Discover how the key to freedom is not found within ourselves, but in a God who sets us free from what truly enslaves us.
Independence. A word bursting with hope, freedom and possibility. Setting aside a day on July 4th to celebrate our freedom is a good and right thing. As we observe this holiday, we also contemplate the sacrifices that make our independence a reality. The American idiom, “freedom is never free,” is a poignant reminder as we celebrate with bar-b-que, watermelon and fireworks.
Politically speaking, our freedom is a real blessing. From a spiritual perspective, however, our independence should be viewed through a different lens.
Before coming to Christ, we all believe we are living in freedom. We do as we please, satisfy our whims and rule our lives. We are the ultimate authority. As unbelievers, whether we realize it or not, we practice a religion where we worship the god of self. This belief (and so-called “freedom”) is a key tenet of American secularism.
Secularism is a belief system or worldview that, among other things, seeks to remove God and amplify self over everything. By believing this, we place ourselves on the throne and resist authority (I’m the boss!). In our nature, we are all rebels.
In her excellent book, Faithfully Different, Natasha Crain explains, “A major reason secularism is so influential is that it appeals directly to the desires of our fallen nature—it reinforces the desired authority of the self. People feel the need to be autonomous, and secular culture is ready and willing to tell us what we want to hear.” She goes on to explain, “This is why secular messages are attractive not only to non-Christians but to all of humanity—we all share a nature that desires self-rule.”
In reality, this so-called freedom is an illusion because Scripture says the opposite. Our perceived liberation is ironically our bondage. John 8:34 tells us, “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” But going further, Scripture tells us we are ALL slaves because we are slaves to the thing we obey—either self or God. The difference is what kind of slaves we are: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).
Thankfully, once in Christ, we are able to see the truth that freedom can only be found in submitting to God. By recognizing His rightful authority in our lives as our good Creator, we become the most free. Natasha Crain explains, “…God is the best example of good authority that we can imagine. He’s our rightful authority because He’s the one who created us. Furthermore, we can be confident in the goodness of His authority because it’s His character that defines goodness. That’s the kind of authority we should be excited to submit to—an authority who knows what’s best for us far better than we ever could.”
When we place our trust and hope in Jesus and what He accomplished for us on the cross, our bondage to sin is broken and Christ sets us free to obey and follow Him. John 8:36 tells us, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Ultimately and paradoxically, our freedom is only gained through dependence on Him, not our independence. Then with this unspeakable freedom, we voluntarily and joyfully become slaves of God. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans. 6:17-18).
This godly “slavery” becomes our true freedom and results in great peace and reward. Romans. 6:22, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
With the freedom Jesus provides, comes responsibility and the continual call to obedience. In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” These verses push us towards obedience because we see a conditional clause. The freedom is found by obeying and holding to the teachings of Christ. In our obedience, we experience the truth that truly frees us.
Christianity embodies a counter-cultural worldview. The world will increasingly try to convince us that our freedom is found within ourselves and our independence. But if we have experienced the saving grace of God, we can humbly proclaim that a deep dependence on God is where we find our greatest freedom.
 Crain, Natasha. Faithfully Different: Regaining Biblical Clarity in a Secular Culture, (Harvest House, 2022), 52.
 Crain, 58. Crain, 104.
Courtney Garrett is an author, Bible teacher and the founder of 101 Christianity, a ministry that creates tools to equip people in every stage of faith to both know the truth and share the truth. She is the author of 101: Exploring the Basics of the Christian Faith and 101: Discovering the Character of God. She holds a master’s degree in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary and served as the Director of Women’s Discipleship at her home church, Grace Bible Church, in Houston, Texas for several years. She is married to John and loves being the mother of two boys, Jack and Camp. For more information see 101christianity.com.