A Perilous Gift

It is a dangerous thing to be free.
Freedom is a beautiful thing, to be sure, that I wish for
everyone on this broken globe; a chance to make your own decisions, to go where
you will, to worship as you wish. But there is a strong element of danger to
those who have the opportunity to go their own way. The slave never has to
wonder what to do from day to day. Someone else tells them, and they must do
it. There is a kind of security in that, a bit of laziness that will likely
settle on a man, till they are content or even pleased to shuffle along under
someone else’s orders. It means you never have to think for yourself. You never
have the regret of wondering if you should have done something differently. It
isn’t up to you, after all.
The freeman has a different scenario. Peter lays it out for
us beautifully in his first epistle:

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put
to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty
for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love
the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (1Pe 2:15-17)
Just in passing, let me comment, Peter has a great deal to say
leading up to this statement. I encourage you to go read the whole of the book
to get a better understanding of how he reaches this conclusion. But I would
rather not write a treatise, only a blog post, so I am focusing on these few
verses.
You are free now, Christian. You are set at liberty from
your sins, from the carnality of the flesh which used to bind you fast. Back
then, before Christ sought us out, we didn’t think much about who we served or
what we did. We thought we were free. Probably, if we thought of it at all, we thought
we were freer than the Christian. But read through scripture, and look back on
your own life, and you will know better. There is no ability to truly serve God without
the change He brings in our hearts. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:18) And if we cannot serve God, we must serve another.

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to
obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of
obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16)
Don’t kid yourself. If you cannot serve one, you are a slave
to the other. Sin held us in thrall before Christ. But now…now we have freedom.
Liberty has come on our souls. We see clearly what is right and wrong, and we
have a desire fueled by the Spirit of God within us to follow the right, in
order to please our merciful Lord. But here is the crux.
Now that we are free, we are no longer slaves. Seems an
obvious statement, I know, but let me take it a step farther. If we are no longer
slaves, we have the opportunity to choose. Oh dear. We have to actually make decisions
for ourselves. Thank God we are not left entirely up to ourselves, we have the
Spirit’s guidance, and God’s words always to hand. But still, we suddenly find
ourselves in a position we have never actually been in. Freedom means we suddenly
have to think for ourselves. We have options and questions now. We are faced with
choices every day. Usually they are small enough. Will I yell at the noisy kid
to shut up so I can rest, or will I lovingly tell them to take the noise
elsewhere? Will I sing over the opportunity to serve my family by doing the
dishes, or by going to work every morning, or will I do it with a grumble and
grump? The choices seem small. But they add up quickly.
Freedom brings responsibility, as well as blessings.
Peter points out the obvious weakness of every human heart. “You’re
free now,” says he, “but watch it so you don’t use that liberty to hide
malicious sins behind a cloak of God’s love for you.” The verse just before the
Romans 6 verse quoted above, Paul does the same thing. “By the way, some of you
are asking, should we sin because we are not under the law anymore but under
God’s grace? God forbid!” concludes Paul, and it is the best outbreak of righteous
indignation we can give on the subject. But don’t you think there is a reason
both these apostles have to add in those little clauses? Every human heart is
wired for duplicity after the fall. We all want the easy way out, we don’t want
to fight it when urges suddenly pop into our hearts. Sometimes it is plain
maliciousness. Wanting to do the evil, likely in order to hurt someone else;
maybe God Himself. Sometimes it’s selfishness that strikes in and makes us
whine for what we want like two-year-olds. More often, at least with me, it’s plain
laziness.
It takes work to be good, people. It’s a constant job to
stand up in front of the world, with the lion raging at us every second, and do
what we’re supposed to. But that is what freedom calls us to. Now we are free.
Now that we can do good, we are to do good; because we have the choice. We are
able to choose between right and wrong. God has renewed our hearts and minds,
given us His own Spirit, pointed us in the right direction, and even taken our
hands to walk beside us on this pilgrimage. But just because it’s good, doesn’t
mean the walk is easy. It doesn’t mean the everyday choices are easy. But now
that we are free, we have the obligation to choose what’s right.
It’s a bit like voting in America. If we don’t get out and
do it, voting for the right people to lead our country the right way, then we
are deliberately allowing the wrong people in. By exercising our freedom in not
voting, we condone the evil by pure laziness.
When we choose not to do what’s right in our own lives, we
take a step back into the chains that held us before Christ, and we do it to
spite Him. It is a choice, all our own. We now have that freedom. Don’t use it.
Use your freedom to be a shining light for the Lord Who has made you new and
walks beside you. The world is watching. They know you are a Christian, and Who
you’re supposed to be serving. Don’t give your Father a bad name, adopted
child. You have the freedom to be a little stinker. Don’t use that freedom.
Instead, use your liberty to take solid step after solid step toward the end of
the race. Keep on your way up the path, Christian. You never know who is
watching. Satan was watching Job, so was God, and all of heaven. Obviously his friends
were too. You are hardly unobserved as you go through this life. You are a
freeman, with the dangerous opportunity to live as you want to. Take care,
Christian! Live for the King who granted you your freedom.

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the
king.”

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