Liberty and Freedom

Liberty and Freedom

Then he supervised the entire Babylonian army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had declared their allegiance to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the population. (2 Kings 25:10-11)

Read: 2 Kings 23:31 – 25:30, Acts 22:17 – 23:10, Psalm 2:1-12, Proverbs 18:13

Relate: When I realized what I would be reading in the through the Bible plan today, of all days, I just had to laugh. For those of you reading this who are living somewhere besides the USA, July 4th is Independence Day in the States. It was two hundred thirty-nine years ago today that a document was signed that begins:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The Declaration of Independence then goes on to list all the “horrific” things the UK was doing. The full document can be found all over the internet and is worth reading if you have ten minutes to spare today. It ends reiterating what it said at the beginning, “we’re cutting our ties with you.”

These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to… do all other acts and things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Note that last line. We are willing to sacrifice our lives, our fortune, and our honor to back what we said in declaring ourselves free. Before what I am going to say next, I need to define two words. Using Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, I am defining liberty and freedom:
Liberty – the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely.
Freedom – liberation from slavery, restraint, or the power of another.

React: God took away Judah’s liberty so that they might be set free. I have mentioned before that the northern kingdom of Israel had no godly leaders. One after another they all followed Jeroboam in sin and idolatry. That was not the case in the southern kingdom of Judah. The spiritual life of that nation was more like a see-saw or a roller coaster. There would be one or two good kings followed by one or two bad ones and back and forth. For centuries, back and forth, the kings and people consistently struggled to be free from idolatry.

The thing is, from the point of the exile onward, idolatry was no longer an issue. Yes, there would be other battles to fight. The culture, attitudes, and spirituality of the Jews still were far from perfect. But there is no mention of any sign of struggle with idolatry in any of the exile or post exile  Jewish literature. In taking away their liberty, God had set them free.

So, for the American Independence Day, are we celebrating liberty or are we celebrating freedom? Some of us will be lighting up barbecues, going to beaches, or watching parades and fireworks. Will we be doing so to exult in the fact that we can “do whatever we want” or are we rejoicing in the truth that the taint of bondage to sin holds no power over us. Lets pause and take a moment to examine our lives. The founding fathers were willing to sacrifice life, fortune, and honor to gain independence. Are we willing to sacrifice a little liberty that we might know true freedom?

Respond: 

God, I thank You for the freedom You offer. It is worth so much more than the imitation of liberty that the world provides. It is worth any price and ultimately, You paid that price Yourself on the cross. For that I am grateful beyond words. I pray that You would help me to live and walk in the freedom You have provided. If that means I must remove a few choices, take away a little liberty, that I might remain free, then so be it. What You offer is all that I want and so much more than I deserve.

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16 thoughts on “Liberty and Freedom

    • Liberty – the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely.
      Freedom – liberation from slavery, restraint, or the power of another.

      When we surrender our liberty – “I am not my own, I have been bought with a price”
      We can experience true freedom – “Sin has no hold on me any longer”

      • I’m going to address ultimate and subordinate authorities here. Your post seems to weave them a bit, so I’ll respond in kind, while trying to void the misunderstanding. I celebrate freedom of liberty in Christ, not freedom from liberty in Christ. We display a “Statue of Liberty” and a “Liberty Bell” in our country. The Liberty Bell is inscribed with the following, “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof Lev. XXV. v X.”(see below). Freedom and liberty can only be understood in relation to law and authority.  Our founding fathers sought freedom specifically from King George. This should not be confused with fallen man’s seeking freedom from God. We live in a land of laws that includes a Bill of Rights that limits our governments power. This document is remarkable in that it presupposes mans propensity to evil toward his fellow man especially from a position of authority. This is to be contrasted to other types of earthly rule where man either by monarchy or collectives are understood as ultimate authorities. Notwithstanding God ordains governments clearly in His Word. The church is clearly to be in submission to the civil magistrate, as they reward good and punish evil, under God. From God’s perspective unregenerate man is a slave to sin, although man himself interprets this as freedom. God’s authority (law) is an offense to sinful man, as are governments who seek to rule under God’s Law. Unfortunately much of the church today is as offended by God’s Law as the unrepentant. We are free as believers indeed, free from sin, out from under our just condemnation, free to live in perfect liberty submitted to Christ’s authority (lordship). Followers of Christ are clearly directed to forsake themselves (living apart from the Lord). Christ our King left a perfect example of what keeping God’s law looks like. By His Law comes the knowledge of sin. His obedience wins our salvation. Disciples of His are called to demonstrate true love (obedience) to Him by aligning themselves with God’s Law (keeping His commands) (as Christ did), living free from sin, and alive (liberated by Him) unto obedience and good works. God’s Law, lived through His Spirit, is our means of sanctification. The opposite of law is not grace. The opposite of law is lawlessness. In the United States we are living in an increasing lawless country, and it is being achieved by enacting laws either directly or indirectly violating our own Bill of Rights. Countries indeed are “free” to sacrifice a little “liberty for freedom” apparently even when it means voiding their own law. Believers are not directed to sacrifice “liberty for freedom” (unless you mean liberty to sin, which our United States is increasingly encouraging, if you consider things like abortion and sodomite marriage sin). They are commanded to turn from the way that leads to death to the way that leads to life. Thank God, the creator of heaven and earth, that He has exalted His Law Word even above His name. and even though man, and increasingly the church, treats it as irrelevant, it is holy and perfect (see the Psalm 119). It is by this very law that God justly judges accordingly, including his judgement of Christ his son, who suffered our punishment by being judged by His own law, for the sake of His own.

        Leviticus 25:10 – “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a  jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”
        Psalms 119:44 – “So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. ”
        Psalms 119:45 –  “And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. 
        Psalms 119:46 –  “I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.”

        • What follows is a selection of where and how the word liberty is used by God.

          Isaiah 61:1-” The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;”

          Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, {4:19} To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

          Romans 8:20 – ” For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope, {8:21} Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

          2 Corinthians 3:15 – “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. {3:16} Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. {3:17} Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord[is,] there [is] liberty. {3:18} But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

          2 Corinthians 2:4 – “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:”

          Galations 5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

          Galations 5:13 – “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

          Hebrews 2:12 – “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”

          James 2:15 – “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: {2:16} As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”

        • The Bible wasn’t written in English. Just because one version written the way the language was used hundreds of years ago uses liberty in these instances does not make it so.
          Without bothering to check, I would guess that most translations that more accurately reflect the way language is spoken today would use freedom rather than liberty in nearly every instance.

        • First of all, you are making my point. They are interchangeable. Second, I actually looked. The NIV replaces liberty with freedom almost exclusively, as you guessed. However the other modern versions I checked such as ESV, RSV, NASV, make that same substitution between a quarter to a third of the instances I sited.

        • We are going around in circles. I do not think we disagree in principle, just in definition. As I have said multiple times, I defined the words I was using as I was using them for the purpose of the blog.

          God took away the political liberty of the Israelites so that they might experience spiritual freedom. That was a good thing.

          Can we just leave it at that?

  1. I was amazed when I read this in Deuteronomy this morning, Chapter 9, verse 6: “Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.”

  2. An interesting presentation and well stated, but I have a question. What liberty do you suggest we are willing to sacrifice to become free? And free from what?

    Our nations is already taking away our liberty one step at a time and further enslaving us until eventually there won’t be any liberty at all.

    Have a great day and stay close to Christ and he will stay close to you. 🙂

  3. You might be interested, if you haven’t already read, Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” where he describes the difference between ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’. Mr. Frankl was a survivor of Auschwitz, having witnessed Maxmilion Kolby’s martyrdom.

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