In Christian circles, we often hear about being free in Christ and that we are no longer slaves but are completely free. All of that is well and good but it’s being taken too far. Let me explain.
Galatians 5:1 admonishes us to no longer submit to being slaves: “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1 HCSB
And in 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Yet again in John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”
There is an important aspect to this that is missing in many Christian churches. If you read the context of these verses, you will see that freedom doesn’t mean we are free to do whatever we want as is expounded by many mainline Christian churches
If we read these in context, we see a very different story. In Galatians 5, if you read verse 2, he gives the context of the statement: “Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get yourself circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. Again, I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised, that he is obligated to keep the entire law. You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace.” In other words, we are not saved by circumcision. This is not to say that we are not to be circumcised. That’s not what he’s saying at all. In fact, if you read in Acts 16: 1-2, Paul still circumcises Timothy as a requirement of the law. If circumcision was no longer necessary, Paul would not have done that. In fact, Paul didn’t even circumcise Titus because there were some who were trying to discredit the ministry by saying that Gentiles needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. (Galatians 2).
Back to John 8 (where Jesus says “Therefore if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”), in verse 34, Jesus gives the context of the statement: “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” clarifying that our freedom is from sin and the curse of sin.
2 Corinthians 3 (“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”) continues on in the context of an understanding of the covenant is revealed when the veil over your heart is removed by the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 16). In that way, the veil being removed, is where your freedom lies. We are now capable of understanding the Law as it was meant to be understood now that the Holy Spirit resides in us.
It is in these contexts that we understand what freedom is really all about. Freedom comes when the Holy Spirit resides in you and enables you to understand Scripture. You are enabled to understand that salvation is by faith alone and not by works. Since we know we are saved by faith, we are now free to follow God’s Law without fear of punishment since we cannot follow it fully in our own flesh.
The challenge we see today is that many mainline Christian churches teach against what Jesus said. They teach that the law is no longer relevant to us. Yeshua said in Matthew 5 that the Law will not pass away until Heaven and Earth pass away (which hasn’t happened yet) and that if anyone teaches that the law has passed away or disregards one of the least commands in the Torah that they will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. It by no means says that you are not saved if you go against the Mosaic Law but if you do, your reward will be diminished.
This is where freedom comes in. As I said a moment ago, you are now free to obey God’s law without fear of punishment or fear of not being perfect. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. In fact, God’s grace covers us when we stumble as believers in Yeshua (Jesus). Because we are covered by the blood of Jesus, God offers grace to us when we fail. That’s what grace is for. You see, we are still human in our flesh and are not capable of following God’s law for our salvation. The requirements are too great. Instead, however, Jesus told us many times that we are saved by our faith in Him but not by the works that we do.
“So now that we are free, why are you saying we are slaves?” Great question! James stated that he “is a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus.” James 1:1. Paul stated in Titus 1 that he was a slave of God and again in Romans 1 that he was a slave of Christ. Jude did the same in Jude 1:1.
In Revelation 1:1, John referred to us as God’s slaves. Paul stated in 2 Timothy 2 that as God’s slaves we must not quarrel. In 2 Peter 1:1, Peter referred to himself as a slave.
You see we are either a slave to sin or a slave to God. Everyone is a slave to something. You have a choice to make: Will you serve God or will you serve your flesh, sin, the world? It’s up to you what you decide to do with your life. God will not force you. He will draw you, which is what He, in fact, is doing right now as you read this. He is calling you back to Himself.
He is a jealous God and wants you all to Himself. Isn’t that awesome? God who created everything that is wants to have a relationship with you and to know you and to walk through life with you. He wants you to help Him spread the Good News of Jesus. Will you accept that responsibility and become a slave to God or will you continue on in your own world and ignore His call right now? The choice is yours.