Saturday Sermon: True freedom is living through God's grace
We all want the freedom to live our own lives and make our own choices. Sometimes, this type of freedom leads to license, where individuals do what is "right in their own eyes," hurting others and themselves. It is a perpetual problem with all people . no one is immune. How can we affirm genuine freedom but avoid its abuse?
This is an important question to ask. The world illustrates the problem pretty clearly. In two-thirds of the world, many countries have excessive authority. There is no freedom to question, to protest or to vote against such oppressive authorities. In the West, we have liberty, freedom to question, to protest and to vote. But for some, this freedom has become license. The liberty which should lead to life, has become a basis for selfish and sinful desires to rule our choices.
Paul saw this danger and warned us, "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," (Galatians 5:13 ESV.
The problem with abuse of freedom exists simply because we want our way, so we modify our freedoms to fit ourselves. "Taking license" is freedom which knows no bounds and refuses to submit to any structure. Its only constraints are "I think," and "I want."
In contrast, the scriptures offer us freedom within the framework of what really is true. ""You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," John 8:32.
The Bible clearly sets down the basic teaching, which Christians ought to believe and live. It plainly describes how righteousness and love ought to characterize our lives. It leaves little doubt; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments," Matthew 22:37-40. It speaks so clearly that a child can understand.
Since we all want freedom to mean that we can live our own lives the way we want, the Bible stands in constant opposition. We are frustrated and confused. We know what is right and wrong. The Bible tells us that God has written on our hearts these truths, and when we choose to do our own thing, we reject the truth. We reject what we know to be true and set up a dilemma within us that disappears when we do as God prescribes.
True freedom is found within structure . that is, God's structure.
So, we want to be free? Then we need to understand that our freedom is really freedom from ourselves and our wants and desires. True freedom is living in, by, and through God's grace, as we live the way he has told us to live.
Mike Singenstreu is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church.