What It Means to Be Free
Freedom is something we Americans cherish. Indeed, we are a nation founded on the very notion that people should be free to pursue their own dreams, provided they don’t violate others in the process of realizing them. As long as we are talking about striving to better ourselves in hopes of serving others, this is well and good. (Unfortunately in our day, freedom has degenerated to mean the ability to do what I want to do with my body when I want to do it, especially as that pertains to sex.)
But the problem is when people define freedom in the Scriptures along those same lines. Freedom in the Bible has nothing to do with “self-actualization,” living one’s dream, and certainly not the hedonistic whims of fulfilling one’s every passion. Jesus defines freedom for us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” So here we understand that freedom in the Scriptures is freedom from sin that is given us by the Son. And how does this freedom come about? Well, Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This only comes by being in relationship to Jesus Christ by saving faith – believing in him. Please understand: We do not mean just believing he lived and died or even rose again, but a true, heartfelt reliance upon and clinging unto him. Knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord defines us; it is not just something that is an add-on to our lives.
And as believers who know him and desire to experience the freedom which only really matters – freedom from sin – we must abide in his word. His word must become our meat and our drink; it must be in our hearts at all times. We must come to the place that we are thinking about his word even when we’re not thinking about it. His word becomes the very center of our lives out of which we live. And this then becomes our true liberation and our freedom. (See John 15 for more about “abiding in him.”)
It’s amusing what people think about heaven – be it angels on clouds or mountains or beaches. Generally, people see heaven as what they want to see it, doing what they want to do when they want to do it. That’s hell. Heaven is freedom from sin, being the people we were supposed to be before we fell, beholding the glory of the Lord. “Better to be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).