Liberty Isn’t License (Devotion)

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16, ESV).

 

The sexual revolution of the twentieth century profoundly transformed the ethical underpinnings of American society. Among its major tenets is an uninhibited sexual ethic, along with the accompanying mantra that “it doesn’t matter what two consenting adults do within the four walls of their bedroom.”

The unchecked spirit of libertinism that emerged from the moral anarchy of the cultural revolution subtly altered how the concept of liberty is understood. Consequently, society is now desperately confused about what freedom really means and how it should be protected.

In its historical sense, liberty was rightly understood as a person’s prerogative to pursue virtuous ends within the bounds of God’s law. Government, then, should not interfere with someone’s decisions, so long as that person engages in activities that align with biblical morality. This is what Peter means when he instructs us to live as free men who serve God (1 Peter 2:16).

Because of the linguistic shift that occurred decades ago, liberty is now understood to suggest that people have a freedom to do whatever they want without external restraints.  Now we have people who contend that they should have the freedom to smoke a joint, watch some porn, or marry someone of the same sex.

But no one has the freedom, properly understood, to participate in immoral pursuits. Even if licentious behavior doesn’t create a victim directly, society may still feel the reverberations. The consequences that flow from these so-called victimless crimes often end up victimizing society by exacerbating social problems. “A man cannot say that because he blew a hole in the hull of the ship but did so entirely within the confines of his own stateroom, it cannot be the business of anyone else on board,” says Douglas Wilson.

As we seek to understand the essence of freedom, we cannot neglect the New Testament insight that the law of God is “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). We find true freedom when we follow God’s good design, and we enjoy the greatest flourishing when we live our personal lives and structure society according to biblical principles.

 

PRAYER. Father, you have commanded us not to use our freedom to indulge our flesh, but rather to serve one another humbly in love. Help us to live as free men, serving you and others as we responsibly exercise our liberty according to the principles you have revealed in your law. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.


 

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