Yesterday many Americans celebrated and reflected on the meaning of Independence Day, also commonly known as the Fourth of July, a federal holiday in the United States of America commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776, declaring our country’s independence, our autonomy, our FREEDOM, from the Kingdom of Great Britain now officially known as the United Kingdom.
Ah Freedom, no single word resonates with Americans and millions of others the world over quite like freedom. Freedom is a basic human desire, we read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice in the notion of freedom, teach, advocate, and hope for freedom, but what do we mean by freedom?
Freedom means many things to many people. What does true freedom look like? Does it look like a voter’s ballot or someone walking out of prison? Is it seen in being able to buy anything I want or in the fact that I don’t owe a thing to anyone? Of course, it’s crucial to define what we mean by freedom so that we know what we’re looking for, what we’re hoping to attain.
It is interesting that many of the freedoms we seek today are seen as ends in themselves, as a final goal to be attained. It’s as though we think that once our particular freedom is achieved, all our problems will be solved. Why? Because we’ll have freedom! But freedom from what? And freedom to do or be what?
Hmmm…well, I don’t really know how to say this there is no FREEDOM, there I said it….there is no FREEDOM. Boy that felt good, I believe I’ll say it once more THERE IS NO FREEDOM. We are all slaves to something.
The Bible tells us that, spiritually speaking, no one is free. In Romans chapter 6, Paul explains that we are all slaves. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Those who are slaves to sin cannot free themselves from it, but once we are freed from the penalty and power of sin through the cross, we become a different kind of slave, and in that slavery we find complete peace and true freedom.
A contradiction? Perhaps but doubtful, the bible explains to us the only true freedom is in Christ and comes to those who are His slaves. Unfortunately the term slavery has come to mean degradation, hardship, and inequality. But the biblical paradigm is the true freedom of the slave of Christ who experiences joy and peace, the products of the only true freedom we will ever know in this life.
Awkwardly enough for mankind there is a debt that every human has, a disease that we all suffer from, which no human strategy can ever conquer or cure. It is not a bondage to external things primarily, though it does work its way out in external expressions. No, our problem is much deeper. It is bondage of the will, a captivity of the soul, a deadness of heart.
There are 124 occurrences in the New Testament of the word doulos, which means “someone who belongs to another” or “bondslave with no ownership rights of his own.” Unfortunately, many modern Bible versions, as well as some newer King James Version, most often translate doulos as “servant” or “bond-servant.” However, consider this a servant is usually one who works for wages, similar to your server in a restaurant setting, and one who, by virtue of his work, is owed something for his services. The Christian, on the other hand, has nothing to offer the Lord in payment for his forgiveness, and he is totally owned by the Master who paid the price for him, having bought him with His shed blood on the cross. Christians are purchased by that blood and are the possession of their Lord and Savior. We are not hired by Him; we belong to Him (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 7:4). So “slave” is really the only proper translation of the word doulos.
A slave indeed but far from being oppressed, the slave of Christ is truly free. We have been set free from sin by the Son of God who said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Now the Christian can truly say, along with Paul, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). We now know the truth and that truth has set us free (Romans 8:32). Paradoxically, through our bondage to Christ, we have also become sons and heirs of the Most High God (Galatians 4:1–7). As heirs, we are partakers of that inheritance—eternal life—which God confers on all His children. This is a privilege beyond any earthly treasure we could ever inherit, while those in bondage to sin inherit only spiritual death and an eternity in hell.
This is true freedom. And true freedom only exists in Jesus Christ. How does it happen? God changes our heart by His Holy Spirit. God makes us spiritually alive by giving us a new heart. This heart desires to love God. It sees Jesus Christ as beautiful and desires to love Him as the Lord and Savior of our life. By faith, we give our life to Jesus and receive His forgiveness and freedom from sin. Not only this, but we are now free to do the very thing we were created to do – to honor and enjoy God forever. And this joy in God is from our heart – our new heart given to us by God.
This is true freedom and true freedom is given to us, not because we’ve earned it but because of God’s Grace.