Freedom in Christ


Freedom: Miriam Webster says, “1: the quality or state of being free: such as a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action, b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another, c: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous, d: unrestricted use” all belong to the first definition of freedom.

For followers of Christ, we have freedom: freedom from sin, eternal death, guilt, and freedom to choose- as we live the spirit-filled life that Jesus calls us to live. We also have freedom from empty and meaningless traditions and ‘rules’ that have no bearing on our faith in Christ. Being free in Christ – real freedom – means seeing things clearly. It means knowing who you are and what God has done for you in Christ. It means loving and obeying Him with the full assurance that God will make good on His promise, and you will spend eternity with Him. This kind of freedom doesn’t come by living however you want or “picking and choosing” what laws to follow; true freedom comes from believing and obeying the gospel.

Freedom doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want- without thinking about others. Freedom in Christ- is freedom to choose that which is best for others and ourselves- choosing to put Jesus first in all things- Loving God and Loving people- not just doing what we want because we have freedom.

Paul wrote in chapter 8 of 1 Corinthians. “But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. 2 Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. 3 But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes. . . .6 But for us, there is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live. . . . 9 But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.”

Paul addresses the attitudes- the heart issues. The Corinthian church had been struggling with humility and obedience. Proverbs 12:23 says, “The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness.” and in Proverbs 26:12 “There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise.” Paul states, we all know—not just the “most enlightened or most knowledgeable” but all the believers in the faith know that an idol isn’t really a god. They’ve come to believe in the one true God- and Jesus Christ his Son and the person of the Holy Spirit- The one triune God- maker of heaven and earth. The one that redeemed them at a great price. They know that in their hearts- but they may continue to struggle with old habits, old traditions that have been ingrained in them. They must re-train their minds and thoughts to following Jesus Christ and living for Him. It’s all new to them- and they are still learning.

Let me give an example: Playing cards used to be a big ‘no no’ in the Wesleyan church. I had been brought up Lutheran and I grew up playing cards- I grew up playing 500, rummy, crazy 8, and I learned how to play hearts at church- waiting for confirmation class to begin. So, when we had cards in the youth room at the Wesleyan Church and played games, I never even thought that it could be an issue. Then one Saturday clean-up day- I didn’t make it to help clean the church- but some of the older ladies took it upon themselves to clean the youth room for us. I was surprised to find that all our playing cards had been removed and thrown away! I spoke to the pastor and find out the whys- and not to worry- we had his and the church’s permission to have playing cards- so the church purchased us some new ones. After that, I just made sure that I was there on cleaning day from now on!

The ladies were only doing what they thought was right- even if it really wasn’t a sin issue. Like Paul said, “some are accustomed to thinking …this way.” That’s how they were brought up. We can’t always solve every problem with logic. A child who is afraid of the dark is not assured by logical arguments. We need to understand that knowledge can be a weapon to fight with or a tool to build with, depending on how it is used. Our Freedom in Christ must be balanced by Love. As Christians, we are commanded often in Scripture to build one another up. The author of Hebrews said, “…let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25)

We must be careful so that our freedom doesn’t cause a weaker- a newer believer to stumble. Jesus gave us the example to follow- we are to do as He has done. We aren’t more enlightened than He was. He is patient with each of us and sees our mistakes, our sins, our screw-ups and instead of telling us how awful or stupid we are- he gently corrects, guides and continues to love us. Paul writes that we are not to be a stumbling block to others. This doesn’t mean that we must pamper those who are weaker in the faith, it means that our goal should be to build them up and help them grow rather than demanding our rights. Our Freedom must be balanced by love. We are free in Christ, but we must take care that our spiritual knowledge is balanced by love, and that we do not tempt the weaker Christian to run ahead of their conscience.

As part of the Body of Christ, it is always our goal to strengthen and respect each part of that body that we are a part of. In doing that Jesus will be glorified and that the body (the church) will be built up to unity and strength. As we interact with others, we must balance our knowledge with love so that others might be built up in the Lord.

As believers in Christ- we love God with all of our passion in all areas, and we love people. People get first preference- not our own agenda or our own freedoms. When our freedom crosses over someone else and causes them to get off track- we are abusing our freedom. Our freedom in Christ must be lived out in love. The way we relate carries great weight, so relate in love!