What does it mean to be free? Freedom can be defined as the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without, or the absence of or release from ties, obligations, etc. Being free is having the ability to exercise your autonomous will as it so pleases. People want to enjoy doing whatever feels good to them without anyone hassling them about it. Critics often express their disdain towards Christianity by pointing out that the Christian faith prevents people from enjoying and experiencing all this life has to offer. They may think that Jesus just wants to hang a bunch of rules over your head and take away your freedom and your autonomy. Moreover, many who profess to be Christians apostatize from the Faith by buying into this lie. It is true that Christians do not paticipate in certain activities and refrain from things that most people may consider harmless, even fun. So what is this new found freedom that Christians claim they have and how is it different from the unbelievers freedom?
Jesus says in John 8:32 that the truth sets us free. He goes on to describe mankind as being enslaved to their sin in verse 34. This is every fallen son and daughter of Adam’s spiritual condition. We are by nature in bondage to our sin. The enslaved human will is marred with wickedness and evil. Luther said that the fallen human will is (incurvatus in se) “curved in on itself.” But the unbeliever may object and say he feels totally free. He or she may feel free but this sense of freedom they experience is an illusion created by their own fallen nature. Sin blinds a person to the reality of their bondage and their desperate need for liberation. That is why unbelievers think they are free when they choose to sin openly and blatantly. Theologian Timothy George, echoing Luther’s sentiment, puts it this way: “We are so curved in upon ourselves that, thinking ourselves free, we indulge in those very things which only reinforce our bondage.”
True biblical freedom is being set free from our sins and the illusion of freedom, which is really slavery. Jesus Christ is the only key to release us from our bondage to sin so that we can now freely worship and honor Him. Therefore, Christianity does not forbid us our freedom, rather it grants us “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” So what is true freedom? Freedom is the ability to love, worship, praise, cherish, obey and glorify our creator, yet this will never be a possibility until we are freed from our captivity to Satan and self.