Responsible Freedom or Irresponsible Freedom?
Responsible freedom means you see others as having their own choices. You limit your own freedom because of love which means you pursue the best for others.
As a Christian, you are completely free, but that wasn’t always true. You were born with a nature that is dead (Ephesians 2:1) and does no good (Romans 3:12). You were born with a sin nature that only chooses evil. And that is slavery!
John 8:34 (NKJV) – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
But, our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ, gave us, His children, a new nature that is free to choose what is good by His power and grace or what is bad! Christ clearly died for us to FREE us.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. – Galatians 5:1
Saved for Freedom
What a great verse. You are FREE when you believe in Jesus Christ! And, used responsibly, freedom helps you see others differently – it changes your focus on others as well as yourself.
When responsible with your freedom, you accept that others are free to make their own choices. It doesn’t mean you must like or put up with those choices. But, you accept reality which is they can choose whatever they want good or bad. And, whatever their choice, you don't believe it is your job to make them change. You do accept your responsibility to share truth and insights that will help them live differently, but you leave their change up to God. You may offer other thoughts and ideas for them to consider, tell them the pros and cons of their choice, let them experience the consequences of bad choices, and help them recover if they want your help.
That is living in freedom.
That may sound like you are disconnected from other people. In a sense, that is true. Responsible freedom means you disconnect from their behavior controlling your thoughts about them, but not from your desire to hope, pray, and encourage them to better behavior and choices. In fact, responsible freedom may even exhort and rebuke them, but be careful to walk in the Spirit as you do that. Otherwise there is a huge tendency to sin.
You Respect Their Freedom
Instead of treating people as machines with buttons to push, you respect their freedom to choose and be responsible for their own decisions. Again, it is God’s job to change them, not yours. You are more than willing to participate with God in helping them change, but you are not taking on the role of the “Junior Holy Spirit” in their life.
Additionally, responsible freedom impacts thoughts about yourself and your behavior. You now see more clearly how many options and choices you have rather than thinking you are powerless. In fact, you encourage, trust, and accept your own freedom to make choices.
Without that insight, you miss how much freedom you have, creating a victim structure that is controlled by life, circumstances, and people – literally, anything will control you. But living in responsible freedom, you refuse to be manipulated or dominated by your circumstances, and choose a life based on your values. Hopefully, those values are rooted in truth, instead of lies. And you can find your pleasure in doing right, not in trying to force others to do right.
Unfortunately, because of your sin nature, freedom is more often used irresponsibly. You are free to treat others improperly, manipulate and dominate them. In fact, one of the greatest misuses of your freedom is when you fear others will be irresponsible with their freedom. That drives you to try to limit their freedom. Certainly, there is a proper place and time for that, as you will see with the Freedom V.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. – C. S. Lewis
That profound statement is applicable for the individual, the family and the government. Irresponsible freedom tends to see that I am free, but you cannot be trusted to be free.
Don't Be Irresponsible with Your Freedom
In the same chapter where God tells you that He sent His Son to die for you to set you free, He tells you to not use your freedom irresponsibly.
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. - Galatians 5:13
God urges you to be responsible, not irresponsible with your freedom.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. - 1 Peter 2:15-16
Freedom is often hard to accept, not as much for yourself, but definitely for others. You tend to push for maximum freedom for yourself, but often minimize the freedom for others. It is like you are saying, “We can’t allow freedom! If we do, it would mean people would sin more!”
That basic statement is what Paul responded to in Romans 6:1. Please go study it. You actually can sin all you want! You know that, because we all do, otherwise, we would not be sinning. While those sins do not take away your adoption into God’s family, they do inhibit your spiritual growth, closeness with the Lord, and ultimately, your eternal rewards. Worse yet, our sins say the death and resurrection of Christ was really not a big deal, when it is the greatest gift of all time and eternity. BUT, you are still free to do just that! It is being completely irresponsible with the freedom that God has provided.
Responsible freedom and irresponsible freedom is the difference between what you are able to do and what you are encouraged and invited by God to do. It’s the difference between can and will, between the possible and the beneficial. While freedom does give you the opportunity to sin, it is not condoning or licensing sin or bad choices. Paul is emphatic about that.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? - Romans 6:1
You can do whatever you want. You are free to do it. But why would you? Once dead and now made alive in Christ, why would you want to walk as though you were still dead? That is why this verse points you back to the fundamental decision in life – will you depend on God or will you depend on something other than God?
And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. - Romans 6:13,14
Depending on God means you present yourself as an instrument of righteousness not unrighteousness.
Responsible freedom pleases God, irresponsible freedom is often sin!