Published July 5, 2016

Paul's Epistle

"Freedom" is a word you've undoubtedly heard a lot over the 4th of July holiday weekend. But, primarily, the word is used in a political context. Our nation, the USA, was founded to give its citizens freedoms, "inalienable rights," that its citizens could enjoy and the government cannot take away.

That is what the Declaration of Independence says. But any fair observer knows that Americans' rights are slowly but surely eroding as society convinces government to diminish all sorts of freedoms, especially Christian-related, to an astonishing degree. (An interesting aside from Abraham Lincoln: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.")

But aren't you glad that the freedom that God grants us as Christians cannot be diminished! Freedom from what? Freedom from the terrible penalties that are prescribed for unrepentant sinners. And that kind of freedom cannot be taken away by any politician. (Hallelujah!)

Scripture tells us, "...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (ESV, 2 Cor. 3:17b). The Holy Spirit has been given to each believer, individually, so each individual Christian has the kind of freedom that only Christ can give. Those who had been ensnared by sin but accept Christ find that new freedom. "The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners" (Psalm 146:7).

As a song Paul's Journey once sang puts it...

     "I'm not a prisoner anymore.
     My stolen joy has been restored.
     He broke the chains that once held me.
     The Son has made me free indeed."

Indeed, that reflects John 8:34b: "...Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

It's an interesting kind of freedom, though. There is still free will – even the freedom to sin, if one so chooses. But Christians are to avoid such choices. If we slip, we are to confess our sins (See 1 John 1:9.) And we gain the strength and resolve better to avoid sin by keeping close to God — in prayer and by reading the Scriptures. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31b-32).

Have you found this kind of freedom? Mosie Lister wrote a song called "Freedom" that includes these lines in the chorus:

     "Freedom, freedom is yours for the asking.
     Jesus is waiting to make you free.
     His love will take you where walls can't separate you
     And you shall be free when the Truth makes you free."

Christ, of course, is the Truth (John 14:6).

One of my favorite hymns about Christian freedom – one my parents used to sing in church and elsewhere – is the Haldor Lillenas classic, "Glorious Freedom." It sums up a Christian's testimony – and triumphantly enumerates some of the freedoms we enjoy as Christians:

     "Once I was bound by sin's galling fetters,
     Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain;
     But I received a glorious freedom,
     When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

     "Freedom from all the carnal affections,
     Freedom from envy, hatred and strife;
     Freedom from vain and worldly ambitions,
     Freedom from all that saddened by life.

     "Freedom from pride and all sinful follies,
     Freedom from love and glitter of gold;
     Freedom from evil, temper and anger,
     Glorious freedom, rapture untold.

     "Freedom from fear with all of its torments,
     Freedom from care with all of its pain;
     Freedom in Christ, my blessed Redeemer,
     He who has rent my fetters in twain.

     Glorious freedom, wonderful freedom,
     No more in chains of sin I repine!
     Jesus the glorious Emancipator,
     Now and forever He shall be mine."

Thomas Watson, a 16th-Century Puritan preacher and author, summed it all up this way: "To serve God, to love God, to enjoy God, is the sweetest freedom in the world."

Aren't you glad Christ has given us such freedom? It was costly, you know — bought by Christ's own shed blood on Calvary. Thank the Lord today, and everyday, for this most precious freedom.

- Paul

1. "Freedom," recorded by Paul's Journey, written by Geron Davis, Winding Way Music ASCAP.
2. "Freedom," Mosie Lister, Mosie Lister Songs BMI, recorded by the Booth Brothers on their "Room For More" CD.
3. "Glorious Freedom," Haldor Lillenas, 1917, P.D.

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