The Fourth of July or Independence Day is a time that we in America celebrate and remember our freedom as a nation. Like most national holidays, we often ignore their significance, but nevertheless, it is basic knowledge that America is “the land of the free.” Do you remember when you were young what you thought when adults emphasized how grateful we should be to be “free”? I remember especially in the first, second and third grade how often the teachers would point out that America is where we are free, whether it was in music class or literature, we were reminded often. But how did I and my peers of great wisdom respond? – “If we are free, than why do we have to be at school?” Or maybe we would extend it to the dreaded homework, – “I am a free American, I don’t have to do this homework!” Clearly we were missing the point of what it meant to be free.
In the New Testament we also see this same term “freedom,” used to describe Christians. Many scriptures talk about it, take 2 Corinthians 3:17 for example; “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” You might think also of passages like “the law of liberty” as James describes the New Covenant (Jas 1:25, 2:12). It is apparent that we who are in Christ are free or at liberty in some way, but just like our ignorance of America’s freedom we failed to understand in our youth, so also many fail to understand the freedom that we have in Christ. To make matters worse, not only is it the people’s gossip that causes us to misunderstand this freedom in Christ, but also the majority of preachers and bible teachers also contribute, saying things like “we don’t have to be worried about sin because Christ has set us free.” While a statement like this is not completely false, (we are free from the sins we have repented from), it also happens to be intentionally deceiving, giving the impression that sin is no big deal.
So what is our “freedom in Christ” that the scriptures tell us of so often? And what isn’t it? Our freedom in Christ comes down to two major things, we are free from the complexity of the Old Law (Old Testament), and we are free from the wages of our past sins, which is death (Rom 6:23). The Old Law was very difficult to follow, a heavy burden on those who lived under it, and just as the Hebrew writer says, “…He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.” Heb 8:6-7. In Christ that Old Law is completely done away, something that today’s denominations do not understand (Gal 3:25, Rom 7:6, Heb 8:13). The second point, our freedom from our past sins once we put on Christ is something we all know. We all know that Christ died for our sins. Less known however is how we put on Christ, a passage that describes both points, Romans 6:3 says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been Baptized into His death?” and verse 6 says, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”. When we are buried with Christ in baptism, God at that point removes our past sins as we repent and are baptized for forgiveness, dying to our sinful self and rising to walk in the newness of life.
So what isn’t our freedom in Christ? Freedom in Christ is not freedom from law all together, just as we still have to go to school and do our homework in our free country, we also have a Christian law we must live by in our freedom of Christ. That law is not the Old Law but it is the new law, the law of Christ (1 Cor 9:21, Gal 6:2), the law of the Spirit (Rom 8:2), the perfect law (Jas 1:25) which is the new covenant. That means we cannot choose our favorite apostle and ignore the writings of the rest, but we are to live by all the New Testament’s teachings. Likewise this means that we are not free to let down our guard against sin just because at one point in our life we were placed in the grace of Christ. We can fall from grace, only “if we walk in the light as He is in the light,” will we be continually cleansed by His blood (1 John 1:7). Jesus told us this so plainly in John 8:31-32, saying; “…If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” How often have were heard the latter portion of that passage quoted? Promising us that we can be free, yet how uncommon it is that we point out what Christ really said, that this freedom comes if and only if we abide in His word? Paul in Galatians gives us a warning so similar concerning our freedom. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh…” (Gal 5:13, cf. 1 Pet 2:16, 1 Cor 8:9). Ask yourself, how have you been looking at God’s freedom he has given you? Just like as Americans and even more so as Christians, we have a great freedom to be thankful for and a heavy price that was paid for it. We must not forget the sacrifices that have been made. But we also need to ask our self a simple question. Are we making our freedom in Christ into something that it is not?
Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/46042146@N00/2635488820/”>Randy Son Of Robert</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>