Freedom in Christ
In the U.S., we enjoy many freedoms that lots of people around the world will never experience. We are free to hold whatever religious beliefs we choose. We’re free to arm ourselves with weapons to protect ourselves and our families from those that would do us harm. And, we’re free to life without hinderence of our basic civil rights and liberties that should be afforded every human being. Many people have died to protect, defend, and uphold those rights and freedoms. For that I am grateful. Yet, even with all the freedom that we have, many people are still slaves – slaves to our jobs, slaves to money, and slaves of our culture. We allow certain things and people to dictate what we do and how we do it with no real say in it – and many times, without even realizing it. People just go along with the flow. There’s no getting around it sometimes. I mean, if someone doesn’t slave over a hot stove, then who’s going to nourish your family? And if someone doesn’t work that 8 to 5 job week-in and week-out, then who’s going to provide a roof under which to sleep? Whether we like it or not, we’re all slaves to something. But true freedom is found only in Christ. “If the Son sets you free, you will really be free” (John 8:36). Jesus sets us free from sin and death and from the Old Testament law.
1. In Christ, we no longer have to be enslaved to sin. John chapter eight and verse thirty four says that “everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” We know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Without Christ we can never be truly free, for “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We all are in need of the gift of God’s beloved Son.
For the Christian, “thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness” (Romans 6: 17-18). The Savior knew that we’re all slaves to something when He said that nobody could serve two masters because you’ll either be devoted to one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24). James taught on a similar concept when he said that bitter and sweet water can’t come from the same fountain (James 3: 11-12). We just cannot have it both ways. Paul said it this way: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness […] But now, since you have been liberated from sin and become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification – and the end is eternal life” (Romans 6:20, 22).
“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims […] So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:6-7, 11). The death of Christ allows us to be free from the snares of sin. And His resurrection gives us life.
In the same way that some people abuse the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, the freedom that we have in Christ can be taken for granted and misused. Because we are free to buy a crowbar doesn’t mean that we are also free to use it to break into somebody’s home and steal from them or hurt them. We can’t use our freedom to violate other people or universally accepted codes of morality. And, as slaves of God, we live as free people, but we do not use our freedom as a means to do evil (1 Peter 2:16).
2. Jesus has set us free from the old law. We are no longer bound by the Old Testament law. The old law was a law of sin and death that was put into place to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:19-26). For “the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us” (Romans 8:2-4).
“We have been released from the law, since we have died to what has held us, so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law” (Romans 7:6). So, do not be deceived; we are no longer required to keep the laws of the Old Testament scriptures. We don’t have to keep the sabbath (Hebrews 4:1-11). We don’t have to offer up bulls and goats as sacrifices (Hebrews 10:4). We are also not bound by the Old Testament system of tithing (2 Corinthians 9:6). Christ “entered the holy of holies once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood having obtained redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). Christ established a new and better covenant for us in the shedding of His blood. It’s not for us to pick and choose which parts of the Old covenant we want to keep and which parts to discard for the New. It’s either one or the other – sweet or bitter, hot or cold, love or hate, good or evil, old or new. There’s no in-between.
That does not mean that we don’t read the Old Testament law or that it’s not useful. “For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope” (Romans 15:4). And “all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). But “the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities” (Hebrews 10:1). Christ took “away the first to establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9). So “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).
Christians are free from sin and death and free from the law that brings death. We willingly choose, with that freedom, to be servants of God and righteousness. “Christ has liberated us into freedom” (Galatians 5:1). We, therefore, stand firm for God and righteousness and against our enemy and sin.