What does the word “freedom” really mean? Ask ten different individuals, and you may get ten different answers. In general, the concept of freedom is that of being out from under the control of something, or someone. Thus, freedom is generally qualified according to what frame of reference is being used.
In reference to slavery, freedom means that an individual is not owned and governed by any other human being. Yet, our nation has more laws than anyone truly knows that govern, to minute degrees, everybody who lives within it. Those laws are written by representatives of the people of this nation. So, while slavery has been abolished, everybody is still accountable to virtually everybody else through the mutual laws of our society.
Everybody has to pay taxes, drive the speed limit, wear a seat belt, carry at least minimum liability insurance on their car, park in designated spaces and feed coins into the parking meter. Nobody can legally sell drugs, steal somebody else’s money, or shoot somebody with whom they disagree. Civil authorities are to be respected and obeyed. We live free from slavery, but we’re certainly not free from responsibility to others around us.
In reference to free speech, our society holds that everyone has a constitutional right to freedom of speech. However, that right is not all inclusive. For example, it is illegal to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater if there is no fire. A person can find himself arrested for making certain verbal threats to another person. An individual can be held legally liable for making defaming statements about other people. A person can go to jail, or suffer fine, for lying under oath. So, while we enjoy freedom of speech, it is not an absolute freedom. There are still restrictions.
When considering these somewhat confusing facts, it is encouraging to know that there is an area in which a person can enjoy absolute and total freedom. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn. 8:32). When those Jews to whom Jesus made this statement questioned him as to His meaning, seeing as how they had never lived under human slavery, Jesus explained, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin...Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:34-36).
Free indeed! The idea is one of being truly free. The Jews thought they were free since they had never lived in physical slavery. How short sighted! They were actually under enslavement to a far worse taskmaster than any human slave owner. They were slaves of sin, and Satan himself was their master. But through Jesus Christ they could become free, absolutely free, “free indeed” from the slavery of sin.
Once we’re set free through Jesus Christ, sin shall not have dominion over us (Rom. 6:14). The forgiven sinner is no longer guilty of his sin. The penalty of his sin- “death” (Rom. 6:23)- is no longer his reality. He enjoys the promise of life in Christ (Rom. 6:8). True freedom…
People scurry about seeking some kind of mythical freedom which does not exist. But through the gospel of our Lord and Savior we can all be truly free. Free from the slavery of sin. Free from the hopelessness of a life outside of Christ. Free from uncertainty as to the future. Free for eternity from worry, sorrow, pain, sickness and death. Free indeed! Why would anyone, knowing that it could be theirs, not claim such freedom? Are you free indeed?…
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Gary L. Hutchens