“You will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free.” John 8:32
Here in the U. S., we just celebrated our freedom and independence.
I understand what that means, traditionally. At the same time, I realize none of us is either truly free or completely independent.
Many people, when they think of “freedom,” think it means doing whatever they feel like doing. But in “divine perspective,” that isn’t freedom at all. Letting our feelings rule us is, in fact, bondage. Scripture says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28)
As for “independence,” if I’ve learned anything in my Christian walk, it’s that I can never make it on my own. I am 100% dependent on the Lord. And that’s OK, because I also have learned that He is 100% dependable.
Jesus said He came to bring freedom. He also said He had not come to abolish the Law and the commandments, and when the average person thinks “commandments,” they think “rules,” “restrictions,” the opposite of freedom.
So, how can we have commandments and freedom at the same time?
When Jesus began His ministry, He didn’t excuse us from the requirements of the Law; in fact, He made keeping them even more difficult – impossible, really. It’s not enough not to commit murder; even being angry with a brother without cause is considered murder to God. It’s not enough not to commit adultery; a man who looks at a woman lustfully is an adulterer in God’s eyes. With so much evil residing in our very hearts, we are all guilty of sin, and sin needs to be paid for with a blood sacrifice. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:26)
But the rest of God’s plan of redemption is for His Son Jesus, to pay the penalty Himself. As the ancient animal sacrifices were required to be “without blemish,” this Sacrifice had to be perfect. sinless. Jesus alone was sinless, undeserving of the death penalty, and yet He submitted to it for our sakes. If we accept Hin as our Savior, the price has been paid, and we are forgiven – free from guilt and fear of punishment!
What’s more, after dying in our place on the Cross, Jesus was resurrected, promising that as He was raised, we who believe in Him will also be raised to eternal life! Believers are free from the fear of death.
Finally, He comes to live in us through the Holy Spirit, giving us the ability to live as we couldn’t before, free from the tyranny of sin.
To see what this freedom in Christ looks like, let’s revisit the Ten Commandments:
I. You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3) Some religions worship many deities. Christianity has One. He is sufficient. We don’t have to worry about which god or goddess is going to meet a certain need, whether another will get jealous, which god we should pray to, and what’s to become of us if that god is insufficient.
II. You shall not make for yourself an idol. (Exodus 20: 4a) Since God is Spirit and worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), we don’t have to worship dead idols. God is alive and always with us.
III. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. (Exodus 20:7a) God’s name is sacred and precious, and in a relationship with our heavenly Father, we can speak His name and experience His power and peace. We don’t have to use God’s name to express rage or frustration, we can use it to call on Him for help.
IV. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8) God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest, but the religious leaders, were using this commandment to keep people in bondage. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) In other words, the purpose of the Sabbath was to make life easier, not harder. We get to have a day of rest each week. God has provided this gift, knowing our limitations.
V. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12) Children who trust Jesus to guide them and meet their needs don’t have to live in conflict with their parents. They get to follow their lead, honor them, and live in a harmonious household.
VI. You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13) We don’t have to resort to violence. We can trust the LORD to help us solve our conflicts and get along with others, even our enemies.
VII. You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14) Jesus gives contentment to couples that trust Him. He helps them through conflict and establishes happy (not perfect) homes. We don’t have to look elsewhere for fulfillment.
VIII. You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15) Scripture says, Since God will meet all our needs, (Philippians 4:19) He can keep us content. We don’t have to take someone else’s possessions.
IX. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16) With the Holy Spirit’s help, we don’t have to tell lies, complicating our lives and bringing trouble on ourselves and others.
X. You shall not covet. (Exodus 20:17) This freedom is like Commandment VIII. We don’t have to yearn for what someone else has. The more we trust the LORD, the more content we will be.
Notice with Jesus “shall not” becomes “don’t have to.” “Shall” becomes “get to.“ I realize how simplistic this seems. We live in a fallen, broken world that is in bondage to sin, and bad things happen. But with Jesus we don’t have to be lost or without hope. When we have given our lives to Him, as we draw closer to Him, trusting Him more, His laws become less burdensome, more freeing. Having His Law is like finding the path through a dense forest; He is the Way.
Prayer: Father, Thank You for giving Your Only Begotten Son to purchase our souls, setting us free from the power of sin and death. May we live in that freedom now and always, in Jesus’ name, Amen.