Freedom in Christ

By Pastor Teck Uy

We are living in a society that is supposed to be “free.” People want to exercise their freedom and even fight for it. However, the general living condition has not improved a bit; in fact, it has gone from bad to worse. This is certainly not the freedom that Jesus came to give to us. Rather, he came to set us free from the bondage of sin. Therefore, believers should live differently. The apostle Paul confirmed this, saying, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

Before Jesus came, freedom from sin was obtained through the Law of Moses. However, instead of being a source of reprieve, the Law became a greater burden, because of the various sacrifices that had to be offered to God. Besides, it was almost impossible to be freed from the Law, “for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). This demanded an endless process of offering sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin. When Jesus came, the offering of sacrifices stopped, because “unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself” (Heb. 7:27).

To highlight the purpose of his coming, Jesus read a portion of the scroll of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19). One of the primary purposes of his coming, then, was to set captives free. Indeed, there are many who are living in spiritual captivity—they are captive to sin. Unless they are set free, they will continue to suffer not only spiritually, but also physically. In fact, physical deliverance is easier attained than spiritual deliverance. Many of the physical oppressions that we are suffering today are the result of sin. For the physical deliverance to happen, we need to be set free from sin first. 

Now that we are freed from the bondage of sin, how should we live our lives? In encouraging believers to stay true to the faith, Paul said, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13). While it might have taken some time for us to be freed from our spiritual bondages, it is so easy for us to go back to them. This is partly because of the newfound freedom that we have. We can either choose to go back, or to stay firm in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This freedom of choice was emphasized by the Lord when he said, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. For the Lord is your life” (Deut. 30:19-20). Yes, we are free to choose, but let us choose life.

To better appreciate our new life in Christ, it is important for us to heed the words of the apostle Peter: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). We were actually hopeless before Jesus came. We were captive to sin and we know that the wages of sin is death. However, by the grace and mercy of God, we were saved. Now that we belong to God, we have to be more circumspect in the way we live—no longer as slaves to sin, but as slaves to righteousness.

In encouraging those who have been set free from bondage, the apostle Paul said, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering” (Rom. 8:1-3). Therefore, let us stand firm in the faith and let us not allow ourselves to be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. Hallelujah!