Freedom is the word which we still regard as most indicative of that which is the very warp and woof of our distinctive national inheritance. But what is the meaning of liberty?
For a schoolboy it is often synonymous with absence of all restriction, which is then confused with license. For a gangster it means freedom from the restraints of law. For a mature adult freedom is never apart from but within the sphere of law. For example, the railroad locomotive is free on the tracks, within the law of the rails. When derailed its freedom means destruction of itself and those things with which it collides. We are free to drive our automobiles within the speed limits set by law. Ignoring these limits, the driver’s license is revoked and his freedom to drive is taken away. Man is free to drink and eat, but if the law of temperance is broken he becomes a slave to appetite.
It is clear, therefore, that freedom must be a spiritual discipline which recognizes the limits imposed by law and accepts them voluntarily. One more example will make this clear beyond all doubt: When a woman takes the marriage vow she promises to love her husband. Does she thereby lose her freedom? After all, the law now binds her to love her husband, and demands that she be faithful. This law is a law of love, however, making her free in her voluntary obedience to the law for marriage. This is liberty indeed! Liberty within law through love!
One more distinction: Materialists conceive of liberty as principally economic. Freedom from want is freedom indeed as far as they are concerned. Liberals often construe freedom as intellectual, as freedom from prejudice and propaganda, from authoritarianism of every type except that of Reason. For the Christian freedom is greater far than any of these. Freedom is spiritual. It means liberation from sin and the power of Satan. This is basic to all civil, social, intellectual freedom.
True freedom is only possible through knowledge of the truth of God’s Word. Jesus said it this way: “If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (italics added). – HENRY R. VAN TIL