How free do you feel? A recent study showed that, “Americans’ feeling of freedom is declining. In 2006, 91% of Americans were satisfied with the freedom in their lives. Today, it’s 75%” (Gallup, 2017). It proves that efforts to maximize self-fulfillment, unlimited choice, and absolute autonomy are not yielding the desired results.
We may have access to all the freedoms in the world, but we are not free. If our definition of freedom—the right to do whatever we want, say whatever we want, condemn whenever we want, behave however we want and do these things whenever and however we choose without fear of a righteous and holy God—has resulted in a feeling less than freedom, then we must ask the question, what is freedom?
The Bible teaches that freedom is not found in limitless choices and boundaries, but in the single choice of accepting Jesus Christ.
What is Freedom?
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30 ESV). Jesus’ invitation sounds like anything but an invitation to freedom, but He is offering the ultimate freedom.
A yoke is a heavy, curved piece of wood that fits over the shoulders of a pair of oxen—one a big, strong animal experienced in the ways of farming and the other a younger, weaker, inexperienced ox. The weight of the yoke would crush the smaller ox, so he is given none of its weight. The bigger ox carries all the weight, sets the pace and direction, and does all the work. The smaller ox is freed up to learn and grow within the constraints of the yoke.
Imagine someone seeing all the burdens and fears you are carrying and offering to carry them for you—not for a little while but forever. Imagine being released from the cycle of addiction to work, sex, drugs, approval and control. Imagine being able to stop continually returning to the very sin you hate. This is the freedom Jesus offers you.
Galatians 5:1 ESV says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Jesus purchased His children out of the clutches of slavery so they could live a life of freedom. The warning was not to be careful of desiring too much freedom. Rather, the warning was to not choose slavery over the freedom Christ purchased by His blood. If we are not careful, we will mistake true freedom that comes only from Jesus Christ for the false narrative that seeking our own ways and selfish desires is freedom.
Walk in Freedom
The world touts the message that freedom is found apart from God. But doing whatever you want, whenever you want and however you want is simply another form of slavery. We turn something God intended for our good into something that owns and controls us. In essence, we become enslaved to the very things we thought would free us. When we become a son or daughter of the Most High King, nothing has the power to make us slaves again.
Once saved, our eternal reality shifts and we need to strive to live as free people. It’s a lot like going through a detox from sugar. Learning to choose what is good for us, when we are in the habit of choosing what feels best, is difficult. Paul calls this process renewing of the mind. He writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV). Through the power and help of the Holy Spirit, we are able to unlearn the lies, untangle ourselves from the false freedoms and submit ourselves to the yoke of true freedom.
To walk in freedom is to submit our minds and hearts to the truth of God’s Word, to choose Christ above all other things and to dwell in the presence of God. We cannot practice freedom apart from the presence of God. In the presence of His Word, He renews our minds and teaches our hearts to delight in Him.
Jesus came to earth to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives. (Isaiah 61:1) The good news of the Gospel—you have been saved by grace—is the secret to eternal freedom.
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