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Freedom in the Bible
Spiritual Freedom: Man's Greatest Need
You cannot study the history of the United States for long without encountering the idea of freedom. With most of history filled with monarchy's and dictatorships across the world, this wonderful idea that man can and should govern himself is quite rare indeed. But there is a deeper freedom that is even more rare. That is being spiritually free. And I would argue that this is the cornerstone of all true freedom . Without it man cannot truly be called free.
I. Jesus on Freedom
Our Lord got into a conversation with what appears to be some rather nominal disciples about this very subject and this is what Scripture records:
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him: "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Then they answered Him, "We are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how do you say, you shall be made free." Jesus said to them: "Truly, Truly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant does not abide in the house forever: but the Son abides forever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:31-36).
Apparently these disciples had forgotten their history of slavery in Egypt and the fact that other empires took over the world after that. Also, at the moment that they were having this conversation with the Savior, they were under Roman rule. But Jesus doesn't mention their obvious error. Instead He points them to their ultimate slavery to sin. Someone once said that man's greatest need is to know what is his greatest need. And that is what Jesus was trying to point these disciples toward.
II. You've Got to Serve Somebody
Bob Dylan wrote a song a few years ago that said it well. He said:
"You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody. Well it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord but you're gonna have to serve somebody."
The truth is that man was created in the image of God to love, serve and have a relationship with Him. He is only truly free when that relationship is intact. When man chooses to be "free" from that relationship, he doesn't choose to be self-governing. He chooses to be a slave to his sin nature. Man without God is not free. He is enslaved to sin.
Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior are in that tangled web of sin and can never get out on their own. When Jesus Christ comes into your life, He frees you from sin and puts you back under the only Master you are to be serving. That Master is the God of the universe. And when you are under Him, it frees you up to become all that you were intended to be.
III. Christians Have a Choice
Before salvation, none of us had a choice. We had an old nature that could do nothing good (Romans 3:10-12). The book of Isaiah says that all of our righteousness were as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, we could do nothing to please God, or work our way into His favor. Our lives were tainted with sin. And it held us under its control.
When we become saved, we are new creatures in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17). We have a new nature which is capable of pleasing God and saying no to sin. And we have the Holy Spirit who guides us and gives us the power to obey God and righteousness. That doesn't mean that we will never sin again. The old nature is still present until Christ returns and gives us our new and perfected bodies. What it does mean is that we now have a choice of whom we'll serve.
In Romans 6:13-16 the Apostle Paul tells Christians:
"Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts. And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are salves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"
As we allow the Spirit of God to lead us and guide us through the Word of God, the old habits of the sin nature begin to be replaced by new habits of righteousness and those things which please God. Ultimately we become more and more like our sinless, perfect, Savior. But we must first desire to allow the Lord to change us. God doesn't force us to change.
As we look at true freedom, it becomes abundantly clear that there are really only two main choices in life; to serve God, or to serve sin. The first choice leads to life like it was truly meant to be. It is a choice of spiritual abundance, a relationship with our Creator and one that leads to eternal life. The other leads to spiritual death and all the misery that accompanies it. And at the end, for the unbeliever, it leads to eternal separation from all that is good and holy. In this life you truly do have to serve somebody. The decision is yours. Please choose wisely.