Public Square

The True Meaning of Freedom & How to Defend It

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Freedom is the last thing that should be taken for granted.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this week, take a few minutes to reflect on the true meaning of freedom—both freedom in Christ and the outer freedom in society. Does the spiritual freedom we have in Christ relate to the outer freedom we all experience in the world around us? Let’s explore that.

Because of the Fall, we have all experienced a lack of freedom in the bondage to sin. True freedom necessitates the Spirit’s work to change our hearts and redirect our lives, which would otherwise give way to entropy. Left to ourselves, we tend to be disorderly, experience a loss of spiritual life, and see a decline in vitality.

However, Christ’s redemption of our lives allows us to be more and more who we are created to be. If we continue in his words, we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free (Jn. 8:32 ESV). If Jesus makes you free, “you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36 ESV).

However, the Bible’s vision of an ideal state of living includes more than this inner freedom. Christ has set us free, and we need to live accordingly because God is working out good things through us—including the freedom and flourishing of others.

Our inner freedom should lead us to outer freedom. For this reason, political, economic, and religious freedoms should not be taken for granted, either.

Biblical Freedom in the Old Testament

God’s people were slaves in Egypt for four hundred years. God heard their prayers and raised up Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go.” God demonstrated his power time and again.

First, there were ten plagues. Then, he parted the Red Sea just as the situation seemed hopeless, with his people stuck between Migdol and the sea, with the Egyptian armies bearing down on them. When they arrived on the other side, they celebrated. Miriam and the other women danced and threw dust in the air. They were free.

Yet they still had to face time in the wilderness, times of rebellion from God’s ways, the giving of the Law, and conquering the Promised Land. Freedom from outer bondage at the Exodus led to the quest for inner freedom. It is not enough to have one without the other.

Inner & Outer Freedom Today

The same is true today. In America particularly, freedom should not be taken for granted. We fought for our freedom, and it has been an American cornerstone ever since the Revolution.

  • The Declaration of Independence notes that certain “inalienable rights” include “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Patrick Henry famously said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
  • The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly are all guaranteed. These freedoms are still upheld, but without vigilance there is always the prospect of lawmakers, executive orders, and the courts taking away some of those freedoms we have assumed will always be there.

Outer, political threats are not the only ones with the potential to erode our freedom. There are also philosophical and moral threats as well.

As relativism increasingly encroaches on our society, the notion of objective truth has been discarded by many. Reality is what you want it to be. Instead of conforming their desires to the truth, many would rather conform “truth” to their desires. With nothing any longer inalienable (or objective), what will become of life and liberty?

We, as believers, need to go back to the source—the Bible—and look anew at the biblical view of freedom. This is why I wrote Free Indeed, in order to look at the biblical view of freedom in the Old and New Testaments. I discovered that concepts like political, economic, and religious freedom, what Americans celebrate on days like the Fourth of July, are grounded in the Bible.

The Call to Preserve Freedom for All

Although many seek freedom of some sort, the biblical view of freedom is distinctive. The Bible points toward inner and outer freedom as an ideal state.

Although God has ordained government, the Bible limits its function and repeatedly warns about government taking over more of our lives and freedoms. When human power becomes too concentrated, there is always the real danger that sin will corrupt and lead to disastrous results.

If we believe in the Bible, we should promote its principles. That belief will lead us to desire inner and outer freedom for ourselves and others. It will also lead us toward political, economic, and religious freedom.

We need to ponder these truths in the perilous times in which we live. If we don’t consider and act on these truths, we may find our freedoms and those of our children increasingly eroded. We may soon be at a point where we need to stand up or lose our freedoms.

If we believe that biblical values can lead to a flourishing society, we need to promote these truths and vote for people that advocate similar values. That means being informed, speaking up when necessary, voting our conscience, and continuing to advocate for freedom in political, economic, and religious spheres.

All these things begin with understanding the biblical view of freedom and living life in light of the amazing truth that in Christ, we are free indeed.

Editor’s note: On “Flashback Friday,” we take a look at some of IFWE’s former posts that are worth revisiting. This post was previously published on July 3, 2019.

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