The Male Room
Independence Day – Freedom in Christ!
July is always the month when Americans stop to celebrate freedom and liberties. We have a lot to be thankful for: freedom of speech, freedom of the press (including the Internet), freedom to assemble, freedom of religion, and overall freedom to do whatever you want to do and to become anything you can dream of. These freedoms are not shared by all people in other countries, and we should be careful to never take these freedoms for granted.
In the book of Galatians we find a very profound statement, “It was for freedom that Christ set you free; therefore, keep standing firm, and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Christians enjoy a different kind of “freedom”; one that deals with the spiritual part of our existence but has ramifications for our everyday behaviors and actions. Just as we must be careful to celebrate our political freedoms, we must also be careful not to forget this spiritual freedom.
What did Christ set us free from? First and foremost, He has set us free from the penalty of sin. The Bible talks about “the wages of sin”, which means that there are natural consequences and penalties for sin. We all sin, so you might say we all have a “pay-day” coming some day. The message of the gospel, though, is that Christ paid the penalty of sin with His own blood on the cross. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins …” Even though we all deserve to pay the penalty, Christ has set us free from it.
If you have ever had a large debt forgiven, you know what a relief it is, because the debt is a heavy burden of worry, guilt, and fear. We worry about how we are going to pay it, we feel guilty for ever getting into debt in the first place, and there may be real fear over what is going to happen if the debt is not paid. We may lose our home, our car, our job, or our good name. It can ruin your future!
The freedom that Christ offers addresses all three of these burdens. First worry; I used to believe that getting into heaven was a matter of being “good enough”. In other words, your good deeds need to outweigh your bad deeds. This belief leads to worry. What if I am not good enough? What if I do one really bad thing that outweighs all the good stuff I have done? The problem with this belief is that it is self-centered instead of Christ-centered. I can never be good enough; that is why we need to look away from ourselves and look to Christ for forgiveness. Getting into heaven is not a matter of being good enough; it is a matter of trusting in what Christ did on the cross to take away my penalty! Trusting in Him sets me free from worrying about what is going to happen on that day.
Christ also sets us free from guilt. It is one thing to be forgiven of a debt, but Christ goes further; He abolishes the reason the debt was ever there in the first place. To put it in court terms, He not only declares over us “no penalty”, He also declares us “not guilty”! Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” I know many Christians who still struggle with guilt over the lifestyles they led before their conversion. They say things like, “God could never use someone like me.” Look at the people God has used in the past. All of them had things in their past they wish had never happened, but God did not label them according to their past. He looked at them with mercy and grace and saw them as forgiven through the blood of Christ.
Finally, Christ has set us free from fear. The biggest fear of all may be the fear of death. What is going to happen? Is there any existence after death? Will I be judged for my sins after I die? Those who trust in Christ and His death on the cross need not fear death at all. There is nothing to fear because Christ has set us free from the penalty of sin (punishment). He has set us free from the power of sin (guilt). He will also set us free from the presence of sin! We are promised that when we die, this perishable body shall put on an imperishable one, and this mortal existence will put on immortality. This thought caused the apostle Paul to say, “Death, where is your victory, death, where is your sting … thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corth 15:54-57)
So while you celebrate your freedom as an American citizen this July, also take time to stop and reflect and celebrate your freedom as a Christian. Make a fresh commitment to trust in Him and His sacrifice rather than yourself. As the scripture I quoted says, stand strong in your freedom. Do not let thoughts of self trust, guilt, or fear of death dominate your mind. Tell someone close to you what Christ means to you and what it means to you to truly be free. Most of all live free, because you truly are “free in Christ.”