“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Ask most Americans what they value most and the response will probably be ‘freedom’. Ask them to define freedom and the answers will have something to do with being able to do as we please. Interestingly, the founders of this country defined freedom as being able to do as we ought, not necessarily as we please.
Freedom is actually defined by its choices as reflected in this classic definition;
“Freedom is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.”
The implications are obvious. Authentic freedom only belongs to those who always and in every thought, word, and deed choose the right and the good. A simple inventory of our own life’s timeline of thoughts, words and deeds, will reveal that we are anything but free. For our choices of thoughts, words, and deeds often reflect not the absence but the presence of “necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” And that which is present in us driving these things is sin.
We don’t like hearing this of course. ‘What do you mean I’m not free? Of course I am! I have free will, don’t I?” Actually, there is a no better witness against us than our so-called free will. It is our ample backlog of free willed thoughts, words and deeds that contain the record of the countless ways we have chosen the bad instead of the good. This is the truth. And unless we know and hear the truth about ourselves, we will continue to live the lie, calling bondage freedom. But the implications are even more serious.
True freedom belongs to God alone. Only God is free because only God’s willing always, and in every sense results in the good. This why to claim freedom for yourself – including free will – is, in fact, blasphemy against God. For such a claim shows contempt for God , wittingly or not, by claiming for yourself something that belongs to God alone.
Jesus was speaking to a fundamental truth; if you sin you are slave to sin. You are not free. And because of sin we have no permanent place with God. For the wages of sin is death. But to this ominous and sobering reality our Lord added an even greater truth; “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
In Jesus God has done some free will choosing of His own. And God’s choosing is not polluted with the taint of self interest. Out His great love for us – we who are bound in our free-will pretensions – He has chosen to extend grace and mercy.
The ringing note of this glorious grace so struck the Apostle Paul that he could sum up the whole Christian life in one, simple declaration, “For freedom Christ has set us free.” This is the authentic paradigm of the Christian life and faith. For we are not the free ones who simply misuse our freedom, and must be coerced into choosing rightly. We are the bound ones, enslaved in sin, who must be set free, and have been, “by The Man of God’s own choosing”, Jesus Christ our Lord.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”