Human freedom is God-given because God created us “in His own image.” (Genesis1:27) Not a physical image, but a copy in mind and heart. We have a conscience and the ability to reason. We feel joy and grief, happiness and contentment or pain and loss. When we’re free to choose and do for ourselves, we are the happiest.
God’s standard of freedom and of right and wrong is expressed in the Mosaic law. Repeatedly are commands to “not oppress a stranger” (Exodus 23:9) or the poor. “You must not oppress a lowly and poor servant, whether one from among your fellow Israelites or from the resident foreigners…” (Deuteronomy 24:14, NET)
A part of the law was the Jubilee system. “You shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the inhabitants, it shall be a Jubilee unto you and you shall return every man and his possession and you shall return every man unto his family.” (Leviticus 25:10) This was God’s original intent for Israel.
Those who had accumulated land were to return it to the descendants of the original family, those who had received it when Israel entered the land. This prevented a few individuals from owning, dominating, and controlling others’ abilities to sustain a livelihood.
Servants were also to be set free. They were no longer bound to pay off debts but were to return to their families and work for themselves. Servitude was not to continue generation after generation. God never intended one man to dominate another – to take away his physical, economic and mental freedom.
How does God treat us? He respects us. He allows us the freedom to choose. The scriptures from Genesis to Revelation teach this. Freedom does not mean the absence of laws and restraints nor from the consequences of choosing improperly. God allowed Adam and Eve to choose. Consequently, all mankind struggles under sin and death.
Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34) None of us are free from this bondage, but thankfully our sins forgiven through Christ. At heart, Christians are free from the burden of sin. “If you continue in my word then are you disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31, 32)
Eventually, during Christ’s thousand-year reign, mankind will be released from the bondage of sin. (Revelation 22:2, 3) But for each one, relief will depend on his or her decisions to follow righteousness. “And the Spirit and the bride say Come and let him that hears say Come and let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)
If God, the creator of the universe, respects our freedoms, we should respect each others’ freedoms too.