Restrained Freedom

Western society assumes the right of the individual to choose. As the moral fabric of society decays, that choice extends beyond the bounds of morality. Growing waves of unfettered “freedom” ultimately create strong rip currents that erode the foundations of society. Pressure mounts to abandon morality or suffer the consequences.

History testifies to the cycle of such moral upheaval. Corinthian believers lived in a city know for moral chaos. First Corinthians 6:9-11 lists the kinds of immorality from which those believers turned to Christ. In that context Paul issues a statement of ownership, a statement of restrained freedom: You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (6:20, ESV) And again, You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. (7:23) The repeated statement sets the priority for believers wrestling with matters of morality. Your position in Christ prioritizes obedience to God. He doubly owns you. He created you and He redeemed you.

This position simultaneously frees and restrains. Those bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ no longer dread just condemnation for their sins against God. They possess the ability to overcome fleshly, sinful impulses that always lead to destruction and death. Their freedom empowers service to others. Being twice-owned by God frees the believer to do the good works God designed for the person from eternity past.

God’s ownership also restrains from what destroys. Carrying a driver’s license assumes that the driver understands the laws that restrain using a vehicle to destroy and injure oneself and others. As a licensed driver new freedom abounds – but with the accompanying restrictions. God’s purchase of the Christian from the slave market of sin delivers that person from destructive fear of man. Now, the Christian gains freedom to live for God.

In an unbalanced embrace of grace, far too many professing Christians assume that being bought by God simply eliminates the eternal consequences of sin. Instead of embracing the priorities of holiness designed for thriving in grace, Christians assume that God winks at self-centered pursuits and man-fearing compromises. Paul’s repeated statement, You were bought with a price, insists that true Christians seek ultimate fulfillment by pleasing their new Master – exclusively.

About the Author
Nathaniel Pringle serves as the pastor of Eastside Community Bible Church, Milford, Ohio. His goal is to fulfill the commission in Titus 2:1, "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine." (ESV)

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