Words of Grace
It is particularly sad when the church becomes a merchant of bondage for the people of God. The message of the gospel, from beginning to end, is a message of freedom. By going to the cross, Jesus destroyed the power of death and sin, overcame the law, and set us free. He is the Conqueror, and He has redeemed us from the hands of the enemy.
One day we will wake in glory to discover that there have been no shackles on our hands or feet. They were a lie. They were there once, but were destroyed by Christ when He saved us. The bonds have been gone as long as we have known Him. The chains you have been feeling are in your mind. You are free.
Free from the condemnation. Free from the power of sin. Free from the Law. Free from the expectations and standards and opinions of others. Free from guilt and shame. You are free.
So live in that freedom. Defend it. Believe in it. The only One who holds power over you is the One who set you free and He loves you. Don’t let anyone take it away from you, whether it is a teacher or a pastor or a parent or a spouse or a ruler. Paul wrote to the Galatians that they should stand fast:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)
Whenever someone teaches freedom, someone else will jump up and say that we shouldn’t just let people do whatever they want. They get all worried that people will do terrible things under the excuse of being free. The only problem with this is that people do terrible things even when they claim to be under the law. Just because you are free to do something does not mean that it is good for you or that there will be no consequences. Dumb things are still dumb things. There are many good reasons not to do the things God calls sin. But there is still no bondage of law over us.
Listen. It is possible and even good to limit your freedom for the sake of others and for the cause of Christ. That doesn’t make you less free. Sometimes people cannot believe their freedom because they live under expectations and challenges. You are expected to go to work every day if you want food to eat. Well, you are still free. You don’t have to eat. You choose to work so that you can eat. Choice comes out of freedom.
It’s hard to feel freedom in a difficult marriage or in a dysfunctional family. It’s hard in a restrictive church or country. But these are outside things. You can live within chosen confines and still be free. Remember what Paul said:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more 1 Corinthians 9:19 (NKJV)
“Even though I am free, I have made myself a servant.” Paul chose to do this for the sake of the gospel and the sake of the lost. He kept the law that was no longer binding to him. He served people who were no longer his masters. He obeyed rulers who no longer had authority over him. He lived his freedom within their expectations to accomplish the call of God on his life.
Are you in a difficult marriage? Live in freedom even while choosing to live under the expectations. Are you in a demanding job? Live in freedom even while doing your best to meet the requirements of your boss. Are you in a compromised or legalistic church? Live in your freedom even among those who have yet to discover theirs. No one else has to change in order for you to be free. You are free.