Today’s holiday presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the biblical view of freedom and its implications for our lives.
Freedom in the Bible begins as inner freedom from bondage to sin that leads us to desire outer freedom for ourselves and others. Inner freedom bears outer implications.
I’ve written elsewhere about the details of freedom in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. What I’m concerned with today is providing a summary of what the biblical view of freedom means for how we live our lives.
Redemption as a Basis for Our Freedom
When thinking about freedom, it’s important to remember that redemption applies to all of life. On a personal level, we are redeemed from sin. On a corporate level, we are also brought into a new community, the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13). But redemption extends beyond the personal and the corporate to the whole cosmos. Acts 3:21 says that God’s ultimate goal is the “restoration of all things.” Creation itself “will also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).
Freedom cannot be limited to inner transformation. Of necessity it must extend to all of life. Jesus not only preached and taught; he also healed peoples’ bodies. People were freed inwardly and outwardly. Where Christ’s freedom is experienced, the natural outworking is towards political, religious, and economic freedom (read more about that here).
It’s no surprise, then, that believers have been on the forefront of freedom movements for the abolition of slavery both past (e.g., William Wilberforce) and present (e.g., International Justice Mission). Many believers have worked to fight for religious freedom nationally and internationally (e.g., Barnabas Fund). We are called to fight against injustice wherever we see it in personal and public life.
Seven Implications of the Biblical View of Freedom
Freedom from the bondage to sin, the Law, death, and lies about reality will inevitably push further and further out till it leads to freedom in all areas of life. Here are seven implications for our lives from this truth.
1. Freedom is not autonomy or doing what you feel like doing without any constraints. In fact, following Christ’s commands frees you to be more of the person God created you to be.
2. Freedom is within the context of Law. We are not under the obedience to the Law as a condition of salvation, but the moral Law and Christ’s commands give us a guide to know how to live and to love.
3. We are truly free when we know the truth about ourselves and the world. This means throwing off the lies and deceptions to which we are so often captive.
4. Salvation is not primarily political liberation (as in some theologies). But God often intervened when his people were oppressed by unjust totalitarian leaders (Exodus and Judges, for example).
5. Inner renewal often leads to outer consequences and renewal of the land.
6. The Bible doesn’t prescribe one type of government but freedom (political, economic, and religious) is consistent with (not contradictory to) the Bible. More on that here.
7. Inner freedom inevitably drives toward outer freedom. You can have political, economic, and religious freedom and still be in bondage to sin. You can have inner freedom in an oppressed situation. But inner and outer freedoms are the most ideal state for human beings (Micah 4:4).
Believers should be the freest to enjoy life and God’s creation, as long as it is within the structure of how God has made us. We are not free from God-ordained obligations, but we are free to live life as God intended it to be lived.