06 Jun Are You Ready For Freedom?
The end of the circuit breaker signifies the beginning to more freedom. This is happy news, as many people are getting restless being cooped up at home, and having our activities and movements restricted. Yet, the question is, are we ready for freedom? No doubt, the taste of freedom is always sweet. There is nothing wrong with loving freedom. However, how we use freedom is very important. Today’s sharing is not just about freedom after circuit breaker measures are gradually lifted, but it is about pursuing the right kind of freedom in life.
The kind of freedom that “does not acknowledge God” can be harmful.
If we do not know how to manage our freedom well, then that freedom may not be sweet after all. And if we are not led by the Holy Spirit in using our freedom, then we will be manipulated by the devil or our sinful nature in exercising our freedom. In fact, the freedom that is not guided by God can be harmful.
Because man has sin.
Our sinful nature makes it hard for us to have self-control, thus it is difficult for us to manage freedom by our own limited power. We often see some people abusing freedom and indulging in their desires (such as surfing the internet, either on dramas or games, or drinking, smoking, shopping, etc., without limits), eventually harming their physical and mental health, and even relationships. When Adam and Eve first sinned, that was because they abused their freedom to do what seemed right in their eyes. In other words, they wished to be god themselves, to freely be the masters of their own lives, without having to obey God. Yet, it led them to a lifetime of pain. They wished to gain freedom but they ended up being bound by sin instead.
Because man is selfish, one person’s freedom can sometimes be the misery or inconvenience of another person.
When sinners pursue their own freedom, they often impose their preferences, values, convenience, etc., on others. Such selfish freedom will only spoil relationships, and on a more serious note, it may even endanger social safety, when people just exercise freedom as they please, without regard for man or God, thus increasing crime rates. This is just like the days of the Judges. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” <Judges 21:25>. We know that the time of the Judges was a dark period for Israel, marked by many sins. When Israel abused their freedom and did as they please, they were disciplined repeatedly by God. In fact, the freedom which is outside of God brings harm to oneself, and it also spoils relationships with others and with God.
Man needs to abide in God then he can enjoy true freedom.
We all love freedom, but if we do not have the wisdom given by God, how can we be sure that what we freely choose is the best? When we cannot hear or when we ignore God’s voice, we will be easily deceived and manipulated by the devil, sin and the world. The truth is, we humans were created to abide in God and to obey Him, then we can enjoy wisdom, peace, love, as well as, true freedom. Thus, we should pursue the freedom that is in Christ. <John 8:32> Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. <John 8:36> So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Then, what does freedom in the life of God’s people look like?
It is the freedom that submits to God and loves man.
<Galatians 5> 1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
The world tells us that freedom is to seek our own happiness, fight for our rights and benefits, put rules and restrictions aside, and live our own ways for our own pleasures. Yet the gospel teaches us that true freedom is to listen to God and to deny ourselves. In fact, many a times, our struggles and misery come from our unbelief and disobedience. Especially when we stubbornly hold onto some strong desires against God’s will, we allow ourselves to be pierced by many sorrows.
However, Christ has set us free from sin and death, so that we will no longer be burdened again by a yoke of slavery, but can serve one another and God humbly in love. Amazingly, when our focus is on loving God and men, we will not be bound by sin or our sinful desires. Augustine of Hippo ever said, “True freedom is not choice or lack of constraint, but being what you are meant to be. Humans were created in the image of God. True freedom, then, is not found in moving away from that image but only in living it out.” In other words, the more we live out the image of God, the more we imitate Christ, then the more freedom we will enjoy. We see that when Jesus lived on earth, He was the freest, He was not bound by the law, yet went beyond the law; He had the freedom to use God’s authority, yet when He was tempted by the devil, He was not manipulated successfully to abuse His power, but He obeyed Father God to the very end.
True freedom is the power to reject things that are not beneficial even if they are alluring.
Contrary to what the world thinks, true freedom is not to do whatever we want to do; but true freedom is having the power to reject things which are not beneficial even if they are alluring, just as <1 Corinthians 6:12> mentioned, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
Freedom is not to do what our flesh desires but what the Holy Spirit desires.
<Galatians 5> 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
Now, freedom is not supposed to be without boundaries. And only when our sinful desires are reined in by the Holy Spirit, can we then enjoy true freedom. Thus, the Spirit’s fruit includes “self-control”. While people usually would not associate “self-control” with “freedom”, self-control is in fact the path to freedom. For if we wish to freely enjoy something, then we need to have self-control to abstain from other things. For example, if we wish to freely enjoy rest, then we have to restrict the number of work hours; if we wish to enjoy the freedom to sleep well, then we have to limit the time we spend on computer games and dramas at night; if we wish to enjoy the freedom that comes from holiness, then we have to give up the freedom to sin. Just as a thief will never enjoy the freedom of peace, for the fear of getting caught will always haunt him; likewise, if we children of God indulge our flesh or give in to temptations, we will also not taste sweet freedom, for the sense of accusation will rob us of joy. Thus, freedom is not without restraint, but it comes with the protection of some boundaries. And God has given His people the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us, so that we can freely choose to love God and men, and choose holiness over sin, such that we can enjoy a life of freedom.
Brothers and sisters, is the freedom you long for the freedom in Christ? Have you ever confirmed that when you seek a freedom which is apart from God, that brings you regrets instead of joy? Today, God calls us not to pursue a false freedom, but seek the true and lasting freedom by abiding in Him. May we heed His calling today!