I can’t think of many more topics Americans love to talk about than freedom. But we often go around talking about it without really defining it. We just think everyone knows what we mean when we talk about freedom.
But that’s not necessarily the case. For instance, I am a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. I do not have the freedom to move my limbs. But, as you can tell, I do have the freedom to write and speak about freedom. And my wheelchair is a great help in that area as well.
What I mean by this is we can define freedom many different ways. We can talk about rights we have as Americans. We can talk about the ability to do something that others don’t usually do. There is political, social, economic freedom, and the list goes on.
So what am I talking about when I look at the pages of Scripture? Does Jesus set us free only spiritually? Or is there a little more to it than that? I want to define some of the most important freedoms we have as Christians.
The Son Sets You Free
For me, it all starts and one of the most often quoted passages of the New Testament where Jesus declares, “If the son has set you free, then you are free indeed” (John 8:36). But is Jesus talking about spiritual freedom here?
Let’s take a look at the context. In John 8:31, Jesus begins to teach his disciples that being a disciple meant that they “abide in his word.” That means they learn from Jesus’ sayings and teachings. And then they demonstrate that learning when he sends them out.
It’s one of the best teaching methods, to teach with words and then to apply it through doing. But even deeper than the teaching style, Jesus declares to them that if they will abide by his teaching, they will know the truth. Jesus has not been shy about declaring himself the Truth (John 14:6).
And now he tells his disciples that if they are true disciples, they will listen to his words and they will know the truth. In other words, everything Jesus speaks is the truth. Now in our world today, there are many definitions and types of truth. There’s everything from personal or subjective truth to objective truth, things that apply to everyone.
But I think the truth that Jesus speaks of here is him personally. As we dive deep into his words and his teachings, we discover more than knowledge or even wisdom the Person of Jesus, God incarnate. Instead of knowing a thing, we know him.
Knowledge of Jesus, that experience every day in the trenches with him, will set us free. It is knowing the Truth, standing before them and us, knowing Jesus, that sets us free. And it does set us free. It sets us free from lies, falsehood, sin, the world, and even our own desires. No one’s willpower can even manage that.
Sue knowing the Truth, Jesus, sets us free from the world of things we may not even know we are enslaved to. He wants to set the captives and the slaves free. He wants to declare a new day in the Lord.
Of course, his Jewish disciples completely missed the point…again. They took offense to him calling them slaves, but they were slaves in Egypt. And not only this, they are political slaves at the moment he speaks to them. In the first century AD, Palestine is under the Loctite control of the Roman Empire. They are not free politically.
But Jesus goes another way with it. He doesn’t mention the fact that the Romans have subdued them for quite a while in history already. He doesn’t mention the fact that they were slaves in Egypt either. Instead, he slides to the heart of the issue, the sin that they are so entrenched in.
With all the choices toward his approach, Jesus focuses in on his main goal. He has declared them slaves to sin, even though we could include their political slavery as well. Is when he says that if the son sets them free, they will be free indeed.
Right before the adverse is his explanation that the son of the household is always free because the son enjoys permanence in his house. It is his inheritance. But anytime, a slave can be sold to another house. The slaves can never be sure of their eternity.
Because the son has run-of-the-mill in the entire house, he can decide the fate of the slave. Only the son can set the slaves free. And the deeper meaning here is that Jesus is the Son of God who, if he sets you free (and all you have to do is ask) then you will be free from sin.
But what about political, social, economic, and other types of freedom? Are they not important? They may be to someone. But Jesus is more concerned about the people’s relationship with God. You can have political and social and economic freedom in this life, but if you are not spiritually free, your freedom is as short-lived as your life on this planet.
Freedom from Sin
So in the grand scheme of things, the imperishable and eternal reality in which we exist, even if we don’t think we do, freedom from sin is the most important freedom we could ever tout. Why? Because sin causes spiritual and physical death. And if we physically die before we are spiritually alive, that position is locked in for eternity.
We only have this life to share the gospel and respond to it. And since we can’t get rid of our own sins, we need Jesus to do it for us. Only he fits the bill for what God expects, a perfect, sinless sacrifice.
We can pitter-patter around with his forgiveness, keep on sinning and keep on asking, but that’s not true freedom. We need it to stick. And the only way that happens is when we fully commit to turning away from our sin and following Jesus wholeheartedly.
But when we do, we understand more than we ever could before Jesus says free. It’s for this very purpose of freedom from sin that Jesus went to the cross, scorned its shame, and can present us as blameless before the Father (Galatians 5:1; Hebrews 12:1-3).
If we could only understand everything he went through just to bring us freedom, true freedom from sin, the one thing we cannot free ourselves from, we would never want to sin again. None of us whatever trample his sacrifice on the ground (Hebrews 6:1-4).
It’s too precious. It’s too costly. And we don’t want to hurt Jesus’ heart. Have you ever thought like this as a Christian? You see, the thing is that we are all still slaves. The only differences that we are slaves who live free from sin.
Romans 6 presents a powerful image of slavery. We are always going to be enslaved to something. It could be our desires, this world’s standards, what we think other people care about, what we think we need, even what we know we need, money, addictions, and I could go on and on.
Imagine if a sleeve could choose whether or not to remain a slave to his current master. Slaves don’t get that opportunity. And we don’t with Jesus either. All he does is switch I master from sin to righteousness (Romans 6:15-23).
We are still required to do things for our Master. But instead of sinning, not even realizing we are enslaved to our desires and to Satan, now we can offer acts of righteousness because of Jesus’ own righteousness and mercy given to us.
Freedom to Serve God
Many Christians understand what I’ve been saying. They are so happy that they have freedom from sin and can recognize it when temptation comes knocking. But did you know there’s more to freedom in Christ than just freedom from sin?
As good as this freedom we probably think about the most is, there is so much more to God’s freedom. We have the freedom to serve God, love God, and offer ourselves to him as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).
We have the opportunity to do great things for God that he’s prepared for us to do. These acts don’t save us. We do them solely to please the Lord. We do them because we’re grateful and we love the Lord Jesus for setting us free.
It would be satisfying for a while if we only received freedom from sin from Jesus. Eventually, using this freedom and declaring it against temptation and sin would wear us down. What would we do then?
The other half of Jesus’ freedom that he fought so hard for us to gain from him is the freedom to serve God with our whole being. We are not held back by sin or temptation. We boldly go into his throne room and into his presence.
He even gives us boldness to witness about Jesus (Acts 1:8). We experience a true and transcendent freedom above politics and economics and society. We are free forever more, for all eternity!
Sin holds us back from serving God with our whole being. It is designed to create separation in our relationships. And when we have the freedom of Christ over sin, we can serve God with the fervor never before seen in our generation.
Freedom in the Spirit
Paul is smack dab in the middle of talking about the glory of the old covenant through Moses, when his face shined when he was with God, and the glory of the new covenant that brings grace (2 Corinthians 3:12-18).
He declares that where the Spirit of the lord is, that’s the place where freedom reigns (2 Corinthians 3:17). We have freedom in God’s Spirit to worship and adore him. We can declare the mighty works of God and no one can do anything about it.
Even if they try to, they cannot take away from us the ability to worship God in Spirit and truth. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of us and so even without saying the word if necessary, we can worship God because of the Spirit. This is a freedom no one can take away from us.
The kind of freedom that Jesus offers we don’t even have to fight for. Jesus gives it to us the moment we follow him. So freedom is the all-important subject of Jesus’ school of discipleship. As we learn from his teachings and words, demonstrate this learning in our world, we continue to work in freedom. In the world can’t take that away.
What does freedom in Jesus mean to you? Leave me a comment and tell me what excites you about Jesus’ freedom so much you wake up for it every day.