“I am William Wallace!” the legendary leader shouted to his Scottish brethren in the movie Braveheart. After resisting the repeated attacks of the tyrannical English King Edward the Longshanks, the men were ready to give up.
“And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You’ve come to fight as free men…and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?”
“Fight?” a wearied warrior countered. “Against that? No! We will run. And we will live.”
“Aye, fight and you may die,” their mythical leader replied. “Run, and you’ll live…at least a while.
“And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take…OUR FREEDOM!”
Is Freedom Just Another Four Letter Word?
This Wednesday, Americans celebrate Independence Day, the day when our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It’s a day we celebrate freedom from British rule. (Isn’t it ironic that today, the British are our closest allies?)
Freedom is a core value in the Western world. It’s also those most overused, misunderstood word in the English language.
Years ago, a chain of convenience stores posted the word “freedom” in big letters over their soft drink machines. They celebrated the “freedom” customers enjoyed in choosing from a half dozen different soft drinks.
For this William Wallace and the forefathers of countries around the world died? For this our founding American forefathers risked their lives?
Of course not. People in totalitarian countries assuredly enjoy the option of different soft drinks. But it begs the question: What is the purpose of freedom, and how can we attain it?
The True Purpose Of Freedom
“You, my brothers, were called to be free,” Paul wrote in Galatians 5:13, which sounds like something William Wallace would say.
Our freedoms allow us to make choices that people in previous generations didn’t enjoy. We can worship as we choose, marry whomever we choose, pursue any profession that we choose, and voice our dissatisfaction with our government without fear of retribution. But freedom can be a mixed blessing—just ask people from newly freed countries. Since winning their freedom, Russia has become thoroughly entrenched in corruption and overrun by the mafia.
Our freedoms allow us to surf porn, pick up sexually transmitted diseases, and gamble ourselves into bankruptcy and personal ruin. Extreme examples to be sure—but the possibility to live without restraints is definitely one of the pillars of freedom.
Paul though, continues his thought: “But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.”
Then he compares the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, appear on the list of vices (see Galatians 5:19-21).
Is freedom the right to indulge in any of these vices? Technically speaking, yes. But what if these “vices” are truly vices? If so, then they really represent bondage–the opposite of freedom.
The Deeper Freedom Is The Freedom To Be Who You Truly Are
Paul was a addressing a deeper freedom. Not a freedom to indulge these practices, but a from them. A freedom to be who we really are. A freedom to be the men and women God had in mind before he created the heavens and the earth.
You see, when we give our lives to Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The deepest part of us is no longer us but Christ.
Take a look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are all the character traits of Jesus. When he becomes the deepest part of us, they become the deepest part of us as well. But they need to be freed.
Previously, our sinful nature gravitated toward Paul’s list of vices. We couldn’t help ourselves. We may think we’re free, but we’re not. Yet Paul says that the Christian has been unchained. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” he wrote in verse 1.
If you have given your life to Jesus, the truest part of you is the fruit of the Spirit, and not the works of the flesh.
Please Join Me In A Conversation!
How does it feel to know that the truest part of you gravitates toward the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh?
What helps you believe it? What prevents you from believing it?
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. If you or somebody you know is struggling with bondage to a sexual addiction, he highly recommends a book he helped Michael John Cusick write. The newly-released book is entitled “Surfing For God.”