Freedom from Authority vs. Freedom in Authority

In a country and culture focused on freedom, it's striking how many different definitions and expressions of freedom exist. Typically, though, the central character in any of those definitions or expressions is you. Your rights. Your choices. Your freedom from oppression or opposition. And the perceived outcome of that freedom is the fulfillment and validation of what you want, think, and feel. These ideas are expressed in all sorts of ways—sometimes boldly and sometimes subtly.

The starting place for freedom must be God and His Word—our authority.

Like in one of the most overused songs of the last couple years—"Happy" by Pharrell. It's a catchy tune you've probably heard at a store, a ballgame, or on a commercial.

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do.

A You-Focus

When the song first kept popping up and I realized what lyrics were, I discussed them with my kids. I pointed out the focus on "you" and the folly of defining happiness and truth based on your thoughts and feelings. Now, I fully admit that I drive my kids crazy every time this song comes on and I loudly and sarcastically say, "Ah, listen children! Go ahead! Clap along!! YOU define truth! YOU do what YOU want! Whatever makes YOU happy!"

Despite those somewhat exaggerated teachable moments with my kids, I know there are times when a you-focus seems perfectly logical and wholly compelling. Like when . . .

  • You know what you want, and you know how to get it.
  • You have a better way.
  • You feel restricted.
  • You have doubts.
  • You've been hurt or wronged.
  • You don't feel valued.

So is the emphasis on "you" a good thing? Is there freedom, fulfillment, and truth found by focusing on you? The answer we often find in the results of that focus—and the answer we always find in God's Word—is "no."

Finding True Freedom

True freedom does not begin with you. It does not begin with a focus on your experiences, circumstances, wants, and needs. True freedom cannot be found if you are the starting point to understanding, living in, and responding to the world. The starting place for freedom must be God and His Word—our authority.

Now, when the word "authority" is mentioned, it seems to go completely against the concept of freedom. Authority may bring to mind the very oppression and opposition freedom is supposed to combat. But I implore you to reconsider. True freedom is found in our Authority, not in freedom from authority.

Freedom comes from knowing a holy, all-powerful, all-knowing God who has created and ordered life.

Here's what I mean: Freedom comes from knowing a holy, all-powerful, all-knowing God who has created and ordered life. Freedom comes from Him sending His Son, Jesus, to earth to live a perfect life that illustrates to us in all circumstances how to live an obedient and sacrificial life.

Freedom comes when we recognize and understand what sin is according to God's Word. Freedom comes when we see the chains of that sin wrapped around us and believe that Jesus paid the penalty for that sin with His very life and those chains are broken. Freedom comes when we don't have the enormously weighty responsibility to define life and truth, but instead come out from under that weight and believe God in His authority defines life and truth.

True freedom is found in Christ. We see this stated in Galatians 5:1:

Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery.

We see how freedom is lived out in Galatians 5:13:

For you were called to be free, brothers; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

And we find in Galatians 5:16 that we're fueled to live in freedom by the Holy Spirit:

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Freedom is not found in you, but freedom is offered to you through Christ

Freedom is not found in you, but freedom is offered to you through Christ. Look at the order of creation and know there is an Author of life. See the effects in your life and all over this world of a broken relationship with that Creator, and know a restored relationship with Him is offered through Christ Jesus. Believe and trust in the plans and purposes of God. That is where true freedom will be found.

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About the Author

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo desires to know and live God’s Word, then teach and challenge other women to do the same. Heidi and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children and she leads women's ministries at her church.

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