God Wants Men to Be Free

Congres Voting for Independence

July 4, 1776, thirteen American colonies declared their independence from the British Empire. One of the fundamental reasons cited for doing this was the fact that each individual has been given freedom by God. The Declaration of Independence states that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” To this day we celebrate the birth of this nation that was founded on these principles.

As we reflect upon the principles of liberty and freedom, it is important to do so from a Biblical perspective. God wants men to be free. Let us notice what the Bible says about God’s desire for our freedom.

The Bible On Freedom

Free Will – To prove that God desires man to be free, He granted free moral agency. This is plainly evident in the appeals made for men to choose to follow God (Joshua 24:15), to reason together with Him (Isaiah 1:18), and in the need for one to believe and obey the gospel in order to be saved (Mark 16:16; Hebrews 5:9), even being persuaded to do so (2 Corinthians 5:11). God desires all men to be saved (2 Peter 3:9); but sadly, not all will be (Matthew 7:13-14). He could have created us in such a way that we could not help but serve Him. But then all He would have would be a group of servants that follow Him thoughtlessly or under compulsion. This is not what God wants. He wants us to choose to follow Him and has given us the freedom of will to do so.

Free from Sin – Paul told the Romans, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts” (Romans 6:11-12). Sin enslaves us. Jesus came to free us from this bondage. The Hebrew writer said that Jesus came to “free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:15). With Christ, we do not have to live in bondage to sin, ready to receive the due penalty of spiritual death (Romans 6:23).

Free from the Commands of Men – When “false brethren” came in wanting to “bring us into bondage” by binding the command of circumcision upon Gentile converts, Paul refused to allow any room for their error. “But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you” (Galatians 2:4-5). We are subject to Christ and have His word as our complete and perfect standard. “Therefore no one is to act as your judge” in regard to any additional matter (Colossians 2:16). Many want to alter or add to the instructions that Christ has given. We are not bound to follow them, but have been given freedom in Christ from these other doctrines.

Free Societies – This brings us back to where we started. This country was founded upon the principle of individual liberty. Is this something that God is concerned about? Absolutely! Notice the reason why Paul said we are to pray for our leaders: “For kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2). God’s desire is that civil authorities provide and maintain an environment where we have the freedoms to practice and teach the will of God without fear. Paul explained that a free society was the most effective for spreading the gospel (1 Timothy 2:3-4). While there are many physical benefits to living in a free country, the spiritual benefits that exist are far greater and far more important.

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

God desires us to be free, but this does not mean we are free to live as we please. Paul told the churches of Galatia: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). To the Romans he said, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).

We have a divine obligation to serve God and do good to others. Let us use the great gift of freedom we have been given to carry out these responsibilities. Do not neglect to show gratitude for your God-given liberties. Pray also that these liberties might be preserved for us and our children and be extended to others as well, and that we, to whatever extent we are able, would help lead others to the freedom that God desires for us to have.


This article is one of the fifty articles included in the book Plain Bible Teaching: The First Ten Years. Click on the link to read more about the book.


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Unity, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Thankful.


Comments

  1. Jimmy Sandoval says

    Where in the Bible does it actually say “all men are created equal& endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights?”

  2. Jimmy, that quote from the Declaration of Independence is not found in the Bible. But the principle certainly is.

    The Bible teaches that all men are created equal. Paul said that God “made from one man every nation of mankind” (Acts 17:26). Earlier Peter said, “God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35). All men are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), therefore all are equal.

    What about the “certain unalienable rights”? Does the Bible talk about these?
    – Life: “He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25).
    – Liberty: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Of course, the context of this verse is about spiritual liberty. But in regards to civil authorities, Peter said, “Act as free men” after telling them to submit to their rulers (1 Peter 2:13-16). What is the point? Through God we have freedom, and even while submitting to civil authorities so that we might “silence the ignorance of foolish men,” we are to see ourselves as free people. Threats to our spiritual liberty come through sin (Romans 6:17-20). Threats to our physical liberty come from civil authorities who do not respect the role God has ordained for them — to punish evildoers and maintain an environment in which we are free to serve God without fear (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:1-4).
    – Pursuit of Happiness: God has given us free moral agency, allowing us to choose any path we wish to take. He has told us the way we should go in His word (Psalm 119:105). But He allows us to pursue what we will, with the warning that we will be held accountable for our actions. The wise man said, “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things” (Ecclesiastes 11:9).

    So, the Bible does not contain that quote from the Declaration of Independence. But it does teach that God created all men to be equal, and that He has granted us life, liberty (both physical and spiritual), and the ability to choose the path that pleases us.

  3. Tim Haile says

    Good points Andy, we might also add the fact that God Himself is a free agent, and that we are made in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26). We are thus “endowed” (by divine design) with the ability and desire to make our own choices. At creation, humans were endowed with free agency. Sin and apathy tend to strip men of their freedom of choice and reduce them to being the subjects of sin, Satan, and Satan’s ministers.