How to Be Set Free

J.R. Waller, MBA

Key Points

  • Many Christians acknowledge that Jesus has set them free, yet they find it difficult to experience freedom in their daily lives.
  • Jesus' goal is the freedom sinners from the power of sin. His freedom is real, and all-encompassing. It is freedom from all iniquity.
  • Freedom in Christ allows us to move forward and overcome former sins and past pain.
  • We only know God’s words and truth, and only experience his freedom, to the extent that we continue in his word and learn from him. We must commit to studying his words.
  • Redemption is why we are free in Christ. Our freedom is not found in us. It is not found in feelings or ritual. Nor in being good enough. Freedom is only found in Jesus.

Introduction

34) Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

35) And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

36) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

37) I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

38) I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.John 8:34-38 (KJV)

When I was a younger Christian, I’d make mental lists in my head of “do’s” and “don’ts” regarding my behavior.

Don’t do this, do this. Do this, don’t do that. In my view, as long as I kept checking the right boxes I wouldn’t feel guilty and I’d be a “good” Christian.“Why were they so mentally flexible, emotionally warm and confident while I wasn’t?”

However, as time went by, I realized (by God’s grace) that this approach to Christian living, though founded on good intentions, was misguided at best and prideful at worst.

I was relying wholly on myself and my own set of arbitrary laws. Instead of God, I was the measure of success in my Christian life.

Jesus taught that when we grow in his word, our knowledge of the truth increases and our Christian life becomes better and more freeing, but back then I wasn’t growing in truth at all. (Jn. 8:31-32)

The result? I wasn’t experiencing true Christian freedom. Instead, I wore myself out. My rules only got stricter, and I eventually found myself unable to keep up. I became trapped, angry and depressed.

During that time, I’d find myself most frustrated when I would come across Christians who were joyful and free.“Regrettably, there are many Christians who are not experiencing the freedom of the gospel to its fullest extent.”

They had something I hadn’t really grasped yet and I didn’t like that. Why were they so mentally flexible, emotionally warm and confident while I wasn’t?

They were not perfect by any means. Nor did they deny they were sinners. In fact, they knew how sinful they really were in a much more realistic manner than I did, yet that didn’t bring them down.

Also, they didn’t have lists of rules, nor were they focused on avoiding taboos and maintaining rituals. Yet they kept their lives in order. They were free and I wanted to know why.

God used that season in my life to teach me profound things about how to truly experience freedom in him. (Rom. 8:1)

Regrettably, in my personal experience, I’ve discovered that there are many Christians who are not experiencing the freedom of the gospel to its fullest extent.“Many Christians acknowledge that Jesus has set them free, yet they find it difficult to experience freedom in their daily lives.”

Many Christians acknowledge that Jesus has set them free, yet they find it difficult to experience freedom in their daily lives.

In this lesson, we’re going to learn how to experience freedom in the Christian life.

We will begin by learning a bit about what freedom entails, and will then discuss ways to grow in our freedom in Christ.

Freedom is Jesus’ mission

In the Bible, freedom is closely related to the concept of liberty. For instance, throughout the Old Testament liberty was usually synonymous with emancipation from slavery.

Liberty is also a concept that lies at the heart of the New Testament. The purpose of Jesus ministry was and is “to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Lk. 4:18)

And by those who are bruised he means all of us. There is no good thing in our flesh, we are all sinners and require freedom from bondage to sin. (Rom. 7:18, Rom. 3:23)

It’s been said that the worst of slaves and prisoners are those who don’t even realize they are imprisoned. That’s us before we are saved.“In the Bible, freedom is closely related to the concept of liberty”

That was also the problem of the “religious” Jewish leaders to whom Jesus message above was directed. (Jn. 8:34) They were enslaved by the sin of false righteousness.

Jesus was trying to free them from their self-deception. (Jn. 8:33-34) He was trying to free them from themselves.

That is what Jesus does for each of us who accept his death for our sins. That is why he died on the cross for us. Our freedom was, and still is his first priority.

Christian freedom is real

Jesus knew we would struggle with the concept of being free. As such, his teachings about how he sets us free are given with extra emphasis.

He said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” The word “indeed” here means surely, really, and certainly free. (Jn. 8:36)

The freedom that Jesus offers is real, multifaceted and profoundly rich. The list of things that Jesus liberates us from is truly immense.

If you are are born again spiritually, you are free and raised to new life in Him, all things become new. (Rom. 6:4, 2 Cor. 5:17) “The freedom that Jesus offers is real, multifaceted and profoundly rich.”

Christians are freed from “all iniquity.” (Tit. 2:14) That includes death, hell and the grave. (Rom. 8:2)

We are also freed from Satan’s power, from our own self-deception and from bondage and slavery to sin. (1 Jn. 5:18, Ps. 106:10, Ps. 72:14)

Jesus’ freedom is real, it leaves no part of our lives untouched, however even Christians are not free from pain, death and sin’s influence on this earth.

Those freedoms are promised only for heaven. (Rev. 21:4) We are free spiritually yet at the same time still physically in the flesh in the midst of a broken world, until we are taken to glory.

A new freedom

So, while we are not fully freed from everything yet, we are at the same time freed to something new when we become Christians.

Jesus emphasized that liberty has to do with man’s relationship to God. Its not freedom to do what one wants, but to serve God and be who he wants you to be. (Rom. 6:18)

The freedom that Jesus offers is not merely freedom from slavery to sin. It is about being made free to be a slave of righteousness.

We are called and saved to something, that is liberty and liberty frees us to serve others and God in a way that only God’s children can because of his spirit working in us. (Rom. 6:18, Gal. 5:13, Phil. 2:13)

“Jesus emphasized that liberty has to do with man’s relationship to God. Its not freedom to do what one wants, but to serve God and be who he wants you to be.”

As God’s servants, we have our “fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:22) The sins of our former lives had the opposite results. They did not benefit us at all. (Rom. 6:21)

God is clear, the end for a servant of God is everlasting life, but the end for a slave to sin is eternal death.

This is why we must see our Christian life on earth for what it is, a progression and race that we run towards heaven. (Heb. 12:1)

As you move towards the eternal city on the journey God has for you in this life, you must grow in freedom and in his grace. That’s God’s will for his children. (2 Pet. 3:18)

This means serving others and experiencing the freeing depths of his love, for we love because he first loved us. (1 Jn. 4:19)

Christian service is done out of an abundance of appreciation and love for the freedom that God has given his children.

So then, Christian freedom, as it is bestowed upon those who believe and accept Jesus, is both freedom from things (sin and death) and to things (service to God and eternal life).

Embrace freedom

So far we have established that the freedom of sinners was central to Jesus’ mission. We’ve also learned that Christian freedom is real and comprehensive.

We just learned as well that we will not be completely freed until heaven but that nevertheless we are made free to serve God.

Coinciding with this is the problem alluded to at the start of the lesson.“Christian freedom, as it is bestowed upon those who believe and accept Jesus, is both freedom from things (sin and death) and to things (service to God and eternal life).”

What do we do when we know we are free, but are not experiencing the freedom that Jesus gives?

Well, you have to be honest and Biblical. That means confronting the fact that you still live in the flesh in this life.

Yes, we have been set free from the things that once had a tremendous hold on us like drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, and the like, but while we are freed from them in the ultimate sense, they can still have a hold on our lives from time to time. (Gal. 5:17, 1 Cor. 10:13)

Remember, in this life, we will never be sinless. Rather, we are blameless and free from sin’s former mastery of us. This means we are no longer under its penalty of death or held by it as an enemy of God.

We are also under no condemnation if we have believed in Jesus. (Rom. 8:1) Remember, God died for all of your sins on the cross.

While we must always treat sin seriously, we must also not let Satan use guilt or shame to derail us from serving God.“In this life, we will never be sinless. Rather, we are blameless and free from sin’s former mastery of us.”

A tremendous facet of Christian maturity is knowing that you are at the same time justified but still a sinner.

You mustn’t be surprised when you do wrong.  Now, I will admit that is easier said than done because sin does grieve us with a godly sorry. (2 Cor. 7:10)

However, we can easily allow Satan to take our godly sorrow and turn it into enslaving guilt.

That’s how many young Christians get tripped up. In fact, that’s what happened to me in the story I gave at the start of this lesson.

We set our own terms. We strive to “be good enough Christians.”  We react with an intense urge to rid ourselves of all sin, when that only does us more harm.

Yes, we must not use God’s grace as license to sin, however we must always remember that being made free from sin means we are servants of righteousness. (Rom. 6:18)

As servants, Jesus is our master and he has commanded us to always press on and to continue. (Jn. 8:31, Phil. 3:14)“Take the focus off of what you have done, what you think you have to do, and rest your eyes on what God has already done for you.”

Freedom does not mean we allow sin or its power to turn us into depressed people through fear, ritual, guilt, anxiety and self-deception. Rather, freedom in Christ gives us the ability to move forward.

This is why godly sorrow over sin leads to repentance but guilt leads us nowhere. (2 Cor. 7:10) A preoccupation with guilt does nothing for us or for God.

In fact, it tells God that we don’t need his forgiveness and that we can’t fully accept it because we somehow know better than him.

The cure is to simply repent and “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset you” and to run the race set before you with patience. (Heb. 12:1)

Lay aside the weights of guilt. Embrace freedom. Jesus is the “author and finisher” of your faith, look to him, consider him and you will not grow weary. (Heb. 12:2-3)

Take the focus off of what you have done, what you think you have to do, and rest your eyes on what God has already done for you.

Remember who you really are

What about your past? What do you do when the great accuser Satan lets you know how bad you once were? How about when you feel like you’re just not being good enough today?

In such times we can easily forget that Jesus is our great advocate, that we are clothed in his righteousness and that he forgives to the uttermost. (Rom. 8:1, Rev. 3:5, Heb. 7:25) In such moments, freedom can seem especially far away.

Also, sometimes it’s not what we’ve done, but what others have done to us that hurts us so much and causes God’s freedom to appear distant.

Christians are not immune to the wounds, scars and pains that come from past trauma. In fact, the devil knows where those scars are and so do we.

“Sometimes it’s not what we’ve done, but what others have done to us that hurts us so much and causes God’s freedom to appear distant.”

The scars of harmful memories and experiences are especially tender to profound guilt and distress when Satan, others or even we cause them to have power over us.

Yet, Jesus frees us from our past hurts and pain. In fact, he has freed us from all adversity and all distress. (1 Kings 1:29, 2 Sam. 4:9)

Now, this does not mean we don’t have to confront fallout from things we’ve done or had done to us. There is certainly a place for therapy, professional help, and reparation. Those are tools God has given us to use and we ought to use them.

However, we must remember that we are redeemed in God’s eyes. That has to inform us along every stage of the healing process, along with the fact that he is working in our life to undo what has been done and is working to make it better. (Rom. 8:28) Now that’s freeing!

Therefore, God has freed you from the sins in your past, and from past trauma. Not only that, he is working to turn those things around in your life each and every day.

Think about what Jesus himself said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)

“We never grow when we take our eyes off of God.”God takes you by the hand, in your distress, and says I am greater than your past, and I am going to walk forward together with you, away from the pain and toward a new life that I have especially for you. Remember who you really are, you are his, and that’s glorious!

Know truth and grow

Jesus is certainly the key to freedom from past sins and pain, but we can still fall into seasons where we find it difficult to experience that freedom. What do we do then?

First, you have to understand what is really going on when your past or sins paralyze your mind and emotions.

Almost always such thoughts are under-girded by fear, anxiety, worry, guilt (not Godly sorrow) and feelings of inadequacy. The problem? Such feelings are always self-focused, not God-focused, and that’s a problem because we never grow when we take our eyes off of God.“Are you more free in Christ today than you were last year?”

Think about Peter when he walked on water. The moment he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink. (Matt. 14:30) He focused on everything else other than his savior.

I’ve often heard the question posed, “Are you closer to God today than you were a year ago?”

Perhaps a better question is, “Are you more free in Christ today than you were last year?”

Freedom goes hand-in-hand with spiritual growth and spiritual growth comes by learning more about God’s truths.

Jesus taught this in our main verses in this lesson. Again, he said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn. 8:31-32)

You must know the truth, but you will only know truth when you read, study and mediate on God’s word; the source of all truth.

Put another way, we only know God’s words and truth, and only experience his freedom, to the extent that we continue in his word and learn from him.

When you read God’s word and know just how much he frees you from, and what Christian freedom includes, the Christian life becomes supremely liberating.“We only know God’s words and truth, and only experience His freedom, to the extent that we continue in his word and learn from him.”

Learning leads to greater liberty. You can only come to terms with God’s freedom on his terms. He is truth, his word alone is truth, and it is his truth that sets you free. You must study it and learn it.

To illustrate how important this is, lets turn our attention to one of the most vital truths about Christian freedom as our lesson draws to its conclusion.

Redemption and freedom

Liberty or freedom in the Christian sense has everything to do with redemption. God teaches us this throughout scripture. Redemption is why we are free.

Jesus overcame the power of sin, death and the law “because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:24)

He bore the penalty of our sins for us as our perfect sacrifice and substitute, that is how and why we are set free when we place our faith in him to save us. (Rom. 10:9)“Redemption is why we are free.”

Redemption, like the concept of freedom, can be thought of as being “bought with a price” by Jesus and taken away from the world which is nothing more than sin’s slave market. (1 Cor. 6:20) That is the heart of redemption; we are purchased from the world by and for God. (Is. 49:25, Acts 20:28)

Jesus truly is a “ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:6) He bought you and is working in you to make you ever more like him. (Phil. 2:13)

He will never let you down. His plans are always the best for you, even when you might not fully understand them.

Herein lies the point of it all. Our freedom is not found in us. It is not found in feelings or ritual. Nor in being good enough.

Freedom is only found in Jesus. We are made free and we experience our freedom by and through someone, and that someone is Jesus.

Freedom is all about him, not us. That is deeply liberating. You see, as a Christian, you don’t have to be someone you’re not because you are in Christ, he is your identity.“Our freedom is not found in us. It is not found in feelings or ritual. Nor in being good enough. Freedom is only found in Jesus.”

The life you now live in the flesh you live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved you, and gave himself for you! (Gal. 2:20)

His grace is sufficient for your freedom. (2 Cor. 12:9) You don’t have to be good enough because Jesus was and is perfect. You don’t have to justify yourself anymore, he has done that for you. (Rom. 3:20-22)

You cannot experience freedom as a Christian through your own strength. Therefore, be the servant of God you are meant to be. Follow and rest in Him today.

Conclusion – Freedom in Christ

In this lesson, we learned how to experience freedom in the Christian life. We began by learning a bit about what Christian freedom entails.

We concluded that Jesus’ central goal in his ministry was to free sinners from the power of sin. Next, we discovered that the freedom that he provides us is real, multifaceted and profoundly rich.

Freedom from death, hell, the power of sin, all iniquity, self-deception and so forth are just some of the many things he frees us from.

We then discussed ways to grow in our freedom in Christ, concluding first and foremost that as Christians we are not fully freed from everything yet (such as pain, the flesh and physical death), but we are at the same time freed to something new, which is freedom or liberty to be who God wants us to be.“In this lesson, we learned how to experience freedom in the Christian life.”

This is why Jesus emphasized that liberty has to do with man’s relationship to God. Its not freedom to do what one wants, but freedom to serve God and be who he wants you to be.

We saw then how we have to embrace such freedom by letting go of our past sins by pressing on and continuing in God’s word. In fact, freedom in Christ gives us the ability to move forward.

In a similar manner, we learned that God is working all things for the good of his children and that he has freed us from all adversity and all distress. This enables us to overcome painful memories of what others have done to us and past trauma.

Next, we confronted the reality that it can still be hard to experience God’s freedom. This is because freedom goes hand-in-hand with spiritual growth and spiritual growth comes by learning more about God’s truths.“Learning from him, following him, resting in him, and having a relationship with him make us free indeed!”

When you read God’s word and know just how much he frees you from, and what Christian freedom includes, the Christian life becomes supremely liberating. The key is committing to reading and studying his word and truths.

One such truth that was presented was that Jesus’ redemption of us on the cross is why we are free in him.

Therefore, our freedom is not found in us. It is not found in feelings or ritual. Nor in being good enough. Freedom is only found in Jesus.

Learning from him, following him, resting in him, and having a relationship with him make us free indeed! May you rest in Jesus today. Soli Deo gloria!

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