Reader, do you think that to be free is to live without restrictions?
This is a complex topic, I know. Maybe we have a misconception of the true meaning of freedom. Living life without limits and restrictions is a concept of the post-modern world, but the world won’t forgive you if on some given day you decide to exercise the freedom to rob a bank. Can you? You can. But you shouldn’t. There are rules for good conduct everywhere. This allows for a functioning society.
In the spiritual context, the Bible says that only two masters exist. If you don’t serve one, you serve the other. But how can we extract a definition of freedom from this statement? The meaning of liberty goes much further.
When the Word of God says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), we understand that to live without the knowledge of the Bible is to live in bondage. A slave doesn’t live for himself but for his master. So, if we aren’t freed by the Word of God, we will be slaves. Whose slaves? Satan’s. Heavy, isn’t it? Some people have the idea that the Bible enslaves. But when we come to understand a little about the creation of mankind, we discover that we were created for the glory of God. At the creation of the human mind, obeying God was established as the way for mankind to achieve happiness.
Man was master of himself, able to choose what he thought was best, and he chose. Upon hearing and accepting Satan’s proposal, he surrendered himself to that power, and with that, all mankind was caught up in the consequences. And this master is not at all nice. He promises freedom, but taking into account the statement in 2 Peter 2:19 “whatever overpowers you, enslaves you,” this promise isn’t as liberating as it seems.
When we study the story of the prodigal son, we can see the unfolding of this truth in the life of a young man just like us. The son, judging obedience to his father as akin to slavery, asked for his inheritance and left to live an unrestricted life. But he soon discovered that he had no maturity to know what to do with his life, let alone with his freedom. He realized that he was a slave not only to the world, or to people, but to his own impulses, which were beyond his control and were instead controlled by Satan. He understood that his father wasn’t a dictator with arbitrary rules, but someone who wanted his wellbeing. This was proven when he returned home.
To understand true liberty we need to understand these three aspects:
1- Free in love
Love is related to freedom. The world promises many attractions: friendship, entertainment, and acceptance, but we need to understand what true love is. Fingers will always be ready to point and judge the moment you don’t meet their demands or decide to be different. This isn’t love. See, God isn’t the only One who has a law. Beauty, status, and wealth standards are increasingly high. In society, you need to follow the laws of acceptance to achieve apparent success. All of this is very expensive and not worth all the effort. Your body isn’t respected, causing the loss of vitality and health. Do you want to be free? Start by loving God, yourself, and your neighbor.
2- Dealing with consequences
There’s a strange illusion going around that not every act or decision will have serious consequences. Therein lies the mistake. Did no one explain that what is sown must also be reaped? The enemy isn’t playing with you, and whatever he can do to steal your happiness, he will do. Every act has consequences. There are many examples: marriages ruined by momentary passion, diseases acquired through moments of intemperance, reputations ruined because of a slip-up, and many others. Even more serious, however, is the loss of salvation. The bright expectation of a happy future is with time overshadowed by the consequences of wrong choices.
3- Controlling emotions
Giving way to impulses may seem good and attractive, but every feeling ought to be approved or disapproved by reason. When emotions lead, conflicts arise because the red light cautioning you away from wrong choices and disappointments is obscured. When Queen Passion decides to let you down, she takes every dream with her. People are always looking for greater stimuli to find happiness, but it remains as elusive as ever. The perfect match is when reason dominates feelings, analyzing choices, evaluating what is right and what is wrong.
So, true freedom isn’t doing everything you want, like vandalizing city buses, crushing and emotionally injuring people, or even indulging addictions to escape reality. That isn’t freedom. It is lack of self-control. It is slavery. Being able to choose and follow the best path, even if you have every possibility at your fingertips, is the icing on the cake. It means controlling yourself even in adverse situations, choosing the attitudes that will benefit you the most. Satan doesn’t want anyone to have free will, so he enslaves us through sin. God has shown us that to be free is to follow His laws, which we won’t call laws but guides to achieve true liberty.
When someone realizes the disadvantages of “liberty” without restrictions and decides to change direction, the phrase that we most often hear is: “you’re going to leave this life to be a Christian?” True liberty begins when the Holy Spirit gives you the ability to do and follow what you set out to do, even though there is a force pushing you in the opposite direction. Without Jesus, this strength overcomes you, enslaves you.
Like Adam, today you can choose who you want to serve. He will never force your decision, but you can be sure Jesus will be very happy if you choose Him as your Guide. Your range of potential will be infinite. And above all, “live like free people, but don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live as those who are serving God,” (1 Peter 2:16).