When you think of the word freedom, what comes to mind? Was it being handed the keys to the car on your sixteenth birthday, finally able to hit the road on your own? Did you think back to moving into your college dorm, watching your parents drive away and realizing you no longer had a bedtime? Or maybe freedom looks like those mornings when you hire a babysitter for a few hours so you can make that grocery run without the distraction of a busy toddler. Whatever you imagined, chances are, what you pictured had something to do with being by yourself. The truth is, however, that the biblical understanding of freedom is fully dependent on relationship.
There is nothing you can do to gain freedom for yourself. Left to ourselves, we would choose sin. Sin separates us from God and brings death to our lives (Isaiah 59:2). We are slaves to sin and dependent on Christ to free us from the punishment we deserve for sinning. The Messiah was sent to earth to proclaim freedom (Luke 4:18). Jesus never set us free so that we could do whatever we wanted to do; Jesus set us free to be in a right relationship with God.
Living in bondage makes for a miserable life. Constantly being burdened with the fear of punishment for your sins or believing that there is something you can do to obtain blessing nullifies the grace that has been poured out over your life. Salvation is a gracious gift and can never be received through works. Believing you have to earn your salvation is submitting to a yoke of slavery. Just as a wooden yoke is placed on animals to control them, having a false understanding of what Christ did on your behalf can scare you into believing your salvation is dependent on behavior modification. Jesus lifts the yoke that sin has placed on our lives and makes our load light (Matthew 11:28–30). Christ has set us free so we can live freely (Galatians 5:1). Following Jesus, living in and by His truth, is much more freeing than the yoke of slavery that sin brings.