In the "land of the free," we often confuse the true nature of freedom. For many of us, freedom has become synonymous with personal independence — the ability to make our own decisions and choose our own path in life, to do whatever we want, whenever we want. It's what I call "outside freedom."
But this is not the freedom that Jesus promised us. When Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah, He said that He had come to Earth to "proclaim freedom" (Luke 4:18). And on another occasion, He said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
Jesus was not setting us free to do whatever we wanted; He was freeing us to do what we ought to do. He was liberating us to walk in relationship with God and to be the kind of people He created us to be. This spiritual freedom is what I call "inside freedom" — the ability to obey God and choose His will for our lives.
And this is the freedom that sin had long denied us.
Jesus shocked the Pharisees, the spiritual leaders of His day, when He stated, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34). Jesus was asserting that we are all under the power and control of a natural tendency to sin; we can't get away from it by ourselves.
Sin brings a penalty that, by ourselves, we can't escape either. The Bible says, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
How do we find freedom from the penalty and power of sin? That comes through accepting Jesus Christ's death on the Cross as the payment for our sin. As we submit to Christ, sin loses its power — Christ's power takes over. As we choose to trust and follow Him, our sinful habits, thoughts and attitudes lose their control. Guilt disappears, and peace of mind dominates. Right habits become the norm. That's freedom — true freedom!
The following activities and discussions are designed to help you guide your child toward a biblical understanding of freedom. As you explore this important topic with your child, may you both find joy in the freedom that comes from Christ.
Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but the ability to do what we ought.
Without Christ, we are slaves to sin, unable to do what is right.
Christ's death on the Cross set us free from the penalty and power of sin
Family Memory Verse
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
For a more in-depth look at freedom in Christ, read these Bible passages:
— Larry Fowler
Invite your child to gather toy farm animals and items to construct a "fence." The fence may be made of sticks, Lincoln Logs, pipe cleaners — anything you can fashion into a visual boundary for the animals.
Help your child build a corral for the animals and put them inside. As you build, talk with your child about how a farmer uses a fence to keep his animals safe. Inside the fence, the farmer protects the animals from harm, gives them food and water, and provides medicine when they get sick.
Ask your child what would happen to the animals if they lived outside the fence, without the farmer. They could get hurt, they might have difficulty finding food, and if they got sick, there would be no one to care for them. But as long as they remain inside the fence, the animals are free to enjoy life without worrying about things that could harm them.
Explain that just as the farmer protects his animals, God protects us. God gives us a kind of fence similar to the one the farmer gives his animals. God's "fence" is His Word. His commands and promises form safe boundaries so we can enjoy life free from worry or fear.
— Becky Lidberg
Try this activity to help your child understand how sin enslaves us, and how Christ breaks us free:
Have your child make a fist with their right hand. Wrap a band of masking tape snugly around their closed fist, to secure their fingers and thumb so they can't move. (Wrap it around a couple of times for a stronger child.) Write the word "sin" all around the tape as you explain that, without Christ, we are bound as slaves. Then ask your child to open their fist and shake your hand. Because of sin (the tape) they cannot shake your hand. Nor could they lift an open hand to praise God.
Explain that when we trust in Christ, God breaks the power of sin in our lives. As you say this break the tape with your fingers to set their hand free, but leave it stuck to the back of their hand to illustrate how though broken, sin remains a part of our lives. Now ask them to shake your hand again.
Tell your child that although we are set free from the bondage of sin, because sin remains, we must daily choose to use our freedom from sin to live for God. Point out that with the same hand we could reach out to strike someone in anger — or heal them in love.
— Marty Machowski
This activity works best with four or more people. Have each family member write sins on sticky notes, one sin per note. They might write words such as disobedience, greed, lying and stealing.
Have each person wear his sticky notes on his shirt, except for one child. Form a circle around that child with everyone holding hands and standing close together so he is surrounded. This represents the sin that traps us.
Explain that we become trapped by our sins when we do things contrary to God's commandments. Sin prevents us from following Christ, and He sets us free so we can follow Him. In order to have freedom from sin, we must trust Christ to set us free. Ask the trapped child, "Who frees us from sin?"
When he answers, "Jesus," have the other family members lift their arms to let him free. Repeat the activity for each child who wants a turn in the circle.
— Chris Gentile
Time With Your Teen
Teens are maturing amid a culture that says, "I want it all, and I want it now!" This cultural motto implies that freedom is expressed by doing whatever we want, whenever we want.
Discuss with your teen how this attitude might look in daily life. Could this definition of freedom ultimately lead to painful consequences?
Consider these facts: Premarital sex can spread STDs; greed can bring excess debt and financial ruin; gambling, alcohol, drug and pornography addictions can wreck lives and relationships.
Jesus came to set us free from a life of such regretful choices and consequences. He delivers us from sin's power, so we're free to follow Him and live healthy, godly lives. Yet teens are inundated with cultural messages that encourage independence. Even as they yearn for the power to do as they please, they need to understand that this freedom is from the power of sin, as well as to a life of righteousness.
Paul referenced this freedom in 1 Corinthians 10:23 when he acknowledged, " 'Everything is permissible' — but not everything is beneficial." Discuss this verse with your teen, focusing on the fact that freedom means we get to choose God's best for our lives every day.
Pray for your teen, trusting that he will use his freedom in Christ to be all that God created him to be. Pray that he recognizes the blessing of doing God's will because it's right, regardless of how it feels.
— Pam Woody