Freedom. It is a precious privilege that people across the world are willing to fight for and even die for - one held especially dear to Americans in this time of celebrating Independence Day. But for Christians, there is a deeper, wider, broader, more lasting freedom than even the best political or religious or individual freedom we could imagine here on earth. We have freedom in Christ.
You may have heard this phrase before and wondered what it meant. The good news is that God’s word has a lot to say about it for us to learn from, and good news part two is this: by understanding what it means to have freedom in Christ, we can better understand who we are, or more specifically, who Jesus makes us.
So to dive in to this idea of freedom in Christ, a good place to start is Romans chapters 6 through 8 (you can see the full text here) The explanations in chapters 6 and 7 basically describe what can be later summarized in the first couple verses of chapter 8:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. -Romans 8:1-2
Out of this passage, out of these three chapters, and throughout the Bible there are a few core truths we can learn about freedom in Christ:
Apart from Christ, we were (willingly) trapped in the bondage of sin.
“....from the law of sin and death”
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? -Romans 6:16
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” -John 8:34
In this state, intentionally seeking our own glory and our own desires, we could not please God, who is and always has been perfectly perfect. And in this state, as the picture of bondage suggests, there was nothing we could do on our own -- no good deed, no great success, no gain of power -- to escape it.
Jesus set us free by taking our place.
“...no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus...has set you free in Christ Jesus”
He came to earth as a human, lived a perfect life, and then died on a cross to bear the weight of every bit of wrath our sin deserved (and side note, He defeated death by rising on the third day HOLLA). Jesus lived the righteousness that God demanded from us but we could not live, and He paid the price we could not pay for the cost of our sin.
We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. -Romans 6:6
In Christ, we freely serve a new master.
“...the law of the Spirit of life”
But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. -Romans 7:6
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. -Romans 8:3-4
In Christ, we are alive. In Christ, we are no longer under law that leads to sin and death (which leads to those things because we aren’t able please God with good works on our own) but under life-giving grace. By the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are set free to serve and delight in and make known the God we were made by and for. We are freed to live out our original, God-given purpose. Freed to be exactly who we were intended to be for the glory of Jesus.
This is the freedom God offers us. It’s not a freedom to do whatever we want without consequences. Not a freedom to be suffocated by fears about whether we’ll live up to His standards. Not even a freedom that promises we will never mess up again. But it is the freedom that means “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). A freedom in which the Spirit who gives that new life also continually shapes and grows our hearts in His love as we seek Him.