Christian liberty is easy to abuse. The truth that we’ve been freed from bondage to the law can quickly turn into the notion that we are free to be a law unto ourselves. We are naturally bent selfward, and so we are inclined to bend grace selfward as well.
But the heart of the gospel of grace is not that we are beholden to no one, but that we belong wholly to Someone. We are Christ’s. Because we are His, we are free from the bondage of the law, but we are also free from the bondage to self and all the idols our hearts will invent.
For this reason, Paul can say to the Corinthians, “Food will not bring us close to God. We are not worse off if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat” (1 Corinthians 8:8). Our liberty in Christ is not bound by idols or enslavement to them (1 John 5:21), nor by slavish asceticism from God’s good gifts, for all things are from Him. At the same time, our liberty is not for self-serving. Indeed, true liberty is not chiefly about the self, but about what is good. For this reason, we can see several principles quite clearly:
First, our liberty in Christ is for freedom. “For freedom Christ has set us free,” Paul writes in Galatians 5:1. To use freedom to return to sin is to use freedom to return to bondage.
Second, our liberty in Christ is for service, and this service is defined by love. “Love builds up,” says Paul, and this is the object of Christian liberty (1 Corinthians 8:1). It is for seeking the kingdom, for the building up of the body, for loving our neighbors.
Third, our liberty in Christ is for His glory alone. Christ has set us free that we might be His. He knows His own, and His own know His voice (John 10:14). Any exercise of liberty that does not honor Christ is no liberty at all.
Indeed, “all things are from him, and we exist for him” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Christ has set us free. Thanks be to God! Let us therefore walk in that freedom, in love, in service, in honoring Christ, by the power of His Spirit, who has sealed us for His kingdom.
Written by Caleb Faires