must always understand Christian liberty as that which Christ has purchased and obtained through His death and resurrection for those who believe (Eph.1:3): it cannot be earned, bargained for, or purchased by us.

Liberty is “the fullest opportunity for man to be and do the very best that is possible for him.” Christian liberty simply speaks of those things that the Christian is free from and free for. In other words, Christian liberty is freedom from those things that threaten or enslave, and freedom for or to those things that God desires and commands. The opposite of liberty is bondage, and the only bondage that the Christian is called to be enslaved to is the yoke of Christ (Matt.11:28-30). Therefore, anything that does not “yoke” us to Christ in His present and effectual grace is not liberty.

The Christian is free from five spiritual enemies:

  1. The wrath of God (Rom.5:9; 8:1; John 3:36; Eph.2:3)
  2. The curse of the Law (Gal.3:10, 13; Rom.6:14)
  3. The bondage of sin (Rom.3:9; 6:6, 11, 18, 22)
  4. The terror of death (Rom.5:14ff; 1 Cor.15:55-57; Heb.2:15)
  5. The captivity of Satan (2 Tim.2:26; 1 John 5:19)

The Christian is free for or to do five spiritual privileges:

  1. To enjoy the liberty of sonship (Gal.4:1-7)
  2. To experience the liberty of Truth (John 8:32)
  3. To enter the liberty of approaching God (Heb.10:19-22; 4:16)
  4. To express the liberty of service to others (Gal.5:13)
  5. To experience growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet.3:18)

How can we attain this liberty?

Galatians 5:13—“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.”

  1. We must understand that Christian liberty does not mean we are free from temptation.
  2. We must know that our liberty in Christ is freedom to do right, not freedom to do what our old nature desires and dictates.
  3. We must be convinced that liberty in the Lord is not a license to sin.
  4. Whenever Christian liberty is used to serve self and not the highest need and the greatest good of others (love), we are abusing our privileges.
  5. Living in liberty does not mean renouncing our rights, but being willing to forego the use of them for the sake of others.
  6. The constraining principle and power in the Christian’s life is love (2 Cor.5:14), and love will make us less self-centered and more considerate of others.
  7. The remedy from self-centeredness or desiring to please our flesh is to walk in the Spirit (Gal.5:16). The greatest motivation for holiness is the regenerating work of the Spirit when He writes on our heart the Law of God (puts His life as a rule of life in us which awakens and determines desire). The strength for expressing this holiness is never produced by our own strength—it is only produced by the Spirit of God as we abide in Christ’s Word (choose to believe His Word).

Freedom May Be More Complex Than We Realize

Most, if not all, Americans just celebrated the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day. The history of Independence Day is in connection to the American Revolution when the thirteen colonies rejected the British Monarchy. It was through political upheaval and war that the thirteen colonies were able to declare their independence from Great Britain and form a new nation—the United States of America. So we as Americans annually celebrate our independence and freedom on July 4th.

Living in the 21st century, we have reaped the benefits of freedom that those who lived in the late 1700s fought for our nation to have. When it comes to one’s own personal freedom, the Supreme Court stated in a 1992 ruling, “The heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of the meaning of the universe.” In other words, an individual’s freedom is determined by one’s own understanding of the meaning of life.

I would like to put before you two things for your consideration:

—Freedom is more complex than we realize.

—Jesus is more liberating than we think.

We live in a society and culture that believes compliance to the truth is what causes a lack of freedom. You don’t have to look far to find someone who says truth claims are power plays, a way to gain control and cause constraint. With that in mind, let me ask you: are the truth claims of Christianity (Jesus is God; Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; or even that God created the world in six days) a means for Christians to be seen as superior to those who are not Christians, or is the truth of Christianity meant to set people free? I would submit to you the latter. Freedom comes from the truth (John 8:32).

I believe I can say without contradiction that the content of a truth claim is what makes it either oppressive or liberating. So how does being in touch with the truth set you free? Well, when you hold to the truth that God has done everything that was needed for a person to be forgiven and accepted by God—and that there is no amount of good deeds, praying, going to church, or feeling sorry for your sin that could ever make God forgive you or accept you—then you will be able to experience a life of freedom to enjoy and love God. You won’t have to live under the pressure of trying to earn God’s grace or even serve God out of fear that He will punish you if you don’t do those things.

In Galatians 2:4 Paul says we have freedom in Christ, but in just a few chapters later Paul writes that we are not use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh (Gal.5:13). Peter also says something similar in 1 Peter 2:16, Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

Many believe that the more there is an absence of restraint, the more freedom one has. Well I propose that freedom is more complex then we might realize. Think about this, as we get older our body systems (brain, cardiac/pulmonary system, liver and kidney systems, digestion, and metabolism) slow down. So as we age we can’t eat anything and everything we once could when we were younger. We have to restrict ourselves to what we can eat, and by restricting ourselves to not eating all the sweets and fatty foods that we might like to, we will be able to enjoy the richer freedom of good health. However with that said, freedom is not even the presence of discipline or restraint. Imagine you have a friend and his dream has been to play in the NFL as a lineman. His whole life he has been told he can be anything he wants, however your friend is only 5’ 2” tall and weighs 110lbs (as an adult). No matter how hard your friend practices or how disciplined he is in working out nor even how much he restricts himself to the best diet, it’s going to be close to impossible for him to be a lineman in the NFL.

So freedom is not simply the absence of restrictions or even the presence of restrictions, but freedom is the presence of the right restrictions, the ones that fit in with your nature; the restrictions that are in accord with who God made you to be. So when we find and surrender ourselves to the right restrictions, we will experience the deep and rich freedom God purposed for our lives. Think about a fish that is out of the water and is on dry land—it’s not free. That fish has lost its freedom to move and even to live. That fish has to be restricted to the water to experience the freedom that is fitting with its nature. So that begs the question: what were we created for? As the human race, the pinnacle of God’s creation, why are we here on earth? Just like the fish is obviously created to be in the water and that is where it gets to experience the freedom of life, so it is then, that when we find our purpose for living we will experience the rich, deep freedom God purposed for us. For the bible says, “For by Him [Jesus Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col.1:16).

That little phrase “created…for Him” includes us; we were created for Jesus Christ, to love, to serve, to know, to enjoy, and to have faith in Jesus Christ. So freedom may be more complex then we might have realized, but faith in Jesus Christ is the reason for our liberty and freedom.

Freedom in the Family

Many have said family is the place we feel most comfortable—the place where we are free to be ourselves, where we can kick off our shoes and relax. Family is where we will always be accepted. We are free to be who we want to be and everyone else must be okay with me being me, especially in my family.

How is it that the statistics we read about the family overwhelmingly show negative trends? How is it possible, since I’ve heard many people say we live in a world where we continue to “evolve” to become better? I attended a family reunion recently and I heard many of my elders say that nowadays are a lot worse compared to their childhoods. Where does the problem lie? If we are so free to be ourselves, if I am free to be me, then why is the family not progressing?

I submit to you that the problem is with me, the problem is with ourselves. In our great conquest for freedom and personal expression, we are blind to evaluating our personal desires. None of us wants to be told that our personal desires are improper, unbecoming, evil, or sinful. But if we are honest with ourselves, the human race is not getting better even with all our technological advances. There is something that is mastering us and it is seemingly inescapable. This master has its way with us and this master tells us we are “free” to choose any vice we desire. We so love the dark, because we know deep down on the inside that the vices we run to are bad, evil, immoral, corrupt, wicked, exceedingly sinful, and depraved. The Bible calls this master sin! This master is so deceitful, so enslaving, that we need God Himself to set us free.

Jesus said it this way in John 8—“…everyone who commits sins is the slave of sin…if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Those whom Jesus sets free, He says “…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (vv.31-36). To live in freedom cannot be done apart from the Son and apart from God’s Word telling us the truth; the way things really are!

Real freedom is doing the righteous, pure, and necessary things God’s way, not simply doing what pleases us.

Which freedom is best for our families—the freedom to choose any sin of your liking or, by God’s grace, the freedom to live sensibly and righteous in the present age? Which freedom will you choose to live by daily?

Financial Freedom

As a nation we just celebrated Independence Day and I suppose many of us took some time to pause to consider the freedoms we enjoy as a nation. Indeed, the ideas of liberty and freedom are tightly woven into the American culture. However, there is probably no philosophical or political idea as contentious as the concept of freedom. Political freedom and economic freedom or, as I’ve entitled my post, “Financial Freedom” is often what we think about when we think of freedom as Americans. In his book “Capitalism and Freedom” (1962), Milton Friedman argues that “economic freedom is an extremely important part of total freedom.” But what exactly is economic freedom and financial freedom?

When I was a teenager I set a goal to be “financially independent” by the age of 40. My thought process was if I’m financially independent no one could control me. I could do what I want, when I want, and how I wanted to do it. Boy, was I off track and obviously lost. Second Peter 2:19 points out the irony and folly of my thinking at the time. Although I wasn’t aware, the quest for freedom from God only drove me to slavery of sin and self. My whole concept of freedom was skewed. Galatians 5:13 says we are to use our freedom to serve others, not to indulge our own selfish desires.

So, if I were to “re-write” my boyhood goal to be “financially independent”, it might go something like this: Because Christ has died for my sins and FULLY paid the debt that I could not pay, I am free to generously give to others all that He has given me.