What is True Freedom?

We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice in the notion of freedom, teach, advocate, and hope for freedom, but what do we mean by freedom?

Freedom means many things to many people.  We can view freedom politically, as having the opportunity to vote for particular ideas, people, or parties which best represent our views.  Closely tied to this is the notion of freedom of speech, where one has the liberty to voice their personal opinion or perspective. Others understand freedom in a financial context, where people seek to free themselves of financial debt, outstanding credit, and burdensome loans.

What does true freedom look like?  Does it look like a voter’s ballot or someone walking out of prison?  Is it seen in being able to buy anything I want or in the fact that I don’t owe a thing to anyone?  Of course, it’s crucial to define what we mean by freedom so that we know what we’re looking for, what we’re hoping to attain.

Say a child runs outside and climbs a tree because he wants to get away and be free.  In his exuberant effort to be free, the boy wanders out onto a tree limb, turns around, and begins severing the last connection he has with the world – the limb.  Having sawed through the limb, the boy quickly realizes that he not only failed in achieving his goal of complete freedom, but discovers that what he was seeking wasn’t true freedom at all.  In his effort to achieve freedom, the boy finds himself in a worse situation then before – broken limbs and all!

Two sides of the freedom coin

Not surprisingly, the Bible says quite a bit about freedom, despite any impressions we might have about it being merely a book of restrictive rules. In reality, if we are willing to consider it, the Bible can help us distinguish between what it means for us to be free from something and to be free to do or be something. Freedom from and freedom to are two sides of the freedom coin.

It is interesting that many of the freedoms we seek today are seen as ends in themselves, as a final goal to be attained.  It’s as though we think that once our particular freedom is achieved, all our problems will be solved.  Why?  Because we’ll have freedom!  But freedom from what?  And freedom to do or be what?

For example, let’s say that we’re in deep financial debt.  We realize our desperate state and begin to strategically work our way out of financial bondage.  It may take months, years, or even decades, but eventually we hope to balance our budget and move from being in the red to black.  But, even if we accomplish our goal and attain financial freedom, particularly freedom from debt, have we really attained true freedom?  In other words, does having no financial debt necessarily mean that we have attained financial freedom?

Not really.  See, our hearts, which drove us into debt in the first place, remain unchanged.  It may be the case, and unfortunately it often is, that as soon as we get out of debt, we plunge right back into it.  Why?  Because our hearts see and desire something it cannot live without.  So we buy it, and voila!  We’re in debt again.  So, if our hearts are not changed, neither will our behavior change.  That’s why the Bible says that true freedom begins in the heart. We act on our thoughts and behave according to our desires.

Interestingly, the Bible likens the human heart to a tree, in which, “every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 7:17-18; 12:33-35).  The source of our actions is the heart.  If it’s diseased, the fruit (our actions) is rotten too.

Of course, it’s always good to be out of debt, but to simply balance the books is only a peripheral remedy.  It is merely treating the symptoms rather than dealing with the disease. True freedom is only achieved when our hearts are changed, not when the books are balanced.

The same can be said for political and verbal freedom.  Both are significantly good and should be advocated and protected, but they are peripheral freedoms in comparison to true freedom.  True freedom occurs only in the heart when it is changed and made new.

What then is this “true” freedom?

There is a debt that every human has, a disease that we all suffer from, which no human strategy can ever conquer or cure. It is not a bondage to external things primarily, though it does work its way out in external expressions.  No, our problem is much deeper.  It is bondage of the will, a captivity of the soul, a deadness of heart.

The Bible tells us that we were made by God to honor Him and delight in Him forever.  Yet, we chose to sin and rebel against God by abandoning our created purpose of worshiping Him in order to do our own thing and pridefully make a name for ourselves.  This rebellion against God, known as the Fall, caused mankind to fall from the innocence in which they were created and become corrupted by sin.

Due to our sin, we have all received the consequential penalty of sin, namely spiritual and physical death.  Death reigns in all of us so every one of us is spiritual dead (separated from God) and will also die physically one day.  Not only this, but throughout our life, the effects of sin infect everything we do.  The marring stains of sin are pervasive within each one of us, distorting the way we think, desire, and behave.  All of our thoughts, feelings, and actions are tainted by our sin.

Yet, in all of this, the human heart remains free.  Free to choose whatever it desires. But here’s the catch – the human heart is corrupted and enslaved by evil.  So, the only thing it desires is evil.  All our thoughts, words, and actions are tainted in various degrees with prideful sin and rebellion against God.  So even though we are free to choose, we only freely choose sin all the time.

Ultimately, the final consequence of our sin against God is hell, a state of total and unending disconnection and separation from God, a place of unhindered and perpetual bondage to unrestrained evil, horror, and suffering resulting from everyone doing all their selfish and sinful hearts desire, no matter what harm it may cause to others.

Yet, God in His love sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth and willingly die in the place of sinful humans like us to absorb all our sin, rebellion and wrongdoing.  Therefore, all who entrust their complete life to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will be saved from their bondage to sin and given eternal life in Him and enjoy an intimate and personal connection and relationship with God himself.

This is true freedom.   And true freedom only exists in Jesus Christ.  How does it happen?  God changes our heart by His Holy Spirit.  God makes us spiritually alive by giving us a new heart. This heart desires to love God.  It sees Jesus Christ as beautiful and desires to love Him as the Lord and Savior of our life.  By faith, we give our life to Jesus and receive His forgiveness and freedom from sin.  Not only this, but we are now free to do the very thing we were created to do – to honor and enjoy God forever.  And this joy in God is from our heart – our new heart given to us by God.

This is true freedom.  This is grace.

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22 thoughts on “What is True Freedom?

  1. Rej

    i have shared what you have wrote to my fellow bible believers baptists…
    And i giving my effort to share this article…

  2. K-52

    your crazy a change of heart can only be done by the person the heart belongs to not by god or Jesus they are only a guide

  3. Inovation

    Wow…really? I completely disagree. People have been completely free without any sort of religious interaction.

  4. JamieJamie

    Inovation, have you ever seen “The Matrix”? How humanity thinks that they are free but in actuality they are being held captive by an enemy that fills their minds with the illusion of freedom. I think that is what the author here is suggesting. Humans may feel like they are free but they actually live in captivity to an illusion. True freedom comes when you see past the illusion to the way things really are.

    This is what Jesus does for us: He helps us see things as they really are. The choices we make are not free because we have a nature that blinds us so we always make the wrong choices. Our nature does not allow us to make the right choices. Even religions mask reality and put us into slavery to thinking we can make things right through our own efforts.

    Jesus doesn’t invite us into a religion but into relationship with Himself. “For God did not send His Son Jesus into the world to condemn humanity, but that every person might be saved [set free] through Him.” (John 3:17) Jesus claimed “He [God] has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released” (Luke 4:18) He also said, “So if the Son [Jesus] sets you free, you will indeed be free.” (John 8:36)

    There are lots of examples in our world of people who are held captive by an illusion of reality. There are those who think pretty highly of themselves yet everyone can see they are incompetent. There are those who are told they are worthless by someone trying to control them. It is only when the illusion is exposed that they suddenly begin to experience freedom. That is what Jesus does for us… what He can do for you. Are you willing to take the challenge and let Him expose the illusion that you are living in. Have a look at http://powertochange.com/mycravingsca/knowing-god-personally/knowing-god-personally and discover for yourself how God can set you free.

  5. Miguel

    Religion is the true illusion, its just another trap! The truth is man has invented religion as a means of controlling the narrow minded…the bible is no holy powerful magic book , its simply a guide to life…” we were created in gods image”,”we are the children of god”…hello we are gods!!! And as for jesus his message was never that he was the one and only, his message was that you are capable of miracles if you just believe that god is your father and a god too!

  6. Claire ColvinClaire Colvin

    Miguel, Where do you see Jesus claiming that his message is that we can perform miracles? How do you explain verses like John 14:6 (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”) where Jesus clearly DOES say that he is the one and only?

  7. Charlotte

    I believe Jesus died on the cross to save us sinners from all our sins so that we can be freed from the strongholds and bondage that has kept us captive so that we can find freedom. Also,we are saved by Gods grace which is the gift of God. One grandest thing about this God is that He is so merciful to easily forgive us so that we can be set free. There is steps to take in order to find that freedom…….firstly you need to be a Christian!!!

  8. KateKate

    The revelation of God in the man of Jesus Christ, is that by grace through faith God frees us from sin, and frees us for service of God and our neighbour in love!

  9. Jim van Ommen

    Hi Chris, yes very well presented article and hard to dispute even if we wanted to. From a purely rational viewpoint even, it stands for reason that freedom is many things to many people and if we are deprived of that freedom, that is mostly the result of living in an imperfect world. If we are mature enough in our thinking we might even equate that with the possibility that we as part of this imperfect world do inflict restrictions on our fellow beings.
    The danger lies in the notion that freedom is a virtue, an inalienable right to be pursued at all cost as something that is ours no matter what. Almost as it is our right to occupy our side of the road, but there are times when we have to share it in a responsible fashion with those who travel in the opposite direction and that is so often where our problem lies, with “ those that travel in the opposite direction”. We can insist on our rights if we chose to but that could mean we are dead right, we and our fellow travellers.
    Yes, with rights come responsibilities and that very often means we are not at all free to do as we like and because we have so many conflicting thoughts, interpretations and blinding pecuniary interests, governments needed to make laws to keep us on the straight and narrow.
    Freedom is indeed a great concept, but invariably what means greater freedom for one person means greater restrictions for another.
    The greatest area of abuse, I think, lies in the area of freedom of speech. We have all heard the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, yes, something we still teach our children to build up their confidence and cope in this rather cruel world. However we also know that bullying is not only a serious offence, but often has serious consequences, not only amongst school kids, but even amongst the bigger ones in Canberra.
    We need to realise that with freedom comes the option to make wrong choices, either genuine mistakes as well as deliberate violation of the freedom given to us. Freedom therefore in my opinion is not a virtue and what’s more it is not for free, it is something we need to work at to enjoy it and share it with others. Yes at times we need the law to sort out our differences of opinion, but there is a better way. Ask Jesus, as Chris has explained in this article, basically, do unto others as you would have them do to you and enjoy perfect freedom.

  10. Janna

    Freedom in Jesus means he does not want you to live as they did before he was revealed. You are Free to have a relationship with him as your guide in this life. We were all created in God’s image, but we were also given a brain, aka free will. We are not to be yoked under bondage. Those who talk freedom often times don’t live it. All we can do our best.

  11. Doris BeckD. Beck

    You are so right Janna, that freedom in Jesus doesn’t mean that we live as before he was revealed that is under the law. There is always a balance that needs to be lived out. Very true.

  12. c shepherd

    Your view of hell is obnoxious. God will set people free, even a life in Jesus is not totality free, There is always the already and the not yet in Christ. For those who do not accept Jesus they to will be set free its called the second death, no more pain or suffering after the second death, yes no more life. Those in Jesus who enter the new heaven new earth no more pain or suffering but with life.

  13. Claire ColvinClaire Colvin

    Hi C Shepherd,

    I’m not sure which version of the Bible you are reading, but nowhere does it say that God will just release people after death into a time without pain or suffering. The Bible is very clear that each person has a choice to follow Christ or not and that that choice has consequences. For those who place their faith in Christ they enter into Heaven where there is no pain, no tears. But for those who choose to stay separate from God, that separation becomes permanent upon death in a place the Bible describes as being a place of great suffering.

    There is more information about this here, here and here.

  14. ElkayElkay

    The article points out that “the human heart is corrupted and enslaved by evil” and this is what Jesus is referring to at John 8:34, how mankind is “enslaved to sin” and this is our extreme loss of freedom. The Good News is that if we trust Christ as Lord and Savior, then “the Son makes you free (from sin’s enslavement), and you are free indeed.” That’s freedom . . . .

  15. ElkayElkay

    Jim, it seems to me that a reasonable response to Jesus setting us free from sin is to tell others about such a blessing as this. And further, (all this is in chapter 8 of John), Jesus tells us that He is “a Man who has told us the truth which He heard from God” and that if we will obey His truths, “keep His word”, we will never experience (eternal) death. This is even more Good News! Amen . . .

  16. Jim van Ommen

    Yes Elkay we need to share it ! ! ! At this point in time can we do that in prayer as we think about our fellow human beings in great need,.

    We live in times of remotes and we have great faith in their technology, usefulness and application.
    Not saying they are good for us, probably make us a bit lazy. And then there are these other remotes in the form of drones and rockets that destroy life.
    If the technology turns you on , think about that remote that is probably lying around in our houses gathering dust.
    I suggest we do a refresher course and learn anew how to operate it. The ultimate remote, that has the capacity to draw us closer to each other and our Lord than anything ever invented by man and keep us fit physically, mentally and spiritually.
    Just think about it in the context of Acts 12 : 5 and our responsibility in relation to the persecuted Christians and others in Iraq and the Middle East as a whole.
    God bless you,
    Jim.

  17. ChrisChris Landwerlen

    jim….you are so right about iraq. how many of us are really suffering with these people at least in prayer and intercession. blessings!

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