Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom.
[2 Cor 3:17 NET]
The gospel is “the perfect law of liberty,” therefore the very perfection of liberty, and thus thoroughly and entirely free from the least taint of bondage, the slightest tincture of servitude. It is this perfect freedom which distinguishes it from the law which “works wrath” and “genders to bondage.” It is, therefore, a freedom from sin; from its guilt, as having “the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience;” from its filth, by “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit;” from its love, through “the love of God, shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit;” from its dominion, as “not being under the law but under grace;” and from its practice, by becoming “servants to God, so as to have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
How, then, can this pure, holy, and precious gospel be condemned as leading to licentiousness? It is because its power, its preciousness, its happy, holy, heavenly liberty have never been experimentally known by some who, like the Galatians, do all they can to “frustrate the grace of God,” by “turning again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto they desire to be in bondage;” while others, like those monsters of wickedness whom Jude and Peter denounce with such burning words, pervert and abuse the liberty of the gospel unto licentiousness, “sporting themselves with their own deceivings,” and, “while they promise others liberty, are themselves the servants of corruption.”
Now the liberty of the gospel, as revealed in the Scriptures, and made experimentally known to the soul, steers, so to speak, between these two extremes, and is as perfectly free from the least intermixture of legal bondage as from the least taint of Antinomian licentiousness. It is, indeed, this holy liberty, heavenly power, and gracious influence of the precious gospel, under the teaching and testimony of the Holy Spirit, which makes it so suitable to our case and state when first convinced of sin, and cast into prison under guilt and condemnation.
What release but a perfect release would suit our deplorable case as prisoners in the pit where there is no water, shut up under wrath and guilty fear through a condemning law and an accusing conscience? This pure and precious gospel, therefore, comes down to our pitiable state and condition as a message of pure mercy, revealing pardon and peace through a Savior’s blood; and when, by grace, we can receive, embrace, and entertain it as a word from God to us, proclaiming liberty as with a jubilee trumpet through every court and ward of the soul.
What were we before this precious gospel reached our ears and hearts? Were we not bondslaves to sin, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, taken and led captive by Satan at his will—and while we talked about enjoying life, were, through fear of death, subject to bondage? When we saw the saints of God not daring to do what we did greedily, we thought that they were the slaves, and we the free men, not knowing that “to whom we yield ourselves servants to obey, his servants we are, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness;” not knowing that “whoever commits sin is the servant of sin,” and that our boasted freedom was real servitude, while their apparent bondage was real freedom; for they had a saving interest in that precious declaration—“If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.