We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:6–8)
We were all born slaves. Regardless of how much money our parents made or what country we live in or how many decisions we freely make every day, we are all slaves apart from Christ — slaves to sin, slaves to death, slaves to ourselves. If we’re ever going to truly live, we need to be set free.
Because our need for salvation is a need to be liberated from our own helpless sinful condition, someone else must act on our behalf. Only God has the power, authority, and resources to overcome our brokenness and pay our infinite debt. Our only hope rests in his sovereignty and mercy. There is nothing within us capable of liberating us.
The good news is our hope rests on One who loves to liberate poor destitute sinners, and who has done so through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Our chains are gone. He has freed us from much — sin, death, futility, and the law — and he has freed for much — to see, know, and love him forever.
Free from Sin
Sin is a slave master and all are born by nature under its control. Sin is not merely a bad habit or an unhealthy pattern of decision-making. It is slavery, and like those helpless under physical slavery, we were helpless to free ourselves from its bondage. No stronger power seeks to destroy us than our sin, and no more dire condition faces any human being than our enslavement to it. This slavery separated us from God, the focal point of our design and the source for our joy. It makes an awful wretch of every one of us.
But God. Christians have been freed from their sin. Paul writes, “For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:7). Until God intervenes, all have sinned (Romans 3:23), because all are slaves to sin. But God intervenes and rescues those who trust in him from all of their iniquity.
Free from Death
Secondly, Christians have been freed from death. Again, Paul writes,
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54–57)
Prior to salvation, all people are subject to death, physical and spiritual (Romans 6:23). In Christ, believers — though they die — are no longer destined for spiritual death, but experience new and everlasting life.
Free from Futility
Third, Christians have been freed from the futility of worshipping false gods. Paul writes, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods” (Galatians 4:8). Any worship not directed to the one, true God is slavery. Anyone or anything that is not God himself are — by definition — not gods and therefore cannot offer true life or freedom. Christ liberates us from the futility of worshipping not-gods to the freedom and joy of worshipping him (Galatians 4:9, 31).
Free from the Law
Lastly, Christians have been freed from the law (Galatians 3:23–25). People have always tried to earn God’s love and blessing by their behavior. It’s a burden no one can bear, and it’s a burden Christ came to bear for all the weary and heavy-laden. Though we have all sinned, and are therefore condemned by the law, the law no longer has any claim on us because Jesus has carried our sin on the cross and purchased our purity before him. The law lays an unbearable weight and curse on each of us. It has enslaved us to death and damnation. But Christ has lifted the law’s judgment against us, counted us righteous through faith, and freed us to live with him as accepted and loved children of his Father.
Free at Last
While Christian freedom is very real in this life, it will not be complete until the day when God fully and finally fulfills his promise, which happens in the new heavens and new earth. Freedom in that new creation will outshine that even of the original garden because all sin and causes of sin will have been dealt one final blow (Matthew 13:41–43) and death will never threaten us again.
Just as Israel anticipated a day when they would no longer suffer slavery and oppression at the hands of Egypt, Assyria, or Babylon, God’s people are awaiting a day when all will be made right, when those who have persecuted and oppressed us will be judged, and when believers will be granted full freedom to see, love, glorify, and enjoy God in his presence forever.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow.
The sun forbear to shine.
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Forever free. Forever mine. Amazing Grace.