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“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

FREEDOM IS ONE OF THE PRIME BENEFITS OF THE GOSPEL. In a world characterized by rebellion against God, we find ourselves fettered and frustrated by sin. But we can be delivered from this slavery. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Yet freedom is often misunderstood. The very essence of sin is the attitude which says, “I do not wish to do anyone’s will but my own. I wish to be free of any limitations, so that I can do as I please.” And when we first hear about the gospel of Christ, we may see it as a ticket to this kind of freedom. No longer will we be bound by the petty rules of “legalism.” We will be free!

But ponder these words by Charles Kingsley: “There are two freedoms: the false, where man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.” True freedom is not the absence of any limits at all; it is being governed by the wisdom of God — within limits that help us to do what is right.

What Adam and Eve found was that throwing off the restrictions of God’s law did not enable them to enjoy the “good life,” as they had been led to believe. Contrary to the tempter’s lie, they discovered that God had been telling the truth in the first place: outside of His will, human life leads, in the end, to nothing but death.

After the establishment of Christ’s church in the first century, there began to be those who taught that what one does in the flesh is of no consequence to the spirit. Christians should pursue “freedom” and disregard the old-fashioned precepts of right and wrong. But these advocates of “liberty” were lying, just as the tempter had been lying back in the Garden of Eden. And Peter called them out when he said, “For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:18,19).

Eric Hoffer said, “The best test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.” If that is true politically, it’s also true spiritually. We’d do well to listen.

“Christianity promises to make men free; it never promises to make them independent” (William Ralph Inge).

Gary Henry — +

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