One area of Christianity that puzzles most is the idea of freedom. Within the western culture the concept of freedom has lost most of its value and meaning. As a result we do not readily embrace freedom in Christ. What some declare as freedom is embracing a life of immorality and that is really being a slave to sin. For sake of discussion the definition of immorality is any activity or choice against the will of God. That includes using scripture to justify personal behavior not consistent with God’s commands. An example is to show hatred toward a people group of differing beliefs although we are commanded to love our enemies. To understand freedom we must recognize the boundaries that keep us free.
Freedom and boundaries in Christ
Scripture tells us in Romans 6:6-8 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.
Plain and simple our freedom is from slavery of sin. As a believer we have access to the power over sin and that is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
Personal faith in Christ allows you to choose to be free from sin. It really is that simple. But that freedom is set within boundaries. The Bible gives much instruction about freedom and boundaries for those who submit to Christ. It is not possible to cover many of them in this post so we will look at few traps that people are often caught in.
One trap is believing that once you accept Jesus into your life there is no reason to stop sinful behavior. Romans 6:1-4 tells us Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
The short of it is you now have a choice to continue in sin or not. Prior to receiving Christ you had no choice because you were a slave to sin! Knowing you have a choice can lead to another common trap of guilt, shame, and fear. It may be that there is a past that causes you to feel shame. Many people are afraid to be honest about their struggles because of fear of being judged. Read what Romans 8:1-8 says;
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
Okay, here is the secret to escaping condemnation for sin, just repent. To repent is to turn away from sin, not continue in it. It is possible to be a true Christian that still struggles with addiction. However, choosing to remain in addiction is different than struggling with it. Making a choice to continue in sin is an insult to God.
Moving beyond regrets is a tough thing for most people to do. Those memories like to pop up at the most inappropriate times. Those pesky negative thoughts like to intrude at moments when you are trying to be a loving Christian. As frustrating as the past choices may be to live with, try to remember Jesus has forgiven you of ALL your sins.
The last trap I want to mention is thinking we must do more. Our salvation is paid for. There is no more debt! Religion is about doing things but Christianity is about what is done! Jesus died on a cross for all our past, present, and future sins. All we have to do is accept that forgiveness and turn away from them. So why bother with going to church and all that jazz? The answer is to build upon and grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and savior. All relationships, physical and spiritual require communication and contact to maintain them. True freedom in Christ allows us to be free from the bondage of sin. The cost of that freedom is submission to God’s authority.
Jesus is quoted in John 14:15-17 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
Think about the fact that we cannot in our own strength keep from sinning. As a support God provided the Holy Spirit to help us! In other words we ain’t in this fight alone. We have an advocate that will never leave us and will guide us in truth. Here’s the deal, we have to seek the help. It is a personal responsibility to strive for right living. When personal desires are in alignment with God’s will His answer is always yes. That is true freedom within proper boundaries.
Rev. Burt Schwab