Summary: Though freedom is often regarded as throwing off the restraints of religion, true freedom comes from obeying the scriptures.
JANUARY 14, 2007
I read some real life warnings on products. The first one was found on a snow sled. It warned: “Beware: sled may develop high speed under certain snow conditions.” I wonder if that warning was for ignorant Floridian kids who have never seen snow. I mean when I was a kid we were looking for those “certain snow conditions” so that we could tear down the hills around Lansing. That was a boys dream—not a legal nightmare.
On a package of fishing lure was attached the warning: “harmful is swallowed.” Now that strikes me funny! Is that written to warn fish in the pond? Or can you imagine a fisherman in a boat getting hungry. He has been out so long on the water that he is starved. He looks down at the brightly colored lure and thinks: “that looks tasty.” He is about ready to pop that puppy in his mouth when he sees the warning label. I’m just not sure who they are warning.
A carpenter’s router carries a warning, “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.” I wonder if Sears has had too many dentists in their tool isle wondering if they could buy their routers instead of expensive dental equipment.
One company sells those cardboard sunshields used to keep the hot sun off car dashboards. One of their legal eagles is really concerned that someone might forget to remove their product before heading onto the highway. So the shield carries the warning, “Do not drive with sunshield in place.” Who could forget to remove the obstruction?
Life is full of warnings. It seems like someone is always telling us what we can’t do. Some think that is the essence of Christianity. God sits up in heaven on his throne issuing rules like lawyers. He commands, “Don’t do this! Don’t do that! And don’t you dare have any fun!”
Religion for many becomes drudgery instead of freedom. What a tragedy! You see God is all about freedom. Only with him can we experience real freedom.
I invite you to consider these two statements in Psalm 119.
“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (v. 32, NIV)
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” (v. 45, NIV)
Are You Free Yet?
These two statements connect freedom and the Word. One says because we are free we are able to keep the commands of God. The other says that since we seek out the precepts of the scriptures we are able to live in freedom. Both verses say freedom and the Word go hand in hand.
Does that sound like your life? As a college student I encountered the Lord in a powerful way. My life was changed. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly tried to live out the Scriptures. In 1975 I enrolled in Asbury Seminary. One of the guys in the dorm observed that I was different. He said you seem to be really free.
I don’t know if he was right or not, but I know that I have not always experienced freedom in Christ. In fact, I think I have often slipped into living to please others and to conform to religious expectations. Sound familiar?
Often our culture defines freedom as being loosed from the shackles of religion. We talk of “free thinkers.” The Catholic Encyclopedia defines them as “those who, abandoning the religious truths and moral dictates of the Christian Revelation, and accepting no dogmatic teaching on the ground of authority, base their beliefs on the unfettered findings of reason alone.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06258b.htm) Free thinkers usually reject the teachings of scripture and choose their own beliefs. They consider themselves free.
Young people often consider the Bible as restrictive. If they were to follow it they wouldn’t be free to do what their friends do.
But is freedom from God and the Word really freedom? No! It is really slavery. Let’s look at John 8:31-38 to contrast true freedom from the actual slavery of rejecting God’s word.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father." NIV