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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
One of the fundamental values of our culture is that every person should have the freedom to choose for themselves how to live (within the bounds of the law). But our culture’s definition of freedom (the absence of restrictions) differs from the Biblical concept of freedom. The Bible tells us that in the end, you are either a slave to God or a slave to sin (Romans 6:16). The choice is not between following God and living free to do as you please. The choice is between serving God, which leads to eternal life, or serving sin, which leads to death.
The best analogy I have heard to explain what true freedom is was something I read in Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God. Keller writes that a bird is most free when it submits itself to the laws of nature. If a bird were to try to live in the water, out of a desire for freedom and to “live however he pleased,” he would die. Similarly, if a fish wanted to “do what was right for him” and live on land, he would also die. Or, think of the world of music. Is true freedom for a pianist the freedom to bang on any keys she wants? No – the ability to be truly free to play and create at a high level comes from restricting her freedom with years of disciplined practice. The same is true even for manmade creations – you are free to forego oil changes in your car, but if you do it, your car will eventually break down. True freedom to perform at its highest capacity comes when the car is treated according to how it was designed.
Freedom, therefore, is not the absence of restrictions. True freedom is not just found in creating your own reality and choosing for yourself how you want to live. True freedom is found in living in a way that is true to your nature, operating according to how you were designed, submitting to the right restrictions. Paradoxically, freedom comes from introducing the right limits in your life – just like the bird, the musician, or the car. In that light, consider again some of the restrictions God gives in His Word:
True freedom is not the absence of restrictions, but is found in living according to our design. As you spend time in God’s Word considering His good commands, remember that they were given for your ultimate joy. And as you spend time in this world, listening to its false messages, remember that the freedom our culture promotes is not really freedom, but just another kind of slavery that inevitably leads to death.
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