With July 4th around the corner, we are reminded of and humbled by the incredible freedom that we are permitted in this country. Despite this, we often overlook the greatest freedom that we have been given.
As humans, it is our natural inclination to believe that there is greater freedom outside of God’s will than there is within it. We approach The Bible with a rule-book-type attitude, a manual providing instructions as to how we should behave. God is not attempting to conform us into cookie-cutter Christians; in fact, this is one of the biggest misconceptions that we have. There is a reason God made us all different, with different pleasures and different pains. We often fall into the trap of believing that there is a certain way to act and a certain group of people we must surround ourselves with, but what we often fail to recognize is that losing sight of the individual God created us to be can be the first step in losing sight of God Himself. Having said that, this does not mean that we act outside of God’s limits. We should recognize that when we draw near to God, we cannot help but operate in these limits. Psalms 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we pursue God, His desires become our desires, and we can take refuge in that. Freedom should not be mistaken for doing what you want whenever you want.
The only way to gain true freedom is by enslaving ourselves to God:
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6: 16-18
We become slaves to whatever it is that we choose to obey. How can we be both slaves and free? Augustine of Hippo first described the states of man like this:
Without God, we are unable to not sin; therefore we are slaves to sin. With God, we gain the freedom to not sin. This ability to not sin is not available to us without Christ. We have the choice to be free because we choose to be slaves.
Freedom through submission is recognition that our freedom is a product of God’s forgiving mercy and unending grace. Being both enslaved and free is a paradox that can only exist in the realm of God’s glory. We are free only when we live within God’s boundaries. The Bible is a story of God’s glory and the freedom that is available to us when we choose to operate as a part of His body. Enslaving ourselves to God is the only way that we have the freedom to share in His glory. His sacrifice is the reason we are free to not sin. It is a freedom that we don’t deserve, and it is a freedom that is a product of His beautiful grace. It is a life-giving freedom that is truly worth dying for.
I am a slave to the only One who is purely perfect: A God that always knows best, and a God that always does best. Through Christ, I’ve been given freedom, freedom to fight sin and freedom to overcome it. True freedom.