What does God say about freedom?
Merriam-Webster defines freedom as: “the quality or state of being free: such as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action; liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another; the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken answered with freedom.”
Freedom is at the heart of God’s creation because His love demands the freedom He allows us. But what does His freedom look like? 1 Pet 2:15-17, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” This life is about choosing, and God has given us the freedom to choose either good or evil. God shows us what good looks like, so we can use our freedom to lead people to Him, thus doing our part in building His Kingdom. His Kingdom will be a place where everyone will feel safe, loved, peaceful and accepted, Rev 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” This is possible because everyone there will have chosen to live with God. And, God only wants to live with those who wish to live with Him. If we refuse to follow His Will in this life, He will not subject us to an eternity of it. God is gentle and never uses force. If He forced us, we would only infect heaven and lead everyone back to a chaotic world, like the one we now live in.
He wants us to understand, we are all slaves, either to God’s love or to the sin that leads us away from Him, Rom 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” We cannot have both.
The word ‘sin’ has been misused throughout history, God tells us 'sin' is anything that leads us away from Him, Is 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” and 1 Jn 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Once we accept Jesus as our savior, we are reborn in love with Him and His Will, because He first loved us, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” We learn that obedience unto righteousness is for our welfare, not His. We no longer 'sin,' but when we do something that would lead us away from God, we recognize it and repent to not repeat it. It is this repenting that works to transform us, a process God calls sanctification, 2 Thes 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” If we do not believe the Truth, we will not follow the process of sanctification, and we will not repent. Instead, we will be stuck in the cycle of sin and separation from God.
Some people try to limit the freedoms of other people, but not God. He gives us total freedom to live this life without restrictions, even when we are going to harm ourselves, or others, or limit another person’s freedom. He can do this because He knows this life is short, and those hurt by our actions can still choose to spend eternity with Him. Paul and Silas demonstrated this freedom when they joyfully sang in prison, Acts 16:25, "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." It was a choice Paul and Silas made because they believed in the eternity God has promised. No amount of suffering in this life could dim the light of the eternity awaiting those of us who choose Jesus, Rom 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” He pursues us daily, generously offering to reveal His glory. Ignoring the Bible and the Truth within leads us away from His glory and eternity.
Before we know God, we willingly submit to the yoke of slavery, our addictions drive us to do things we know, deep in our souls, will surely have harmful long-term effects. Like the drug, we were introduced to that gave us a most pleasant feeling and ultimately led to the destruction of our lives. Or, the cigarettes we first tried, in an attempt to achieve the appearance of cool, which eventually lead us to addiction and death. My mother died of lung cancer, and even after being diagnosed, could not stop smoking. This is how addictions work; we are not able to walk away from them on our own. We need help to free ourselves from them.
Freeing ourselves from an addiction, once we have submitted to it, is almost impossible and death seems the only way out, Gal 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” but, God has provided a way out, Jesus. Choosing to ignore Jesus is a form of suicide, in this life and/or the next. God defines freedom as lives without bondage to anyone or anything, other than Him, Heb 2:14-15, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” We can give up our freedom in this life and commit suicide, or we can invest the time we have been given to produce the fruit, which leads others to Jesus. Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death and the bondage it creates, 2 Tim 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” He gave us wonderful minds, so we could learn to accept His work on the cross, Rom 6:22, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” and experience eternal joy.
Jn 8:31-32, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” How can we be both free and slaves to His love? Rom 8:1-2, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Apparently, we choose to willingly walk after the Spirit, not the flesh, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” God gives us the strength to walk away from anything that would harm us or another person, 1 Cor 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” and 1 Cor 8:9, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” Thus, we are no longer stumbling blocks but have become slaves unto righteousness, rather than the selfishness of this world.
The devil tempts us daily. When we follow Jesus, He leads us away from the devil’s temptations, Rom 8:15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” The devil will do anything to separate us from God’s love, including the use of false preachers to twist the truth, hoping they can break our bond of faith, 2 Pet 2:1-3, 9, 18-19, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not…The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished…For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”
Some of those who have willingly given themselves as slaves to the flesh will preach freedom, but they only want us to follow them into slavery. "Misery loves company." Just as God has called us to use His love to lead others to Him, the devil calls his slaves to lead others away from God through disobedience to their own misery and destruction. If we want to know who is calling us toward God and who is trying to separate us from God, we need only look to their fruit, Matt 7:20-23, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” God has warned us because He wants us to choose eternity with Him over the devil’s lies, which lead us to death. He came to die on the cross to give us this choice, Is 53:5-6, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Dear Jesus, teach me to live the freedom you purchased for me on the cross! Freedom from sin and selfishness, fear, and shame. Amen. Jn 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
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