As I think about what it means to experience freedom in our walks with the Lord, I realize that I have far more questions than I do answers. For example:
When have you felt the most free?
A few weeks ago, I read Rebekah Lyons’, “You Are Free: Be Who You Already Are,” and this question stopped me in my tracks. I had to think really hard. When have I felt free?
The first day of a long vacation?
On a “date” with my dad when I was in elementary school?
My wedding day?
Those were good experiences. Did I feel free? Was I walking in freedom? True freedom, or just perceived freedom? And what is true freedom anyway?
These questions have really stuck with me… because the answers just aren’t coming quickly. It doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult, but the longer I think about them, the harder they feel to answer.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
I keep coming back to this passage and though I am far from answering all of my questions, here are a few observations I’ve made and am thinking through.
- Walking in freedom necessitates intentionality. Even when freedom is ours to be grasped, we must choose to walk in it. Galatians 5:1 “…stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” As in, it’s possible for you to submit to slavery even when you are free. According to Paul, this means that I need to be on guard, fully living into the freedom that my walk with the Lord provides.
It’s crazy to think that though we are free from the curse of sin, free from eternal death, and free to be who He has created us to be… and yet, it’s possible to miss out on it entirely. Why are we sitting in a prison cell even though the doors are open wide? We have been given a great gift, but we are not receiving it, wallowing in bondage that we have already been freed from.
So, let’s get intentional. Let’s stand firm because it’s for freedom that Christ has set us free. Free is what God created us to be and freedom is what Jesus purchased for us through His blood, on the cross. What reminders do you need to whisper (or shout?!) to your heart to remind you that the doors of your prison cell are open?
- Freedom allows us to love people well. Rebekah Lyons “defines” freedom this way: “Freedom comes when we know God is enough, when He is our everything.” Ponder that for a minute. If that’s true (and I think it is), it will very much affect the way I interact with other people. Culture paints freedom in broad strokes of, “You can do whatever you want and be whoever you want to be!” and, “You can make every decision to maximize the benefit yourself.” But is that really free? Am I not still in bondage if all I’m focused on is myself? Is that not still slavery to my flesh and it’s broken desires?
However, if I truly know that God is enough and I believe that my identity is found in Him and in who He says I am in, I don’t need to manipulate others to fill a relational void. I don’t need to be entirely independent of others to feel free. Instead, I’m free to love without needing a specific response from another person that validates my worth or independence. If we are living in the bondage of sin, we cannot love other people well. Only when we are set free in Christ can we truly love our neighbor as ourselves.
So, let’s pursue freedom for the purpose of loving people like Christ loves us. Why don’t we think God is enough? What idols do we allow to take His place in our affections?
- You can’t walk in freedom without the Spirit. The desires of our flesh bring bondage, and these verses remind us that the Spirit keeps us from gratifying our flesh. Romans says the same thing:
“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
And 2 Corinthians makes the connection between Spirit and freedom too:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”2 Corinthians 3:17
I know that I have a lot to learn about what it means to walk by the power of Spirit, and what it looks like to really see and experience the power available to me in the Spirit. But I don’t know that I often connect the Holy Spirit with the idea of freedom even though there are clear connections in Scripture. Which probably means I have even more to learn about the Spirit than I think I do!
So, let’s explore this connection, friends. Who is the Holy Spirit and what does He have to do with freedom? What desires of the flesh are keeping us from life and freedom in the Spirit?
See? I told you had a lot more questions than answers! But, I am fully convinced that these questions are worth leaning into, worth pursuing, worth discussing, and worth asking the Lord for clarity in. He has set us free, so let’s be who we already are!