Institute in Basic Life Principles

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What is moral freedom?

Understanding Moral Freedom
the power to do what is right

Moral freedom is not the right to do what you want—it is the strength to do what is right. Moral freedom is not the absence of restraint, but rather it is a resolve to honor God’s design of purity and holiness. Moral freedom is liberty that comes from knowing the truth of God’s Word and living in harmony with that truth by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Moral freedom stems from genuine love, which is the opposite of lust. Genuine love gives to others, without the motive of personal pleasure or gain. Lust takes from others, with the selfish motive of personal pleasure or gain.

Walk in the Spirit

Genuine love is not the natural bent of the human heart. Only by the transformation of the sinful heart through salvation in Jesus Christ can a person reflect the perfect, genuine love of God in his or her relationships with others.

When you receive God’s gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells your heart and prompts you to walk in obedience to the ways of God and to become like Jesus Christ. (See Ephesians 1:13–14 and John 14:26.) Walking in the Spirit involves applying the Word of God to your life—doing what the Word of God says to do—which leads you to spiritual maturity and moral freedom. Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

Spiritual, Psychological, and Physical Drives

Moral freedom requires the subjection of your physical and psychological drives to the authority of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within you as your Guide and Teacher. God designed the spiritual drive to be the strongest—the one that directs everything you think and say and do and desire.

The bondage of sin perverts God’s original design (holiness), so that the physical and psychological drives overcome the spiritual drive. When the Holy Spirit enters the life of a believer, the spiritual drive is empowered by His presence. As a believer seeks the Lord and yields to Him, the Spirit of God works in his life, bringing that person’s physical and psychological drives into obedience to God’s Word.

The Holy Spirit prompts you to know God better and better by spending time in His Word and by fellowshipping with God through prayer, Biblical meditation, and other spiritual disciplines. The Holy Spirit also brings conviction of sin and prompts you to live uprightly. As you come to know God more and more intimately, you will gain strength to overcome the pull of sin. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7–8).

Become a Servant of Righteousness

In Romans 6:16–22, the Apostle Paul explained that all men will be either servants of sin or servants of righteousness. To reject or ignore God’s standards of righteousness is to be enslaved to sin. To be the servant of God and of righteousness is to be free from the bondage of sin, which is the essence of moral freedom.

“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:20–22).

Each of us will take one of two paths: we will be servants to sin, or we will be servants to righteousness. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are . . .” (Romans 6:16). A person yields to sin or to God through similar sequences:

How a Person Yields to Sin
  1. He experiences a sinful (unholy) desire.
  2. He imagines the pleasure he will experience from satisfying that lust.
  3. He makes the decision to satisfy that desire.
  4. His decision demonstrates that he is a servant of sin.
  5. He yields the members of his body to satisfy his lusts.
How a Person Yields to God
  1. He experiences a spiritual prompting from God, through His Holy Spirit.
  2. He understands the responses required to obey the prompting.
  3. He makes a decision to obey the Lord’s prompting.
  4. His decision affirms that he is a servant of the Lord.
  5. He yields the members of his body to carry out the prompting.

“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:18–19).

As believers yield to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and mature in Christ, their spiritual senses will be sharpened and strengthened. Scripture memorization, meditation, and fasting are disciplines that can heighten spiritual perceptions.

Meditation on Scripture is a key to gaining and maintaining moral freedom, because the Holy Spirit transforms our souls and renews our minds through God’s Word. As we take our thoughts captive and bring them in line with Scripture, we wage war against the deception of the enemy, Satan. (See II Corinthians 10:4–5.)

Demonstrate Complete Repentance

If you find yourself in bondage to immorality, you must sincerely repent in order to regain spiritual health and victory in your life. (See Psalm 66:18 and I John 1:9.) Don’t shrug off the seriousness of your sin. The great cost of Jesus’ purchase of your freedom from sin (His death on the cross) reflects the magnitude of God’s wrath against wickedness, and we should never take Jesus’ pain and sacrifice for granted or presume on His grace and therefore continue in sin. We must humbly agree with God about the depravity of our sin and immediately reject that sin.

To repent means that you turn away from sin and go in the opposite direction—that you move toward God instead of away from God. As you make Godly choices and cleanse your life of activities or possessions that invite temptations, your genuine repentance will be evident and will bring glory to God.

In Jesus Christ, there is complete forgiveness for sins, and there is no condemnation for those who live by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is able to weave the painful consequences of sin into purposes that demonstrate His glory. (See Romans 8:1, 28–29.)

Learn to Hate Evil

Sin appears to be beautiful and attractive when all you see is its gilded edge of pleasure. When you take a deeper look at sin, however, it is not hard to perceive the torment of addiction, the grief of broken relationships, the sorrow of regret, or the sting of guilt. The pleasures of sin are fleeting, but the ache of their consequences is long-lasting. An understanding of the true consequences of sin brings motivation to withstand temptations.

Ask God to help you see the true danger of sin and to respond to evil as He responds to it. “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10).

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness (I Thessalonians 4:3–7, ESV.)

For Further Study

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