Thursday, July 12, 2012

J.C. Ryle on Freedom

Last week, I posted some thoughts on the pursuit of our freedom. I said that freedom can be a good or bad thing in our life. We should enjoy the freedom that our country provides, but that our pursuit of freedom is really what is at the heart of our sin nature. We don't want people to tell us what to do. We want to be boss. As I contemplated that, I said that we need freedom from our pursuit of freedom.

The other day, I was looking through J. C. Ryle's Practical Religion and came across a few things that he had to say about our freedom. Here is just a sample of what he says:
"The freedom I speak of is a freedom that is within the reach of every child of Adam who is willing to have it. No power on earth can prevent a man or woman having it, if they have but the will to receive it. Tyrants may threaten and cast in prison, but nothing they can do can stop a person having this liberty. And, once our own, nothing can take it away. men may torture us, banish us, hang us, behead us, burn us, but they can never tear from us true freedom. The poorest may have it no less than the richest: the most unlearned may have it as well as the most learned, and the weakest as well as the strongest. Laws cannot deprive us of it: Pope's bulls cannot rob us of it. Once our own, it is an everlasting possession. 
Now, what is this glorious freedom? Where is it to be found? What is it like? Who has obtained it for man? Who has got it at this moment to bestow? I ask my readers to give me their attention, and I will supply a plain answer to these questions. 
The true freedom I speak of is spiritual freedom,--freedom of soul. It is the freedom which Christ bestows, without money and without price, on all true Christians. Those whom the Son makes free are free indeed: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Cor. iii. 17.) Let men talk what they please of the comparative freedom of monarchies and republics; let them struggle, if they will, for universal liberty, fraternity, and equality: we never know the highest style of liberty till we are enrolled citizens of the kingdom of God. We are ignorant of the best kind of freedom if we are not Christ's freemen." (Practical Religion, 216-217)
He goes on to talk about that Christ's freemen are . . .
  • Free from the guilt of sin
  • Free from the power of sin
  • Free from the slavish fear of God
  • Free from the fear of man
  • Free from the fear of death
  • Free for ever
He finishes by saying:
"The freedom of Christ's people been procured, like all other freedom, at a mighty cost and by a mighty sacrifice. Great was the bondage in which they were naturally held, and great was the price necessary to be paid to set them free: mighty was the enemy who claimed them as his captives, and it needed mighty power to release them out of his hands. But, blessed be God, there was grace enough, and power enough ready in Jesus Christ. He provided to the uttermost everything that was required to set His people free. The price that Christ paid for His people was nothing less than His own lifeblood. He became their Substitute, and suffered for their sins on the cross: He redeemed them from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for them. (Gal. iii. 13.) He paid all their debt in His own person, by allowing the chastisement of their peace to be laid on Him (Isaiah liii. 5.) He satisfied every possible demand of the law against them, by fulfilling its righteousness to the uttermost. He cleared them from every imputation of sin, by becoming sin for them. (2 Cor. v. 21.) He fought their battle with the devil, and triumphed over him on the cross. As their Champion, He spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly on Calvary. In a word, Christ having given Himself for us, has purchased the full right of redemption for us. Nothing can touch those to whom He gives freedom: their debts are paid, and paid a thousand times over; their sins are atoned for by a full, perfect, and sufficient atonement. A Divine Substitute's death meets completely the just of God, and provides completely redemption for man." (219-220)
What do you think of this sort of Freedom? 

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