The Command of Freedom

“It was for freedom that Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

Shame has muscle memory and the paths of the mind are well-trodden with lies. Besides that, there is nothing a fellow prisoner hates more than seeing his equal walk without chains.

The greatest obstacle to the Gospel is not its enemies who seek to imprison it in silence–for “the Word of God is not bound!” (2 Tim. 2:9). It is rather its allies who volunteer their silence in a prison of shame. But many are we who find ourselves submitting again to that old shadowy yoke, and many are they who encourage the burden.

The opposition of the Church is flanked on both sides of its freedom. The religious side demands we be ashamed of our sin and the pagan side demands we be ashamed of our religion. How dare we be audacious enough to walk in freedom from both?! How dare we not hang our faces like lead when we fail to meet the righteous standard of some critic just waiting to witness such a failure?! How dare we not walk in infinite shame for the atrocities committed in the name of our Lord by sinners no less righteous than we?!

So we just sit here looking at the floor and whimpering out apologies for who we are and who we’ve been–as though who we are and who we’ve been is in any sense unique, as though who we are and who we’ve been is not itself the very occasion for who Christ is and will forever be for us.

Go ahead: offend your anxious hands, your hissing pseudo-conscience, and your furrow-browed critics, both within the pews and without, because the first command of freedom comes in the indicative; you are commanded in virtue of the fact that you do not stand taller than Truth, that there is something eternal and essential upon which your fleeting and finite existence depends. That is why when the indicative becomes the imperative it comes in the form of a negation: “Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” because “It was for freedom” that you were set free, not for you, and thus it does not depend upon you. Do not submit again because “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Do not submit again because–and here is the only conditional clause worth considering–“If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?

Don’t let anyone enslave you to their hollow verdict of your life. You are indeed guilty–you are just not condemned! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” (Rom. 8:1). So accept that you are both guilty and free, and if you can’t, for God’s sake, find another god.

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