What is liberty? What liberty does Jesus give us? We need to know what He has for us, what the Christian life can offer. Why is it that Jesus would even talk about liberty and yet give commands? Do we need to obey those commands?
There are many teachers who would like us to believe that Jesus doesn’t care what we do. “Don’t get wrapped up in those commands, just have a relationship with Jesus.”
We need to stay away from the commands of men. They will drag us down and ruin our walk with Christ. They burden unnecessarily and destroy our relationship. We think that we have all these extras that we have to drag along. But Jesus has commanded us to focus on Him and keep His commands. He tells us in Colossians 2:19-3:2:
Colossians 2:20-3:1 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
So it’s not the rules of man that appear to be good and help us to obey Christ that we are to follow. We need to seek the things that are above, the things of Christ, and follow Him. We should not get dragged down by man’s commands and burdened.
But what about liberty? Does Jesus want us to obey Him? Of course. He tells us:
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14:21-24 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
So Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. If you don’t love Him, you won’t keep His commands. It’s that simple. This is the key to a relationship with Jesus because He says that when we obey Him, He and His Father will come and dwell with us. Is that powerful or what? That’s a relationship! When Jesus comes and dwells within us, loves us, helps us, manifests Himself to us—what more could we want?
Is that liberating? Of course. Why? Because when we serve Jesus, we are freed from sin.
Romans 6:16-18 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? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Nonetheless, some don’t want liberty IN Christ. They want liberty FROM Christ. They don’t want to worry about if they’re obeying Him. They go off trying to please themselves. But Jesus tells us:
2 Peter 2:18-19 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
And then the clincher:
2 Peter 2:20-22 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Wow! So, the people who promise liberty are really dragging us into serving sin, because sin is disobedience to God. Sin results in us going to Hell. It even says that if, after we become saved (note, it refers to true believers who have escaped the pollutions of the world, not people who never believed), we turn back to sin, our final state will be worse than if we had never known the way of righteousness.
What sort of liberty is that? That’s not liberty. That’s bondage to the Devil. Liberty isn’t doing just what I want to do. Liberty is being free from sin to serve God!
Think about a man who has just been freed from jail. Someone took his place and let him go free. Oh, how happy he is! Life is free! No more walls and barbed wire fences! NOW: is he free to drive 100 miles per hour on the highway? No! Is he free to drink beer that he stole from a grocery store? No! So what sort of liberty is this? The liberty is that he is freed from punishment and damnation of prison!
Jesus paid a heavy price to redeem us and purchase us from sin and the hold of Satan. Do we dare throw “liberty” in his face and explain that we’re free to do what we want?
I am a slave of Jesus (1 Cor. 7:22). I am not my own. I am not liberated to do what ever I want. I am liberated to serve Him. To serve one another. Free to obey Him instead of the Law of Moses. What a liberty!
You see, liberty to obey myself is not the best way. Just like a father teaches his son to do what he says, so that he can be successful in life, so Jesus teaches me what He wants from me so that I can be successful in life.
I love Jesus. I want to obey Him. I want to obey what He tells me and leads me in. He wants me to obey Him and love Him, and He loves me more than I can imagine. If I live in His way, I will find that His way is easy. His burden is light. It is not grievous. If you think that Jesus’ commands are grievous to obey, you’d better check your relationship with Him. Living for Him is not grievous. Liberty—ah, liberty!