For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Why did Jesus die? There are a few really good answers, but none more explicit than freedom. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). His birth into this broken world and his death at the hands of wicked men were meant from all eternity to set you free. He came and died to liberate us from the chains of sin.
The Horrors of Slavery
Slavery has been one of the most ugly, awful, and oppressive realities we’ve ever known. For centuries — and sadly still today — people have unjustly and violently subjected other people created in God’s image to their own selfish needs and passions. We can read about the horrors of slavery in history, but they only ever tell a fraction of the centuries-long nightmare that’s ruined millions and millions of lives.
Even more tragically — yes, it really can get worse — the most cruel and corrupt examples of slavery in history are only a faint shadow of the horrifying hold sin has on every human soul. We were all slaves to sin (Romans 6:20), completely helpless to resist it’s power and daily letting it lead us into rebellion against God. The slavery was so subtle we barely felt the chains, but so intense it influenced everything we thought and did. We carried out the desires of our flesh, suicidally welcoming the infinite, holy wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3). We were dead in this slavery — without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:1, 12).
Free at Last
But God came in Christ to bring freedom. Through faith, you are dead to sin — set free in every way from its reign in your heart — and alive to God and his righteousness (Romans 6:7, 18). And just as the horrors of physical slavery pale in comparison to slavery to sin, the liberation of slaves around the world — as thrilling as it is — means almost nothing compared to the spiritual freedom we experience in Christ.
Do you feel free? Are you crushed under the weight of condemnation? Or maybe you have a low-level sense of guilt that’s constantly leaking out of the bottom of your relationship with the Lord? Are you regularly losing the battles for purity, patience, and self-control? Has someone else’s sin made you feel enslaved? Are you convinced you’ll never be good enough for God’s love? Satan has a thousand ways of enslaving us to lies of all kinds, but God has given us his Spirit and his word as weapons against him.
What Freedom Looks Like
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17–18).
The freedom Christ brings through the Spirit releases the believer, the one turning to God in faith, from the hopelessness of their slavery to sin to greater and greater Christ-likeness. Freedom in Christ finally equips us to do what we were created for. We’re finally free to display God’s glory through increasing (though imperfect) and joyful conformity to him. Our freedom, rightly enjoyed and expressed, looks more and more like God.
Free to Love
And what looks like God? Love (1 John 4:8). Use your freedom as an opportunity for love, not self (Galatians 5:13–14). When we experience the freedom that comes in Christ, we don’t use it to secure our own safety by trying to prove ourselves through the law. And we don’t try to secure our own satisfaction by striving to find pleasure and identity in the things of this world. God obtained both — our safety and our satisfaction — in Jesus. We no longer need to serve ourselves because Christ has purchased our freedom with his broken body and poured out blood, and in him we have all things (1 Corinthians 1:30).