We sometimes define freedom as the ability to do whatever we want to do, but that’s not really how the Bible understands freedom. Freedom is the ability to do what we ought to do—that’s real freedom.
When we hear the story of the exodus and the famous line Let my people go, what we forget is that Moses said, Let my people go in order that they might go into the wilderness and they might worship me.
There was always an end to it. It wasn’t just freedom as we might understand it. It was worship.
Freedom is the ability to do what we ought to do—that’s real freedom.
So that’s the way the Christian understands freedom. But the cry of the Christian is not first of all just freedom (meaning to do what I want) but it’s the biblical freedom to do what I ought—to go and to worship God. So, the commandments that he gives us are not to make us enslaved but to keep us free.
We see that in the history of redemption itself. Slavery was under Pharaoh, freedom was under Yahweh. But it was a certain kind of freedom.
God would speak to the Israelites with the assumption that they were going to serve someone. There’s a Bob Dylan song that echoes this: “Everybody is going to serve somebody.” The Israelites were going to serve Pharaoh or they were going to serve Yahweh.
It wasn’t just an exchange of slavery to a certain kind of enlightenment freedom. It was servitude to Pharaoh which was hardship and oppression in exchange for serving God—which is true freedom, true joy, true happiness in loving God, in knowing God, in delighting in God, and doing things God’s way instead of our way.
God gave the commandments that they might be obeyed—not to earn salvation but because of who we are, who God is in himself, who he is to us, where we are, and what he has done.
Our obedience should be the result of our gratitude to God for his work in Christ.
There are many people inside the church—and especially outside the church—who would say the Ten Commandments are irrelevant or antiquated.