Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. - Psalm 146:3

Is freedom doing what I want?

By Paul Bawden

“I can do what I want!” Words I saw on a T-shirt a person was wearing.

Certainly, this is a statement that appeals to our ego. “Wow! I can do anything I want!”

But, in reality, we can’t do anything we want if we desire to live on planet earth. No one can breathe under water without the proper equipment and expect to live. No one can jump off a 100 story building and expect to live. No one can drive around a corner too fast and not expect to have an accident or maybe lose one’s life. No one can take a lethal drug and expect to live.

In other words, our actions are curbed by certain laws written into our cosmos. That means following certain laws give us the freedom to live healthy and prosperous lives. When we go against such laws our lives can be snuffed out.

As there are natural laws in our world, there are also spiritual laws. That may raise the ire of some, but we are more than just physical, we also have a spiritual makeup – which includes a mind, an emotion, and a will. That’s why the Jewish Rabbi started talking about the need for spiritual freedom.

He sensed that there was something wrong with one’s spiritual makeup – making a bold statement that all are slaves to sin (John 8:34). What is sin? Sin is lawlessness (I John 3:4). Is there any lawlessness in our lives? Look around at what is happening in the USA and the world. Is there any lawlessness?

If we’re having trouble describing lawlessness, the Jewish Rabbi gives us insight as to what that is: Evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. And He goes on to say that such lawlessness actually comes out of our spiritual lives (Mark 7:21-23).

I’m sure we can all relate to at least one of these descriptions of lawlessness, perhaps more, but the one that speaks to me is pride. Pride is thinking everything revolves around my world, and I can do what I want. But that is lawlessness – which can lead to bad thoughts, envy, and deceit.

What’s the solution to lawlessness in our lives? We need to come back to the words of the Jewish Rabbi who said that if the Son (He) makes you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). What’s He saying? Through His upcoming death, burial, and bodily resurrection, the believer in Him can receive His forgiveness and eternal life, with the opportunity to live a life free of lawlessness – a life that is excited about following and obeying Him, which is true everlasting freedom – a freedom that expresses His unconditional love, His peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Just think what would happen in the USA and the rest of the world if people would experience the freedom that is found in the Jewish Rabbi, Jesus Christ. A person would discover who he or she is – made in the image of the biblical God to live for Him. Lawlessness would begin to subside. Divisions would begin to heal among individuals and in families. Biblical morality would begin to be practiced. Hatred would be replaced with respect and kindness. This is certainly the radical spiritual change we need in our lives and country.

As we celebrate our freedoms in the USA on July 4th, may we realize that true freedom is found in knowing Jesus Christ personally through faith in Him, and living in His freedom. It’s not what I want to do or what you want to do, it’s living for Christ, which is the ultimate in living. And I would add, without individuals experiencing true freedom in Christ, our nation may eventually lose the freedoms it now enjoys.

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.


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