Christ came to set us free, but what does that mean? I’ve often felt confused by the concept of freedom through Christ. I’ve wondered what it looks like, how to access it, and if it could also help me find the freedom to be myself.
It Is for Freedom That Christ Has Set You Free
It frustrates me when Scripture is quoted as a quick-fix to our deepest struggles. Verses such as “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1 NIV) and “So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 ESV) have become popular catchphrases. Yet, how do we reconcile these biblical promises with what we see in the world today?
If what the Bible says is true, why are Christians still bound by pain, unforgiveness, legalism, and destructive habits?
Why are there Christians wandering through life not even knowing how much God loves them and who God made them to be, never mind finding the freedom to be that person?
I believe Christians remain bound for many reasons. Here are just a few:
- They’re trying to gain freedom in their own strength.
- They’ve been deeply hurt and are bound by bitterness.
- They’re hiding in shame due to past or present circumstances or sins.
- They practice legalism rather than accept grace.
- They believe lies about themselves, others, and the world.
I used to be one of those Christians. In some ways, I still am.
Why? Because true freedom isn’t simply a memory verse.
It isn’t instantaneous, and it’s not a quick-fix program.
It’s also much more than a sure path to heaven or a free pass from Old Testament laws.
Then, what does freedom in Christ look like?
I’ve discovered that finding true freedom through Christ is a life journey toward ever-increasing freedom.
Not only that but gaining ever-increasing freedom through Christ and finding the freedom to be yourself is an interdependent process:
- The freer Christ makes you, the more you become who He made you to be; and
- the more you become who God made you to be, the more freedom you’ll gain in other areas of your life!
Today, I’m freer and more whole than I’ve ever been. But it took me a while to get here…
My Journey to Gaining Freedom Through Christ
I haven’t always followed God.
My childhood home was loving and God-centred, and at sixteen I was baptized. I loved God as best I knew how. By the time I reached 20, however, my life was steeped in alcohol, parties, promiscuity, and selfishness.
I hardly knew who I was or what I wanted.
One day, I would get drunk at a bar, and the next, I attended church with my parents.
Why? Because there was something inside me that knew the truth and wanted to live in the light. Yet, when night came, temptation rose, and I willingly befriended darkness again.
With each year that passed, I lost more and more of who I was:
- My fun personality became less delightful and more obnoxious.
- My joy gave way to sullenness.
- My tender conscience grew jaded and hardened my heart.
- My creativity – writing, drawing, painting, singing – took a back seat to drunken revelry.
- My previous desire to know God all but disappeared.
The world convinced me that my new lifestyle equaled freedom, but feelings of discontent and restlessness revealed the truth: The more I indulged in sin, the less I resembled the person God made me to be.
God Loved Me Out of My Pit of Destruction
Throughout my rebellious years, God continually wooed me and showed me that he loved me. I mostly resisted his advances. He was persistent, though – unwilling to let me go without a fight.
Over the course of several years, God softened my heart. Progress was slow. God was patient. My choice patterns shifted. More and more, I chose light over darkness.
At 23, I got married. When I became pregnant with my first child, I realized I would have to be a role model.
Did I want my child to watch me straddle the fence between darkness and light?
With great fervor, I plunged into the Christian life:
- I read inspirational books written by Christians.
- I prayed, and I studied my Bible.
- I grew to love Jesus in a way I never had before.
For a more in-depth look at growing in everyday faith and strengthening your relationship with Jesus, check out the article: What Does Everyday Faith Look Like? [Plus 31 Ways to Grow in Faith Checklist].
The previous years of rebellion, however, held consequences.
Searching for Sara
Certainly, I felt loved and forgiven by God, but there were past hurts and sins I struggled to find freedom from.
Also, I didn’t understand who I was, as if I’d lost pieces of myself along the way and didn’t know where to find them.
I wanted to give God all of me, but who was that?
God was kind. He reminded me, here and there, just how He’d made me.
For example, one day, I was decorating the house for my son’s birthday party. As I blew up several over-sized balloons, I suddenly remembered how I liked to draw when I was a teenager. Feeling inspired, I grabbed a Sharpie marker and drew cartoons on each balloon – Dora, The Cat in the Hat, Diego, etc. I felt a spark ignite inside me as I let creativity feed my soul. My son was super excited about his custom birthday balloons. My husband was surprised. He didn’t even know I could draw. How would he? I’d met him during my rebellion, at a time when I’d already abandoned these pieces of me.
I searched for myself through friendships, gardening, family time, home improvement projects, church, and books:
- I learned that I’m great at refurbishing old furniture.
- While attempting gardening, I unearthed the fact that I have a dreadful black thumb.
- I also discovered I have a passion for study and learning and writing.
It was fun to find myself. But parts of me were still bound and buried.
For instance, I’ve always had a loud, expressive personality. As a child, I entertained my family and friends. As a teenager, I was a hoot to have around. As a rebellious young adult, however, I became more obnoxious than fun. So, after I’d decided to give God all of me, I thought that meant I needed to be quiet, submissive and reserved. I stuffed my big personality deep down for fear I would hurt the people around me, just as I had during my years of rebellion. This left me feeling trapped and confused.
Two Keys to Freedom
All the while, God knew my heart and understood my searching. When the time was right, He revealed to me these two key truths, which became catalysts in my progress toward freedom through Christ.
I believe these two keys apply to all Christians:
- God was delighted that I wanted to be all his, but He also wanted Jesus to be all mine – my everything.
- If I wanted to be my whole self, I’d have to fight for freedom through Christ.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when these truths became clear to me. God often works that way – slowly, gently revealing truth to us until it becomes so vivid and sure that we wonder how we ever missed it.
Today, I’m freer and more whole than I’ve ever been. I’m also continuing to embrace Jesus – more and more – as my everything and to fight for my freedom.
I share my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned, not as a prescription or rule book, but as a message of hope. Am I already fully free? Goodness, no. No one is, and no one will be until Christ returns to perfect us. BUT, I’ve been freed from much, and I will continue to be freed from much more as I continue to journey this life with my Savior and Guide.
“…[W]e felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”2 Corinthians 1:9-10 ESV
As I said earlier, finding true freedom in Christ is a life journey of ever-increasing freedom that also frees you to be yourself.
Through Christ, you can be free, too!
You Can Be Free, Too!
Since God made you, He’s the only One with the wisdom and power needed to set you free —
- free from the past,
- free to love Him more,
- free from bondage,
- free to love others,
- free from deep disappointment,
- free from hurts, and
- free to be who He made you to be.
Your most efficient, powerful, life-giving, soul-freeing path to gaining freedom to be yourself – the whole you – is through Jesus Christ.
When God gave me my two keys to freedom, I believe He meant them for every believer:
- God wants you to surrender fully to Him and to embrace Jesus as your everything.
- “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matthew 16:24-45 NLT).
- “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15-4-5 ESV).
- God wants you to participate by fighting for your freedom through Christ.
- “We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world” (Ephesians 6:12 CEV).
Now is the time to be free!
Let God heal you, refresh you, reveal truth to you, speak to you, and guide you along your life journey toward ever-increasing freedom.
There are always greater levels of freedom available to you through Christ.
3 Steps to Get You Started On Your Own Journey to Freedom
Here are three steps toward freedom through Christ for you to consider today.
As you grow in faith and in your relationship with Jesus, God will continue to reveal His truth to you and show you the next step on your own journey to freedom.
I’ll be sharing with you many of my own stories of freedom here on Sara, Living Free. These will be stories about how God speaks to me and frees me. God is always doing a new thing! He’s still revealing to me who I am, which leads to exciting discoveries! My stories are intended to encourage you, to help you along your own journey.
For today, let’s start with your first three steps:
Step One: Embrace Jesus as More Than Just Your Saviour.
If you want to gain freedom in your life, you must accept Jesus Christ as more than just your Saviour. He is your Counselor, Master, Guide, Lord, Teacher, Comforter, and more.
Sadly, many Christians accept Jesus as their Saviour, then leave their relationship with Jesus at that level, never knowing Him as their Confidant, Deliverer, Friend, King, Provider, etc.
Jesus wants so much more for us. He IS so much more!
Jesus Is My Husband
When I was first learning to embrace Jesus as my everything, one of the first things God showed me was that Jesus is my husband.
In every relationship, there are areas where we are left feeling alone or misunderstood. There were times when my husband couldn’t fix things for me, times when he was unable to comfort my heart the way I wanted or needed.
I sensed God say to me one day, “Don’t burden your husband with something only I can give you. I am your husband. Come to me.”
Too many movies and novels portray soul-mate type relationships where partners are perfectly intuitive to their spouse’s emotional needs. This leaves many women with unrealistic expectations in marriage.
I’ve learned that when my husband is unable to understand a deep emotional struggle I’m experiencing, I can bring my pain to God, who comforts me in the exact way I need.
That way, I don’t burden my husband with a task he’s not meant to fulfill.
At the same time, I draw closer to God by allowing Him to be more of my everything.
Accepting Jesus as my husband brought a new level of freedom to both my marriage and my relationship with God!
Jesus is your everything.
The Bible is full of wisdom and encouragement. Most of us have favorite verses we go back to time and again in order to draw strength from them.
I’ve noticed one particular verse that many people draw motivation from when facing trials:
“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Phil.4:13 EHV).
This is a fantastic truth. It means that whatever God commands us to do – no matter how insurmountable the task may seem – we can be sure that we can accomplish it through Christ, who strengthens us.
Unfortunately, when reading this verse, we too often focus on the “I can” and miss the most important part “through Christ.”
If we reverse the order of the words in this verse, its intended meaning is clearer: Through Christ who strengthens me, I can do all things.
Can you see the difference?
- Through Christ, you can heal from childhood wounds.
- Through Christ, you can transform relationships.
- Through Christ, you can embrace your big personality and not be afraid of others judging you.
- Through Christ, you can forgive those who’ve injured you.
- Through Christ, you can find freedom to be yourself.
Jesus is literally our everything: We were created by Him and for Him, and we live through Him.
“But for us, [t]here is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:16 NLT).
I encourage you today to make a decision to pursue Jesus as your everything, and especially as your Strength to find freedom.
When you’re free to be who God made you to be, you bring glory to God.
Step Two: Through Christ, Take Action
It’s true that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 ESV), but did you know that Jesus provides us with two types of freedom?
First, Jesus set you free from eternal death. Praise the Lord! This freedom is instantaneous upon salvation, and we are eternally grateful for it. It is a finished work, completed on our behalf by Jesus Christ our Lord.
But there’s more!
Second, Jesus came to set us free here on earth during our lifetime. He wants to free us from hurt, trauma, pain, addiction, sickness, bitterness, anger… the list goes on. If we want this second type of freedom, however, we’ll need to start taking action. It will require time and willingness on our part to search for truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 ESV).
What’s the Truth?
The Word of God is truth. Take action by reading and studying the Bible.
Ask God to reveal His truth to you while you read it. His Word is powerful and effective to transform you.
In addition to revealing truth to you through His Word, there will also be times when God will also reveal a specific truth to you through his Holy Spirit, something that will help you along your journey to freedom.
God’s Word promises that “when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13 ESV). The Holy Spirit can speak directly to you in many ways, but be sure to remember that His specific commands to you and your circumstance will always be in agreement with what the Word of God says.
You can trust God to reveal special truths to you, through His Word and by His Holy Spirit, in His perfect timing.
Remember, Jesus made you. He alone knows why you’ve never been able to get past what your friend did to you all those years ago. He’s the One who can reveal the truth of why that hurt affected you so traumatically and how you can be free of it.
God is the Great Physician and knows best how to heal your heart.
There’s a War Within You
As much as Jesus wants to set you free, Satan wants to keep you bound.
We’re in a battle for freedom whether we like it or not. We’ll need Jesus to fight by our side if we want to gain our freedom.
Jesus has all the power. But He still expects us to do our part.
Years ago, I suffered through a severe bout of anxiety, fear, and paranoia. I knew my thoughts weren’t rational, but the oppressive fear was so strong that I couldn’t shake free.
During this time, I had to learn about the fine balance between acknowledging that Jesus Christ was the only way to freedom while also doing my part.
When a wave of fear would overtake me, I remember playing praise songs and worshiping God to focus my mind on Jesus.
The Holy Spirit also revealed to me that I needed to continually focus on this truth: “Jesus came to set me free. My victory is in the blood of Christ.” I repeated these words whenever I felt the fear was crushing me.
Jesus held all the power, but I had to do my part.
I had to choose to play the praise songs. I had to open my mouth and remind myself of Jesus’s powerful sacrifice. These were just two of the action steps that God showed me to take at that time.
Praise the Lord! Today, I’m free from that debilitating anxiety, fear, and paranoia.
It was a hard road with many other action steps along the way, but I give all the glory to Jesus for carrying me through, showing me my next steps to freedom, and setting me fully free!
When we’re willing to draw close to Jesus and let Him speak to us, He will work miracles in our lives.
God will bring us to ever-increasing levels of healing and freedom.
You Will Be Free, Too!
Before I move on to step three, I’d like to be clear about one thing:
There is no condemnation for those who have taken action steps, have brought their struggles to Christ, and still are not free.
Even Paul, one of the godliest men in the Bible, experienced the frustrating reality that freedom is a journey: “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be” (Philippians 3:12 NLT).
Only God knows what is happening behind the scenes in your particular battle. He sees the spiritual realm and knows why your journey to freedom is taking so long.
But let me assure you of this: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10 ESV).
Praise the Lord that much of this restoration can happen here on earth, but we are also guaranteed that the rest of our healing will be complete when we join Jesus forever.
In the meantime, never give up!
Fight the good fight for freedom.
Never stop surrendering your struggles to Jesus Christ, and continue to do your part as the Holy Spirit leads you.
Step Three: Find a Christian Support Group
You will need Christian support on your journey to freedom.
From the beginning, God said that it’s not good for us to live life alone. Certainly, taking time to be alone is healthy. Jesus did this often. There is a difference, however, between being alone for a time or being isolated – especially when it comes to your spiritual life.
Here are three of my favorite Bible verses to help us understand the benefits of a Christian support group on our journey to gain true freedom through Christ.
1. Confession is Healing (James 5:16)
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]” (James 5:16 AMP).
Don’t be afraid of confession. It may feel uncomfortable at the moment, but it’s extremely effective for gaining freedom through Christ.
Be careful, though. Don’t confess your sins, faults and struggles with just anyone.
Ask God for wisdom to know who is trustworthy and safe. It takes someone special – sent by God into your life – for you to be comfortable enough to confess your sins together and pray for healing and freedom.
Years ago, God unexpectedly provided me with my own Christian support group.
When a major life event threw several women, including me, into crisis mode, we banded together for prayer and fasting. Our support group was formed due to a crisis but quickly became a spiritual lifeline, a safe place for each of us. We’ve been walking side by side on this journey to freedom ever since.
Do you remember that period of dark fear and paranoia I experienced?
Much of my journey to freedom out of that fear and anxiety involved my support group. Just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses’s arms during the battle against the Amalekites (Exodus 17), these godly women lifted me up in prayer whenever I called them for help. They interceded for me when I was too weak or too afraid to pray for myself.
My hope is that you will receive the gift of a trustworthy Christian support group in your life, too.
2. Jesus Loves Gatherings (Matthew 18-19-20)
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:19-20 NIV).
This is a great mystery. I won’t even pretend to understand it fully; yet, it is a promise given to us by God. When we gather with other believers and pray in accordance with God’s will, we have what we ask for.
There is an extra level of power – an extra presence of Jesus Christ – available to Christians when they’re willing to gather together and agree in prayer.
Your prayers in solitude are also effective. God loves your prayers. Yet, there is something special about prayer with another believer that can’t be denied.
I encourage you to make good use of this promise God has given. When the opportunity arises, don’t hesitate to gather in prayer with those who share your faith. God loves it, and you will benefit greatly.
And remember, if you don’t have a Christian support group yet, there are always other ways to gather in prayer:
- You can talk to your pastor and pray with him.
- You can see a Christian counselor and incorporate prayer into your appointments.
- You don’t need a whole group. Even one trustworthy Christian friend will do.
3. We All Need Encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25)
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT).
God tells us not to neglect meeting with our Christian support group, and for good reason: It’s too easy for us to set personal goals for spiritual growth, for example, only to abandon our resolve for lack of encouragement, motivation, and accountability.
There’s something especially energizing about having another believer spur you on to stick to your decision, or comfort you when you’ve made mistakes.
We need this kind of help in our lives.
A Christian support group can:
- Encourage you toward greater freedom through Christ.
- Motivate and teach you.
- Listen and comfort.
- Pick you up when you fall down.
For Those Who Already Have a Christian Support Group
If God has placed these types of people in your life already, please don’t take them for granted. They are His gift to you to help you run the race of faith.
Remember, just as Moses’s friends had to hold his arms up during the battle when he was tired, your support people will be there to help you finish well. Thank God for them!
For Those Who Are Searching for a Christian Support Group
If you feel alone in your walk of faith and your journey to freedom through Christ, please don’t be discouraged.
God sometimes carries us through solitary times when He wants us to learn to lean on Him. Since He is our Rock and our Fortress, God doesn’t want us to place other people on a pedestal that was only ever meant for Him. He is your God. He cares for you. He is enough.
However, God also loves to work through other people to help us.
When the time is right, God will provide you with the proper Christian support group. Maybe it will be a good friend. Maybe it will be a family member. Maybe it will be an unexpected group of godly people. God knows what’s best for you.
Pray and ask God to prepare your heart for the right people and to draw you together with whomever He has in mind. He is faithful and will help you in this.
Let’s Journey to Ever-Increasing Freedom Together
By now, I hope you are confident in these wonderful truths:
- True freedom through Christ is a life journey toward ever-increasing freedom.
- Jesus loves when you surrender all of yourself to Him, but He also wants to beeverything to you.
- Through Christ, you can find freedom to be your whole self.
- Christians need other Christians.
- Freedom is worth fighting for!
My hope is that we can journey this road to freedom together. As I keep learning and growing, I’ll share with you the lessons God teaches me.
I’d also love to hear how God is working in your life. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story or request prayer.
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