Psalm 119:45 And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. (NKJV)
As July 4th – Independence Day, Liberty Day, Freedom Day – approaches in America, I find myself with mixed emotions. On the one hand we are still the great land of opportunity and arguably have the most freedom in the world to create, or waste, what we do with our lives. On the other, the freedoms that once made America the greatest exporter of the Gospel, benevolence and hope in the history of the world are increasingly being given up for comfort, security and hedonism. Liberty Day has become a day for both celebrating and concern.
As I was thinking about this series, I had been contemplating writing a series for July 4th on civic liberty, government and social responsibility as it pertains to Christian living. Then I heard a sermon from my Pastor/Brother, Bruce Hess (www.wildwoodchurch.org) from Romans 14 which was an introduction to a lesson about “Grace: Principles for Pursuing Godliness” (which I fully intend to steal and present to you after he finishes the series!). In the mean time, it got me thinking about REAL liberty, freedom and independence – God’s version.
So as we approach “Independence Day” in America, I would like to take you day by day into the liberty that Jesus paid for on the cross. By July 4th, I would like for us all to have a deeper, fuller and more practical understanding of our liberty in Christ which is one of the GREATEST blessings God provides us.
- Liberty frees us from “religion”
Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. (NKJV)
Religion in this context is the effort of man to please God APART from the way God has ordained. Man-made religions require that you follow regulations, rules and restrictions that are meant to earn you favor with “god”, whoever or whatever they claim that to be. True Christian liberty removes “religion” and replaces it with “relationship” (between us and the Creator).
- Liberty cultivates a personal relationship with God
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (NKJV)
I’ve often heard asked “why didn’t God just give us a list of rules and tell us exactly what we can and can’t do?” Why? Because that would simply make God a taskmaster or manager, and not our Father. By having to “work out our salvation” (Phil 2:12) we turn to God for Truth, guidance and we cultivate a relationship WITH Him, that makes us more LIKE Him.
- Liberty cultivates relationship and love between Christians
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (NKJV)
Genuine Christian liberty is practiced in an atmosphere of service and motivated by love. By loving and serving one another, we cultivate our relationships among Christian brethren allowing and enjoying the liberty Christ bought for us.
- Liberty allows us not to judge or police our Christian family concerning things that fall into the realm of liberty
1 Corinthians 10:29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? (NKJV)
When we allow liberty to exist, it frees us from having to run around and worry about what liberties other Christians choose. If someone drinks a glass of wine, we don’t have to get all bothered. If a family sends their kids to public schools, we don’t have to fret about it. If someone listens to contemporary Christian music rather than hymns, we don’t have to plan how we will correct them. Liberty allows us to have confidence in the Lord’s pleasure in what we have decided is “okay” for us, and be content that what others have decided is between them and the Lord – in the areas that fall into “liberty” (non-essentials).
- Liberty frees us from the curse of the law
Galatians 3:12-13 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), (NKJV)
The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus freed us from the laws and regulations necessary to constrain sin from an external starting point. Having been freed from the curse, our external behavior is now determined by the internal indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who guides our conscience as we learn and study God’s written word. Liberty freed us from the myriads of lists and regulations that the Jewish leaders had developed. Sometimes this blessing is lost on us today because we have very little real knowledge about how intricate, complex and “unkeepable” the Law really was. It goes back to the question “why doesn’t God just give us a list?” The Pharisee’s attempted to created this “list” and it was a complete failure and made hypocrites of all who tried to comply.
- Liberty frees us from the fear of death
Hebrews 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (NKJV)
We are freed from the fear of death or condemnation. The liberty we have in Christ is – guess what? Liberty. As we live our life, we are free to really “live”, not as a license to sin (as we will see in another lesson) but free from the fear of death, free from the fear of condemnation.
- Liberty frees us from the bondage of other men
1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; (NKJV)
Our liberty in Christ frees us from the bondage of MAN who would go beyond God’s Word and bind us with regulations, rules and lists that God chose not create. Whether from a church, a denomination, your family or any religion, Christ-purchased liberty frees us from the necessity of any bondage that other men would attempt to lay on us.
- Liberty frees us from corruption
Romans 8:21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (NKJV)
When sin entered God’s creation, it began a cycle of unstoppable corruption in everything: relationships, physical creation, behavior, society and our eternal destination. All things became subject to the curse of sin suffering an unavoidable degradation into Godlessness, disarray and destruction. The work of Jesus Christ frees us from the corruption of sin and provides the liberty and freedom to enjoy God’s creation, His blessing and His ultimate reward: salvation.
Why is understanding liberty important?
Isn’t it just a “live and let live” attitude? Not even close. Liberty scares alot of people. The fleshly-immature use liberty as a license to sin. They cite their liberty in Christ as a defense for lackadaisical holiness and unchecked worldliness. Paul addresses this:
Galatians 5:12-13 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (NKJV)
Do not use liberty as an excuse to indulge the flesh. It is an insult to Christ’s sacrifice. It’s like taking the $1000.00 your family gave you as a wedding present and buying drugs with it. “It’s my money, I can do with it whatever I want!” Yep, that’s liberty alright – liberty misused. Same thing for Christians – liberty used to indulge in sin is liberty misused, and grace abused.
Liberty used to indulge in sin is
liberty misused and grace abused.
On other side are the “prideful-immature”, scared spitless of liberty because it means they have lost control of how OTHER people live their lives, proud of their own display of “holiness”. This is legalism: creating rules and regulations that you bind on other Christians simply because YOU are fully convinced this is how God wants you to live (we’ll talk more about this idea of being “fully convinced” in an upcoming lesson). Legalism is the attempt to enforce holiness externally using lists of rules that God Himself did not create. Legalism is just as dangerous and immature spiritually as using liberty as an excuse to sin.
Ignorance or misunderstanding Christian liberty leads to either “license” or “legalism”. So it is important to know what liberty in Christ is, and how to properly exercise it. As we approach the 4th of July, let’s walk together and find out what TRUE liberty is – found only in Christ – unaffected by politics, economics or declining societies.
Tomorrow we will look at a sampling of “ESSENTIALS” with the goal of learning that NON-essentials fall into the realm of liberty. The rest of the series will focus on how Paul instructs us to employ and allow liberty in Christ.
Lord God, Help us to know about the true liberty found in Christ. Help us to know how to enjoy it, how to let others enjoy it, and to know the difference between liberty and essentials. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: Liberty in Christ is one of the greatest blessings God has provided. It frees us from the bondage of religion and men, it frees us from fear, it allows us to enjoy a life of freedom in Christ. It is not a license to sin or abuse other’s liberty. In order to enjoy our freedom and allow others to enjoy theirs, we must learn what Christian liberty is from Scripture and how to properly exercise it.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?