Most of us have heard this expression, Freedom isn’t Free. With this saying, we remind ourselves of the brave military folks, who valiantly put themselves into harm’s way to preserve our freedoms and our way of life. We remember that the loss of their lives, tells us that our freedom for which they fight, is indeed not free.
But I would hazard a bet, bigger than my current bank account, that we do not really think about that expression in any real sense in today’s world. This expression has sadly become a bromide. Freedom has become a thought that has no depth to its meaning. In today’s culture, we have lost the understanding of what freedom is. This is a tragedy. For Christians, this is missing one of the biggest messages, one of the foundations, of Christ’s ministry.
A request came to me to write a blog ... “yikes” I thought, but immediately into my mind popped that expression – “freedom isn’t free.” I am a member of a military family, proud daughter and niece of men from the “Greatest Generation” who fought in WWII. I am also a military spouse who has kept the home fires burning during many detachments and deployments. That expression resonates with me. But it surprised me in relation to a blog post for a Christian Women’s Leadership Academy. Of course, that is what I love most about Holy Spirit. He is always full of surprises and ready to open and bend my mind.
free·dom | \ ˈfrē-dəm \
Definition of freedom
1: the quality or state of being free: such as
a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
c: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous.
d: unrestricted use
f: the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken
g: improper familiarity
h: boldness of conception or execution
2a: a political right
We, as Americans, have taken freedom for granted for so long that we have ceased to consider it, to marvel at it. We no longer recognize how crucial this is to our well-being. We no longer teach liberty and freedom in our schools. We no longer fight for our freedom. We no longer recognize when it is being taken from us.
When Holy Spirit put the phrase “freedom isn’t free” into my mind, I began to think of God giving us free will at our creation. I thought of our fall from God’s grace by Adam and Eve. Then I began to think about Jesus Christ. His mission on this earth was a mission of freedom. His ministry was a ministry of freedom. “So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free!” John 8:36 (TPT)
Luke 4:16-21(TPT) relates to us the beginning of Jesus’ ministry –
“When He came to Nazareth, where he had been raised, He went into the synagogue, as He always did on the Sabbath day. When Jesus came to the front to read the Scriptures, they handed Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and read where it is written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, freedom for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.’
After He read this he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the minister, and sat down. Everyone stared at Jesus, wondering what he was about to say. Then he added, ‘These Scriptures came true today in front of you.’”
The very first announcement of His ministry – and it is about freedom and liberty! During His life, He set people free from illness, oppression, punishment, even death. His greatest gift to us was His sacrificial death, which made us eternally free from sin and death. Jesus equated truth with freedom.
John 8:31-32 (TPT) “Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him “When you continue to embrace all that I teach, you prove that you are My true followers. For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.’”
As I began to write this blog, I happened upon another blog where the writer was comparing freedom to holiness. This writer posited that holiness was more important than freedom because we are not “free” – that we, as born-again believers, submit ourselves to Jesus, thus we are not free, and thus holiness is more important than freedom. I heartily disagree with this supposition. I believe the writer missed the crucial point that when we submit ourselves fully to Jesus that is when we become truly and completely free. Thus we are able to pursue holiness. We are free from the bonds of flesh and sin that make holiness a difficult goal to reach. Her position that we are not free when we submit ourselves to Jesus is akin to saying that we are in bondage to Jesus and I wholeheartedly reject that idea.
Our submission to Him is a breaking of the worldly chains and shackles that impede our holiness. When we submit to Christ, we are free to fully embrace the mind of Christ which we have been given. As Paul tells us in Galatians 5:13 (TPT) – “Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations in the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do.”
Freedom is everything. It is all encompassing. Freedom of the world, and freedom in Christ is what allows us to embrace being in this world and not of it. Paul relates to us again our freedom in Christ in Galatians 5:1 (TPT) “Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free – not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.”
As believers we are called to carry on the ministry of Jesus. He, Himself, tells us in Mark 16:15-18 (TPT) “And He said to them, ‘As you go into all the world, preach openly the wonderful news of the gospel to the entire human race! Whoever believes the good news and is baptized will be saved, and whoever does not believe the good news will be condemned. And these miracle signs will accompany those who believe: They will drive out demons in the power of my name. They will speak in tongues. They will be supernaturally protected from snakes and from drinking anything poisonous. And they will lay hands on the sick and heal them.’”
Today, giving up our freedom is as simple as putting a mask over our faces, as simple as allowing ourselves to stay in our houses, as simple as accepting not being able to worship freely in our churches. Today, the loss of freedom means the loss of jobs, family businesses, family legacies. In light of Jesus’ ministry, do we really feel this is God’s plan for us? No. It is not.
Psalm 34:22 (TPT) tells us “But the Lord has paid for the freedom of His servants, and He will freely pardon those who love him. He will declare them free and innocent when they turn to hide themselves in Him.” The Lord wants us to press into Him. He wants us to stand in faith as He moves.
We need to remember the lessons from Jesus on freedom. We need to cherish it and stand in faith for our God given freedom. The Bible, from the beginning to the end, points to freedom. Freedom in Eden until the fall, and then, the quest for freedom that points us to redemption in Jesus Christ. It is not only people who long for freedom.
Paul tells us - Romans 8:21-25 - “All creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children. To this day we are aware of the universal agony and groaning of creation, as if it were in the contractions of labor for childbirth. And it’s not just creation. We who have already experienced the first fruits of the Spirit also inwardly groan as we passionately long to experience our full status as God’s sons and daughters—including our physical bodies being transformed. For this is the hope of our salvation. But hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen. For why would we need to hope for something we already have? So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfillment.”
Stand in faith. Do not let go of your freedom. Defend it. Preach the gospel – the good news of freedom and faith in Christ Jesus who sacrificed all for our freedom and eternal life.
Again, Paul gives us excellent advice - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (TPT)
“Remember to stay alert and hold firmly to all that you believe. Be mighty and full of courage. Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.”