What is Freedom?

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:31-36

Everybody loves freedom. Everybody wants it. At least, that is a common assumption. But a lot of questions need to be answered. For example: What is freedom exactly, and can it be accurately defined? Is freedom the same as democracy? Is freedom the right to do anything I want – regardless of the impact on anyone else? What really is freedom? 

We hear the word spoken often in our world, most people seem to make their decisions based on freedom. Nearly every political faction says it is for freedom, yet they disagree on the particulars. Just what is freedom, anyway? The dictionary defines freedom as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved, and the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken. Is this really what freedom is? Is it all about our physical state or is there more to freedom? 

When I think of freedom and our country my mind goes to the most familiar speech that was delivered at the Virginia Convention in 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. “Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry evidently placed a high value on freedom and I believe so should we! But friend, there is more to freedom than simply civil laws protecting such. There are some freedoms that civil law cannot give and armies cannot secure. We have to look elsewhere for certain freedoms, and they are extremely important ones. Freedom from sin, freedom from sin’s eternal consequences, freedom from hopelessness and despair, and ultimately, freedom from death.

I work daily with men who are imprisoned physically but are some of the most free men that I know! Though bars surround them, they have found what it means to be free in Christ! This is true freedom! Jesus talked often about this freedom when he walked this earth. In John 8 Jesus told the Jews “know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” What did Jesus mean? In the context of Jesus’ promise to “know the truth and the truth shall make you free” is an objection of some who heard Him. They countered that they had never been enslaved to anyone. Besides being historically inaccurate (they had, indeed, served as slaves in Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and many Jews were slaves in Rome as they spoke), they were missing the point. Jesus explained He was talking about their being enslaved to sin.

There was pride and pretentiousness; hypocrisy and greed; hatred and selfishness. They held to outward religious form, self glory and human tradition, often setting aside God’s commandment in favor of their traditions. They were self-righteous and often hard-hearted. Jesus came to free them from such, and us as well. He was the only One who could do so. We could not free ourselves, neither could any other force in heaven or on earth. It had to be Jesus. In Him we are set free! Freedom is not a physical liberty you may have but to be free from sin, hopelessness, despair and death. Freedom is knowing that in Christ Jesus, he has set us free and completely liberated us from the clutches of sin. We no longer need to live under the bondage of sin and religion. Friend may we today claim the freedom we have in Christ and stand firm in it. Standing firm in the freedom of Christ, brings wholeness and liberty to our lives.  

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