Freedom "From" vs. Freedom "For"
As we approach the 4th of July here in the good, old USofA, I'm thinking a lot about freedom. As Americans, we love our freedom. We value and cherish our freedom. Soldiers are willing to die to protect our freedom. We go to great lengths to make sure that the freedom we currently enjoy will be passed down to the next generation. We love freedom, but do we really understand it?
The concepts of slavery and freedom are deeply woven into the Story of the Bible. Beginning with the 400 years in Egypt, God demonstrated his desire to see his people free. But there was a particular reason why he wanted them free: He wants them to be set free so that they can worship him (see Exodus 5:1; 7:16; 8:1; 9:1; 9:13; 10:3). In other words, the Hebrews were set free from one thing (Egyptian slavery), but they were also set free for something (to worship YHWH).
Like those Hebrew slaves, we find ourselves enslaved, as well. Without Jesus, we are enslaved to sin and self to such an extent that we cannot free ourselves (see John 8:34). Because of our bondage, we are unable to live the life God created us for.
In the Bible, freedom is always from something, but it is also for something. God wants to set us free from our bondage to anyone or anything that keeps us from living life in his kingdom. God wants to set us free for a lifestyle characterized by what he calls "the fruit of the Spirit," that is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23).
The apostle Paul was adamant about this. All who place their faith in Christ have been set free from sin and are now free to live life in the Spirit (see Romans 8:1-11; Galatians 5). God has set you free from your sin, free from your past, free from religious convention, free from regret and guilt and shame and fear and anxiety. But you're not just free from all that; you're free for some things now. God has set you free for a life of worship, a life of service, a life of joy and peace and love and generosity.
The important thing to remember is that if you never engage in the thing you've been set free for, you'll end up enslaved again to the thing you've been set free from. If you never move forward into worshiping God by living a life of freedom in the Spirit, you'll end up enslaved to sin and self all over again.
Value your freedom. Cherish that freedom. Fight for your freedom. Protect it and guard it. But know that it's not complete until you move into the life you've been set free for.
This post is adapted from my book The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible -- which, as it turns out, is still selling pretty well thanks to people like you.