Study Guide: FREEDOM!

Sunday September 4, 2011 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In Christian circles, we hear a lot about having “freedom from bondage.” Yet in our daily life, the bondage of sin can often feel more real than that freedom. While it may be something we receive as a gift, we're also called to have an ongoing active role in living out our freedom, allowing it to become the thing that defines us, over and above the world.

Extended Summary:

Last week, we learned about our new address in Christ. We were taken from the dominion of darkness and given a new address in the Kingdom of God. We are incorporated in Christ, and we are then free from the kingdom of darkness. While there is nothing but blessings at this new address, it can seem that we are still bound in the kingdom of darkness.

In Christ, we have redemption. Redemption, in the original Greek, meant “to procure by payment/deliver by ransom”, and it was used in the ancient Roman world to describe someone purchasing a slave’s freedom. There were many different kinds of slaves in the Roman world, and many were unable to buy their own freedom. However, if someone were to purchase this freedom for the slave, they gained redemption.

Slavery is a terrible thing. People would be brought up on stages, filthy battered and hopeless. They were often shackled, bruised from captivity, and considered less than human. For the most part, these slaves were sold to people who kept them as slaves and worked for them. In some instances, however, we know of people who purchased the slaves to set them free. This is what Jesus did for us. He purchased our freedom from the kingdom of darkness so that we would no longer be slaves. We are no longer dead in our sins.

We get a picture of Jesus sacrificing himself for us. We are the slaves standing on the stage, bound hopeless and filthy. When Jesus purchases us, it isn’t simply a money trade. Instead, when Jesus purchased us, he took on our chains, filth, and brokenness. He died the death we were supposed to die. And his resurrection severed the chains, cleansed our souls, and repaired the brokenness. It is the most beautiful redemption story in history.

But our freedom was not the stopping point for Jesus. He bought our freedom so that we could fulfill our role in the Kingdom of God. He bought us, not to be mindless robots that are free, but rather as co-rulers in this world. He empowers us to rule alongside him as representatives of him. That requires work on our part.

When we are freed, we do not lose our ability to make choices. We then choose to go back to slavery at points in time or we can choose to never again be burdened by the yoke of slavery. This isn’t an easy choice, and it is a difficult choice to live out. We have residual effects of our slavery stay in our lives. The Israelites show us what this looks likes. When they were freed from the Egyptians, and they were free in the desert being led by God, they longed to go back to slavery because it was familiar, secure, and comfortable. They had been brought out of Egypt, but Egypt had not been brought out of them.

This is exactly what we do when Jesus sets us free. God has redeemed us and has given us a great inheritance. Yet, we keep acting like we’re living in poverty. God is waiting for us to live out our freedom. God is waiting for us to live in our inheritance. God is waiting for us to stand fast and choose freedom over slavery.

In reality, we are 100% free from the kingdom of darkness but we keep thinking and acting like we live in the darkness. We remain slaves to our fears, insecurities, and self-loathing. Today, God is shouting freedom to us! The freedom of Christ has set us free, and we are free indeed! We are not slaves but redeemed. We are not victims but conquerors. We are not empty but full.

Start living out your freedom. Start with baby steps and one small act of co-ruling with God. Identify a residual of Egypt or the kingdom of darkness in your life. Take time everyday to imagine what your life would look like if you were no longer slave to that history. Then try to act out that imagined life. If you get angry everyday, imagine what it would look like if you had peace. Once you can imagine it, try acting it out. You are no longer a slave, but free in Christ. Live it!

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Why is it difficult to live in the Kingdom of God? What challenges do we face when we leave the kingdom of darkness?
  3. What are some ways in which you reside in the kingdom of darkness?
  4. Imagine what your life would look like without this piece of the kingdom of darkness in your life. What does it look like? How is your life better?
  5. Write down this piece of your imagined life. Try acting it out this week. Is there someone you can share this imagined life with? How can you receive help from them to live in the Kingdom of God?