Understanding the term “freedom” is always dependent on the speaker’s viewpoint. It also depends if freedom is being talked about as it relates to “this world” only, or if it also includes the next one.
On one hand we can consider the freedoms that come with a person’s citizenship for the country he or she was born in, or we can look at the freedoms of being a Christ-follower. Because we all belong to a country, and many of us have been saved into God’s kingdom, it’s easy to equate the freedom that is provided by government to the freedom that Christ gives. However, when we check with Scripture, we must take notice of the fact that one type of freedom does not equal the other.
There are many aspects of liberty and tolerance promised to an American, for example; as a religious group of people, Christians tend to hold the “freedom to worship publicly” in high regard. However, the freedom that comes from trusting in the Good News is a different breed altogether. The freedom that Christ gives, that makes us “free indeed,” gives believers a much deeper hope than what a governing force can give.
Scripture tell us that Christ frees us from the bondage of the law (Galatians 5:13), from the deceptions of the flesh (John 8:32), and from the corruption of a sinful world (Romans 8:21). Thus, the freedom of a Christian is not simply an allowance to act as you wish, though in a sense that is part of it; it is a release from an old nature that would condemn us and make us chained—not free—forever.
All of this ultimately points to salvation. The salvation that Jesus Christ gives is complete and enduring (Hebrews 7:25), safeguarded by our Savior (Romans 8:38-39), and accomplished regardless of the fact that we did not fight for it (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Real freedom, as John Piper has noted, is made up of a few conditions, which all necessarily include each other.
“To be fully free, we must have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make us happy forever,” Piper explains. “…Only Jesus, the Son of God who died and rose for us, can make [full freedom] possible” (Desiring God).
Thus, ultimate freedom for the Christian is a deep and fulfilling trust in the Gospel, displayed by submission to the Savior who took our punishment to save and justify us. That kind of happiness cannot be taken away, no matter which government is ruling. No regrets can result from following the path of life versus the law of sin and death (Psalm 16:11, Romans 8:1-4). This is a salvation that all people groups can cling to, no matter the country, gender, income, education, or skill level. That is ultimate freedom, and what we can rejoice in for now and all eternity.
Header photo credit: George Vince Cross