As Christians, we know we are called and empowered toward lives full of joy. How could we not be joyous, our King has risen and He has freed us from the power of sin and the grip of death! If we are honest, though, we may not always feel joyous....
Freedom is special. Every Fourth of July here in the United States, we celebrate the freedom we have and take time to recognize the cost that was paid to obtain it. War was waged, blood was spilled, and lives were spent as freedom was obtained.
Can you imagine, after the revolutionary war, if someone in the newly-founded United States of America decided they wanted to go back under the previous rule? Regardless of the reason, I’m sure it would have been deeply offensive—considering the cost of freedom.
Christian, Christ has paid the greatest cost—his own life—to set you free from so many things and to give you the freedom to do more. Don’t go back across enemy lines! Enjoy the freedom from and freedom to you have been given.
Paul gives a good snapshot of what we are free from thanks to Christ: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
In short, we are free from death’s grip and sin’s power! As a result, we are also free from the things of this world, as in:
The Passions of the Flesh
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)
Notice the terms “sojourners” and “exiles” in this verse. Peter is talking to Christians who belong to a different world. They have been set apart from this world and they, through God’s power alone (Jude 24), can keep from indulging the passions of the flesh.
The Love of Money
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
If we were not in Christ, this would be not something we were free from. Loving money is an obvious necessity for the world.
When you are of the world, you freely, by which I mean “without hesitation,” love and strive for money. But this is a taxing kind of freedom that takes way more than it gives.
In Christ, we are free to not love money. We can freely, without hesitation, be content with what we have because we have Jesus!
Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. (Psalm 118:5)
Before we were in Christ, we were slaves to distress and fear. Not knowing how things would end up for us or if we were strong enough to handle our problems on our own. But in Christ, we are free from distress. If God is for us, then we have nothing left to fear (Psalm 27:1).
For though I am free from all… (1 Corinthians 9:19)
In our lives, we face much peer pressure. The term is most often applied to teenagers, but adults try to live up to their peer’s expectations as much if not more than their teenage children.
It’s a burdensome way of living—to be always looking to others changing opinions to form who you are and who should be.
Paul shows us that being in Christ means we are free from the rule of others’ approval. We do not act primarily to impress others.
1 Peter 2:16 says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” In light of this, what are some ways to use our freedom in Christ to live as God’s servants?
…I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. (1 Corinthians 9:19)
Now Paul said in the first part of the verse above, and in other places throughout his letters, that he is free from others. However, this does not mean that he flat-out doesn’t care about what anyone thinks.
No, his letters show that he cares very much what people thought, not about himself but about God. That’s why he persistently preached the gospel to saved and unsaved people alike. He wanted to “win more of them.”
Use your freedom to serve people, not to justify prideful speech.
Offer Yourself to God
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments; (Psalm 110:3)
In paradise, we will be our perfect (complete) selves. When we are there, we will be among those who “offer themselves freely.” That’s the target, but right now we are mid-trajectory.
Jesus started on us on this journey when he justified us on the cross, and now we grow in our sanctification by his power as we give ourselves more and more to him.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. (Proverbs 11:24)
The way of the world is to love your possessions, money, and time. To store them up, keep them from others. Earlier, we saw that God sets his people free from the love of money. The same can be said the love of possessions and the love of time. (We will have time eternalin the life after this!)
But we love others, and we love God. Christ purchased the freedom to give everything we have for others and for God.
This Proverb uses the phrase “yet grows all the richer” and it does not mean that if you give money then more money will come back to you. It is saying that a life spent pursuing God and serving others is a richer, more satisfying life than the one pursuing the things we cannot keep.
Indulge in the Fruits of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Peter called Christians “sojourners” and “exiles” because we are set apart from the world. Through God’s power, we can abstain from indulging in the passions of the flesh. And the Lord has provided fruits for which we can indulge in. In fact, there’s no way to over-indulge in them.
Think of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the rest as the multitude of other fruit in the Garden of Eden besides the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve could eat of every other fruit with no restriction, but they chose the one they could not eat.
Christian, a similar conflict faces you today. Will you choose sin, which you have been set free from, or will you choose goodness or faithfulness or gentleness or self-control, which you are free to enjoy abundantly for eternity?