What Freedom Isn’t




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Carl Thomas

Pastor | Live Free Founder | Lover of Jesus, Philly sports, fitness, tattoos, sarcasm, and craft beers.

Here’s the problem.

If Freedom is more of an experiential thing, something that you can only really appreciate once you’re living it out, then how do we find it?

I mean, where do we even begin to look?

This is the question that faces so many of us who aren’t living in true freedom, really living that full life Jesus talks about.

See, what happens is that people often end up getting confused and start trying to reach freedom through ways that simply aren’t helpful and are not true representations of freedom at all, but just counterfeits.

Some people hear the word freedom and conclude, “If I want freedom I just need to be absent of all controls and rules. I don’t need any authority or accountability in my life.”

But that’s not freedom. That’s anarchy and hedonism.

Freedom is not found in a life absent of God’s authority; freedom is found when we walk in step with God’s authority.

Of course, there are some who go to the other extreme and say, “Well, if freedom isn’t about a lack of restraint, then freedom must be something you can only experience when you have all the restraint possible.”

In other words…

Freedom is found in a long list of checklists. It’s found in procedures and discipline.


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And so the thinking goes, “If I can just stick to this script for life, this detailed plan, then I can stay out of slavery and experience real freedom.” 

But what happens is that those people just exchange one prison for another.

They aren’t free.

Finally, there are those who think, “Okay, if freedom isn’t found in the absence of rules and if it’s not found in the presence of rules, it must be found in me writing my own rules.”

It must be something I can experience by defining for myself what is good, bad, healthy and unhealthy. In other words… Freedom is defined by my perspective and is relative.

After all, one can’t feel guilty or bad about breaking the rules if they write the rules.

But, a lack of guilt is not freedom. It’s just a lack of conviction. And God uses conviction to bring us closer to him, so we can walk in step with him.

Admittedly, all of this can get really confusing. Because if freedom is not found in a lack of rules, if it’s not found in the presence of rules, and if it’s not even found in us writing our own rules…

Maybe it’s just found in our results?

I see this type of thinking all the time with people who struggle with drugs or alcohol, or porn. The thought goes – If I can abstain from my unwanted sexual behaviors then I must be free. That sort of thought process sounds logical to be honest.

But unfortunately, that’s not freedom either; that’s sobriety.

Understand, I’ve counseled many guys who’ve told me that they haven’t looked at porn for two or three years, but yet they still struggle every day to keep themselves on a path of sexual integrity.  They find themselves constantly fighting the desire to look at this, or look at, to indulge in this or indulge in that.

Ultimately, they are sober. But instead of flourishing, they are just trying to survive the mire. 

And that’s not freedom either.
That’s not what Jesus was talking about.

In the end, the reason we get confused with all this stuff is because real freedom is so much bigger than what any of us can sometimes conceive. 

It’s so much deeper, richer, and fulfilling, than we can ever imagine. 

True freedom is, as Jesus said, living life to the fullest.

And yes, while the path to freedom is going to require some discipline, it’s going to require a lot of work, and even a lot of pain at times. But once we get there… once YOU get there, you’ll know it.

And it’ll be so worth it. 

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