Bound To Be Free

The United States’ founders operated under the principle that we are inherently free, as intended by God, to determine our own course of action. And it is certainly true that God has from the beginning of time always allowed a person agency, for their good or ill. That is to say, we are free to do whatever we want, but there will also be consequences for every action we make (Matt. 12:36, Rom. 2:4-11). Some consequences are positive, some negative, but all of them are right and good if adjudicated by God. It would follow that while we are free, choosing to self-limit those liberties or happily submitting to boundaries might actually be for our benefit. While I don’t trust the world to choose how to do what is best for me (and therefore believe government to be a poor arbitrator), I do trust God. He is to be trusted, and we know that His institution of bounds and limits is right. In this way, we also conclude that these bonds are to make me eternally free. An earthly irony, to be sure, but one that bears out.

Twice Paul says “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.” (1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23). Twice more in these verses, he says “All things are lawful for me” but not all things edify and some liberties enslave. Consider that: some freedoms cause slavery. Another irony. Therefore, Scripture gives us numerous boundaries to promote our freedom. Paul again says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1). Or again, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13). Or still again, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Gal. 5:16-17). “But my freedom!” can very quickly become my chains.

Therefore, when we read Scripture, it is in everyone’s interests, in the pursuit of freedom, to discover where the Spirit has placed prohibitions and boundaries so that we can all be free to dwell with Him and He in us. As Paul will go on to list the works of the flesh which enslave, versus the fruit of the Spirit which empowers (Gal. 5:19-24), we ought to consider our valuable limitations. Whether it is things we don’t have the liberty to do in worship or things we shouldn’t do to each other, or things the congregation has no right to do, we should look at the Bible’s exclusionary language and feel liberated. We should view arguments from silence as attempts to enslave while making a false promise of freedom (2 Pet. 2:17-19). Then, when the Scripture makes an explicit, positive prescription for action, we should relish the right, authority, and opportunity to take full advantage of it. We are bound to be free!