Our Freedom in Christ
By Dr. Charles Stanley
To those outside our faith, Christianity often seems like a religion of “dos” and “don’ts.” Many believers also fall into the trap of following a set of religious guidelines instead of enjoying a relationship with their heavenly Father. Others believe that if Christ died for our sins, we are free to indulge in sinful pleasures—without fear of punishment.
What does it mean that Jesus came to set us free? Let’s look at some liberties we’re granted as believers.
1. Freedom from the bondage of sin.
Many times, behaviors that begin as an exercise of freedom turn into bondage. The thing we once did because we wanted to, we now feel compelled to do by our own desire.
- Read Romans 7:19-20. What areas of habitual temptation do you struggle with?
Sin ultimately brings spiritual, relational, emotional, and possibly physical death (James 1:14-15).
- What areas in your life have suffered “death” because of sinful thoughts, habits, or other behaviors?
- Read Luke 4:17-19. Are you in bondage to an area of sin? If so, ask God to show you how to be set free from that sin’s power in your life.
If nothing comes to mind, pray for a friend or loved one who is struggling with bondage to sin.
2. Freedom from guilt.
Not only are we set free from the power of sin, but we can also be released from the guilt associated with it. The feeling of guilt results from both real and imagined transgressions. (For instance, someone may feel false guilt for taking a reasonable break from work.) Guilt is also a spiritual condition: those who refuse Christ’s gift of forgiveness remain in a guilty state before God (Rom. 6:23).
- How does God see us if we have accepted His gift of salvation (2 Cor. 5:21)?
- Do you ever struggle with feeling at fault for things that are not wrong in God’s eyes?
- Explain why believers don’t have to feel guilty after confessing a sin (1 John 1:9).
- Do you have a hard time accepting Christ’s forgiveness? If so, why?
- Read Hebrews 4:16. What do you need from God right now?
3. Freedom from fear of death.
The average person is afraid to die. But as believers, we can look forward to the afterlife.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. [Note: the writer uses the phrase “fallen asleep” instead of saying “passed away.” From other passages, we know that when believers die, their spirits go immediately to heaven (2 Cor. 5:8). In a sense, their bodies “sleep” here on earth.]
- What makes a believer’s grief different from that of the world (v. 13)?
- Why would Paul think these words were comforting (vv. 17-18)?
- Why does it make sense for believers to look forward to death (John 14:2-3; Rev. 21:4)?
- Can you relate to this sentiment? Why or why not?
Good medical care and healthy living can lengthen life expectancy. However, only faith in Christ gives us eternal life (John 3:16).
4. Freedom from ceremonial law and man-made religious traditions.
Just like our salvation, the process of becoming more Christlike is a work of the Holy Spirit. We participate by submitting to His control, but it’s not something we accomplish in our own power by following religious rules.
- The Galatians were being told that as Gentiles, they still had to follow the Jewish tradition of circumcision in order to be saved. What advice did Paul give them (Gal. 5:1)?
- Read 2 Corinthians 3:17. Have you ever felt in bondage to man-made religious rules or traditions? Give an example, and explain how you responded to it.
- What are believers supposed to do with the freedom they enjoy in Christ (Gal. 5:13)?
- What does verse 13 inspire you to do?
Pastors and other spiritual leaders sometimes attempt to play the role of the Holy Spirit, defining spirituality by a set of rules. This doesn’t mean you should flaunt the reasonable guidelines they set. But it does mean that your growth isn’t necessarily contingent upon your ability to follow religious standards set by others.
5. Freedom from deception and false beliefs.
Most people believe that more money, success, or pleasure will bring them happiness and satisfaction. The truth is, fulfillment in life is found in relationship with the Lord and in following His will.
- Read 2 Timothy 2:22. What heartaches have you avoided by seeking God’s will?
- Read John 8:32. Explain a few ways that biblical truth has set you free.
In Christ, we can find freedom from prejudice, worldly perspectives, and harmful beliefs—to name just a few.
Prayer: The liberties mentioned in this study are a sample of the many we enjoy as children of God. As you finish, thank the Lord for the freedoms He has given you. Include those covered in this study as well as any others that come to mind.
God wants to deal with your bondage. Are you ready to be set free? How can you truly be free? (Watch The Truth That Sets Us Free.)