Our culture is built upon a common presupposition that we are free individuals. We believe that each one of us, holding certain unalienable rights, have the freedom to pursue our own happiness. Sounds good. Everyone wants to be free. No one wants to be told what to do, when to do it, or how it should be done. At least no one raised as a red-blooded American, that is.
But, how free are we? Do we really have the freedom to do ANYTHING we want to do that would make us happy? One man’s happiness is another man’s disgust. If taking your car made me happy, could I do it? If hurting your child made me happy, would I be free to do it? So, how free are we?
When the apostle Paul started preaching a gospel of the Kingdom of God that was separate from the Law of Moses, people began to experience a freedom that they had never known before. No longer were they bound to follow excruciatingly particular rituals of cleansing and diet. They were given freedom in the Spirit of God. The law of Jesus and freedom in the Spirit was the new order of the Kingdom of God.
As can be expected, some people took this new-found freedom and ran wild with it. Due to this emerging “libertine” attitude within the church, Paul had to address the question, “what is freedom?”
Read the following passages to hear how Paul dealt with the issue of freedom in Christ as it relates to specific issues of morality and conduct in the church.
1 Corinthians 6:12
1 Corinthians 8:9
1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31-11:1
According to these passages, what is the definition of freedom? What is the law that the follower of Christ is bound to obey?
The truth about true freedom is that it, when properly understood, leads to a deeper and more fundamental law. God’s law. God is love and goodness. God’s MO is to love others and to put the needs of others above His own. This is ultimately demonstrated in His self-sacrificing act of Jesus’ death on the cross for the atonement of sin. If our hearts have been conformed to the mind of Christ and our Spirits are in step with the Holy Spirit, then the thought, “I can indulge myself because I have the freedom to do so,” just isn’t present. Our lenses have been changed to see the world, not as our oyster, available for our own exploits, but as a place in which we can be administrators of God’s grace, mercy, hope, and love. So, true freedom is not freedom to sin; it is freedom from sinful and selfish attitudes, which in turn binds us, not out of obligation but out of transformation, to the deeper law of selfless love. May we live in the freedom of God’s Spirit this week.