Most democracies have a day set aside to celebrate their freedom from the regime that once ruled them. Communities gather to enjoy a feast, spend time with friends and family, and perhaps even watch a fireworks display. Such events are worth commemorating, for freedom is a valuable thing.
The Bible affirms the value of freedom as well. There’s the account of Moses’ delivering God’s people from slavery to Egypt. There’s also the moving story in Ezra of the captives’ return to Israel, where they then rebuilt the temple. But there’s a greater theme of freedom running through these stories and the pages of Scripture: humanity’s need for spiritual freedom.
We are born enslaved to sin. It’s our greatest problem and one for which we need a great Savior. Jesus Christ purchased our freedom through His sacrificial death on the cross. This is amazing news. But He didn’t set us free only for us to live wild lives full of debauchery—as in one of those movies about a prison break when murderers and thieves are set loose upon an unsuspecting town to wreak havoc and destruction. This is often how the world views freedom: as the right to pursue whatever we desire, right or wrong. Scripture teaches otherwise: we’re set free to live as servants of God.
The Apostle Peter wrote, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). This verse uses two different Greek words to refer to bondage: eleutheros and doulos. The former means “free from bondage” and the latter means “bondservant.” Peter is saying: “Live as people who are free from bondage. Live as bondservants of God.” In the context, doulos is used metaphorically to mean a voluntary yielding of one’s freedom to another. Believers are called to willingly live as servants of the Lord, submitting to His will and Word.
This means that freedom for the Christian is different from worldly freedom. It means that we are no longer ruled by our sin. Sin is no longer our master. It no longer has the power to dictate how we live our lives; it has no hold on us. Instead, we have a new Master, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Rom. 6:17–18)
We now live for the One who purchased our freedom.
As we yield to the Lord and His work in our lives—as we live as bondservants to our Savior—our lives will reflect that new identity. We’ll bear the fruit of holiness (Rom. 6:22); we’ll serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13); we’ll live our lives for the One to whom we now belong (Rom. 7:4). What a freedom worth celebrating.