Implications of Liberty

     As I’ve said before, I haven’t been everywhere, but based on what I’ve seen thus far I prefer living in the United States of America. Our nation is far from perfect but it has some things about it that one just doesn’t find anywhere else. One of those things is a special kind of liberty. Liberty is not exactly the same thing as freedom but the two concepts are closely related. A simple formula that we sometimes see is that freedom is “being free from something” and liberty is “being free to do something.” Our nation had its origin in a set of ideas that allowed for the development of freedom and from that, liberty. It is therefore a nation worth praying for.

     Jesus was in Nazareth in the synagogue on the Sabbath day and had been asked to read (Luke 4:16-21). He read from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (NKJV). When He finished reading He handed the book back to the attendant, sat down and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” This, of course, caused quite a stir. He left expeditiously before any harm came to Him.

     The Lord’s hearers on that day did not view Him as meeting the qualifications of the Messiah. Good proof was available and more would be. They also did not understand the nature of the liberty He was proclaiming. He would make it possible for all people to be at liberty. Jesus created a state of liberty by making it possible for people to be free from sin.

     Paul spoke of this blessed condition using the words “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The ultimate experience of this liberty from sin will be when we get to Heaven. Now we enjoy this liberty in prospect and hope. Freedom from sin is a very sweet freedom and it puts us at liberty to be God’s children and to do the work that pleases the Lord.

     Our country’s Declaration of Independence is a great document of freedom and liberty as a people on this earth. When we think of freedom from sin and the liberty to be God’s children we turn to the New Testament which is the great document of spiritual freedom and liberty. Paul was writing about the new covenant in Christ in 2 Corinthians 3. He was decrying the condition of some who read Moses and refused to see Jesus (like the people in Nazareth and those of John 5:39). Thus they would remain in bondage. The new covenant, which in Paul’s time was being revealed through the work of the Holy Spirit, would bring about this state of liberty.

     Paul worked diligently to inform the early church about the dangers of falling back into a state of bondage to the Old Law, which was in no way able to set and keep them free from sin. One of his clearest expressions of that work is Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (NKJV). The Lord had made it possible for us to live out our days here on this earth in liberty. Paul did not want his first readers to fall back into the Law of Moses.

For us, Paul’s most recent readers, he would not want us to fall back into whatever sin it was that had us before the Lord made us free. We value of freedom and liberty as citizens of this country. This is as it should be. But our final citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20). We should therefore cherish the spiritual freedom provided for us by the Lord and do the work we have been set at liberty to do.