It cannot be overstated that in Christ, we are truly free. But what are we free from? We are free from the effects of sin and death and free to love our Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourself. Christian freedom is not license to live as we think best.
We are free from bondage to sin and are free to serve our king and sovereign with a glad and generous heart. We must never return to the sit from which we were freed by the blood of Christ.
The Confession makes clear, They who upon pretense of Christian liberty do practice any sin, or cherish any sinful lust, as they do thereby pervert the main design of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction, so they wholly destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.
As Paul writes in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
When you design a garage, you expect to be able to store some larger items and your vehicles. What you don’t expect to do is park your car in your kitchen. That’s an insurance claim. You design different rooms in your house to meet certain needs.
The “design of the grace of the gospel” is not for feeding earthly appetites but spiritual. The gospel is not that you’re free to live without fear of sin, and therefore you commit as much as you want. The gospel is that you’re free to live without fear of sin, because Christ paid the debt.
Imagine a wealthy grandfather gave a grandson a million dollars. Every time the grandson ran out of money, he went back to his grandfather for another million. The grandson can have one of two perspectives.
First, he could believe that his grandfather is a generous man who is willing to forgive bad investments and teach his grandson to do better. Or, he could believe that his grandfather is willing to act like an ATM and isn’t worth any of his respect.
How often do we treat the grace of God as if we deserve it and he’s going to give it to us anyway? We were slaves to sin, and our freedom was purchased at a high price. Only someone who does not yet understand that price continues to revel in his or her sin at the expense of the mercy of God.
Paul also writes, “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’” (Galatians 5:13-14).
Freedom is good! And goodness and righteousness does not seek the welfare of the self at the expense of another. This is wildly countercultural. Westerners often define freedom as the ability to do what we want and to be free from any sort of limitations. But Christian freedom is totally backward from earthly wisdom.
Be weary of those who make too much of their claim on Christian liberty. More often than not, true liberty is lived out quietly in reverence before the Lord and in service of our fellow man. If liberty excuses sin, it is not liberty; it is license. Christian liberty reveals itself in the pursuit of holiness.
Next time, we’ll take a look at how Christians observe one of the commandments for which Jesus gave the Pharisees a lot of grief–the Sabbath.