Many months ago I was listening to someone describe their church/worship services, and as I listened to the description of how things went and/or done, I began to think how it really didn't sound like what was actually being described. This individual sounded like so many who go to great lengths to describe an atmosphere of Freedom. Often when others describe their church and the worship atmosphere we will hear them describe how there is so much Freedom, but when you attend those services, Freedom is the last thing you would describe within the atmosphere. Granted I strongly believe that you should always be the biggest supporter and fan of the church that you are a part of (whether Leadership or Attendee). However, we cannot afford to describe one thing when in reality it's a whole other thing. Way too often do we see/hear ministry leaders use well-crafted words to describe their service in a way that isn't exactly honest. Although this does happen, I believe that most who describe their church as a place of Freedom are very sincere and not advertising something that it's not. So why do we hear about Freedom so much, but can't accurately be the reality?
As I listened that day my mind was taken back to a memory that I had when I was a Senior in High School. That year we were taken to Limestone Correctional Facility for a Senior Class Trip. Yep, that's right folks...we went to a State Prison. There's a whole backstory to why we were carried there, but I won't go into that right now. So, thinking about that trip I remember a specific part of the tour. Limestone is a huge facility that has many different chambers within the prison walls for specific inmates and purposes of rehabilitation. One particular section came to my memory while I listened to the individual that day. That section would be where the Warden described to us as the FREEDOM WARD. It was a particular location where inmates who had achieved good behavior for a certain amount of time would then be allowed to do as they please in the Freedom Ward. There were many different things to do in that particular section, but it was also a coveted location as prisoners were able to have some kind of Freedom. When this came back to my memory I remembered how important the Freedom Ward was, but it actually was nothing more than a limited Freedom. Regardless of what the prisoners were allowed to do, they truly were not able to obtain Freedom simply due to the fact that right beyond the Freedom Ward were the exterior walls of the entire prison. To the prisoners of Limestone it seemed like Freedom, but in reality it was nothing more than a Controlled or Limited Freedom.
And that's when it hit me! There are a lot of individuals who attend churches all across the earth who truly believe that they are in a place of Freedom, but sadly it is way too often nothing more than a Controlled Freedom. I remember hearing a Pastor tell their Worship Leader that they had freedom to do whatever they wanted to do from 11 until 11:20, but after that it was their time. That's an idea of Freedom, but far from being Free. By the way, not all churches are controlled, as some are simply limited in the area of true Freedom. Regardless of which one it is, the problem is evident and the question remains...what are we suppose to do about it? Because of this moment in time, the LORD began to take me on a journey of trying to understand why we continue to limit the moving of Holy Spirit in our services. Throughout this process I began to recall one of the most famous scripture concerning what it means to be Free...
"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."" - John 8:31-32 (NASB)
This verse gives us the complete understanding that it is The Truth, and knowing The Truth will give you FREEDOM. Therefore we have to realize that each and every individual can only obtain Freedom through The Truth of The Word, which is Jesus Christ. It's when you acknowledge and receive The Truth, we obtain Freedom through Christ. It's because of Salvation many individuals in church have a sense of Freedom, ultimately describing their home church as a place of Freedom. When many believers come together in the realization of The Truth, there will be a sense of Freedom. With that in mind, it does leave me wondering that if Freedom is within the congregation because of Truth, how can it be an atmosphere that is controlled or limited?
Throughout the earth there are many congregations that have Truth through salvation, and yet there are those who refuse to acknowledge the work of Holy Spirit. We read where there can be a quenching of Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20), and because of this it's easy to say that's one way where we see a controlled or limited freedom. But what if there is more? What if the Freedom we desperately desire is hinged on something that we think we understand, but haven't fully comprehended? What if it is simply a matter of Liberty?
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." - 2 Cor. 3:17 (NASB)
* Quickly, let's review...it is The Truth and Knowing The Truth that brings Freedom, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty.
Wait a minute! Doesn't Freedom mean Liberty and Liberty mean Freedom? When we are describing where the Spirit of the Lord is, aren't we really just saying Freedom? It's things like this that took me farther into this understanding from the LORD. I began to think back about the forming of this Nation and how the Revolutionaries fought for Freedom, but also established a foundation of Liberty. It began to stand out in my mind how our fore-fathers used the Freedom in certain applications and Liberty in other necessary descriptions. I thought of Patrick Henry when he said, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death". Why did he say Liberty and not Freedom? The Declaration of Independence details that are men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. There it is again, Liberty! Our Fore-Fathers fought for Freedom in order to establish Liberty.
And yet, Liberty is something that we haven't fully comprehended in the church. Now look, it is a dangerous to try and get a biblical understanding with English definitions. It's important to understand that I am not simply saying this because we have two different English definitions it automatically means there is a difference in the Word of God. So, let's look at the actual Greek word and meaning of the two in these different scriptures.
* FREE (John 8:32) - eleutheroo
To make free, liberate from the power and punishment of sin, the result of redemption. To Deliver, To Set Free, To Release
* LIBERTY (2 Cor. 3:17) - eleutheria
Freedom, as liberty to do as one pleases, freedom from the yoke of the Mosaic Law, Grace, Legitimate
When you obtain Truth, you obtain Freedom from the punishment of sin. You are Free, you are redeemed! When the Spirit of the Lord walks into the room, YES everything changes. There is a liberty (an increase of Freedom) to do more than what is possible in the natural. One of the main reasons we never tap into real Freedom is because we reject Holy Spirit in which cuts off our Liberty. It's the Liberty of Holy Spirit that is able to change atmospheres. When Liberty is present, what is natural (law of mankind) has to surrender to the supernatural (Kingdom of Heaven). When Liberty is evident we will see more and more signs, wonders, miracles, and healings. It's Liberty that crosses natural obstacles and it's why many congregations never see true biblical freedom. When we continue to cut off Holy Spirit we end up with a controlled or limited Freedom.
Once you get a certain age you can study and take a test to obtain you driver's license. Once you pass you have the freedom to drive on any road you choose to take. However, you do not have the Liberty to drive as fast as you want due to speed limits. You see many have freedom through Truth, but have the Liberty to cross natural barriers. Holy Spirit permits the Super of God to be attached to the natural therefore creating a Liberty within Freedom. Don't settle for simply an atmosphere of Freedom when there is Liberty worth going for! I am so thankful for the Freedom through the Truth of Jesus Christ, but it's not enough to settle just for Freedom alone when we can walk in the Liberty of the Spirit of the LORD...Give me Liberty!