Sinful human beings are likened in the Bible to slaves, those who are in bondage to sin, Satan, the law and death. When by faith they receive God’s salvation, they are freed from this slavery (Luke 13:16; John 8:31-34; Rom 6:17-18; Gal 4:5-7). This is an act of God’s supreme grace that has as its basis the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:17-19; John 8:36; Rom 7:4-6; 8:2; Heb 2:14-15).

Christian living

Although Christians are free from the law to which the ancient Israelites were bound, they are not free to do as they like. They have been saved by God’s grace so that they might be free from sin, not so that they might fall under sin’s power again (Rom 6:6-14; Gal 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19). They must live as those who, through their union with Christ, have died to sin and received a new life where righteousness dominates (Rom 6:16-19; 1 Peter 2:24; 4:1-2). Even when they are exercising their freedom correctly in relation to themselves, Christians must still consider whether they are exercising it correctly in relation to others. By controlling their freedom out of consideration for others, they demonstrate true Christian love (1 Cor 9:19-23; 10:23-24). Personal sacrifice is necessary, but Christians must resist the pressure to submit to any set of moral or ceremonial laws that other Christians might try to impose upon them. Such laws may aim at controlling natural sinful tendencies, but in the end they will not be beneficial. They will lead only to frustration and renewed bondage (Gal 2:4; 5:1; Col 2:23). Laws might aim at righteousness, but Christians cannot achieve righteousness by keeping laws. They can achieve it only by exercising true freedom under the control of the indwelling Spirit (Gal 5:14-16; cf. 2 Cor 3:17). Freedom in the Spirit does not mean that Christians need no self-discipline. On the contrary, selfdiscipline is an evidence of the Spirit’s work in them (Gal 5:22-23; see SELF-DISCIPLINE). Though free from sin, Satan, death and the law, they are not free from God. They are slaves of God, because God is the one who has bought them. They belong to God (1 Cor 6:19-20; 7:22-23; see REDEMPTION). As God’s slaves they have a responsibility to live righteously (Rom 6:17-22). Besides being servants of God, believers are sons of God, and they enjoy the full liberty of sonship (John 8:35-36; Rom 8:12-17; Gal 4:1-7; see ADOPTION). They accept the authority of a loving Father, and respond with loving obedience. Their new ‘law’ of life is one that they obey because they want to, not because they are forced to. It is the law of Christ, which is a law of liberty and a law of love (1 Cor 9:21; Gal 5:13-14; 6:2; James 1:25; 2:12; see OBEDIENCE).

Wider responsibilities

Having experienced God’s freedom, believers should then desire it for others. They should see that God wants people to have freedom from sin and all its evil consequences: freedom from disease and suffering (Mark 5:1-6,18-19; Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38); freedom from hunger and poverty (Deut 15:1-11; 24:19-22; Matt 25:37-40; Acts 11:27-29); freedom from the domination of foreign nations and oppressive rulers (Exod 6:6; Nahum 3:18-19; Zeph 3:19; Rev 19:20); freedom from human slavery and social injustice (Exod 22:21-27; Deut 23:15-16; Luke 4:17-19; James 5:4-6); in fact, freedom from every kind of bondage, even the bondage in the world of nature (Rom 8:21-24).

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