Many in the USA celebrate freedom as a key part of the heritage of our July 4 national holiday. It commemorates independence for the USA from England and the policies of the government there for which the colonies were not represented. We can be reminded to value our freedom and not take it for granted. Fireworks and parties are commonplace. The birth of a free nation is celebrated. We do not celebrate this freedom by rebelling against the very nation that protects and provides our freedom. We do not declare that our freedom means we are no longer subject to any laws.
This day is a good opportunity for us to reflect deeper on one who is greater than us who also allows us the freedom to make our own choices. Our Creator made us in His image and allows us the freedom to follow Him or live in rebellion to Him, choosing instead to honor and follow the desires of our flesh and sin nature. All of us are inherently sinful. Babies at birth need not be taught to scream when they want something. Young children need to be taught to share, taking what they want comes naturally. We must learn to focus on the needs of others just as we must learn God’s ways in order to be set apart and different than the world.
Our Father, YHWH, provided us instructions to follow as any good father does for His children. Often the instructions are for the benefit of the children themselves, even if they don’t understand that fully. The instructions have been communicated through thousands of years and neatly compiled into the Bible we have so readily available to us today, so long as we choose to open it or click the link to it. We need only pray for enlightenment from the Spirit and read with a desire to learn and change our behaviors to follow God’s instructions. We should not read with a desire to justify all of our current actions and attitudes… that is redefining God in our image rather than redefining ourselves in His image.
We talk often in Christian community about freedom through Christ. It is amazing, but sadly many get confused by false teaching about this freedom. What are we set free from?
The short answer is that all too often people essentially say we are set free from all boundaries and can do anything and God will be pleased. This is false. This would be akin to saying we are free in the United States and then pretending that there are no laws or boundaries governing what is acceptable behavior and what will land you in prison. God has established guidelines and instructions for us to follow to help us, as a father does for his children. Are we to use our freedom to rebel against the one who gives it to us? No. Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death. He sets us free in that we can be reconciled to YHWH even when we do not live out his instructions perfectly to his standard. This means, simply that we can be forgiven for our sins, because Jesus already paid the price required by the law for our sins. We can be set free from condemnation and guilt, but we are to repent from the sinful ways and do things according to God’s instruction. We are to follow Christ.
1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Many teach that we are set free from the law, from God’s instructions, but this is absurd. Jesus followed God’s instructions throughout His earthly ministry and so did His disciples. In fact, he was judged righteous in that he lived perfectly according to the law. He never taught against following God’s law, only against following the man made traditions of the Pharisees and Sadducees that were overburdening people with meaningless traditions and distracting from or even contradicting God’s law. We must ask ourselves… “Is Jesus our example to follow? or our excuse to live how we want rather than how God tells us to?”
Throughout the scriptures, God’s law is highlighted as good, as worthy of love, of setting us free from the lure of sin by showing us what is right. It is a light unto our path to guide us. I have included a few excerpts from Psalm 119, but you should click the link and read the whole Psalm. Many others have similar content. The law of God is to be obeyed. Jesus did not come to set us free from it.
Psalm 119 (excerpts – I encourage you to read 119 completely)
97O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.
142Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.
143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
162I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.
163I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.
164Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.
165Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
171Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.
172Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.
Would it make sense that Jesus came to set us free from wisdom, delight, truth, and peace? Certainly not. This would be absurd. Jesus came to set us free from the law of sin and death. Yes, we all sin, and thus deserve death. However, Jesus sets us free from that guilt and condemnation and judgment because He already paid the price for us. What He calls for in return as part of this freedom is that we submit to God, repent of our sinful ways, and seek after God. True repentance transforms us to be different from the world and to become more and more like Jesus as we continue to grow in wisdom and maturity in our faith over the course of our lifetime.
Just as we see so obviously in the physical world, freedom brings responsibility and accountability for the choices we make. It is similar with our Father in heaven. Freedom comes with responsibility and accountability. There are spiritual consequences in our relationship with God and ultimate destination when we die from this life and go into eternity to heaven or hell. There are also physical and emotional impacts in our lives today based on how well we follow the instructions He has provided. After all, the loving Father and Creator knows how best to guide His creations. He gives us the answers, but we need to listen and obey… even when we don’t understand fully.
Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.