ODJ: Freedom’s Chains

September 29, 2018 

READ: Romans 6:14-23 

You are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living (v.18).

The notion of freedom seems like the ultimate noble pursuit. And it might seem to mean absolute, autonomous individuality. We can think that if we’re to achieve our full potential, we require unlimited choices, no external restrictions and minimal authority over us. We can view ideas like commitment and responsibility as oppressive things. One of my friends feels anxious if he has to commit to dinner with us without knowing every competing option first.

The apostle Paul, however, tells us that true freedom actually requires an authority to whom we submit. In fact, we will submit to some authority somewhere (none of us are so free as we think). Thankfully, we have a choice here. Paul puts the question to us straight: “Don’t you realise that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?” (Romans 6:16).

Left to our own devices, our delusions about what freedom is actually enslave us. “Offer yourselves to sin,” Paul insists, “and it’s your last free act” (v.16 msg). We either surrender to sin that enslaves us or we “live under the freedom of God’s grace” (v.14). True freedom requires a loving and powerful God reigning over our life. If we surrender to Him, a vast space breaks open around us.

However, if we insist on our own autonomy, our life actually grows smaller and smaller. Eventually, we find ourselves chained in a small, confining space of our own making.

It can be easy to completely twist this truth. We can fear that surrender to God means we’ll be shackled and constricted. God’s leading, however, is the way we discover true freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). A life that resists God always traps us in restrictive, miserable spaces. But a life with God always releases us to goodness and joy.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: Matthew 28:8-15

Read Galatians 5:13 and consider what it means to possess true freedom in Jesus. 
How would you define freedom, and how do those around you define it? How does your concept of freedom mesh with what Scripture reveals?