Skip to main content

True Freedom is Not

Cicero said freedom was the power to live as one wishes. I have to challenge that idea a bit today, though. Freedom - true freedom - is not the ability to live as you wish - allowing every whim and fancy of your flesh to rule your life. Freedom is actually living within boundaries - knowing truth and allowing that truth to change how you make choices and what you allow as a response from within your being. Freedom involves the soulish parts of man, but it also is intensely founded on where our spirit man is anchored. If we have never said 'yes' to Jesus, allowing his freedom to be our true anchor, we are likely still living mostly soulish lives - self-centered, self-motivated, and self-fulfilling. We want what we want and we go after it. Cicero would have said we allow whatever force within us to direct our paths - Jesus says we deny self and listen to his voice, conducting our lives within a framework of goodness and grace.

That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. (Romans 6:12-14)

Sin has a way of telling us there is no real freedom within boundaries, but I would like to challenge that a bit. Freedom doesn't mean an absence of boundaries - in fact, it is best found within the boundaries God establishes in his Word because there is no greater respecter of persons than God himself. If we have been inclined to follow our own desires and fulfill our own wishes in life, we might have realized we don't do a great job of 'respecting' ourselves. In fact, we do a whole of unwise things that don't really reveal a great deal of respect for who we are and what we can be. While living without rules seems like it might just be freedom, it isn't. Imagine a whole group of a hundred people in various cars or trucks of their choosing, all driving the freeway or highway around your home. Now, imagine no speed limits, no dividing lines, and no limitations on which way the traffic is to flow. Is that safe? No, the lines divide so as to give each a safe passage; the limits on speed have been calculated to allow for a good flow of traffic and safe transitions; and the traffic flow divided one way for those lanes is there to get us safely to our destination. Follow the rules and there is safety - live outside of them and there will be chaos.

So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom! (vs. 15-18)

Some acts destroy freedom, don't they? Think of the last truly selfish thing you did and ask yourself what that action really demonstrated. It is likely you might realize that action left others out, excluding them from the joy of the experience. It is also likely you might realize that one selfish action led to another and another until all the actions of the day or week were really self-focused. In the end, your 'desires' were fulfilled, but what about those around you? What impact did those actions have on others? If you don't think they impacted anyone else but yourself, think again. Freedom to act as we want never affects us alone - there is always someone else observing those actions and they are impacted by our choices. We set the example that it is okay to indulge self, allowing our actions to be dictated by whatever our emotions (feelings) demand. I have to ask a very telling question here - how many times have we 'acted' upon our desires only to feel disgusted by what we did or didn't do? It is likely our emotional actions left us feeling a little down on ourselves. Why? We realized doing 'what we wanted' didn't really produce the results we desired. 

Freedom isn't really living as we want, but rather living within the openness of God's grace and goodness. There are tons of things we can pursue in life, but not all of them will lead into the 'wideness' of God's goodness and grace. When those things we pursue are selfish in nature, they lead away from that 'wideness'. We may not think it will, but trust one who has engaged in many a selfish action in this lifetime - it doesn't really compute to true freedom. It actually makes you feel a little 'bound' and 'captive'. Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

A brilliant display indeed

Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,

Do me a favor

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Philippians 2:1-4) Has God's love made ANY difference in your life? What is that difference? Most of us will likely say that our lives were changed for the good, while others will say there was a dramatic change. Some left behind lifestyles marked by all manner of outward sin - like drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, or even thievery. There are many that will admit the things they left behind were just a bit subtler - what we can call inward sin - things like jealousy,