Exciting phrases, easy acronyms, and memorable lists formed from dense works of systematic theology can be helpful for the everyday Christian. While these reductions of God’s Word and His nature help us understand general frameworks, they are unable to help us understand everything the Bible teaches. It is one thing...
There’s no such thing as freedom — at least not in the sense that we can do whatever we please without restraint or consequence. That’s been Satan’s lie since the Garden of Eden: “Sure, Eve, you can eat the forbidden fruit. Then you can do whatever you want to do because you’ll be like God.” And Adam, standing next to her, said nothing to contradict the wily serpent (Genesis 3:6).
No, true freedom is something altogether different. Paul explained it this way in Romans 6:20 and 22:
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness…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.
Before salvation, we had no choice. We had to serve our sinful nature, which is susceptible to all Satan’s lies and tricks. But now, because of Christ’s sacrifice, we have been freed from sin’s dominion.
Roger R. Nicole, author and theologian, gave this helpful definition of freedom:
The ability to fulfill one’s destiny, to function in terms of one’s ultimate goal. 
In other words, Christ’s death on the cross freed us to become the people our Creator designed us to be. God intends for us to be vessels of his love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, patience, and goodness (Galatians 5:22-23). He has ordained us to be ambassadors of his truth, justice, forgiveness, and hope.
That glorious privilege is ours because we have been redeemed and Christ lives in us. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
But how often do we consider the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice for us — what it cost him to obtain this magnificent freedom to which we have access? If salvation has truly opened our eyes and filled us with hope, then we should glory in the ability we now have to “present [ourselves] to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and [our] members to him as instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13).
The freedom to be an instrument of righteousness means that I no longer have to allow “sin to reign” in my life; neither do I have to yield to the “evil desires” of my sinful nature (Romans 6:12, NIV). Instead, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can choose to live in a way that pleases God.
Here’s a checklist of new-life freedom behaviors Paul gives in Romans 12:9-16:
- Hate evil — including TV shows, movies, and books that glorify evil.
- Cling to good and hang out with people who encourage you to do good.
- Be devoted to fellow Christians with sincere love — regardless of their ethnicity or socioeconomic level.
- Honor others — even if it means they receive credit for what you do or benefit from privileges that you don’t share.
- Resist discouragement and disillusionment that may prevent you from serving God or serving others. Your goal is to glorify him.
- Remain hopeful — confident in God’s goodness and faithfulness.
- Put aside complaining in tough times. No one likes a whiner. Rejoice in the blessings that cannot be taken away from you.
- Pray about everything, asking God to reveal himself to you in every circumstance.
- Share the resources and skills God has given you with others, considering it a privilege to do so.
- Invite people into your home and treat them like honored guests.
- Celebrate with those who celebrate.
- Grieve with those who grieve.
- Live in harmony with others, realizing that it is more important to be gracious than to be right.
- Practice humility — eliminate “I told you so” from your vocabulary.
The illusion of serving ourselves is a mirage Satan fabricated. We can choose to serve sin and chain ourselves to its addictive, destructive behaviors. Or we can choose to serve righteousness — to follow Jesus and become more like him with every act of obedience. It’s that freedom — the freedom to choose — that Christ gives us. It’s that freedom that shattered the chains of sin that once bound us.
That freedom also leads to the kind of contagious joy and recognizable holiness that Jesus was talking about when he said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Peter must have listened carefully that day because he later wrote, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Paul ends Romans 6 with a reminder that just as there are only two masters, there are only two destinies: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (v. 23).
Why would we choose the bondage of slavery that propels us toward eternal death and reject the freedom of following Jesus to eternal life? Most, if not all, of those who read this post have chosen to follow Jesus. For us, the truly puzzling question is this: Why do we so often look back toward the path that leads to death, as if we were missing out on something?
Don’t allow Satan to deceive you. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He alone is the source of true freedom.