“FREEEEEEDOM….” shouts William Wallace with his last breath as his undaunted fervor to free Scotland from British tyranny reaches its final climax. In what is arguably one of the most powerful scenes in film history, Braveheart stands as a testimony to man’s longing for freedom. As Christians, we enter into a freedom that surpasses all other forms. But we are in danger of losing it from forces within the borders of the Church….
License. Legalism. Both extremes fight against believers’ freedom. If the Church hopes to retain the liberty for which Christ died, it must guard against these freedom-threatening forces.
Lining up on the side of license are those who see freedom as a pass to engage in whatever they feel is okay. This increasingly manifests itself in moral behavior—or lack thereof. A recent study by a Christian online dating service reported that sixty-three percent of its respondents said they would engage in sex before marriage. I’ll take one Christ with forgiveness; hold the moral absolutes please. The arbiter of right and wrong is relegated to how one feels, sans biblical standards. Forgotten is the warning given in Galatians 5:13,“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh….”
On the other end of the freedom-dismantling spectrum live the legalists. Although they may appear righteous on the outside, they use the word of God as a cudgel against those who differ. Colossians 2:21;23 describes them well. “’Do not handle!’ ‘Do not taste!’ ‘Do not touch!’ Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
Both sides judge the other and justify their positions by dissecting Scripture that reinforces their own perspective. When Jesus frees the woman caught in adultery, the libertarians focus on “Go”; the legalists on “sin no more” (John 8:11).
If we hope to fight both license and legalism—pulls by the way that are escalating—we must renew our commitment to walk in the kind of freedom Christ died for: Freedom infused with holiness. This freedom looks different from any other kind known to man. God paid an extremely high price to make his people both holy and free….so let’s not blow it. Let’s show it! Let’s shout it from the rooftop…..