1 Peter 2:16
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”
Live as free people! When we read this passage, we need to understand that the Jews considered themselves as freemen and having a right to liberty. John 8:33 says “They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” The Jews boasted of their freedom and regarded freedom as their birthright.
They never willingly acknowledged their subjection to any power. Even though the Roman Empire conquered them. They paid tribute to the Romans, and they did so, not because they were compelled, but it was a question debated among them whether they should do it or not. Matthew 22:17 says “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
Coming back to the passage in 1 Peter 2:16 we then see what this freedom really looks like, and it can initially seem quite the opposite of freedom. Let us look at some key teachings in the context of the surrounding passages of 1 Peter 2:16. In verse 13 it says to be subject to human institution whether it be to the emperor as supreme or to governors.
Then in verse 18: servants, be subject to your masters with all respect not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. In the middle of all these instructions to submit to authority, we read 1 Peter 2:16 saying “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”
So, what is this freedom then? Let us look at what scripture teaches us about the freedom we now have in Christ, and what true freedom looks like? Scripture reveals that Jesus Christ set us free from sin through God’s atoning sacrifice (Hebrews 2:14-15). According to Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death, but Christ freed us from this penalty through His sacrifice. You are made free from the dominion of sin and Satan, the world and the flesh. We have been set free.
In essence, you have been set free from bondage to sin, deception, guilt, depravity, ignorance, superstition, error, and a destructive life as being a captive to Satan. Deliverance from this is true freedom. When you are a slave to sin, then there is no freedom. It is essential to understand that it is not your sinning that makes you a slave to sin; instead, it is your slavery that causes you to sin. That is why when you are a slave; you do not have the ability or the inclination to want to come to Christ because you are dead in your sin.
Psalm 14:1-2 says “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
It is at this point, Christ comes and gives you the gift of salvation, where Father God draws you unto Himself (John 6:44). 1 Corinthians 6:20 says that Christ Has bought you at a price. You were at one point, a captive, but now through Christ, you are free. The freedom that you now have is that you are no longer mastered by anything, but God. You now have the ability and power to rule over sin. Genesis 4:7 “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
You can overcome sin because of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in you. Remember that you are now a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”. Again, Galatians 5:16 says “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
So, what we see from the above teaching is that we are “free from:” something to be “free to:” do something. To explain further, we are ‘free from’ being slaves to sin and ‘free to’ serve God. We were dead in sin; having no inclination to come to Christ, to now being ‘free to’ come and serve God willingly and freely doing all things for His glory.
Now that you are free, do not use your freedom to indulge in sin. Our sinning is evidence of our slavery. Instead, use your liberty to honour God through serving one another, blessing one another, being spiritually minded, fearing God, obeying God, doing God’s will and giving the sacrifice God wants. Be a servant of Christ, rather than a slave to sin!