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“FREEDOM!” – May 11

May 11, 2013

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who
has died has been set free from sin.”  Romans 6:6-7

 Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key (1814)

English: American Flag blowing in the wind
English: American Flag blowing in the wind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I live in the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I realize that the US is the land of the more free, but is it the land of the completely free?  Freedom is the core issue in many political debates.  There is an inevitable hint of freedom embedded in the topics of abortion, gun control, employment, morality laws, private-property, taxation, wealth redistribution, etc. The concept of freedom is generally understood but rarely well-defined.  Your definition of freedom may vary significantly from my definition of freedom.

I have been pondering whether it is even possible for created man to be free in any respect.

I was recently catching up on some of my podcasts.  I am subscribed to a podcast called Philosophy Bites.  It is podcast that interviews university professors in specific areas of philosophy.  I listen to the podcasts to get a general idea of what is being contemplated in the ivory towers of our universities.  I was engaged by the podcast Alan Ryan on Freedom and Its History.

The interview centered on the intriguing question of “What is it to be free?”  One definition in the podcast that caught my attention was: freedom is the ability to do whatever you want to do.   I think that we can agree that under this definition no one is completely free.

You agree to a promissory note; you are no longer free.
A speed limit is posted; you are no longer free.
You have children; you are no longer free.
You agree to be employed; you are no longer free.
You are required to pay taxes; you are no longer free.

You are no longer free because you are not able to do whatever you want to do.

Many people state their objection to Christ in terms of freedom.  They view salvation in Christ as a loss of their freedom; their ability to do whatever they want to do.  The deeper question is whether they are giving up any freedom.  Those who have not received Christ as their Lord and Savior are not as free as they might think they are.  For instance, they are not free to please God.

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8

It is not possible for people who are not in Christ to please God even if that is what they are determined to do.  Therefore, they are not free.  Humanity is born under the bondage of sin.  They are not able to do anything other than sin.  They are enslaved to one whom they obey.  There is not a person who can live without sin apart from Christ.  There is no real freedom for those who reject Christ.  They are enslaved under the bondage of the appetites of their sinful hearts.

However, there is no freedom for those in Christ, in the sense of doing whatever you want to do.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. Romans 6:22

When we come to Christ, we become slaves to righteousness, for we are slaves to what we obey.  We become debtors, when we receive the Spirit of adoption as children of God.  We are not our own.  We have been bought with a price so that we can glorify God with our bodies. (1 Cor. 6:19b-20)  The paradox of the Christian life is that we are set free only when we willingly submit to enslavement.  We remain enslaved to sin while we pursue our personal freedom.  The desire for personal independence is a manifestation of a love for self.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Romans 6:12

What was your first reaction to my statement that you are a slave of God?  Did you recoil from that concept?  Why should that concept be objectionable to us if we love God will all that we are?  Our desire for personal independence is a sin that enslaves us to the passions of our self-love.  I think this paradox is captured in this quote from Dag Hammarskjold:

God desires our independence – which we attain when, ceasing to strive for it ourselves, we “fall” back into God.  Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

The child of God finds true and complete freedom in Christ only when they give all to the Father in heaven; when they die to their self and submit completely to God – willingly becoming a slave of God.  When we “fall” back into God, trusting that He will catch us, then we are given a new heart, with new desires.  What we want changes when we are a new creation in Christ.  Freedom, doing whatever we want to do, is only available by being born-again.  It is only with this new heart that we can please God by loving him without compulsion.

There is no freedom available to the will of man. 

Every person must make a decision about who will enslave them.  We are enslaved by the one whom we obey.   May we humble ourselves and come to Christ as willing slaves.  In submitting to the Lordship of Christ, we will receive the fruits of righteousness that leads to sanctification and true freedom as children of God to do what we want to do, which is to love God.

The question for us all is who are we submitting ourselves to?

PRAYER: Lord, you know how inclined my heart is to go off on its own.  You know that I am so prone to wander away from You and be enslaved by the passions of my sin.   Father, keep me in You; continue to give me a new heart that wants You more than anything else in this world.  Lord, I submit myself to You with all of my heart, soul, and mind.  Thank you for giving me true freedom in your Son as I fall back into your loving arms.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

One comment

  1. Thanks for this – a great reminder that our ultimate purpose is to love and please God, and that we can never do this by ourselves.



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