Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Liberty, Not License

"Liberty," along with freedom, is frequently used more at July 4th just as the words "hope, peace and joy" are similarly used at Christmas and the New Year.

When we hear the word “liberty” our thoughts are usually of political freedom. However, in New England in the 1600’s “liberty” principally meant religious freedom. Our early settlers took the Bible quite seriously. “Liberty” in the Scriptures involves freedom from sin. In numerous passages, statements like this are made: “…because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” “But now that you have been set free from sin and you have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:7,18,22).

The pilgrims, and those who followed them, came here desiring freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their own hearts. They wanted freedom to follow God’s will as they understood it. In order to gain this liberty, they went through a lot. First, they had to leave their homeland of England. Second, they endured great hardship in crossing the ocean in small vessels and thirdly, they faced the arduous task of carving out a settlement(s) in the North American wilderness. They did all this because they earnestly desired religious liberty. Our political liberty today is the result of their sacrifices. The Bible states “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Ironically, groups today are attempting to use our political freedom to restrict religious liberty of others.

Religious and political freedom was not perfect in the colonies or early America. For that matter it is not perfect today either. However, we must note that liberty does not necessarily ever mean total freedom to do any and everything. Even today there is a limit to liberty. This is a Biblical concept. The Word of God teaches that we are not to misuse our liberty at the expense of someone else. “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9).

Liberty does not mean license. Appreciate it and use it correctly. The abuse of liberty can be harmful to yourself and others. Liberty should not be taken lightly - it costs a great deal. We should dedicate ourselves to protect it and provide it for others.

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