Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16
Peter M. Prange
Who wouldn’t want to be free? Free from insult? Free from pain? Free from trouble? Free from debt? Free from guilt? Free from death? God created us to live in freedom and to celebrate it. Freedom is good and desirable. When we feel the bondage of burden down to our bones, it makes life miserable. We want freedom.
Living as sin’s slaves
But instead we naturally live in bondage. We’re born that way. Jesus plainly taught that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Psalm 51 reminds us that our bondage originates in the womb. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (v. 5). St. Paul outlined the ultimate consequence of our addiction to sin, explaining that “sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Simply put, we are shackled to sin and death. We cannot break the chains of our bondage.
That’s why Jesus came. He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves in a million lifetimes. Yes, our Savior, God’s Son, came to set us free, and “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus canceled sin’s debt. We are not chained to sin and its guilt or the wages of sin—death—because of Jesus. He overcame death by his own death and resurrection. He urges us to take heart and to live in the eternal peace that only he can give. In other words, as St. Peter put it, “live as free people,” because through faith in Jesus that is what we are, now and forever.
Living as God’s slaves
But the apostle also advises us against misunderstanding this freedom. Yes, we are to live as free people, but our freedom dare never be used “as a cover up for evil.” In other words, Jesus has not restored our freedom so that we are “free” to return to the bondage of sin. We should not call sin “freedom” so we can do whatever we want. Our Christian freedom is never to be used in a self-serving way but in a way, that willingly and generously serves others. Strange as it sounds, we are set free from sin and death so that we might “live as God’s slaves” in service to one another.
Jesus serves as the ultimate model of this divine principle, pointing out that “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The One who created heaven and earth—the only One who can freely do “whatever pleases him” (Psalm 115:3) with no need for excuse or explanation—uses his perfect freedom in service to sinners like us. He gave his very life to set us free.
At first it might not seem natural for us to celebrate our freedom from sin and death when we discover that we are still slaves, called to serve one another in humility and love. But slavery to the will of God is true freedom. It brings joy and meaning and fulfillment to our lives. So, let’s live as free people by living as God’s slaves.
Contributing editor Peter Prange is pastor at Bethany, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
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Author: Peter M. Prange
Volume 104, Number 7
Issue: July 2017
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