Last week here on the Take Heart Blog, we dove into the idea of whether or not there is absolute truth. If you did not have a chance to take a look at that post yet, the short answer is that there is. When looking at truth, you first have to look at the opposing view which would be humanism which claims that truth is relative to each person. Humanism claims that the problem with truth is that it sets restrictive boundaries on “our own life.” John 8:32 shows us just the opposite.
John 8:32 – And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Truth sets us free, yes, but what does that mean for us as a Christian? Naturally this leads to the argument of legalism versus liberty. How free is too free, and how many rules are too many rules? I’m sure many of us would say that we know people on both sides of the spectrum. Those that add to the Bible for the sake of playing it safe, and others who use that Christian liberty to live life however they want, even if it is sin. Let’s look at what the Bible says specifically to our liberties.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
1 Peter 2:16
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
These two verses make it very clear what that freedom looks like for a believer. Paul and Peter remind us that yes we are free, but we are not to use our liberty to live a life of sin. Instead we are to use our liberties as servants of God to show love and to serve others. To understand this, we have to look back at what Jesus was teaching in John 8:32. He tells us that “the truth will set you free.” What is the truth, and what does it set us free from? The truth is Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection to give us forgiveness of sins. Knowing and accepting that truth sets us free from the bondage and slavery of sin.
Being free does not mean that we are free to live however we want. Being free means that we are no longer under the power of sin. Someone who does not know Christ has never been set free, so it should never be a surprise to a believer when someone who doesn’t believe in Him sins. It’s their nature. Let’s look at another verse that speaks to this.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Paul likens a Christian going back to a sinful way of living to submitting “again to a yoke of slavery.” A yoke was a tool that farmers used primarily back in Bible days, but are still used today. It is a length of wood that is used to strap two large animals (bulls, donkeys, etc.) together. The yoke would keep them going in the same direction, doing the same thing, and ultimately one would be always stuck doing what the other wanted.
When we accept Christ, Jesus comes by and removes that yoke of sin from us, and goes so far as to invite us to take His yoke upon us in Matthew 11:29-30 – Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The picture we are given of going back into sin is going back into slavery, not being able to choose our own way, but going whichever way that sin drives us. We are given a warning of this in Hebrews 11:25 when it says “the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Yes sin has pleasure in it, but the key word is fleeting.
There’s a powerful statement I’ve heard before that goes like this: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” When we use our Christian liberties to do whatever we want, ultimately going back into doing sinful things, we are actually giving up our liberties because we are putting ourselves back under the consequences of sin. We may be eternally forgiven by the atoning work of Christ, but there are still temporal consequences of the sin we practice.
Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
Christian, if you are living a life that you know is wrong, I want to warn you that you are back under the yoke and slavery of sin. The good news is that you have the power to leave that yoke. You’re not of this world anymore, you have power over sin. Talk to God, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, ask God to free you from whatever is holding you in place, and go forward living a life of Christian liberty experiencing more freedom than you ever thought possible.
– Scott Mason