Liberty or License?

Annual Celebration

This week we will again celebrate the founding of our nation and its great blessing of personal liberty. This nation has truly been a great blessing from God and is likely the most free nation in the history of mankind. However, no matter how wondrous our nation is, it is of course imperfect in comparison with the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). Both of these laws focus upon the concept of freedom, our nation promoting political freedom, and the Law of Christ bringing freedom from sin.

A Dangerous Gift

It is because of this gift of freedom that a great danger exists. While the ideal of liberty rests upon an individual’s right to make choices for oneself, this does not excuse or allow immoral behavior. Such an attitude would instead be called license, from which we get the word “licentiousness.” In regard to our nation, there have been calls from many to embrace a libertine philosophy insisting that personal choices are of capital importance. Such a philosophy emphasizes the “right” of the individual to do any particular behavior because they are “free” to do so.

A Problem of Extremes

Of course, such a philosophy, when taken to the extreme, leads to chaos. Any society must be governed by laws which of necessity place limits upon various forms of behavior. Although one may debate where such limits must be set, the reality is that there exists a great difference than being “at liberty” and embracing open license.

This truth is the same in regard to the Law of Christ. It is true that Christians have been made free of the entanglements of sin, not of our own doing but through grace “so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8, NASU). However, this does not mean that we are free from the consequence or responsibility of personal choice. There is no “right” to behave in whatever manner we choose because Christ “freed” us to do so. To embrace such a philosophy would be the height of hypocrisy and a perversion of the purposes of God (cf. Rom. 6:1,2).

Why We Are Free

So when we remember this week the gift of personal freedom we enjoy in this great nation, let us remember that such freedom comes with responsibility. Let us never allow the spirit of license to poison our personal choices in regard to our moral obligation to liberty. Nor let it ever poison our greater responsibility to the true Source of liberty.

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