Can you imagine a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp who chose to stay when Soviet forces liberated the camp? Would an inmate in Alcatraz refuse if a boat pulled up and offered him passage to freedom? Would a POW at the Hanoi Hilton stay huddled in his cell when the door opened and freedom awaited?
“Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit to a yoke of slavery. … For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:1, 13).
Set Free to Live Free
Freedom became available for all humanity when Jesus died and later resurrected. He didn’t sacrifice so greatly for our freedom so we could continue to live in bondage. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1 NIV). He set us free to live free! He opened the cell door, liberated the camp, and offered the passage to freedom. Why do some of us not step out of the prison cell darkness and into the light?
D. L. Moody once quoted a former slave woman in the South following the Civil War. “Being a former slave, she was confused about her status and asked, ‘Now is I free, or is I not? When I go to my old master he says I ain’t free, and when I go to my own people they say I is, and I don’t know whether I’m free or not. Some people told me that Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation, but master says he didn’t; he didn’t have any right to.’” (Source)
This enslaved woman needed to learn the same lessons we need to learn as well. Abraham Lincoln defeated his enemy thereby retaining the power to set the woman free; likewise, Jesus Christ defeated His enemy and retained the power to set us free. Her former master told her lies to keep her confused as to her status of freedom. Our former master – the enemy of Jesus Christ – tells us lies as well to keep us from living in our freedom.
We can’t stand firm in our freedom if we crumble every time Satan attacks. We can’t let our former master put the yoke of slavery back on us with his lies.
Free to Love, not Indulge
Here’s the part where many fall apart. The fear is that many who choose to live free will throw off all self-restraint. Morals and standards will disappear as people live free to do whatever they desire.
But freedom is not the absence of responsibility.
Freedom granted by Christ follows His example. He used His freedom to choose sacrificial love – not to satisfy selfish indulgences. We live free to serve others and love them sacrificially – not as an opportunity to satisfy our human desires.