Christian liberty. It is a term frequently used and rarely understood in our age of no restraint. The Scriptural expression is actually “the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” and this is an important designation (Galatians 5:1). Our liberty is not license to do as we please; it is the life we have through identification with the Lord Jesus.
Yes, we are free! Free from sin’s penalty (Romans 6:7), and sin’s power (Romans 6:14-16). Free from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Free from the law and death (Romans 8:1-2). But we are not free to sin – we are free to serve Christ and do the will of God.
Our liberty, bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus, is not liberty to do what we want to do, but liberty to do what God wants us to do. It is freedom from sin, death, and the condemnation of the law. Be careful what you do with your liberty in Christ!
- Christian liberty misused can bring you back into bondage. The cry of Christian liberty may be a disguise for fleshly rebellion. When “liberty” becomes the label for disobedience to Scripture and the Spirit of holiness, it is actually lasciviousness – unbridled desire. This is the spirit of our age, and it is not the Spirit of Jesus Christ. “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).
- Christian liberty abused can wound others. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:13-14). The law of love must always be coupled with the law of liberty. Only this balance will keep us from using liberty as an excuse for something that would hurt a brother or hinder the gospel. Just because you could do something, does not mean that you should! “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9).
- Christian liberty used for our own ends will rob God of glory. In the end, Christian liberty is not for us to use, but for us to be used. His Lordship is to rule and overrule in every area of life. We are free to do what pleases Him – not to do as we please. Religious terms can often be a cover for fleshly living. “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16)
True Christian liberty is not for selfish aims, for sinful lusts, or for striking out at others. It is for us to serve the Lord. Remember that liberty always comes with responsibility.