Freedom in Christ - Bob Sawvelle

Freedom In Christ

We celebrated Independence Day last week here in the US. The occasion reminded me of the ultimate freedom we have through Jesus Christ. I shared how Jesus is our Liberator. I used as a text Luke 4:18-19:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” NKJV

Jesus attends the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath and reads from the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2. He is proclaiming His Messiahship and that His mission was to liberate humanity from oppression.

The phrase, “to set at liberty” literally means to release from bondage. To set at liberty is from the Greek ἄφεσις (aphesis) and is the process of setting free or liberating.[1] It also means to release, forgiveness. Indicates the state of having a particular obligation removed or ignored in a given relationship.[2] Think for a moment of the burden of sin we have been released from! Think of the forgiveness extended to each of us—He truly has set us free!

According to NT scholar Dr. Craig Keener, the reference to Isaiah in this passage (61:1–2; cf. 58:6) seems to describe Israel’s future in terms of the year of Jubilee, or year of release, from Leviticus 25… Some scholars have suggested that a recent Jubilee year may have made this text fresh in the minds of Jesus’ hearers…[3]The year of Jubilee signified all debts forgiven and released—this is what Jesus has done for us through His vicarious death and resurrection!

This week I want to continue looking at the freedom Jesus has given us. Let’s begin with a passage in Luke 13.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” Luke 13:10-17 NIV

Jesus is teaching on the Sabbath in a synagogue and notices this woman. He stops teaching and calls her out to minister to her. By the way, Kingdom teaching demonstrates the reality of the Kingdom! He frees her from the demonic oppression that is causing the illness.

Two principles can be gleaned from this story. First, Jesus frees those who are oppressed. Second, grace is a higher truth than the law.

The ruler of the synagogue is indignant that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. Why? The Ten Commandments instructed them to work for six days and keep the Sabbath for rest and worship. The thought of the religious leaders of the day was that no work was to be done at all on the Sabbath.

Jesus calls him out on it. You’re a hypocrite! You free your animals on the Sabbath so they can get water, what about this woman, shouldn’t she be free? There are two similar stories in the gospels.

In Luke 14:1-6 Jesus is in the home of a Pharisee. A man is there with dropsy (swelling of the body), and Jesus asks them if it would be legal to heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus heals the man, and once again mentions the freeing of donkeys and ox on the Sabbath. The religious folks are beside themselves with this act of healing on the Sabbath. Then in Matthew 12:9-14, we read how Jesus is in a synagogue and there is a man there with a withered hand. They ask Jesus, “Is it legal to heal the man on the Sabbath?” Jesus answers by healing the man!

Jews believed healing was not allowed on the Sabbath except when there was danger to life. Even then, measures could be taken only to prevent the condition from getting worse; nothing could be done to improve it. Jesus countered this obvious fallacy, saying it is lawful! The message of God’s love and grace was inherent in the law and throughout the Old Testament.


In John 1:17 NIV “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Here we read how the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the law, redeemed us from its curse, and has given us His grace!

Paul explains that the law was our teacher (Gal. 3:24) to bring us into grace through Christ. The law declares men guilty and imprisons them; faith sets men free to enjoy liberty in Christ.

Religion is man’s attempt to be right with God. But religion, apart from the grace of Jesus, oppresses people—God’s grace through Christ frees them.

While the direct oppression this woman was suffering came through Satan, the religious yoke of oppression the Jewish leaders placed upon the people hindered them from experiencing the grace that was in the law.

The works of the law, religion, and self-effort can’t make us righteous, only our faith in Christ can. We begin to experience the grace of God in fullness when we move away from working for grace to simply receiving the power of grace. Religion apart from operating in God’s grace oppresses.

Only Christ Brings True Freedom

Remember our passage in Luke 13:12 NIV, When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Jesus mentions in his rebuke of the leader how the woman has been oppressed for 18 years by Satan. Shouldn’t she be free—of course she should!

Peter declared of Jesus, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38 NKJV) Oppressed comes from a compound Greek word that means to “exercise dominion against.”

It is the kingdom of darkness exercising dominion against humanity. Do not ever think for a moment that God doesn’t love or doesn’t care about the oppression of humanity. Christ came and died for our freedom! He has defeated Satan and his demonic forces. The Church then is called to enforce the victory that Christ has already won.

Jesus healed everyone oppressed by the devil—period! He never said, “I’d really like to heal you, but the Father is using this to make you a better person!” The gifts of healing and the miraculous are for today, they never ceased after the death of the apostles and completion of the Bible.

In my book, Receive Your Miracle Now: A Case for Healing Today, I discuss the thread of healing from the days of Christ to present day.

Through Adam, humanity was sold into slavery to the devil and put in bondage to his power, under his jurisdiction. But through Christ and the cross, freedom has been provided.

God’s love for us is so rich that gave His only Son who paid a great price for our redemption. Jesus assumed our guilt, bore our judgment, and endured condemnation in order to free us of all debt and obligation to Satan’s kingdom and be brought into God’s. Matthew records,

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Matt. 8:17 NKJV

In order for Christ to free us from this terrible curse of the law, He was made a curse for us; that is, He bore the punishment prescribed by the law.

But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing…“Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Gal. 3:13 NLT

The curse of the law included all diseases, every sickness, and every plague throughout the history of the world (Deut. 28:60-61).

He legally rescued us to give us freedom and abundant life. Every sort of sin, drug and alcohol addictions, bondage, disease, etc. Eating disorders, sexual sin, pornography, fear, etc. Christ has paid the price for our freedom!

Staying Free in Christ

Salvation is your emancipation from everything outside God’s will for humankind. Now we can act accordingly and live like free men and women.

Surrendering in faith to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is essential for receiving that which has already been purchased. Believing and acting upon the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom.

When the slaves in the United States were freed, they were still living in slaves’ quarters. They still looked like slaves. They still felt like slaves. But when they heard the Emancipation Proclamation read, they had a legal right to say, “I am free,” and to act on that liberty.

Booker T. Washington in his book Up from Slavery, tells his story as a boy of nine in Virginia, hearing about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. He remembered the day in early 1865:

As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom…. Some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper—the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free and could go when and where we pleased.”

You see, through the shed blood of Christ, you are free!

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Gal. 5:1 NLT

Believe in your proclamation of freedom. You are free from the bondage of graceless religion, and all oppression of the enemy.

The children of Israel still saw themselves as slaves and weren’t able to appropriate by faith what God had done for them in delivering them from the Egyptians. Desired to return to Egypt rather than move into freedom.

Redemption has not become a reality to many. It has only been a theory, a doctrine, or a creed. Satan has taken advantage of this lack of understanding. We are freed from all the power of Satan—freed—emancipated. Say “no trespassing Satan!”

We were captives, but Christ freed us from captivity. We were cursed by sin and sickness; but Christ, our Redeemer, has freed us from that curse and loosed us from its dominion. You were subject to Satan’s authority—but now, In Christ, you are free.

You now have Christ’s emancipation proclamation—the Bible—it is yours! Do not be a slave any longer. Do like the slaves in the US did when they heard their Emancipation Proclamation read: Claim your liberty; act on your deliverance!

You are free in Christ, shout your freedom, confess it, and believe it! Oppression is not tolerated by God, shouldn’t be tolerated by the church.


Bob Sawvelle Signature


For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Freedom in Christ”:


[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 487.

[2] J. David Stark, “Forgiveness,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[3] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Lk 4:18–19.

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