Freedom. We normally think about freedom in the context of national issues; fighting wars
for our freedom; or fears of losing our constitutional freedoms. I am thinking about
freedom more personally in my soul. Just like on a national level, personal soul freedom
has to be guarded, defended, and cherished.
Soul freedom is a state of being at peace. It is freedom from fears, anxieties, guilt, and
shame. It is characterized by walking closely with God; being steeped in His grace; and
living in righteousness. The soul that is free is not bound by sins, shame, lies, or regrets.
By being free, one’s soul is at liberty to love fully, engage in life heartily, and pursue goals
Jesus tells us that Satan is like a thief who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Satan wants
for us to be bound by our sins and fears. Contrast that with Jesus’ words, “I came that they
may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, English Standard Version; ESV). In
Christ, we find freedom for weary souls.
Preteens and teens often seem to behave in a reckless way not only with their cars, but
also with their souls. They do not appear to have much concept of losing freedom. Teens
often believe that bad things might happen to others, but not to themselves. With enough
time however, we all learn the heavy lesson that freedom of the soul is easily lost and
difficult to regain. What was once an exciting experiment with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs,
pornography, or sex becomes a binding addiction with nagging regrets. As adults, the
dance with danger continues as we medicate our stress and emptiness with the toxic
prescriptions of the culture, i.e., more money, more sex, more substance, more stuff. Yes,
even Christians can get caught in this for the evil one wants to neutralize our effectiveness
in loving and serving Christ. Our hearts can still struggle with evil desires. The “world” (see
1 John 2:15-17) portrays unrighteousness as glamorous maturity and fails to share the
dirty secrets of consequences of sins. We all know the hurt feelings, the guilt, the regrets,
the hiding, and the embarrassment that comes when light is shone on our secret places.
Additionally, we can lose our peace to traumatic circumstances. We can be impacted by
others: abuse (physical, verbal, or sexual), negative marital interactions, rape, or loss of
loved ones to death. Or we can be the cause of the trauma by accident or misguided
design. Have you ever met a person who accidentally killed someone else? Have you met
soldiers returning from war who were forced to kill? Do you have regrets that haunt you?
So, how do we find our soul freedom and live at peace with God, others, and ourselves.
First, know that you are not alone. All of us struggle with sin, temptation, and regrets. The
evil one wants you to believe that you are the worst and that you are alone. Most of us
look around and see good people who appear to be at peace with themselves and others.
Most of these people are probably not as pure as they appear. Most are dealing with guilt,
regrets, and fears but are effective at developing and wearing happy masks.
There are some though who have found their way to true soul freedom. That path is not
found through covering our sins and regrets, but by facing them in the light and grace of
the gospel of Jesus. Jesus came that our sins would be forgiven and our souls
transformed. Hope comes for those wrestling with guilt and condemnation for hurting
others intentionally or accidentally, facing our sin, and experiencing God’s mercy. In Psalm
51, we are allowed a glimpse into the soul of David as he faced his sins before God,
placed his soul in God’s mercy, sought God’s transformation of his heart, and walked in joy
with a God who did not condemn him nor despise him.
Those reeling from losses and other traumatic events can find healing as they grieve
powerfully and fall into the loving hands of Christ who grieves with them. God restores and
establishes us (see 1 Peter 5:10). He is our shepherd and in Him we have peace. Our
souls are set free from guilt, regret, and shame. Then we walk as free men and women
pursuing life abundantly.
Thus we return to the idea of guarding our freedom. Life will continue to be challenging;
our culture will continue to attempt to seduce us; Satan will continue to roam like a lion; and
we will continue to learn more about our own weaknesses. We may have to cycle through
guilt and loss of our soul freedom repetitively. Nevertheless, our hope lies not in our own
ability to be perfect in our resistance, but in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing purification of our
hearts. As this occurs, we become wise in knowing our limitations; we become more
humble about our abilities; and we become more dependent on Christ and His Holy Spirit.
In doing so, we are guarding our hearts. We are guarding our soul’s freedom. We are
living abundantly. As freedom is regained, we learn to cherish it more and more. Praise
be to God for making freedom of the soul possible.