Why Christians Don’t Experience Freedom

From my earliest memories of Bible teachers, I’ve heard about having “freedom in Christ.” Giving your life to Jesus is your pathway to peace and freedom. It was preached from the pulpits but rarely experienced in the pews, and certainly not my pew.

God does say we have freedom in Christ, and it is a truth that is foundational to our faith and identity. Jesus Himself spoke of it to the Jews who believed and follow Him.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

–John 8:31-32

According to Jesus, though, freedom doesn’t just happen; it comes as a result of holding to the truth. If we don’t experience freedom, then we’ve bought into a lie.

Some Christians don’t experience freedom in Christ because they have placed their faith in human tradition and deceptive philosophies (Col. 2:8). Most of the time, people think deception is something that only cults practice. If cults were Satan’s best strategy, it would be easier to determine truth from the lie. But Satan’s approach is much more subtle.

Deception is so powerful because it comes disguised as truth (Col. 2:23). When the Pharisees laid great burdens of additional laws and regulations on God’s people, it sounded good. It seemed like they had a chapter and verse for everything. It indeed had an appearance of wisdom but they lacked any real value in obtaining the freedom promised in Christ.

I remember wondering how certain verses and passages of Scripture meant I should wear certain clothes or keep my hair a particular length. Yes, there was a chapter and verse, but the applications seemed far removed from the intent of Scripture. Everyone was expected to adhere to the applications, though, and questions for deeper understanding were frowned upon.

The worst part of my struggle to find freedom was the idea that I thought I was struggling with God. I was constantly trying to earn God’s attention and work my way into His loving graces. I believed that I wasn’t saved by works, but I sure had to work to receive God’s love. It wasn’t a very free way to live.

God saw me through those times and brought me to a healthier understanding of His love. I’ve even found a great community of believers who talk much of God’s love and His heart toward us. I have experience a healing in the process, but I’ve also found another reason Christians don’t experience freedom.

Some Christians don’t experience freedom because they’ve excused themselves from obedience in the name of love. We tend to look down the nose at the rule-keepers and boast of our everyday dance in the love of God. Once again, we see just how powerful deception is – we exchange one lie for another.

We can focus so much on God’s love that we place all the responsibility on Christ. He sacrificed, so we don’t have to. With that mindset, we quickly dismiss other Scriptures where we are called to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) and to love sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25). It affects not only our personal lives but the lives of those in our natural family and spiritual family. In a strange twist, we find ourselves searching for freedom within the newly found understanding of love.

In my mind, it’s like starving to death and someone giving me a word of encouragement instead of food. It’s like being surrounded by the ocean of God’s love while slowly dying of thirst. Eventually, all the talk about love makes you question what kind of love would leave you in a vast desert with no direction, no sustenance and no hope. What started as love becomes a prison, and freedom seems out of reach once again.

As always, God has been faithful to lead me to the living water once again. Especially in my reading of the Psalms I reclaimed a love for the Word of God. God’s Word may seem restrictive to those who are not in Christ, but it should not be that way to us. Instead, God provides a good and restful way to walk as we acknowledge Him and lean not on our own understanding. His Word provides me with a message of His love, and a clear guide for how to show my love in return.

Freedom is found in receiving and responding to the love of Christ. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). We don’t earn His love by our obedience, but we show our love for Him with our obedience. We live in true freedom as we hold to His teachings because His Word and Law is love and life to us (Deuteronomy 32:47).

In legalism, Christ’s death means nothing. He died, but we have to work for God’s grace. When we are caught up in struggling to earn God’s love, we feel helpless to find the freedom for which we are searching. With license, Christ’s death means nothing. He died, but obedience isn’t really that important anyway. When we swing hard to the other side, we think we’ve found love but have no idea why we’re loved. We have no sense of direction from which to find freedom for everyday life.

As we awaken to the truth of Christ, we must constantly meditate on the words and life of Christ. The more closely we hold to His teachings, the more we will be able to discern the truth from the lie. As we think about the lengths that God went to offer us His love, we will be moved to respond in obedience to the Word which has been written to give us purpose, direction and life. Freedom in Christ is possible, but it is only possible in Christ.

One Response to “Why Christians Don’t Experience Freedom”
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  1. […] Christ’s death – daily (Philippians 3).  Here’s more insight from a good friend, Andrew Hedges, about this subject: Why Christians Don’t Experience Freedom.  Check it […]

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