What is Christian freedom?When we are saved, Christ brings us freedom. We are free from the power of sin and instead free to live for Christ. Galatians 5:1 says, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Before Jesus came, His people lived under the power of the Law, a rigid set of rules that dictated their path to God. No one could fulfill the Law on their own. This is why Jesus came. Through living a perfect life, then dying and being resurrected, Jesus fulfilled the Law (Romans 8:2–8; Galatians 3:19–24). The place where many people get confused now is in figuring out what Christian freedom is supposed to look like.
The Old Testament Law was designed to show us our own inability to earn our salvation, and it still has good within it, because it points us to God and His perfection. Christ fulfilled the Law for us and we are not supposed to fall back under its yoke (Galatians 5:1), nor are we to fall back into slavery to sin (John 8:36). Rather, we live in the grace that He has willingly bestowed upon us: "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14).
Some people take this a step too far and assume that because we have been freed from the power and punishment of sin, and are no longer required to follow the Old Testament Law, that it means we have the freedom to behave however we desire. This is actually totally contrary to the truth; we are freed from the power of sin so that we may freely live holy lives in Christ, empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit. Titus 2:11–14 makes it clear: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."
In 1 Corinthians 10:23, the apostle Paul says that: "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up." While we are technically able to do all things, not all things will be beneficial to us or others. We need to be obedient to God in all things (John 14:15; Acts 5:29). Everyone has their own personal convictions about gray areas within the Christian life (Romans 14:1). In areas that leave room for uncertainty, we must be considerate of what may be best for those around us (Romans 14:13), and we need to use wisdom to determine what is spiritually beneficial to us (James 1:5).
Christian freedom is not about having the freedom to do whatever you want. It's about being free from the power of sin for the purpose of being a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:17–18). Christian freedom enables us to live for Christ and it frees us to love others with the same love that we have so freely received from Him. The Message paraphrase puts Galatians 5:13–14 this way: "It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom."
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