There is no such thing as absolute freedom.
People talk about being “free” to do whatever they want, especially as a reason not to accept Christ. They say they don’t want to have to follow a bunch of rules, but just want to do whatever they please. But they can’t do whatever they please; that’s a lie. Human beings are incapable of doing whatever they please.
Anyone ever had:
An addiction or habit you couldn’t break?
A desire you could not make go away?
A person you couldn’t force yourself to like, or be nice to?
An emotion you couldn’t stop from surfacing and controlling your mood and your actions?
Thoughts you couldn’t stop from running through your head?
Limitations on your life because of the status of a relationship (married, single, divorced, etc.)?
Issues due to physical, emotional or mental limitations?
Things you couldn’t purchase due to a lack of finances?
A situation where you wanted something, but for some reason, couldn’t obtain it?
Humans naturally are slaves to their bodies, their minds, their situations, their emotions and their circumstances. Things outside of our control can at any time limit us from doing whatever we please. We can’t control things outside of ourselves: others, circumstances, and situations. We can’t even control things inside of ourselves: our body, mind, emotions, and even our will.
People talk about free will, that we can choose to do good or evil. But how many people have done evil that they didn’t want to do, and felt they had no choice in the matter at the moment it happened. You were swept away in the grip of something stronger than you when you did it. For all your efforts and free will, you were not free to stop yourself.
And how about times you really wanted to do something good for yourself or someone, but you just couldn’t do it? For all your efforts and free will, you were not able to make yourself do something.
Romans 7 points this out in detail:
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Notice that this section ends on a positive note – that we can be delivered from the sin waging war against our will and desires through deliverance by God by taking Jesus Christ as our Lord. But what I want to point out is that just being in Christ still does not make us FREE in the natural sense. Our body, our mind, our thoughts, are emotions, our will, are just as they were prior to our conversion when we took Him as Saviour.
The only thing different is that His Spirit now lives in us. But that one difference brings with it our ONLY hope to be FREE, because with His Spirit comes God’s mind and God’s power, two forces that can transform every situation, every relationship, every physical and mental illness, and every hurt, habit and hang-up. But I want to say it again – even by having God’s Spirit within them, Christians who have accepted Jesus as Saviour are not “free”.
What I mean is this – Freedom comes with a price; it is contingent upon one thing – servanthood. Only Christians who have taken Jesus as LORD and have become His servant can be FREE.
Everyone, in heaven, on earth and in hell, serves something or someone. There is absolutely no exception.
The unsaved man is described as serving created things. Most of the time, they serve themselves, or possibly, altruistic people may serve others. But that type of service does NOT lead to freedom.
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
But the Christian is called to serve God and serve others as God directs us to serve them.
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Jesus said he did not come to be served, but to serve God so others would be saved.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
When Jesus was baptized, God the Father proclaimed that Jesus was His servant.
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
Phil 2: 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Jesus also stated that the Father will honor those that follow and serve Jesus.
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
We have to remember that we cannot only determine to serve God, but must serve others (as God directs us) as well, even those we do not feel like serving.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Religious people try to serve a set of religious rules and regulations, but if they try to make themselves righteous (right with God) by following one law, they are then obligated to also judge themselves by how they have or have not followed every single law. If you break just one law, you are a lawbreaker.
Jesus came so that we could serve not a written code of rules, but serve a living God by the power of His Spirit living within us.
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
It is only upon His servants that God says He will pour out His Spirit and the power and mind of God that dwells within it.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
FREEDOM for a Christian is always conditional. This means that we can only be free IF we do something in particular, and that something is submit to God’s Holy Spirit within us, and allow His power and His thoughts to flow through us to serve Him and serve others. Our measure of freedom is contingent upon our measure of servanthood to God and man.
Paul’s ability to understand, teach and proclaim God’s message of salvation came only through the power of God’s Spirit. He received the message through revelation by God speaking directly to Him, and Paul’s ability to do miracles, teach and preach were given by God’s divine empowerment (God’s grace).
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
If you want to be truly FREE, then you have to choose to submit and surrender yourself, your will, your emotions, your desires, your dreams and your body to God as His servant. THEN He will release His grace gifts (His divine empowerment gifts) in your life to release you from bondages. As you obey Him and serve others as HE directs you to do, He will release more deliverance power by His Holy Spirit. His characteristics (the fruit of the Spirit) will become more and more evident in your daily life.
[As a side note, let me clarify that serving others as YOU want to serve them is not the same as doing it as HE directs. We may harm others by serving them when we are codependent, doing things for them that they need to learn to do for themselves. We also can’t pick and choose who we are to serve. We are called to listen to God and obey His will regarding the lives of others, and the part we are (or are not) called to play in their lives.]
Let me also explain the difference between a slave and a bond servant. A slave is purchased regardless of His will, to serve someone else. A bond servant willingly sells himself into servitude to someone.
Sometimes freedom is best described not by being able to do whatever you want, but
being able to NOT do what you DON’T want to do,
AND to do the things you are CALLED to do but don’t want to do.
THAT is true freedom, and THAT is the freedom that comes from God through His Spirit ONLY to His servants, those who are surrendering to Jesus Christ as Lord.
Surrender, but then add to that submission ACTION, service, as led by God.