Freedom In Christ
Question: “What is freedom in Christ?”
In this Bible study I will share with you what the Lord recently revealed to me in regards to the answer to this question. I pray that it opens your eyes and stirs your hearts as it did mine.
The citizens in the United States, where I live, have been blessed with a great amount of freedom, as long as they abide by the laws that govern it. To break the law is to possibly forfeit that freedom and be placed into prison. The Bible reveals a different freedom, a freedom in Christ that occurs from within no matter what your external situation may be. A person can be living in a free nation and yet be bound in an internal prison that they cannot escape from. Another may be living under an extremely oppressive government, or even in an actual prison cell, and, yet, because of their acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah be living free from within with unexplainable joy and hope. The good news in this is that Jesus Christ came to set the captives free, in all nations, under any circumstance. (See the Bible study Binding And Loosing.)
John 1:11-13 – See the note below. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive  Him. 12 But as many as received  Him, to them He gave the right  to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. NASU
NT:3880 paralambano (par-al-am-ban'-o) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:3844 and NT:2983; to receive near, i.e. associate with oneself (in any familiar or intimate act or relation); by analogy, to assume an office; figuratively, to learn: KJV - receive, take (unto, with). (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) to take to, to take with oneself, to join to oneself: tina, an associate, a companion (Matthew 17:1) to receive something transmitted properly: an office to be discharged (Col. 4:17) to receive with the mind (1 Cor. 11:23)
NT:2983 lambano (lam-ban'-o) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) a prolonged form of a primary verb, which is use only as an alternate in certain tenses; to take (in very many applications, literally and figuratively [properly objective or active, to get hold of; whereas NT:1209 is rather subjective or passive, to have offered to one; while NT:138 is more violent, to seize or remove]): KJV - accept, be amazed, assay, attain, bring, when I call, catch, come on (X unto), forget, have, hold, obtain, receive (X after), take (away, up). (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) I. to take,
to take with the hand, lay hold of (Matthew 26:26)
to take in order to carry away: without the notion of violence (Matthew 8:17)
to take what is one's own, to take to oneself, to make one's own
a. to claim, procure, for oneself: ti (John 3:27)
b. to seize, lay hold of, apprehend: tina (Matthew 21:35)
c. to take by craft to circumvent one by fraud (2 Cor. 11:20)
d. to take to oneself, lay hold upon, take possession of (Hebrews 5:4)
e. catch at, reach after, strive to obtain:
f. to take a thing due according to agreement or law, to collect, gather (Matthew 17:24)
4. to take i. e. to admit, receive (Mark 14:65) 5. to take, equivalent to choose, select (Hebrews 5:1) 6. to begin (Hebrews 2:3) II. to receive (what is given); to gain, get, obtain (Matthew 7:8)
NT:1849 exousia (ex-oo-see'-ah) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: KJV - authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) power 1. power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; leave or permission (1 Cor. 9:12,18) 2. physical and mental power; the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises (Matthew 9:8) 3. the power of authority (influence) and of right (Matthew 21:23) 4. the power of rule or government a. universally (Matthew 28:18) b. with an infinitive of the thing decided (John 19:10)
In this passage, John’s subject is those who received Christ, those who were literally born of God. By definition (see 2983 above), they have laid hold of Christ, making Him their own. They are the only ones that have been given the right to become children of God. This is interesting because it would be assumed that they are instantly, at the choice of receiving Christ, to be His child. Per John, there is more in regards to bringing this right to completion in Him.
The definition for “right” is, “privilege, power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases, the power of rule or government.” Freedom in Christ, therefore, is the “authority, power (of choice), privilege, liberty of doing as one pleases” that is only granted to those who turn in repentance to Jesus, receiving Him as their Lord and Savior. The unbelievers do not have this freedom to choose. They are slaves to sin and the devil (2 Tim. 2:26).
The Law Of Liberty
James 1:22-25 – See the note below. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude [“to deceive by false reasoning”] themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten [2 Peter 1:9] what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently [“to look carefully into, inspect curiously”] at the perfect  law, the law of liberty , and abides  by it [NKJV- ...and continues in it], not having become a forgetful [“negligence”] hearer but an effectual doer [KJV/NKJV – “a doer of the work”], this man will be blessed in what he does. NASU
NT:5046 teleios (tel'-i-os) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with NT:3588) completeness: KJV - of full age, man, perfect. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) properly, brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness; perfect: ergon (James 1:4) NT:1657 eleutheria (el-yoo-ther-ee'-ah) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:1658; freedom (legitimate or licentious, chiefly moral or ceremonial): KJV - liberty. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) liberty,
liberty to do or to omit things having no relation to salvation (1 Cor. 10:29)
fancied liberty, i. e. license, the liberty to do as one pleases (2 Peter 2:19)
NT:3887 parameno (par-am-en'-o) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:3844 and NT:3306; to stay near, i.e. remain (literally, tarry; or NT:3844 and NT:3306; to stay near, i.e. remain (literally, tarry; or figuratively, be permanent, persevere): KJV - abide, continue. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) to remain beside, to continue always near (Hebrews 7:23)
The law of liberty, the law of freedom (in Christ) is the freedom to choose. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines liberty as; “The quality or state of being free, freedom from physical restraint, the power to do as one pleases, the power of choice.” The English by Oxford Dictionary defines it as; “The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” A free nation, therefore, is one that allows for its citizens to freely make choices, within the boundaries of the laws that govern it. This is the picture of the Kingdom of God that has been expressed throughout history within free nations. Their fall is the other example of what occurs when a free people misuse and neglect their freedom. It is this same neglect of their freedom in Christ through which Christians can also fall.
One day, while teaching His disciples, Jesus made the following declaration to them regarding the connection between not doing what He says and the great falling away from Him among His followers; “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:21-27/NASU)
Per Jesus, the falling away from Him will occur among His disciples who have been given ears to hear His word, but do not do what He says. The quickly approaching storm of His righteous judgment will reveal the truth regarding the foundation of our faith. If we have given the Lord lip service without obedience we will fall during the flood of His wrath, and as He said, great will be that fall. After declaring the supremacy of Christ over angels, of His authoritative word over theirs, the author of Hebrews says; For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Hebrews 2:1-3/NASU)
To neglect our salvation is “to be careless of, to make light of” it. The writer of Hebrews is, therefore, warning us to be careful not to drift away from what we have heard, believing that we are above judgment when we walk in careless neglect of His salvation granted us (see Hebrews 10:26-31). Freedom in Christ is not a free pass to continue in sin with an unrepentant heart.
Later in the book of Hebrews we are given an even stronger warning concerning our negligence in handling this great salvation we have been given the right to. It says in chapter ten; If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received [again, these are those who received Him in John 1:12] the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled [“to treat with rudeness and insult, to treat with insulting neglect”] the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31/NIV)
We cannot say this warning is strictly for unbelievers. It clearly states the context of this warning which is those who have received the knowledge of the truth, making it their own, are disrespectfully treating the blood of the covenant that sanctified them (an unbeliever is never referred to as being sanctified], and insulted the Spirit of grace. To make his point even clearer the writer of Hebrews says, “The Lord will judge his people.” This warning is indisputably directed toward those of us who have turned to Christ, telling us to be careful how we act to the words of God spoken to us through Jesus and the freedom we possess in Him. The fear of the Lord is to keep us from drifting away from our secure place in Christ. The doctrine of demons remove this healthy fear and respect. Countries with oppressive governments do not allow for this freedom. Their people are told what they can and cannot do by those who rule over them with a heavy hand of control. Biblically speaking, this condition of oppression, of bondage to sin and the devil rules over all of mankind that has not turned through repentance to Christ.
In their book America’s Providential History (APH), Mark Beliles and Stephen McDowell give the following explanation of what they refer to as God’s Pathway To Liberty;
God’s pathway to liberty is from the internal to the external. God’s desire is for an eternal expression of His Kingdom on earth. Yet it must first begin in the heart of man, and then it will naturally express itself externally in all aspects of society. The Bible reveals that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). When the Spirit of the Lord comes into the heart of a man, that man is liberated. Likewise, when the Spirit of the Lord comes into a nation, that nation is liberated. The degree to which the Spirit of the Lord is infused into a society (through its people, laws, and institutions), is the degree to which that society will experience liberty in every realm (civil, religious, economics, etc.). Christ came to set us free (Gal. 5:1, 3). Spiritual freedom or liberty ultimately produces political freedom. External political slavery reflects internal spiritual bondage... Christian reforms within a nation do not begin with external or violent means (quite a contrast to Marxist/Communist “reforms” we see today), but they begin within... Through Christ, God releases the “Law of Liberty” into society through the cleansed hearts of men (James 1:25 and 2:12). The self-governing Christian is governed by the internal law written on his heart interpreted by the Holy Spirit...The more a nation applies His law, the more that nation will prosper and walk in liberty. The degree which a people apply the law personally [doers of the word, not hearers only] will be reflected through their governmental institutions, for the law flows from the heart of man out to the nation. (APH, p.26-27)
James exhorts us in the above verses (James 1:22-25), referring to the blessings of abiding, or continuing in the law of liberty. This occurs by not only hearing what it says, but by doing it. Jesus said to a group of Jews that had believed in Him, “If you continue [3306- meno] in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free [1659- see Galatians 5:1 below].” They answered Him, “We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-36/NASU)
The Greek we interpret in English as continue is meno [men'-o]. It means “to remain, abide, to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy).” Continuing in the word through obedience, and repenting when we sin, is the way to freedom in Christ. Remaining near Him is to remain in Him. We have been given the promises of God in His word that if we will persevere, getting back up when we stumble through disobedience and confess our sin, that eventually He will set us free.
I understand now why the devil hammers me when I sin against God’s word. He knows that I desire to obey, and have been given much in regards to the truth of God’s will. When I fall into a sin, feeling terrible because of conviction, he then heaps great condemnation on me so as to try to cause me not to turn back to the Lord with a repentant heart so as to be restored and move forward. His plan is to get me so discouraged that I will give up looking for deliverance, possibly even justifying my sin in some way, and to stop working together with the Holy Spirit in His pruning process of sanctification. In other words, he wants us to quit in hopes of having us remain in bondage under his power of influence. John exhorts us not to walk in agreement with the devil, saying; The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8/NAS)
To be free indeed is, by definition of the Greek, to be that which is “truly, in reality, in point of fact [free], as opposed to what is pretended, fictitious, false, or conjectural [“hypothetical, speculative, theoretical”].” (Thayer's Greek Lexicon) This is the power of truth, and the reason why the devil works so hard at injecting falsehood into the church. It is only by the hearing, and then doing of the truth that we will, in actuality, be set free rather than in doctrinal theory only. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is there to help us, unless we resist Him, providing His strength for our weakness.
The Spirit of the Lord is the only way for mankind to experience true freedom, an eternal freedom. Paul said, Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17/NASU) As I said earlier, a person can be living in a free country and yet be enslaved on the inside. Conversely, someone may be living in an oppressive nation and experiencing the freedom within that only Christ can supply. It is only through our continuing in obedience to the perfect law, the law of liberty that we, the Body of Christ will receive the perfect result of being made perfect [“mature”] and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:4). This is the ultimate goal of our faith; complete freedom in Christ!
Paul refers to this Divine liberty when he writes of the building up of the Body of Christ, of our attaining to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness [“completion”] of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). This is the perfecting of the Body of Christ, of our being made complete in every part, a body without blemish or defect, wholly sanctified. Paul wrote of this when he said; Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely [“complete to the end”]; and may your spirit and souls and body be preserved complete, without blame [like Noah in Genesis 6:9] at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23/NAS – see Daniel 12:1-3 below)
This is the perfect result, our eternal preservation as a people without blame at the coming of Christ. Hallelujah! (See the Bible study Noah; A Sign Of The End.) 2 Corinthians 3:17 – The Spirit of the Lord is the only way for mankind to experience freedom. A person can be living in a free country and yet be enslaved on the inside. Conversely, someone may be living in an oppressive nation and experiencing the freedom within that only Christ can supply. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [1657- see def. above]. NASU
Wholly Illumined, No Dark Part
Luke 11:33-36 - The Bible declares that when He comes His body will finally be a perfected body of believers that is full of light, with no dark part in it, wholly illumined as when the lamp illumines you with its rays. Darkness in the Body will be removed by the angels (Math. 13:41). 33 "No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. [See the Bible study The Light Becoming Darkness.] 36 "If therefore your whole [3650 - “all, complete”] body is full of light [5460 – “composed of light, of a bright character”], with no dark part [4652 - “a division or share”] in it, it will be wholly  illumined , as when the lamp illumines [796 - “lightning, bright shining (see Daniel 12:3 below)”] you with its rays." NASU
Matthew 13:24-30 – In this parable Jesus taught that the wheat and the tares are allowed to grow together in the Body until the time of the harvest when the dark parts are removed. Harvest time is a time of separation. At the end of this age, Christians will separate themselves from the darkness or be separated from the Body of Christ and thrown into the fire. This is the final gathering of God’s people (see the Bible study The Third Day Gathering). 24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 "But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' 28 "And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' 29 "But he said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up [see Matthew 13:42 below]; but gather the wheat into my barn."'" NASU
Matthew 13:36-43 – Again Jesus teaches about the dark parts being removed from His kingdom at the end of this age. They are defined as all stumbling blocks and those who commit lawlessness (see 2 Thess. 2:1-8 below). They are removed from God’s kingdom at harvest time and are thrown into the furnace of fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 13:30 below). Because the darkness has been removed, the Body is now full of light, spotless and blameless, shining bright as the sun with the glory of God. 36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." 37 And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 "So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks , and those who commit lawlessness [458 - see Math. 7:23 and 2 Thess. 2:1-8 below], 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [See Matthew 24:51 for weeping and gnashing and the assigned place with the hypocrites.] 43 "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN [see Daniel 12:3 below] in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. NASU
NT:4625 skandalon (skan'-dal-on) ("scandal") (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) probably from a derivative of NT:2578; a trap-stick (bent sapling), i.e. snare (figuratively, cause of displeasure or sin): KJV - occasion to fall (of stumbling), offence, thing that offends, stumblingblock. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
properly, the movable stick or tricker ("trigger") of a trap, trap-stick; a trap, snare; any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall (Romans 9:33)
metaphorically, any person or thing by which one is ("entrapped") drawn into error or sin
1. of persons (Matthew 13:41)
2. of things (Romans 14:13) NT:458 anomia (an-om-ee'-ah) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:459; illegality, i.e. violation of law or (genitive case) wickedness: KJV - iniquity, transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
properly, the condition of one without law -- either because ignorant of it, or because violating it
contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness (Matthew 23:28)
Daniel 12:1-3 – In the above verses from Matthew, Jesus quotes verse three from this passage which also refers to the time of the end. Daniel was told that in the time of great distress at the end of the age, Michael will rise up and rescue all whose names are written in the book (of life). Those who have been given insight from the Lord will be used to enlighten others, leading them to righteousness. The Greek has the sense of not just giving insight, but of warning others. Their warnings are to wake up the Body of Christ so as to be ready for His return. The Bible says they will shine brightly, like the stars forever and ever. Amen. 1 "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued [“to save, to deliver, to preserve (1 Thess. 5:23- “preserved complete”)]. 2 "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 "Those who have insight will shine brightly  like the brightness  of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. NASU
OT:2094 zahar (zaw-har') (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) a primitive root; to gleam; figuratively, to enlighten (by caution): KJV - admonish, shine, teach, (give) warn (-ing). Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon to admonish, to warn, to teach, to shine, to send out light, to be light, to be shining a) (Niphal) to be taught, to be admonished b) (Hiphil)
1) to teach, to warn
2) to shine, to send out light (figurative)
OT:2096 zohar (zo'-har) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from OT:2094; brilliancy: KJV - brightness. Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon brightness, shining Matthew 7:21-23 – By definition, to depart from Christ is to be removed from being near Him. These dark parts, or people in the Body who practice lawlessness, not doing the will of God, will be separated from Him. One of the definitions for lawlessness is “illegality”. While driving in the car one day, I heard a discussion on the radio regarding the issue of illegal aliens in America. The Lord revealed to me that there are also illegal aliens in His kingdom. Like these being discussed, they want the benefits of living under His government without adhering to the rules that govern it. They will be removed. 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM [575 - “off, i.e. away (from something near), used of separation”] ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS [458 – see def. in Matthew 13:41 above].' NASU 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 – See the note below. 1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together [1997 - “a complete collection, a gathering together in one place”] to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy [“defection from truth, a falling away, a revolt”] comes first, and the man of lawlessness [458- see Math. 13:41 above] is revealed, the son of destruction [684 – “ruin or loss, a destroying, a perishing”; see the Bible study The Son Of Perdition.], 4 who opposes [“lie opposite to, to oppose, an adversary”] and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness  is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless [459 – “lawless, departing from the law, wicked”] one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay [see Luke 19:27] with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance  of His coming; NASU
NT:2015 epiphaneia (ep-if-an'-i-ah) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:2016; a manifestation, i.e. (specially) the advent of Christ (past or future): KJV - appearing, brightness. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) an appearing, appearance (2 Tim. 1:10) epiphaneia [NT:2015] - "epiphany," lit., "a shining forth," was used of the "appearance" of a god to men, and of an enemy to an army in the field, etc. In the NT it occurs of (a) the advent of the Savior when the Word became flesh, 2 Tim. 1:10; (b) the coming of the Lord Jesus into the air to the meeting with His saints, 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1,8; (c) the shining forth of the glory of the Lord Jesus "as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west," Matthew 24:27, immediately consequent on the unveiling, apokalupsis, of His Parousia in the air with His saints, 2 Thess. 2:8; Titus 2:13. (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
The man of lawlessness/the son of destruction/that lawless one will be revealed at the coming of Christ (see the Bible study The Son Of Perdition). I believe this is another reference to the dark parts in the Body of Christ. The ones who take their seat in the temple of God, which is within us, we are His temple (2 Cor. 6:16), are those who make themselves Lord through their choices. All followers of Christ have their moments of revolt, but this is referring to those whose hearts have become hard, again, through willful rebellion with no intent of turning back.
This passage also refers to the time of our being gathered together as one at the end of this age (see the Bible studies Joined Together and The Third Day Gathering). It’s the gathering together of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:30 above. He will slay the lawless ones in His kingdom (Math. 13:41) with the breath of His mouth at the appearance of His coming. The Greek for appearance is epiphaneia [ep-if-an'- i-ah] from which we get our English word epiphany from. It’s defined as “a manifestation.” In the New Testament it occurs as the shining forth of the glory of the Lord; For just as the lightning [“bright shining”] comes from the east and flashes [“to bring forth into the light, cause to shine, to become evident”] even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27/NASU) The glory of the Lord will shine forth as the sun on His righteous ones. This is tied in with the shining forth of the righteous in Matthew 13:43 above.
Denying The Power Of Liberty
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – Paul describes what it will be like in the last days, before the return of Christ. One of the many descriptions is that men will be “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. To deny is, by definition, to disown. It’s to reject what is offered. Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns [denies] me before men, I will disown [deny] him before my Father in heaven. (NIV) Having once known Him, or to be known by Him, He will now say, “I do not know you.” To deny the power of God is to deny the right granted, by His power, to transform us so as to become a son of God. We are commanded to avoid “such men as these.” 1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied [720- “to deny, renounce, reject, to disown, to refuse to acknowledge”] its power ; Avoid such men as these. NASU
NT:1411 dunamis (doo'-nam-is) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:1410; force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself): KJV - ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle (-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) strength, ability, power a. universally, inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth (Luke 1:17) b. specifically, the power of performing miracles (Acts 6:8) c. moral power and excellence of soul (1 Cor. 4:19) d. the power and influence which belong to riches e. power and resources arising from numbers (Rev. 3:8)
f. power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts,
g. meaning of a word or expression (1 Cor. 14:11)
Hebrews 9:16-17 - It is only as we join Christ in His death, not living for our wills, that the power of God’s covenant is manifested in and through us. When we continue to do as we please, after turning to Christ, we negate His resurrection power. The covenant is firm and secure in Christ when I no longer live, but allow Christ to live in me (Galatians 2:20). Otherwise, we are guilty of being a covenant breaker within whom the power of God makes no progress. 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid [“firm, secure”] only when men are dead, for it is never in force [“to be strong, to have power”] while the one who made it lives. NASU
Philippians 2:12-13 – See the note below. (See the Bible study Working Out Your Salvation.) 12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out  your salvation with fear [5401 – “fear, dread, terror, respect, reverence”] and trembling [5156 – “a trembling, quaking with fear”]; 13 for it is God who is at work  in you, both to will  and to work  for His good pleasure [2107 – “will, choice (like John 1:12)” see more below]. NASU
NT:2716 katergazomai (kat-er-gad'-zom-ahee) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:2596 and NT:2038; do work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, fashion: KJV - cause, to (deed), perform, work (out). (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
to perform, accomplish, achieve (Romans 7:15,17 f, 20)
to work out (Phil. 2:12)
to fashion, i. e. render one fit for a thing (2 Cor. 5:5)
NT:1754 energeo (en-erg-eh'-o) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:1756; to be active, efficient: KJV - do, (be) effectual (fervent), be mighty in, shew forth self, work (effectually in). (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
intransitive, to be operative, be at work, put forth power (Matthew 14:2)
transitive, to effect (1 Cor. 12:11)
the middle voice,
to display one's activity, to show oneself operative (2 Thess. 2:7)
NT:2309 thelo (thel'-o); or ethelo (eth-el'-o); in certain tenses theleo (thel-eh'-o); and etheleo (eth-el-eh'- o); which are otherwise obsolete (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) apparently strengthened from the alternate form of NT:138; to determine (as an active option from subjective impulse; whereas NT:1014 properly denotes rather a passive acquiescence in objective considerations), i.e. choose or prefer (literally or figuratively); by implication, to wish, i.e. be inclined to (sometimes adverbially, gladly); impersonally for the future tense, to be about to; by Hebraism, to delight in:
KJV - desire, be disposed (forward), intend, list, love, mean, please, have rather, (be) will (have, -ling, - ling [-ly]). (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
to be resolved or determined, to purpose (Romans 9:16)
equivalent to to desire, to wish: ti (Matthew 20:21)
equivalent to to love; followed by an infinitive, to like to do a thing, be fond of doing (Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46)
in imitation of the Hebrew chaapeets, to take delight, have pleasure
NT:2107 eudokia (yoo-dok-ee'-ah) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from a presumed compound of NT:2095 and the base of NT:1380; satisfaction, i.e. (subjectively) delight, or (objectively) kindness, wish, purpose: KJV - desire, good pleasure (will), seem good. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
will, choice (Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21)
delight, pleasure, satisfaction: with the genitive of the thing that pleases (2 Thess. 1:11)
desire (Romans 10:1)
Paul exhorts all followers of Christ to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I’ve never heard anyone preach the truth about this. I have heard a few skirt around this passage as they quickly defend their doctrine of demons, stating that it doesn’t actually mean what it says regarding God’s command to work out our salvation. Woe to them. The majority of the church does not teach the truth of these verses which is why we no longer have any fear or trembling in our midst. We like to proclaim the love of God, and rightfully so, but not this side of Him. The devil’s doctrines remove ALL fear and trembling with the intent that we will not work together with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 6:1) and bring to completion our salvation (James 2:22). And so the majority of the church now sleeps in apathy with a false sense of security, believing they are rich and in need of nothing (see the Bible study The Sleeping Bride).
The definition in the Greek for work out is “to perform, accomplish, achieve, by implication to finish.” The majority of modern Christianity doesn’t believe that we have any work to do in the matter of finishing salvation. When reading these verses they never hear or see what the Spirit is saying in order to produce the fear of the Lord in the church, so as to keep us from sinning (Exodus 20:20). This is because they will not receive the truth regarding works as taught in the Bible. The question you need to answer is “If someone says he has faith but he has no works, can that faith save him?” (James 2:14) The Bible actually refers to two different types of works; one is led by the flesh, the other by the Spirit. Works led by the flesh are cursed works that lead to destruction. Works led by the Spirit lead to eternal life. (For much more on this see the Works Bible Study and the book Works And Salvation.) In the book of Acts we read that the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (Acts 9:31/NASU) The reason we need to fear, as did the early church, is because of what we have already discussed. The right to become the children of God can be forfeited, after receiving Christ (John 1:12) because of our denying the power of God that is at work in us, both to will [“to desire, to be resolved or determined, to purpose”] and to work [“to be operative, be at work, put forth power”] for His good pleasure [“will, choice, delight pleasure, satisfaction, desire”], His will. Without the doing of His will, which is revealed by the Holy Spirit to us after we receive Christ, we will not receive what was promised (Hebrews 10:36).
As pictured in type by the children of Israel in their wilderness journey, the promise alone was not enough to gain entrance into the “promised land.” The writer of Hebrews solemnly warned us of this, saying; See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first... Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful [“to fear, be afraid”] that none of you [brothers in verse 12] be found to have fallen short [“to be in want of, lack”] of it. (Hebrews 3:12-14, 4:1/NIV)
The power of God within us is meant to bring our will into conformity to the will, or choice of God so that we will be saved. It is only as we submit to the Holy Spirit’s refining process of sanctification that we are conformed to the image of Christ. Paul declared to us; For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. (2 Cor. 5:10- 11/NIV) As we near the end of this age and the completion (i.e. perfection) of the Body of Christ, may we be encouraged to hold firmly till the end through continued obedience to the revealed will of God so as not to shrink back in shame at His return (Hebrews 10:37-39).
Isaiah 65:10-12 – Fortune (Gad) and Destiny (Meni) are Babylonian gods that are active today within the prosperity gospel. Those who followed these false gods were led to the slaughter of God because they did not listen to what He said. They chose that which was not pleasing in His sight. They forsook the Lord. Because they bowed down to these gods, He will “destine” them to bow down to the slaughter. (See the Bible study The Prosperity Gospel.) 10 "Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks, And the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, For My people who seek Me. 11 "But you who forsake the Lord, Who forget My holy mountain, Who set a table for Fortune , And who fill cups with mixed wine for Destiny , 12 I will destine you for the sword, And all of you will bow down to the slaughter. Because I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not hear. And you did evil in My sight And chose that in which I did not delight ." NASU
OT:2654 chaphets (khaw-fates') (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) a primitive root; properly, to incline to; by implication (literally but rarely) to bend; figuratively, to be pleased with, desire: KJV - any at all, (have, take) delight, desire, favour, like, move, be (well) pleased, have pleasure, will, would. (Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon) 1) to delight in, to take pleasure in, to desire, to be pleased with (Qal) a) used of men
to take pleasure in, to delight in
to delight, to desire, to be pleased to do
b) used of God
to delight in, to have pleasure in
to be pleased to do
2) to move, to bend down (Qal) to bend down
OT:1409 gad (gawd) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from OT:1464 (in the sense of distributing); fortune: -troop. (Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon) fortune, good fortune OT:4507 Meniy (men-ee') (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from OT:4487; the Apportioner, i.e. Fate (as an idol): KJV - number. (Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon) Meni = "fate" or "fortune" a god of fate who the Jews worshiped in Babylonia
John 12:35-36 – See the note below. 35 So Jesus said to them, "For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have [“to have (hold) in the hand, to hold fast, to own, possess”] the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 "While you have [same as above] the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light." These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. NASU
This is part of a discussion Jesus had with a crowd that had, once again, gathered around Him. Right before this He had given them a hint of how He was to die. He would soon be gone from among them, but I also see a warning in this for those of us who walk with Him today (i.e. received Him). We too are warned in the New Testament to be careful how we walk, after receiving Christ.
In our earlier discussion regarding those who have received Christ and been given the right to become children of God (John 1:12), we saw that having the power to choose does not automatically mean that we will choose what is pleasing to the Lord. In fact, in the verse right before Luke 11:36 which spoke of the body being full of light with no dark part in it, Jesus made a seemingly strange warning. He said, watch out that the light in you is not darkness. [See the Bible study The Light Becoming Darkness.] How could the light in us become darkness? By our not walking in obedience to what we have heard. To believe in the light while we possess it is to trust and obey for there’s no other way to become a son of light.
John continues in chapter twelve, saying, though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. He said this was to fulfill the word of Isaiah that spoke of the Lord hardening the hearts of those whom He had revealed Himself too because of their unbelief. He then quotes Isaiah 6:10 which says; He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart and be converted [“to turn round, to bring back”] and I heal them. (John 12:40) To heal in the Greek is to make whole (i.e. to free from error and sins). Those who turn round in repentance in these last moments of this age will be part of the wholly illumined Body of Christ that will be full of light with no dark part in it. John 12:46 – See the note below. 46 "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain  in darkness.
NT:3306 meno (men'-o) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): KJV - abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), thine own. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) to remain, abide I. intransitively 1. to place a. to sojourn, tarry (Luke 8:27)
a. equivalent to not to depart, not to leave, to continue to be present (1 John 2:19)
b. to be held, or kept, continually: in the state of death (1 John 3:14)
2. to time; to continue to be, i. e., not to perish, to last, to endure: used of persons, to survive, live
3. to state or condition; to remain as one is, not to become another or different: with a predicate nominative monos, John 12:24
II. transitively; tina, to wait for, await (Acts 20:5)
enmenoo; to remain faithful to, to obey; to live, to stay
In this verse, Jesus continues His conversation regarding His Light in us. To not remain in darkness is, by Greek definition, “to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy), to abide, to remain as one is.” This is the intent of our right; to not remain in darkness, continuing to be the slave of sin, but to walk in the freedom that Christ granted us, the freedom to be free indeed. Jesus said, If you continue [same Greek word as remain] in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:31-32/NAS) In Christ we have been given the freedom to choose whether or not we will continue in obedience to Christ’ commands. To continue in His word is to continue walking in His freedom through the power of the Spirit of liberty. Paul said to the church in Corinth; Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures... (1 Corinthians 15:1-4/NASU)
Luke 8:16-18 – See the note below. 16 "Now no one after lighting a lamp covers [“to hide, veil, i.e. to hinder the knowledge of a thing”] it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. 17 "For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 "So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him." [See Matthew 13:12.] NASU
In the parable of the lamp, Jesus warns His disciples concerning the extreme significance of listening through the picture of a lamp. To be a good listener is to not only hear the word of the Lord but to then obey it. The right to hear and choose, remember, is only given to those who receive Him, to those who believe in His name and are born of God (John 1:12). To put the light we have received in Christ on a lamp is to make Him known publicly, to display Him before man as we do in this world the good works we were created for in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). His works exalt Him. Our works led by the flesh rather than the Spirit exalt us. It is only when Jesus is lifted up that man can be drawn to Him. Otherwise, we draw people to ourselves, our church, our group, our thing. To not do what we have heard from God is to cover His light before them, hindering them from coming to the knowledge of the Truth. Jesus said; You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16/NASU)
Keep Standing Firm
Galatians 2:1-5 – See the note below. 1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty  which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. NASU
Like the religious Jews in this passage, there are always those in the church who would like to bring God’s children back into the bondage of the law. While warning the church of false teachers that will always be among us, Peter gave this solemn warning in regards to becoming entangled again in the “defilements of the world,” after turning to Christ; These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity — for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:17-22/NIV) These false teachers that, at one time were given the same opportunity as the faithful to remain in Christ, but did not do what they first heard, will soon be exposed by the Holy Spirit as the “shame of their Master’s house.” The Lord has been mercifully calling out to them to repent but they will not listen. Their stiff-necked folly will be exposed and they will be destroyed.
Galatians 5:1 – Paul encourages the Christians in Galatia to keep standing firm in the freedom of Christ. (Also see Galatians 5:13.) 1 It was for freedom  that Christ set us free ; therefore keep standing firm [“to persist, persevere”] and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. NASU
NT:1659 eleutheroo (el-yoo-ther-o'-o) (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) from NT:1658; to liberate, i.e. (figuratively) to exempt (from moral, ceremonial or mortal liability): KJV - deliver, make free. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) to make free, set at liberty: from the dominion of sin (John 8:32,36) The Warnings of Paul and Peter how not to use our freedom in Christ; Galatians 5:13 13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. NASU 1 Peter 2:16 - Interestingly, it is as we willingly choose to become bondslaves of God that mankind finds the greatest expression of freedom on earth. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. NASU
So to answer our original question, “What is freedom in Christ?” It is, by biblical definition, the “authority, power (of choice), privilege, liberty of doing as one pleases” that is only granted to those who turn in repentance to Jesus Christ. The unbelievers do not have this “law of liberty” within to even choose. They are held captive by the devil to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26), and of the law that keeps mankind in “the bondage of iniquity.”
After receiving this right of liberty through accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior, we now have the freedom, the power of choice to say “yes,” or “no” to His commands. To abide by God’s law, continuing in it through perseverance, is to experience the greatest freedom ever offered on earth. To walk in disobedience is to say no to the Divine privilege of choosing Christ’ offer of freedom from inner bondage, resulting in an apostate heart that falls away from Christ. This stubborn believer is one that has continuously denied the conviction and power within of the Holy Spirit to say no to their ungodly desires (2 Tim. 3:5, Titus 2:11-14), and of being conformed to His image, thereby receiving His grace in vain.
It would have been better that we never understood the way of righteousness and freedom in Christ than, having been given the precise and correct knowledge from God of it, to turn away from the holy commandment revealed to them (2 Peter 2:20-22). Their last state has become worse for them than the first state which was lost and not knowing. Judgment will be worse for those who know and then choose to turn away from what the Holy Spirit reveals as the way of liberty. They have treated with great insult the blood of the covenant in Christ.
When, as a Christian, we continue in sin without repentance, our hearts become hardened to the Spirit’s conviction. In so doing we are in grave danger of grieving Him and falling away with an apostate heart (2
Thessalonians 2:1-12). This is the destructive spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:1-3) that, when allowed to remain within us, will shipwreck our faith. It is extremely critical that, after being set free by Christ, we heed Paul’s plea to keep standing firm and not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
Be encouraged, church, to keep seeking things above in order to not shrink back in shame at the Lord’s imminent return. Stay on the narrow path that leads to eternal life in Christ. There is another way, a broad way of least resistance which may seem right but in the end it will lead to death (Proverbs 14:12).
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14/NASU)
May we live our lives in submission to the will of God, keeping our garments clean with the intent to one day hear Him declare, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
To God be the glory.