Liberty is “the fullest opportunity for man to be and do the very best that is possible for him.”1 Christian liberty simply speaks of those things that the Christian is free from and free for. In other words, Christian liberty is freedom from the things that threaten or enslave, and freedom for or to the 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.
There are only two kingdoms that the Bible speaks of: the kingdom of Satan or darkness and the kingdom of Christ or Light (Col.1:13); therefore, every person is a slave of either Satan or Christ. From birth, every child of Adam is born a slave to sin and Satan (Rom.5:10ff). However, through the new birth, we are made slaves of righteousness and Christ. With this general definition in mind, we immediately discover that the unbeliever cannot enjoy this freedom or liberty for he is a slave to sin and Satan (John 8:34; Rom.6:16-22; 2 Tim.2:26).
However, the Christian is free from five spiritual enemies:
- The wrath of God (Rom.5:9, 8:1; John 3:36; Eph.2:3)
- The curse of the Law (Gal.3:10, 13; Rom.6:14)
- The bondage of sin (Rom.3:9; 6:6, 11, 18, 22)
- The terror of death (Rom.5:14ff; 1 Cor.15:55-57; Heb.2:15)
- The captivity of Satan (2 Tim.2:26; 1 John 5:19)
The Christian is free for or to do five spiritual privileges:
- To enjoy the liberty of sonship (Gal.4:1-7)
- To experience the liberty of Truth (John 8:32)
- To enter the liberty of approaching God (Heb.10:19-22; 4:16)
- To express the liberty of service to others (Gal.5:13)
- To experience growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet.3:18)
The means of this liberty is the liberating Spirit given in response to justifying faith.
Galatians 5:5—“For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”
2 Corinthians 3:17—“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Rom.7:6)
It is a universal reality that every true believer desires to live a life that is pleasing to God. The belief, however, that walking in perfect accordance with God’s Law as the way to please Him places a weighty burden on us because of our utter inability to fulfill it. The problem we face with the Law is that it incites sin and this problem is not resolved by simply abolishing it or calling it obsolete. It must be fulfilled—to the letter! This is precisely what Christ did and those who place their trust in Him become partakers of that fulfillment.
With that, the new birth that the believer experiences results in new desires and new affections. The Law is no longer a heavy burden, but rather the Law becomes the believer’s delight as David describes in Psalm 1:2. Believers find contentment in walking according to God’s will.
But what about the areas of life where God’s will is not specific, where He is not explicit in terms of what to do and what not to do in a given situation? How are we to respond in those situations? Fortunately, in His infinite love and mercy, God does provide an answer. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul addresses this issue in Romans 14:22-24 when he records the following statements concerning Christian liberty and faith. He writes, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin.” What Paul is saying is that in the areas where God has left some “wiggle room,” so to speak, the answer comes by way of our own convictions which have been shaped by God’s Word. If we respond contrary to those convictions, doubt will creep in and we begin to condemn ourselves because our actions are not consistent with our beliefs and as such we are not walking by faith. The ultimate consequence of that response is sin.
Whatever is not from faith is sin. Let that truth shape your thinking concerning Christian liberty. Allow the Word to strengthen your convictions. Listen to your conscience that you may keep on the narrow path, for His name’s sake!
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” With these famous words from the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, a small band of 13 colonies set in motion an “idea” of Liberty and Independence that many Americans and, really, many people throughout the world today use as their basis of what it means to be free. But as Christians, is this to be our line of thinking about liberty and freedom?
Christians are free from the bondage of sin and the “yoke” of the Law. Therefore, Christian liberty is not about demanding the “rights” that we have; rather it’s about being free to live to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13) and live a life of selflessness as modeled by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Romans 15:1-3). However, Christian liberty is not about flaunting our freedoms in such a way that infringes on another’s conscience either.
How about our finances? If we are free from the bondage of sin, does that mean we should be free from financial bondage (or debt) as well? Is there a line to be drawn when seeking financial freedom from debt? Last year about this same time I wrote another blog post titled “Financial Freedom” where I explained how as a young man I had a goal in life to be financially independent, yet little did I know that very goal was actually leading me to bondage.
So, am I saying that pursuing financial freedom automatically leads to bondage? Not necessarily. In this context of financial freedom over financial bondage, there is actually a transfer that needs to happen first. When we realize that the freedom we enjoy in Christ is because of the the “Great Transfer” (2 Corinthians 5:21), we start to understand that ALL belongs to Him (including our finances). Therefore, if we would live with an attitude that our finances belong to God and He is in control of them along with everything else, that should free us from the bondage of stress and worry over lack of finances. When we grasp this attitude, that is true financial freedom.