Believer’s Freedom in Christ

By Nelson Thomas Mumbai

Once again the people of India are celebrating their independence from the British rule, which they received 74 years ago. Every Indian will always remember with respect those patriots who sacrificed their lives to attain this freedom.

Yet, as we travel through the length and breadth of this great nation, one thing is very much evident: not all are really enjoying freedom in its fullest sense. A great number of people are still living below the poverty line. Corruption is rampant, so is alcoholism and drug addiction. Casteism is another bondage that nobody could eradicate in spite of the best efforts of the successive governments.

There are many other social evils plaguing the people of India. Yes, there are numerous organizations and activists making every effort to liberate such helpless ones from bondage. However, what does all this signify? Political, national freedom is not enough; man needs much more to be free indeed.

This is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ articulated to the Jewish people who had shown interest in His teachings. When He told them, You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”, they could not digest it. They immediately responded, “We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.” (John 8:31, 32) Amazing, either they forgot the reality or purposely told an utter lie. There were number of occasions when Jewish people were under bondage.

To begin with, we see that Egypt enslaved them, then from time to time many other neighbouring countries. Above all, the major invasions by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and in the first century, they were under the rule of Rome. Yet, they vociferously declare that they have never been in bondage. That is the way often even most of us react to the variety of oppressions we face. We tend to become blind to the bondages we are in.

Spiritual Bondage
Christ made this very clear, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). The Lord was referring to the moral, spiritual slavery of the Jews. They continued to resist such revelation of reality, claiming their Abrahamic ancestry. Then finally the Lord Jesus told them,
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

Most people even today will fail to appreciate this statement. Let us patiently analyse His words in their context. The words and deeds of those Jews unmistakably exposed their internal state. Their arrogance, falsehood, hatred, and the subsequent effort to stone Him, all proved beyond any doubt that they were controlled by Satan himself. (cf. John 8: 39 – 59) They were acting on behalf of the evil one, who is the ‘father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning’.

Do we find similar occasions and people even today? Of course, we do. Yet it’s very difficult to convince some of their diabolic attitude and the moral slavery they are in. Even after witnessing the barbaric, heartless activities of men, modern society conveniently rationalizes those evil actions.

God who liberates
The Bible from its beginning reveals that Satan always enslaved people with various traps, at the same time God always liberated them. We see that God came down to deliver the people of Israel from the Egyptian enslavement. (Exo 3: 7 – 10) Even in the Law of Moses, they were commanded not to keep a servant for more than six years. A servant in the Hebrew home must be set free in the seventh year. (Exo 21: 2) The godly always knew that the Lord looks down from heaven and listens to the groaning of His people and comes down to release them from their bondage. (Psalms 102: 19, 20; 107: 13 – 15; 146: 7)

The prophet Isaiah saw liberty for the captives as one of the major missions of the Messiah. (Isaiah 42: 7; 61: 1) After commencing His ministry in Judea, Christ was visiting the synagogue at Nazareth, and He read the same passage from Isaiah 61 and declared, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4: 21) Christ made it loud and clear that He is the Messiah and His mission is to preach the gospel, heal the broken hearted and proclaim liberty to the captives and the oppressed. It was in this same tone the Lord Jesus told those Jews, “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8: 36)

False freedom
Notice the expression, ‘free indeed’. Those Jews were under the impression that they were free and not under any kind of bondage. But the Lord Jesus says that what they had was false freedom. This is the way the evil one traps mankind. The devil promises independence, pleasure, entertainment, etc., but only at a later stage would man realize his tyranny. (Gen 3: 5; 2Peter 2: 19) There are occasions when Satan used evil spirits to control an individual. (Mark 5: 1 – 12; Luke 13: 16) But most of the time, Satan traps people through things that are seemingly natural and acceptable; for example, thinking what is there in just eating a fruit which looks edible? More than our logic and opinion of others, we are supposed to live according to the will of our Creator. But when man violates God’s plan for him, this makes him a sinner and leaves his heart corrupt and conscience guilty.

The inherent sinful nature passed on to man from Adam and Eve gives devil a foothold to oppress man. Various kinds of sinful thoughts and deeds continue to keep man under bondage. (John 8: 34; 2Peter 2: 19) Many sincerely wish to come out of certain bad habits, evil practices and wrong thinking patterns, etc. Their futile efforts only leave them defeated and depressed. Apart from the bondage of sin, we can also notice the bondage of legalism, tradition, superstition, fear, etc. (Gal 3: 13; Matt 15: 3-6; Heb 2: 15)

True freedom
Praise be to God, for when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we find deliverance from all such bondages. This is not just a teaching but a true experience. The power of sin on a believer’s life is broken, and he who was a slave of sin becomes a slave of God. (Romans 6: 17, 18, 20, 22) An unrighteous life pattern is changed to a lifestyle of righteousness. Unholy practices become the difficult thing for a child of God, whereas an upright life becomes a natural and joyful thing.

Because it’s a liberty coming from the innermost part of their being, any external issues, even the political, social oppressions and turmoil do not disturb their heart. The peace of God that passes all understanding guards their heart. They find the joy of the Lord as their strength and stay peaceful in all situations.

Their sense of internal freedom is reflected in their daily life. Because an unlawful activity is difficult for them, you will see them refusing to give a bribe or doing an illegal thing. They will be true to God, their conscience and even to their superiors. They don’t merely follow the law, but being led by the Holy Spirit who dwells in them, they do what is pleasing to God. They reflect the liberating attitude of God, not the oppressing approach of Satan.
This is the freedom the Lord Jesus brings about in the hearts of all who yield to Him. What a privilege we have in Christ Jesus our Lord!

The Basis of Freedom
How does this happen? Yes, freedom is always costly. We respectfully remember the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for our national freedom. Lord Jesus paid the price for our spiritual freedom. He satisfied all the demands of God’s holy law. He took our place and suffered as an atoning sacrifice. He defeated Satan with all his schemes and triumphed upon him publicly on the cross. (Colo 2: 14, 15; Heb 2: 14, 15) Today Satan is a defeated foe and God is at liberty to forgive and justify a believing sinner because of the work of Christ on the cross. (Rom 3: 24 – 26)

The moment a sinner confesses his sins and yields to Christ for salvation, a lot of changes take place internally, such as forgiveness, regeneration, and justification and so on. He is indwelt by the Spirit of God and thereby he gets a divine nature from above. He finds that his old sinful nature with all its passions has been crucified with Christ. (Romans 6: 6, 11, 13; 2Cor 5: 14, 15; Gal 2: 20; 5: 16, 17; 2Pet 1: 4)

Enjoy freedom
Do we really experience this freedom in Christ? Is it just a teaching and foreign to our day to day life? If we our life is characterized by disobedience, bitterness, murmuring and cloudy deals, what does it mean? A lifestyle of selfishness, prejudice, negativity, complaint, materialism, etc., betrays our Christian testimony.

No wonder Paul admonishes the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gala 5: 1) If we fail to stay close to Christ on a daily basis in obedience to His will, there is a possibility to lose the experience of this freedom. Notice, our freedom is not lawlessness or absence of restrictions. We ought to acknowledge that we are servants to God, and we need to be obedient to Him. Yes, He will never force us to do so, but the result is always life and holiness. (Romans 6: 22; Matt 11: 29)

Remember, it is by such a commitment and obedient life that we win over the constant efforts of the old master. Though the devil can never capture us back to his fold, definitely he can trouble us with his various schemes. (John 10: 28, 29; Gen. 4: 7; 2Cor 2: 11) Our enemy can disturb our joy and effectiveness.

Never forget the wonderful work of God on the cross of Calvary and its application within us at conversion. A constant awareness of this and its appropriation makes us confident of His liberty. This in turn inspires us to reckon these in daily practical life. (Rom 6: 6, 11, 13)

What a relief it is know that ‘the master sin’ has no authority over us. The One to whom we voluntarily submit is gentle and lowly in heart, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matt 11: 29) He desires the best for us, teaching and leading us in the right way. True enjoyment of spiritual freedom in Christ actually derives from being a slave to God wholeheartedly.


“Sin enters as a guest, and then becomes a friend. You get to know each other. Then sin becomes a servant. It promises you to give you pleasure. But that servant becomes a Master and that Master becomes a tyrant and that dictator becomes a destroyer.”



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