We live in perfect liberty when we surrender in willing service.
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
Liberty is a concept that has endured through the ages. There hasn’t been one era or geographical region that hasn’t pursued this, more often than not with bloodshed and loss of life. A central human cry is to be free to live as we want to and not be dictated to by others, whether society, family, or government. In modern times, it masquerades as our right to freedom of choice and is a flag for both those who are oppressed but also for those who seek to do as they will, whether it contravenes God’s laws or not. The irony is that true freedom only comes through Christ. By biblical definition, we deduce from the many scriptures in this regard that it basically boils down to having the liberty to live as we were created and called to do. Free will is a part but not the whole of it.
Liberty is a God-given blessing linked to free will.
It’s important that we take hold of the absolute truth that liberty is part of the salvation package. Jesus came to set free those imprisoned, captive to darkness and sin. It is part of God’s work of restoration through salvation and of our new resurrection life in Christ. Free will is also a gift of God – one He will never disregard, even when it gets in the way of the things He desires to do in, through, and for us. Our liberty, though – or at least the extent of it – is determined by our free will. The full liberty in Christ is available for every believer. Jesus has already bought and paid for it. Whether we walk in it or not – or how fully – is decided by the choices we make. We ultimately decide whether to be free or not.
While there are other issues that need to be dealt with – like curses or soul ties and even deliverance – it starts at our point of choice. Free will is a blessing but also carries a responsibility. The same truth applies to our spiritual freedom. Neither being free nor having free will is simply there for self-gratification. God gives us both and then expects us to manage them right – to make the right choices as to who we live in them. When we exercise our free will wisely and choose the things of God, our liberty will increase. If, however, we exercise foolish choices based on our personal agendas, we will find our freedom diminishes. The things we focus on become the things that either entrap and enslave or liberate us. The basic problem we all face is that we don’t necessarily fully understand what spiritual freedom in Jesus really is.
What is true liberty in Christ?
Christ’s work on the cross was forgiveness and restoration. These two cover all aspects like liberty, righteousness, etc. In essence, God uses the power of the cross to restore to us what was lost in Eden. It is His way of transforming us back into the person we were created to be – the one sin, the world, and the devil messed up along the way. It’s very clear, then, that this person is not the person we are now – or were before salvation. Being ‘made new’ doesn’t mean we can now carry on totally forgiven, justified, made righteous but with a focus on what we want. We were all originally created for the glory of God – to worship Him and to manifest His will. This is the truth that today’s verse is pointing to. We are not set free to serve our own purposes but those of God.
The redemptive work of the cross isn’t our eternal ‘get out of jail free’ card. When we choose Jesus we choose to follow Him. To follow Jesus means to live as He did – in surrender and obedience to the will of the Father in all things so that He might be glorified. The ministry of Jesus can be summed up in one word – servanthood. We are set free to serve. That’s the beginning and the end of it. Sonship means servanthood. It means laying down self, crucifying sin, throwing out our own agendas and living as a servant of the Most High. That’s a concept that is all but lost against the loud ‘me myself I’ clamour of today’s world. If we desire full and perfect liberty in Jesus, we must take the road to the cross. That road always leads through Gethsemane, the place of His will be done.
Living in perfect liberty.
Our verse today presents two wonderful truths. The one is that we are really only truly free when we surrender in servanthood. The other provides the ‘how’ of it. Once again, it takes us back to Jesus, our perfect example. Liberty in Christ is gained when we live like Christ. He lived to serve others, and that is the simple key to our freedom. We are here to serve others, not ourselves. Self has no place in the kingdom of God. It represents the sins and self-will that become our chains. The reality is that it is the pursuit of self will that got us into trouble in the first place. Our liberty already exits as a spiritual reality, bought and paid for in full by the sacrifice of Jesus. It will always exist as an unchangeable fact. It is finished – perfectly perfect and completely complete.
The reason so many of us walk in partial liberty is that self still has the upper hand. Our focus is on what we want God to do for us rather than on what He wants to do with and through us. We want God to set us free and give us the desires of our heart. Instead, we should want Him to give us the right desires in our heart which is what comes first. We pray ‘Thy will be done’ with the attitude of ‘so long as my will be done,’ which is contrary to God’s purposes. We are created to serve God, and like Jesus, that means serving others, whether we like them or not. As vessels and instruments of God’s hand, we have no say in the what and the why of it. Today’s verse shows us very clearly that liberty is release through service.
Liberty is an ongoing challenge.
If anyone is still struggling for full liberty, I challenge you to begin to serve in absolute surrender. I know from personal experience that you will begin to see the liberation manifest in your life beyond imagining. The joy of freedom in Jesus cannot be defined or measured. But it’s an ongoing challenge, because self will persist in trying to sneak back in. Habits and thought patterns and responses will continuously intrude, and unless we’re watchful, we’ll slide back a step or two. When our focus shifts from the cross to self, our willing service falters and the chains reach out once again. Be encouraged, though. Full and perfect liberty already exists. All that is needed is for us to grow into it, and Jesus has taken care of that too. We simply need to fix our eyes on Him – The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your full and perfect liberty purchased for us through the cross. Thank You for reminding us that real freedom is to serve. Help us to keep our eyes on You in absolute surrender to the Father’s will. Teach us through Your example how to live the purpose for which we were created. Help us to serve others as You did, revealing the Father to all so that He may be glorified.