“It was for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1 NASB
This is the time of year our nation celebrates freedom. It’s a big word and we use it to mean different things. Chances are that it means something different to a fourteen year-old than it does to her parents. It means something different to an employee than to an employer. It may even mean something different in one country than in another. But what does it mean in the context of grace?
Freedom is a hinge concept. Legalists will tell us that freedom is far less than we think. Liberals will tell us that it is far more than we think. Grace people often get into trouble when we try to explain what it means. Some have said that it means we are free to do whatever we want. Others say that we are free to do what is right. All of this is confusing and misses the point.
Freedom in Christ means deliverance from bondage. We were slaves of sin, under condemnation and shame, bound to evil in our hearts. We belonged to evil. It was our master and the realm in which we lived. When Jesus came to us, He reached into that evil and pulled us out. He paid the price, did the work, lived the life, that was needed—and He set us free.
Sin owned us, but Jesus set us free from sin. The law held us in condemnation, but Jesus set us free from the law. Failure defined us, but Jesus delivered us from our failure. This is what our freedom is about.
You see, you and I could always do what we wanted. Nothing stopped us from sinning. When we wanted to disobey our Lord, we found ways. We have always lived in that “freedom.” So when someone says, “Well, you aren’t just free to do whatever you want!” You answer, “I always have been free to do what I want and so have you.” The point is not that we can do things now that we couldn’t do before. The point is that we are no longer slaves to sin and citizens of evil.
The moment you received salvation in Jesus, that moment you were set free from evil and all the strings it had attached to your life. In that amazing gift box, Jesus has given you freedom. You are no longer under condemnation, no longer in shame, no longer bound to sin. You are free to make changes in your life and He will guide you and enable you. You are free to live without fear of rejection, secure in His love. You are free to love others without expectation.
The ways of the world, the flesh, and the devil are no longer your ways by definition. You are free. You are free from your past, from the ways and habits of your family, and from the judgments of others. You are free from the old life, the old you.
And your freedom in Jesus is not just defined by what you are free from, but also by what you are free to. You are free to experience joy and creativity and rest. You are free to feel free.
Fireworks and parties and games and laughter are every bit as appropriate for the believer on any day as they are for our nation on the fourth of July. We have been set free by the Lord who loves us. That’s something to celebrate!