Summary: If the Son shall make us free, we shall be free indeed.
III. CALLED TO FREEDOM
A. SET FREE - TO SERVE GOD!
It is somewhat ironic that Pharaoh would eventually release the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt that they might go and “serve the LORD” (Exodus 10:24). Pharaoh was not willing for them to take their flocks with them, but Moses argued that they would have to take all their stock “for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God” (Exodus 10:26).
The Apostle Paul argues for a change of servitude: “Having been set free from sin, you became bondmen to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).
B. SET FREE - TO THE TRUEST KIND OF FREEDOM
Paul established the contrast between bondage and freedom using an allegory concerning Hagar and Sarah, and their respective sons (Galatians 4:22). When we are born into this world, we are born into bondage to the corruption of this world. When we are born again, it is into liberty and freedom (Romans 8:21).
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1). Our consciences are set free from the guilt of sin, and our lives released from the tyranny of the law. In this freedom, we must stand fast, and not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
Christians are called to freedom (Galatians 5:13-15). Yet we are not to use our freedom as a pretext to indulge in carnal passions. Instead we are to operate within the context of Christ’s law of love, serving one another rather than seeking service.
C. FREE FROM…
Sin separates us from God. Separation from God is spiritual death. “Dead in our sins” (Ephesians 2:1) is just how we are when we do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As they, consciously or unconsciously, followed the way of evil, they were submitting themselves to “the prince of the power of the air” (also known as the devil), “the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
This is how the world was, and this is how the world is. People delight in sin, and take pleasure in those who corrupt themselves! Such people, left to themselves, are under the condemnation of God. They are “sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), and “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
D. NO LONGER A SLAVE
Onesimus was a slave who had escaped from his Christian master, Philemon. Yet in a beautiful irony, having not ‘made it’ alone in the big city, he found himself at last brought under the direct personal influence of “Paul the prisoner” (Philemon 1:1). Many a runaway has found that, when all else fails, the only true freedom is found in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet when we are called to freedom, it is not to do as we might have hitherto wished. Probably the hardest thing that Onesimus would ever do was to ‘turn himself in’ to his master. The Empire had shown itself ruthless against escaped slaves in the past: but Paul encouraged Philemon to receive Onesimus back no longer as a slave, but as a brother (Philemon 1:16).
The significance of this gesture is seen when we consider what Christ has done for us. Our Saviour says as Paul here says: “If he has wronged you, or owes you anything, put that on my account” (Philemon 1:18)!
We are received into the presence of God as if we were Jesus Himself (cf. Philemon 1:17). The LORD is of holier eyes than to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13): but the Father looks not upon us, but upon the Christ who indwells us, in whose righteousness we are clothed.
E. FREE AT LAST!
Jesus sets the captive free (Luke 4:18), having paid the full price of our redemption. In Him we are free from condemnation, and consequently free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). If the Son thus makes us free, we shall be free indeed (John 8:36).