I was seven, may be eight years old, and I was pedaling my Schwinn with its awesome banana seat down the alley, behind our house, on 10th Street in Milwaukee. The sky was just beginning to darken on this warm summer evening, and I would need to be home soon. I was alone and still to this day, I remember the feeling, the exhilaration, of daring to let go of the handle bars. I had seen so many of the older kids riding with no hands and I wanted to be that grown up, that free. So with no one there to tell me differently, I let curiosity lead me down a very painful path.
Freedom doesn’t always feel like what we think it should.
This week we celebrate the freedom that we have as Americans. We’re not only free from English rule but our Constitution and Bill of Rights give us, as citizens, more freedoms than most any other country. None of which would be realized without the brave men and women who protect those freedoms for us. Freedom isn’t free.
It seems in the church today, freedom is somewhat misunderstood. Many think of their freedom in Christ as somehow more important than love, the love we’re commanded to have for God and for others. When Jesus tells us the truth will set us free, this certainly isn’t freedom to do whatever we choose, especially at the expense of another. This is very clear in scripture.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” – Galatians 5:13
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” – 1 Corinthians 8:9
No, the freedom our King purchased for us is so much better, so much more valuable. It is definitely something to be celebrated. Yet, this freedom comes with the weight of responsibility.
First, our freedom in Christ is in reality freedom from the law that leads to death.
You know how when I say to you, don’t think about pink elephants, it basically becomes all you can think about? Or if I yell to someone running past me, don’t fall, suddenly all they can do is focus on trying not to fall, until they do. That is what the law does to us, it makes us focus on the wrong thing. This is why Paul says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8”
It is impossible to be under the law and under grace at the same time.
We’ve also been given freedom from our past.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 cor 5:17
In fact, the past is not even ours, the price that Jesus paid for it was more than enough. We have no rights to it. We, like Lot’s wife, are told to never look back. That person you were is no longer alive, let the dead bury the dead. Focusing on the past causes us to be separated from the love God has for us.
Look carefully at these two verses for proof –
1 Cor 3:22,23 – whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
Romans 8:38,39 – “ For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The past isn’t listed in either verse, and I think that’s very important. It’s no longer ours and it causes harm to try to hang onto it. Freedom demands that we step into our God given identity.
And finally He bought for us with His blood, freedom from sin.
Those who are not in Christ are bound to sin, bound by sin. But we are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:6 – “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”
Insecurity, rejection, pride, worry, shame, fear, and guilt are catalysts to much of the sin in our life. But what we may not realize is that they are also sin themselves. Sin – let’s get this through our heads once and for all – sin is anything that is not of God. Sin is everything that is not of the perfect will of God.
Freedom brings with it the command to drop our baggage at the foot of the cross.
Yes, he who the Son sets free is fully free.
The depths of the good news of Christ has hardly been accessed, most have only scratched the surface. To celebrate our freedom we have to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to throw ourselves fully upon it. His love will never fail us. It is our right and our duty to walk in this blood-bought freedom. He paid the ultimate price to purchase it for us.
Freedom is never free.