I recently spoke to one of my disciples who told me that he wants to be free in Christ, to depend on no one, to obey no one in ministry but Christ alone, to serve as he pleases and to do what Christ calls him to, not men.
Such thinking is very dangerous. In fact, it is not freedom in Christ, but disobedience and rebellion against Christ. Why? Because Christ makes us free, but it is He who calls us to obedience. A free man in Christ is one who has been made free from sin, but by his own choice decides to be subject to Christ.
“Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 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 entrusted, and after being freed from sin, you became slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18 NASB)
When we were children of darkness, we were slaves of sin, enslaved and tormented by earthly nature. Having obeyed from the heart the righteousness of sound teaching, we were delivered from sin, and now we are still slaves, but not of sin, but of righteousness. As slaves of righteousness, we can no longer do whatever we want, but only what our Master tells us. Jesus calls us to obedience, not rebellion. When some of the Jews believed in Him, Jesus set the following condition for them:
“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NASB)
These words are addressed to the Jews who had believed in Jesus, yet Jesus tells them that they can only be disciples if they abide in His Word. This is freedom in Christ. To abide in His Word and do exactly what He teaches. Then you will be free from sin, but a servant of obedience to Him.
Christ was free, but He obeyed
Looking to His example, we also understand what it means to be free in Christ. The Bible says the following:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 NASB)
The thought that was in Him was obedience, submission and self-giving. He, who was God when He became man, chose to give us an example of obedience and submission. “He became obedient” shows us that He chose to be obedient. As God in the flesh, He could choose to do what He wanted, but He chose to be obedient to His Father until death. The Apostle Peter wrote thus:
“ For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps, He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being abusively insulted, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He did not threaten, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; “(1 Peter 2:21-23 NASB)
How does all this apply to us as free people in Christ?
If we are free in Him, we must live like Him. In the same passage from 1 Peter, the Bible explains how to live as free in Christ:
“Act as free people, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-servants of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. “ (1 Peter 2:16-17 NASB)
Again we see that to be a slave in Christ is to be a slave of God. Freedom is not to be a cover of wickedness, but of obedience. What does this look like in practice? Peter explains further and says:
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are harsh.” (1 Peter 2:18 NASB)
Servants were to be subject to their masters. In the church, however, Jesus still set an order, which we must accept and obey. Jesus calls every believer to be obedient and obedient to his elders:
“Obey your leaders and submit to them—for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account—so that they may do this with joy, not groaning; for this would be unhelpful for you.” (Hebrews 13:17 NASB)
You owe it to your elders to be obedient to them. It is not a human command, but it is God’s command.
“And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:11-12 NASB)
How can the great ones of the Church perfect the saints if everyone does what he wants under the pretext that he is free in Christ? Then the church will no longer be tightly knit and tightly bound, but will be very easily divided. This is why you must obey and be obedient.
Freedom in Christ does not give you the right to live as you wish
My dear, to be free in Christ is to be a man obedient first to God and then to all those whom He has placed over you. If you are truly free in Christ, it will never be a problem for you to obey, any more than it was for the Lord Jesus. A man who does not obey God will not obey men either. For the one who continues to be a servant of the earthly nature obedience and submission is a hard thing, whereas for the truly free one it is a blessing to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
By faith in Him the Lord Jesus has made us free, but not free to submit to any authority that God has placed over us, but free from sin, free from the power of darkness and the lusts of the father of lies. This is what it means to be free in Christ. To no longer live according to the lusts of the personal flesh, but to submit in all things to Him and to His Word which is truth. If you say that you obey Christ alone and do not want to obey men, this is a testimony that you are not obedient to Christ either, because He has commanded us to be subject to “every human dominion”. He instituted the dominions in society and He also instituted an order in His Church.
Choose to be obedient and do not make your freedom a covering for wickedness!
Translated by Aliona Soltan