In Western society, and especially in the United States, individual freedom is sacrosanct; freedom is also a Siren’s cry. Americans value individual freedom above all things, but freedom is like the proverbial carrot. the reality of which seems always just beyond our grasp.
The more things we acquire to give us the “leverage” to do what we want to do, the more we become slaves to those things. We want everyone to be free (or equal), but the ideal is far from any reality we have achieved.
In fact, perfect individual freedom is not a reality that can be attained. I like to say that one person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins. I am not free to harm my neighbor. I am not free to take my neighbor’s property. I am not free to break the law.
Cicero said: “We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be set free.” (Cicero 43 BC)
The truth is that no one is “absolutely free” but God.
People are not free to choose their gender or nationality. People are not free to choose the parents to whom they are born or the circumstances into which they are born. People do not even choose the chemical balance of the air they breathe or the water they drink. People do not choose the foods that are beneficial or poisonous to their bodies.
We are not and never will be perfectly free. Freedom is more of an ideal, more of an illusion, than a reality.
About the best we can do is to choose how we will deal with the circumstances that we encounter (or encounter us). We are not as free as we think; in fact, we are fettered by more than we think.
If we abandon restraint and “live free” from all rules, we can become slaves to our freedoms. Drug addiction, gambling addiction, porn addiction and other harmful addictions are the result of throwing off self-restraint. Addiction aside, sin binds us and restrains us and prevents us from being the people we were meant to be.
Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin[iii] is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34) If we are all sinners (Romans 3:23); we are all slaves to sin. But there is hope.
God presents us an alternative: we can either remain citizens of this world in which we live for ourselves and are slaves to sin, or we can die to ourselves and become citizens of the kingdom of God where we live for God and become slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18), slaves to God. (Romans 6:22) The choice is ours.
God gives us the choice, but He does not leave us to our own devices. In fact, God made the way for us. God, who is perfectly free, did not hold onto that freedom (equality with God), but stripped Himself of it to become a servant (in the form of a man)! (Philippians 2:7) From there, he humbled Himself further, “becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
Through Christ, who conquered sin and death, we have confidence letting go of ourselves and our self-government (including the sin and death that goes with it) to choose the kingdom of God and obedience to righteousness. It is for freedom from sin and freedom to serve God that God sets us free.
We do not accept Christ as our Lord and Savior to be free from sin and death, only; we choose God and His kingdom to become His servants. We accept freedom from the law that requires works (that carries with it sin and death) to grasp the law that requires faith (that carries with it righteousness and life). (Romans 3:27) We let go of trying to earn righteousness (which we cannot achieve) to grab a hold of righteousness by faith (that God offers as a gift.) (Romans 4:4-5)
The freedom that God gives (to live as slaves to God, who is Life, and righteousness) is better than the freedom we give up (as slaves to ourselves which is sin and leads to death). For that reason, Peter instructs us :
Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. (1 Pet. 2:16)
Thank you Father for freeing us from sin and death and granting us citizenship in your kingdom where we call you Father! Thank you for the gift of faith and righteousness that we do not deserve. We owe you everything! We owe you our very selves.
[i] 1657/eleuthería (a noun) means freedom, liberty.
[ii] 1658/eleútheros (an adjective) means (properly) free; liberated, unbound; unshackled; (figuratively) free to realize one’s destiny in Christ. The word, eleútheros, was used of becoming a Roman citizen (the literal meaning) and was used in the NT of becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom, a child of God, free in Christ to live in His power (metaphorical meaning).
[iii] 266/hamartía (a feminine noun derived from 1/a “not” and 3313/méros, “a part, share of”) – properly, no-share (“no part of”); loss (forfeiture) from not hitting the target; sin (missing the mark). Hamartia (“sin”) means losing God’s approval (reward) because falling short (wide) of His mark (His “bulls-eye”). Thus hamartía (“sin”) includes every decision (action) not inspired and empowered by God, i.e. is not of faith.
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