Christians have long believed that the principal human problem lies not only in overt, obvious evil acts–war, murder, adultery–but in the deeply rooted motives that enslave people to their behavior. A popular Bible verse reads “for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” One of the dearest desires of God’s heart is for believers in Christ to be set free from these slave-weights.
Freedom, in the Christian sense of the word, is not only the ability to worship unrestricted or to have a flowing income or to “be all that you can be;” it is primarily a gift. Let me explain.
Everyone in all of history is enslaved to their own faulty desires, motives, perceptions or assumptions. For example, if one believes he or she must earn God’s love by paying off ministers or attending church daily or preaching door-to-door or praying 55 times a day, that person is enslaved by his faulty belief. God, loving a world that even rejects his existence, sent Jesus as the only person to ever live without deeply rooted defects or sin. Christ then died to pay for our freedom (as well as for the punishment our overt sins bring).
God the Holy Spirit then gives anyone and everyone with this free gift of new eyes and new hearts: that they might see and be set free from their deeply rooted, sinful and faulty motives. Christians are free from the excruciating burden of performing for love, pretending for attention or even “being all you can be,” because the gift is an ongoing, life-changing phenomenon that only requires that you love God with all your heart, as he has already done for you.
We call this salvation, since God’s love rescues people from self-chosen slavery, which is why, even where Christians are rejected and killed, they are actually free. Even where they are physically enslaved, they are actually, spiritually free.
So on the Fourth of July, when Americans celebrate freedom from physical oppression, are they sincerely free?