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Freedom In Christ

In John 8:35-36 we find Christ informing the hearers of his day and readers of His words of two of the most fundamental truths of humanity: 1) one who practices sin, is a slave to sin, 2) the Son brings freedom to the slave. In a world that seeks to draw artificial lines around people, putting them in certain “tribes” based on political affiliation, ethnicity, social economic status, just to name a few, Jesus, with precision, illuminates the stark reality of humanity; Christ brings freedom to the slave.

Christ is the One who has set us free (nothing or no one else is capable). True and ultimate liberation comes through Christ alone. He is the great Liberator of humanity.

Christian freedom is the precious birthright of every believer. Freedom in Christ is an unmeasurable blessing for every single believer in the gospel. Yet this word, freedom, in the Christian vocabulary has been misunderstood or abused over the centuries.

What type of freedom is Christ speaking about? When we read Galatians 5:1, what type of freedom is Paul referring in that passage? Let’s first seek to address that Christ and Paul are not saying about Christian freedom.

  • Not Political Freedom - First, Christ and Paul were not talking about political freedom which is clear from the context of both above passages. However much we Americans may believe on the basis of natural law that God has endowed all persons with certain inalienable rights, including that of political liberty, Christ nor Paul provided any basis for that kind of philosophy. To state it plainly, neither one of them were making a political statement when they spoke about freedom.

  • Not Psychological Freedom - Still less was Christ and Paul referring to freedom in a psychological sense. Emotional health is a desirable goal, and certain therapeutic techniques developed in the modern world may be quite compatible with New Testament Christianity. However, Christ’s free offer of freedom was not in reference to a temporary psychological freedom. That is not to say that the gospel has no influence on our mental health or practical cognitive well being; it certainly does, but the context of the passage in John 8 does not allow us to contend that Christ was offering an ultimate freedom from depression, anxiety, etc., in this world.

  • Not Relational Freedom - Finally, Christ and Paul did not understand by Christian freedom the right to advocate relational autonomy within the confines of the believing community. A church that is unable to define and maintain the doctrinal clarity of its own fellowship or, even worse, that no longer thinks this is a task worth doing, is a church that has lost its soul. In a positional and conditional sense, we are instructed by God’s word with essential truths of Christian community and our continual participation in said community.

We will not go astray if we remember that for Paul, Christian liberty was always grounded on the believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ on the one hand and to be lived out with the community of faith on the other. Outside of Jesus Christ, human existence is characterized as bondage (Galatians 4:3; 2 Peter 2:19).  Let’s discover from God’s word what believers have been freed from (next blog entry we will investigate what we have been freed to).

Every Christian, without distinction, has been freed from…

  • The bondage to the law (Romans 6:12-14, 7:1-6; Galatians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11)

  • The bondage to the basic principles the world (Galatians 4:1-7; Colossians 2:20-23)

  • The bondage to sin (penalty - Galatians 3:13-14; power - Romans 6:1-2; presence - Philippians 3:17-21; 1 John 3:2)

  • The power of the flesh (Romans 6:1-5; Galatians 5:13)

  • God’s wrath and condemnation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 8:1)

  • Living for self and sin (2 Corinthians 5:15; 1 Peter 2:16; Philippians 2:1-11)

One of the “echos of God” in all of people due to being made in His image is a innate desire to be free, yet mankind, in all generations, has and will go to great lengths to find it in the ways of this world. All the while, ultimate freedom for our souls is freely offered as a gift through Christ. All our efforts and striving for a freedom for our souls are in vain if Christ is not found.


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