Christian Freedom, A Pretext?
What is a pretext? A pretext is an accepted reason (a lie or trick) given to justify a course of action that is not the real reason. Freedom, as commonly defined by both the Church and the world, is, by definition, not freedom at all, but rather a pretext. As many things in the world are misunderstood so is freedom understood only as conformity to a list of rules and regulations, outside of which, their freedom is lost and becomes a mere word, a pretext for something totally different. As used today, the word “freedom” is a deception to make people accept something that is not true; it has been redefined by men who only know freedom as a word defined by the world.
Christians will fight for their definition of freedom and refuse to live a life of true open-ended, unlimited, Biblical freedom. The freedom I speak of cannot even be considered by those who have become accustomed to the confines and definition of worldly freedom. The popular freedom of the world offers them a security blanket of limits that are imposed on them and that they, in turn, impose on others. Human beings simply cannot imagine freedom where all the barriers are torn down, and they are indeed, free; they think this kind of “freedom” is anarchy so they cannot allow it.
Christians have been trained to conform to their shackles. All the many denominations within Christendom are just the exhibition of the many designer cellblocks erected to accommodate people who have been lied to, tricked, forced into compliance, or who have voluntarily submitted to conformity.
There is true freedom, but it is not discoverable in this world by simple searching. The Bible gives the example of the slave who had earned his freedom but elects to remain with his master and signifies it by driving an awl through his ear lobe. This is the real freedom that those who have been set free voluntarily submit to, Deut. 15:15-17. New Testament baptism, in like manner, signifies that a death has taken place and that through death you have gained freedom. If you have died then you have been set free from a previous cruel husband which now allows you to be married to another, even to the Lord Jesus, who releases the band of slavery, obligation, and compulsion. Unlike the previous legalistic husband, Jesus wins your devotion through His enduring love and forgiveness. He patiently wins your loyalty and worship through kindness and self-sacrifice. Unlike the previous husband who was a taskmaster demanding perfection who couldn’t be pleased, Jesus frees us to comply or not comply; we are free to fly away if we so desire and to choose a different path – along with its consequences; we are that free.
This is the freedom that the world, and most Christians, know nothing of. This is the freedom of another world where the King treats us as His own children. This is the freedom that every Spirit-filled Christian owns, but few understand. Many Christians can only see this freedom through the foggy glass of a confused worldly mindset and cannot grasp the idea that they are, really, free; the shackles are off and the cell door open, our destiny has been placed into our own hands.
Freedom with constraints is only a facsimile and not real freedom at all. Is freedom within a secured courtyard freedom? Is freedom bridled and shackled to the confines of a book of rules freedom? Is freedom under the threat of jail, freedom? Is freedom from the freedom to be completely free, truly, freedom? Freedom under the load of any law or regulation is not freedom at all, yet, Christians, declare that they are perfectly, free. Is this the freedom they have gained in Christ, to trade one heavy load, for one less heavy, or have we missed something? What does Col. 2:14 mean, “He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us and contrary to us, and He took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross”? An irrefutable fact about this scripture is that something was nailed to the cross! Is the Law of God only a constraint with a different kind of fence keeping us confined? Or, does Jesus truly set us free, with no constraints?
According to my research, there is a very real reason that the strait-gate (as in narrow, restricting, and difficult) is so difficult to get through. Likewise, the “Broadway” is broad for a reason; it is easy and requires no loyalty or fidelity to truth. Christ died for all of those on the “Broadway” as He did for the others, yet they have refused His FREE gift, the gift of grace, a gift with no strings attached. We Christians just cannot believe, we just cannot accept, such a thing, it is beyond our capacity to embrace. We have been indoctrinated by commercial Christianity to believe that we MUST do something, that we must earn our salvation. We must tithe, we must attend a certain building, on a certain day; we must live and dress a certain way, send our children to a certain school or no school at all. We must acknowledge and read a certain book, we must eat certain foods and celebrate certain days, and the list goes on and on and on. Yet, we say we are free, no different than Americans who say they are free. We have rewritten the definition of freedom to accommodate the only definition we understand, freedom within certain boundaries, beyond which, we are punished. This is not freedom by any definition of the word, and it certainly is not the freedom in which we have been set free in Christ. Christ has set us free, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Second Corinthians 11:3 tells us that the gospel – the good news – is not complicated, but simple. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” You don’t have to be a scholar to understand it, yet Mark 4:11-12 says, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’” The Good News is so easy to understand that a small child will accept it, and a condemned criminal on a cross next to Jesus was told that he would be with Jesus in Paradice that very day. The “Broadway” will be heavily populated with those who did not “understand” the simplicity that is in Christ. Professional Christians and Pastors cast aside this simplicity because they just cannot accept that salvation was won for them on the Cross and that nothing, which means absolutely nothing, must be done to earn that free gift. Salvation is absolutely FREE in the Heavenly sense of the word and not as defined by the local Church professional who always adds an addendum to the definition.
This free gift scares the daylight out of the professional who has always believed and taught that the freedom of Christ is like the freedom given by the United States, which means there is a fence of some size erected around them that limits their freedom, and beyond which they cannot go without being fined or imprisoned for noncompliance. This is the sad condition of most Christians who will hear on that fateful day words that will lock them out of a reward that they believe they deserve and have earned.
This letter is long enough but the message is not complete. There is more, so much more, to this story of freedom that is freely given to those who will simply believe, as did a thief on a cross and a small child.