Let’s begin this week by pondering about what it means to be set free. I warn you this post will have much more questions than answers, but as the saying goes: “Everything we know has its origins in questions” (Neil Postman). So here we go…
What does it mean to be Free? The main point to consider is this: can we have different types of freedom? Can we be freed by anyone else other than in Christ?
I’ll submit there is only one type of freedom. However, the need for this freedom emerges from two different types of slavery
First Slavery: Slavery to the law
Paul says in Gal 4:5 that Christ will redeem those under the law. So those who were under the law were slaves in need of the freedom Christ offers. The law held humanity in custody until Christ came to set us free by faith (Gal 3:24). That’s the yoke of slavery Paul is proclaiming that we had been freed from in Gal 5:1.
Second Slavery: Slavery to the flesh
That’s an even more subtle type of slavery. When we are set free by Christ, we may tend to go to the other extreme and live no limits, temperance, or even purpose. In the gospel of John (8:31-43), Jesus claimed the truth would set the Jews free. When the Jews heard this, they answered by saying that they were “Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone”, and they went on to ask Jesus: “How can you say that we shall be set free?”
As a secular person for 30 years, I spent years of my life not even realizing I needed a Savior. I thought I was fine, I paid taxes, I had a job, respected my parents, I didn’t do drugs, etc. It was only when I came to America that I was exposed to Jesus story in the Bible. My first question was exactly the one of the Jews in John 8:31 (except that I didn’t claim to be a descendant of Abraham). But I did wonder, what do I need to be freed from? I had never felt enslaved by anyone or anything. I really thought I was completely free and in charge of my destiny.
In Gal 5:13, Paul commands that we don’t use our freedom in Christ to “indulge in the flesh”. If we live to only please ourselves, by maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain (like the YOLO mantra: You Only Live Once) than we had become slaves to the flesh. And Paul warns us in Rom 8:13 that if we live by the according to the flesh we will die.
So, is the freedom from Christ any different than the “freedom” the world offers? Could the “world freedom” be even called freedom?
The answer is that the “world freedom” is not freedom at all as it taps into our fleshly nature to drive our animal instincts of pleasure seeking and pain avoidance.
It is only when we realize our “enslaved status” that we can appreciate the freedom ONLY Christ can Christ.
What are your thoughts on the lesson?
To get you thinking I brought a list of synonyms for the word “licentiousness” (the word the lesson uses to describe the opposite of legalism). The dictionary describes “licentiousness” as: lacking legal or moral restraints; especially: disregarding sexual restraints. However, when we look at some of the possible synonyms for this word we found more encompassing definitions:
The list is just too big to simply define the opposite of Legalism as lack of morals. That would get us all “off-the hook” way too easily.
How does this freedom in Christ look like to you?
If we are not to be concerned with laws and rules of “what to do” and “what NOT to do”, how shall we live our Freedom in Christ?
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