by Pastor Mel
Biblical freedom = true freedom
We don’t need to lecture people who read Cairns News about the importance of freedom in Australia.
The Bible’s major themes are centred on the ideas of “freedom” and “liberty”, but diverge from popular ideas of freedom.
Many of us will know the story of Moses bringing the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt or the famous words of the prophet Isaiah (61:1): “The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…”
Isaiah’s prophecy looks ahead to the ministry of Jesus, in physically and spiritually setting free the people of his time on earth and in the future.
Jesus confirmed this in John 8:35-36 in a heated confrontation with some unbelieving Israelites: “A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants, but you are trying to kill Me because My word has no place within you.…”
As we know, Jesus went on to suffer a cruel death at the hands of his countrymen and their Roman rulers, but rose again from death to life to reveal his power and confirm himself as the Son of God.
St Paul, the main persecutor of the early church who turned key witness for it, made the profound, big-picture statement in Romans 8:20-21 that the entire creation is destined for freedom: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but because of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
The same St Paul also had much to say about freedom to the Galatian church that had come under the sway of Judaizers i.e. those Jews who wanted to impose legalistic, Pharisee-like practices on the church.
In Galatians 5:1 Paul states: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
But most importantly, Paul underlines that freedom in Christ is not simply being free “to do what you like”. “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.” (5:13)
True freedom puts aside selfishness and takes a higher path where reward is neither sought nor expected but where love is exercised for the benefit of others.