Are They the Same?
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are in the founding documents of American history and is still a big part of our modern thinking. Freedom, choice and liberty make up the fabric of our society. Legalism is commonly viewed as a negative word.
To many, liberty means – the right to choose. Who will rule over you in government to what you do with your body (or a baby inside your body) is considered an inalienable right. Others may choose differently than you but that is their right and thus they must be respected. Diversity and not dogmatism is true democracy: the people’s choice. Happiness and its pursuit are to be defined by your choice rather than another legislating for you.
Indeed the Christian under the New Testament is told to. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1). But what does the Bible mean by liberty? Is it our right to choose?
There are things in life that restrain a person from doing what they ought to. Such as a disease might restrain a person from exercising, but once healed they are now free (able) to exercise. Or a thief in jail will be restrained from working in society. But once freed from prison he is now free to work again – but not free to choose what to steal again.
The Old Testament gives a great picture of what the Lord means by liberty. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt and were under the control of a hard Pharaoh. Moses relayed God’s will to Pharaoh; “Let my people go, that they may serve me” in order to hold a feast unto God in the wilderness. Pharaoh refused to release Israel so now they could not obey God (Exo 5:1,2; 8;1). Israel was restrained from doing God’s will. After God liberated them from Egypt by passing through the Red Sea they were for the first time now free to do what God chose for them to do: serve Him according to His Word. This was not viewed as legalism but liberty.
Biblical freedom is being loosed from restraints that hold us back from doing God’s will. Once free, we are now able to do what He chooses for us – rather than what we choose. “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:18).
The gospel of the grace in Christ Jesus has made the believer free from:
“Wrath” – so we can be “reconciled to God” (Rom 5:9,10).
The “oldness of the letter” of the law that kills – so we can “serve in newness of spirit” (Rom. 7:1-6; 2Cor. 3:6).
“The law of sin and death” – so we can live by the Spirit and fulfill “the righteousness of the law” in us (Rom. 8:2,4).
Yes, “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). There is a freedom (the world’s) that leads to slavery and death: the wages of sin – and there is a slavery (God’s) that results in freedom: eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:18-23).