Freedom In Christ
Galatians 5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
To avoid interference from Lieutenant-Governor Dunmore and his Royal Marines, the Second Virginia Convention met March 20, 1775 inland at Richmond–in what is now called St. John’s Church–instead of the Capitol in Williamsburg. Delegate Patrick Henry presented resolutions to raise a militia, and to put Virginia in a posture of defense. Henry’s opponents urged caution and patience until the crown replied to Congress’ latest petition for reconciliation.
On the 23rd, Henry presented a proposal to organize a volunteer company of cavalry or infantry in every Virginia county. By custom, Henry addressed himself to the Convention’s president, Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg. Henry’s words were not transcribed, but no one who heard them forgot their eloquence, or Henry’s closing words: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
1397. δουλεια douleia; gen. douleias, fem. noun from douleuo (G1398), to be a slave, to serve. Servitude, dependence, the state of a doulos or slave. That state of man in which he is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life, a state opposed to liberty. In the NT, used only figuratively as a slavish spirit, in contrast to the spirit of sonship (Rom. 8:15); of the condition of those who are subject to death (Rom. 8:21); of those under the Mosaic Law (Gal. 4:24; 5:1); of those subject to the fear of death (Heb. 2:15)
“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”
– “Gotta Serve Somebody” by Bob Dylan
I. A slave of Christ
a. And Pharaoh nationalized the grain harvest, and placed the grain in great store-houses that he had built. So the people brought their money to Pharaoh, like a great tax increase, and gave it all to him willingly in return for grain. And this went on until their money ran out, and they were hungry again.
So when they went to Pharaoh after that, they brought their livestock – their cattle, their horses, their sheep, and their donkey – to barter for grain, and verse 17 says that only took them through the end of that year. But the famine wasn’t over, was it? So the next year, they people came before Pharaoh and admitted they had nothing left, except their land and their own lives. “There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to government, and then sold themselves into slavery to him, in return for grain.
What can we learn from this?
b. The slave of Christ is truly free. We have been set free from sin by the Son of God who said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Now the Christian can truly say, along with Paul, “..through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). We now know the truth and that truth has set us free (Romans 8:32). Paradoxically, through our bondage to Christ, we have also become sons and heirs of the Most High God (Galatians 4:1-7). As heirs, we are partakers of that inheritance—eternal life—which God confers on all His children. This is a privilege beyond any earthly treasure we could ever inherit, while those in bondage to sin inherit only spiritual death and an eternity in hell.
c. That turning to the government instead of to God to be our provider in hard times only leads to slavery? Yes… That the only reason government wants to be our provider is to also become our master?
Yes. But look how that passage ends, brothers and sisters! Thus, Israel settled in the land of Egypt , in the land of Goshen . And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.” God provided for His people, just as He always has! They didn’t end up giving all their possessions to government, no, it says they gained possessions! But I also tell you a great truth today, and an ominous one.
We see the same thing happening today – the government today wants to “share the wealth” once again, to take it from us and re-distribute it back to us. It wants to take control of healthcare, just as it has taken control of education, and ration it back to us, and when government rations it, then government decides who gets it, and how much, and what kind. And if we go along with it, and do it willingly, then we will wind up no differently than the people of Egypt did four thousand years ago – as slaves to the government, and as slaves to our leaders.
II. Free from Bondage
a. Why, then, do so many Christians live as though they are still in bondage? For one thing, we often rebel against our Master, refusing to obey Him and clinging to our old lives. We hold on to the sins that once bound us to Satan as our master. Because our new nature still lives in the old fleshly nature, we are still drawn to sin. Paul tells the Ephesians to “put off” the old self with its deceit and corruption and “put on” the new self with its righteousness. Put off lying and put on truthfulness. Put off stealing and put on usefulness and work. Put off bitterness, rage and anger and put on kindness, compassion and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:22-32). We have been set free from the bondage of sin, but we often put the chains back on because part of us loves the old.
III. Crucified with Christ
a. Furthermore, often we don’t realize that we have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and that we have been reborn as completely new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Christian life is one of death to self and rising to “walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:4), and that new life is characterized by thoughts about Him who saved us, not thoughts about the dead flesh that has been crucified with Christ. When we are continually thinking about ourselves and indulging the flesh in sins we have been freed from, we are essentially carrying around a corpse, full of rottenness and death. The only way to bury it fully is by the power of the Spirit within us who is the only source of strength. We strengthen the new nature by continually feeding on the Word of God, and through prayer we obtain the power we need to escape the desire to return to the old life of sin. Then we will realize that our new status as slaves to Christ is the only true freedom and we will call upon His power to “not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Romans 6:12).