The word freedom means the condition of being free. One is said to be free when one is not a slave, not in prison or bondage. There are other meanings to the word, and there are many freedoms. Thus people talk of the freedom of assembly freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press -all of which are given political definitions.
The freedom of Jesus Christ may he qualified as spiritual freedom, and it must therefore be distinguished from the freedoms of the world. While worldly freedoms are human endeavours aimed at preserving political, social and moral values among the nations, the freedom of Christ has the spiritual force of bringing about complete deliverance from sin and its consequences including death. A nation or country may be politically free, and yet its nationals or citizens may still be in spiritual bondage. And spiritual bondage is worse than political slavery or servitude.
Since man through disobedience fell out of favour with God, he has been subjected to the bondage of sin at the instance of the devil. As a result of this man had not only caused the sentence of death to be passed upon him but has also exposed himself to other evils and dangers. The devil taking advantage of this situation continues to hold men in spiritual captivity influencing them to transgress the laws of God so as to incur His anger for their destruction. And IGNORANCE is a major factor by which the devil keeps men in bondage.
Today, some men among whom are acclaimed worldly intellectuals, even pride themselves in denying the existence of their Creator because they are spiritually blind. One can but agree with C. H. Spurgeon when he said, "He who looks at the sunrise, and the sunset and does not see the footprints of God, must be inwardly blinder than a mole, and only fit to live underground." And the Psalmist puts it clearly that it is the fool who says there is no God. (Ps. 14: 1). There are also those who in spite of their acknowledgement of God as the Creator, give full devotions to the worship, reverence and adoration of the works of their own hands. This is so because they are chained in ignorance; they are in spiritual captivity.
The fear of death, the fear of witches and wizards, superstitions and so on, are the products of spiritual slavery. The more men attempt to find refuge and relief from their fears and superstitions by getting initiated into various cults and associations, the more they are entangled in the weeds of sins and corruption. And spiritual bondage is one for which there is no human solution.
The only way out to be free from all evils by which men are spiritually enslaved and to become perfect and honourable before God is to turn to Jesus Christ, who is vested with the power to give light as to remove the veil of darkness spread over the nations of men. Jesus himself declared: "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12). And St. Paul said: "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." - 2 Cor. 3:17.
One of the purposes of Christ's coming to the world was to effect for the children of God freedom and deliverance from Satan's bondage. This vital aspect of his mission was clearly portrayed in Isaiah's prophecy, as recorded in Isaiah 61:1-3. When Jesus Christ went to Nazareth on one occasion and entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day, he read the relevant passage from the book of Isaiah thus:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He
hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;
He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to
the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. "
Read Luke 4:16-21. As all eyes were fixed on him after the reading he said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
By the anointing of the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ was fully equipped to set about the task of proclaiming release for prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind and of giving freedom to those who are oppressed and downtrodden at the instance of the devil. And in order to accomplish this task of spiritual enlightenment and liberation, Jesus Christ introduced the truth, which is the word of God unmixed with falsehood.
In John 1:17, it is written: "For the law was given by Moses. but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." He himself told Pilate that he came into the world to testify to the truth. (John 18:37,38). In fact Jesus Christ was the truth personified. - John 14:6.
The freedom of Jesus Christ, which is open to one and all irrespective of nationality, race or tribe, can be obtained ONLY through the knowledge of the truth otherwise known as "the gospel of the kingdom", "the everlasting gospel" or "the gospel of peace”. Jesus said to his followers: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE." –John 8:31,32.
The freedom that the truth gives is the freedom of Jesus Christ, which far excels any other freedom. And he added: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. " -John 8:36.
Mankind as a whole is in dire need of the freedom of Jesus Christ. It is plain to everyone that there is a sort of universal travail all over the world and men are groaning in distress and- perplexity because of their subjection to the bondage of sin. The only hope of man, we reiterate, is Jesus Christ through whom, according to God's promise, man would be given freedom from sin and death, and would find peace. - Rom. 8:19-21; John 14:27; 16:33, etc.
And so St. Paul stated: "In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive that there is in my bodily members a different law, fighting against the law that my reason approves and making me a prisoner under the law that is in my members, the law of sin. Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me out of this body doomed to death? God alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Thanks be to God..." - Rom. 7:22-25, N.E.B.
What is more, St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrew Christians stated categorically that Jesus Christ was made flesh to die so as to be empowered to destroy the author of death, satan the devil, "and deliver them (God's children) who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage". (Heb. 2:14,15). Jesus Christ is the greatest Advocate of freedom who has ever lived on this earth. And John the apostle wrote: "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." -1 John 2:1.2.
In an occasion such as this, it is worthwhile to emphasise the importance of the truth of Jesus Christ that leads to salvation. James the apostle described it as "the perfect law of liberty". (Jas. 1:25). For it is the knowledge of the truth as Christ said that will bring about his freedom that men so much need. It was for good reasons there- fore St. Paul advised Timothy that in instructing even those who are in opposition, he as a minister of God should be gentle and patient "if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the TRUTH: and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will". - 2 Tim. 2:24-26.
The truth is both a weapon of offence and of defence. By it Jesus Christ is breaking into satan's prison house and setting his captives at liberty; and by it he (Christ) is also protecting his sheep against the assault. of the devil being manifested in the activities of evil men and deceitful workers including false prophets who peddle lies in the name of God. It is to the end that his sheep everywhere may be spiritually enlightened and emancipated from the shackles of sin and death, Jesus commanded the gospel to be preached in all the world. (Matt. 24:14; 28:18-20).
While those who receive and obey the gospel will enjoy the benefits of the freedom of Christ, those who scorn and disobey will remain in the chains of darkness and be destroyed with the devil in the end. It was St. Paul who said, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." - 2 Cor. 4:3,4.
We thank God that, by His grace, the truth which is most precious and which has no comparison with anything the world can offer, is in the God's Kingdom Society. We all need to stick firmly to it and continue in doing the Lord's will so as to be beautified with salvation. But to turn away from the truth and get oneself entangled again with the bondage of corruption will be disastrous in the end.
Said St. Peter: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." - 2 Peter 2:20-22.
Finally, we admonish you in the words of St. Paul, to wit:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith
Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled
again with the yoke of bondage.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto
liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion
to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word,
even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbour
as thyself.” – Gal. 5:1,13-14.
Grace be unto you all, and love and peace, from God our Father in heaven and from Jesus Christ our Advocate and Redeemer. Amen.