Wk 2 | True Freedom
Not only is God good, but His commands are intended for our good and the world’s good.
Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – 12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
There is a real right and wrong.
Romans 2:14-16 – 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
But, what if people disagree with you? Doesn’t that make truth relative? No!
C. S. Lewis famously noted how belief in objective right and wrong is inescapable:
“Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking on to him, he will be complaining, ‘It’s not fait’ before you can say Jack Robinson.”
The pastor, Voddie Baucham, explained it this way. The moment you hear someone say morality is relative, punch them in the face. When they ask why you did, just tell them that it’s what you really wanted to do. It’s what you felt was right. They will immediately disagree.
Objective morality is not always seen from our actions, but always from our reactions.
The moral law that God has written on each person’s heart and in His Word is inescapable. It can be denied. You can try to live contrary to it. But just like if you try to overcome the law of gravity you will get hurt, you will get hurt if you try to overcome the moral law that is on your heart.
Living the sexual ethic of Jesus brings true human flourishing.
But, doesn’t it often feel like it’s a hindrance? Following what Jesus says? It goes against what we want. We want freedom. What does it mean to be free? Is the person who does whatever they want free? I’m not sure they are.
Is an alcoholic, someone who is free to drink whenever they want free? I want you to think about this: are they free not to take a drink? No. They are a slave to their passions and pleasures.
Titus 3:3 – For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
The truly free person is the one who is able to say no to alcohol. The free person is the one who is able to say no to looking at porn. Who is able to say no to sexual activity outside of marriage.
Freedom is not doing whatever you want. It is cultivating the right wants.
If freedom is doing whatever you want, nobody is truly free. People can’t fly or see through walls or become an elephant. If this is what freedom is, nobody is truly free.
Is freedom doing what you want without restraint? I’m not sure here also.
Think about this: Are you freer if you bang on piano keys without restraint, or if you follow the guidance of a teacher who disciplines and guides you? You know the answer. The instructor helps restrain your actions so you can use a piano as it was meant to be used. Discipline and restraint are necessary for producing beautiful music.
The same is true in sports. I used to think this in terms of people who knew the Bible well and things of the Bible, how they could just spout them out. I wanted that freedom. Now that I’ve been in PhD work myself, I see how they got there. From reading book after book after book after book. Sacrificing time and energy that they could be free to spend on other things but have purposed to spend it on growing in knowledge. Only then are they free to answer questions people have on the spot without blinking an eye.
Freedom comes not from resisting restraint, but from submitting to the right restraint.
This is why boundaries are necessary to live in true freedom.
Psalm 119:9-10 – 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
* Illustration: Road to Hana; skyrise basketball courts *
Freedom comes when our wants align with the will of God.
Adam and Eve sinned because they followed a false freedom. Satan told them that God wasn’t good, and tricked them into believing they would be freer if they threw off restraints, but the result was death and suffering. They failed to see that freedom comes through following God and His Word.
God designed us. He knows how we best function.
So, when we’re living for our desires and stuck in that slavery, do we just try harder? Do we just grit our teeth and simply choose to do what is right? No. If you try to be obedient through your own effort, you will inevitably fail. The Bible tells us that we are incapable of living a good life in our own power. Sin has ruined us to our core.
Romans 3:10-12, 19-20 – “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The secret to the Christian life, and what separates Christianity from other faiths, is found in the scandal of grace.
Romans 3:21-26 – 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
To live in the freedom of Christ, I must first place my faith in Christ.
You can’t follow Christ if you don’t belong to Christ.
John 8:31-36 – 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
To live in the freedom of Christ, I must discipline myself to follow Christ.
What we call “spiritual disciplines” are so important. Just as freedom comes to a piano player who practices on a regular basis, freedom comes to the Christian who “practices” the spiritual life. Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, tithing, confession of sins, fasting, worship, and fellowship are vital for cultivating the kind of character in which our wants align with the will of God.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 – Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Though we are to be disciplined to live in freedom, remember we can’t do it on our own. We have the Holy Spirit within us, if we are in Christ, and He empowers us to live for Christ. And when we fall…not if we fall…when…that scandal of grace forgives us, picks us up, and allows us to get back on the true path of freedom…following Jesus.
Will you take the first step on that path today? Right now?