Summary: The word freedom normall does not mean free...What about Christian freedom?
What is Christian freedom?
As Americans we claim to live in a “free country. We hear about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion. We claim to believe that we are free to do whatever we want as long as we don’t break any laws, pay our taxes and don’t hurt other people. We generally understand that our freedom and rights are unlimited right up to the tip of another person’s nose.
So generally speaking we accept limitations on our freedom as being acceptable and a way of getting along in a free society.
The dictionary defines freedom as:
• the condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints
• exemption: immunity from an obligation or duty
-- The dictionary definition does not seem to have the limits that we have when we define our freedom as Americans. So, I am led to wonder about the meaning of the word freedom. If we call how we live and act as good citizens’ freedom then we need to change the definition in the dictionary to match what the word means…limited freedom?
That general idea led me to ask the question, What is Christian freedom?
Is it limited by something? Does it require self restraint?
We are in the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions….when we do we are making a goal to make changes in our lives for something better. I found a list of the top resolutions:
Drink Less Alcohol
More time with family
Personally I don’t really make resolutions because I tend to fail and get discouraged. As I look at this list I realized that I am not alone in identifying areas of improvement in my life.
In a way these resolutions are an acknowledgement to something we are enslaved too. When we do make a resolution, a decision, we are saying that there are things in our lives we prefer to change.
The process of making resolutions indicates an acknowledgement of a need and the goal to change habits we don’t like. They identify a need to improve elements of a person’s life and health.
The list I read is not and inclusive list of all the things that we can be made slaves to. In one odd detail, many if not most of the things that enslave us are not themselves sinful. It is only our desire and focus on the object, or action that make it inappropriate.
The question for this morning is “What are we enslaved too….what do we give our freedom, away too.
Matthew 6:24 describes a problem with two masters, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
That is just a relationship between two masters, in today’s culture there is a chance that our lives are ruled and controlled by many masters. Social calendar, financial goals, family needs and the list could go on for quiet a while.
Our scripture reading says it like this, “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”
Paul is writing to believers and he is starting a long discussion related to the process of sanctification. Basically, the process of God helping us to achiever/receive perfection. This passage is pointing to the need to make progress.
Let’s be clear about this, this passage has no value to non believers. They are bound to slavery to sin. This passage is for believers. The only difference between believers and non believers is choice. Because of the act of Jesus Christ on the behalf of believers our slavery is broken and we have a choice.
We have freedom….freedom to do what?
Folks, I suggest that we are all a little bit afraid of real freedom. We don’t know what to do or how to act when the bondage to sin is broken. Total freedom leaves us without a connection to a direction.
According to Jesus in John 8:32 , “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
The word free in our translation of the Bible is more accurately translated as “libration from bondage.”
Because of our faith in Jesus Christ we have been set free from slavery to Sin and it is even bigger than that….Free means free. We have the freedom to choose our master.
When Paul describes offering to obey someone, something, he is telling us that we become slaves to what ever we choose to obey.
We can’t handle real freedom and ultimately we will make a choice. If we give in to sin, we are slaves of sin. If we submit to God and serve Him we become His slaves.