Many people are seeking biblical verses about freedom because they or someone they know needs freedom from captivity to struggles such as overeating, overdrinking, sexual impurity, drug abuse, gambling, etc.
The problem with this search is an underlying assumption that the Bible is merely a resource that addresses various topics about life.
When studying the Bible, we must consider the context of each passage, and more importantly, we must take into account the central message of the entire Bible. The danger of searching for specific topics in the Bible is that we might miss the main point and end up seeing only the trees of topics and missing the forest of the gospel.
But there is a beneficial way to find those biblical verses about freedom, and we will. For the next few writings, we will take a specific verse, tie it into the context of the Bible as a whole, and see how it speaks about freedom.
For this first teaching, we will look at Leviticus 26:13.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high (Leviticus 26:13).
In this passage, God reminds the Israelites of their former slavery, the harsh conditions they had under their Egyptian taskmaster, Pharaoh. God reminds them that Egypt was an “iron-smelting furnace,” which speaks of the intense heat of the affliction and slavery they suffered there. “But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are” (Deuteronomy 4:20). God reminds them of His work on their behalf that He set them free from slavery in Egypt.
In Leviticus 26:13, God speaks specifically about two things He did for His people when He set them free from Egyptian slavery: 1) He broke the bars of their yoke, and 2) He enabled them to walk with their heads held high. Let’s look more closely at these two aspects of freedom, and we will see the work that God does for all who are enslaved to sin and come to Him for freedom.
First, God broke the bars of their yoke (Leviticus 26:13). A yoke is a bar placed between two oxen, or other animals, that keeps them connected and moving in the same direction while they work. God is saying that the Israelites were yoked in their slavery, joined together in servitude, not free.
And then God broke the bars of their yoke. That is, He set them free from slavery to the Egyptians, rescued them from bondage, released them from captivity, and took them to be His people.
The picture here is very intense for us today. It shows us that sin is not, as the world describes it, an “addiction,” from which we need to “recover.” No, sin has a much tighter grip on us than that. We are actually yoked to it from birth, joined to it in bondage. We are unable to free ourselves from sinful bondage any more than an ox could decide to break out of its yoke.
Surely we have all felt the desperation of being yoked up with either sinful thoughts that become strongholds in our minds or sinful actions that we give in to repeatedly until they are well-formed habits. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:14-15). And Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).
We were all born enslaved to sin, so God did something to free us. He sent His Son to take our sin off of us, to die under the penalty of it, and free us from the power of it. As Jesus went to the cross, He went as a sacrifice of atonement to make amends for our wrongs and atone for our sins. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith” (Romans 3:25). As you look at the cross, what you see is your guilt offering hanging there, in your place, as your Substitute. “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt…” (Isaiah 53:10).
Many times one who is in bondage to alcohol is attempting to drown out the voice of guilt. One enslaved to pornography can be trying to escape into a land of fantasy, where there is no guilt. Once these people turn and look at the cross, see their guilt dying, and then buried in a tomb, it can free them from years of slavery. Once they believe that all their wrongs have been atoned for by Jesus and that through His death, He freed them from the wages of sin, they can experience powerful release from slavery to sin. In looking at the cross, they see that Jesus has sacrificed Himself to free them, that He has died to release them. “So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free” (John 8:36 AMP).
2) God enabled them to walk with their heads held high (Leviticus 26:13).
Let’s look at Leviticus 26:13 in the Amplified version:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves; and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk upright [with heads held high as free men]” (Leviticus 26:13 AMP).
Slaves were property, commonly treated with contempt as inhuman, something to be used. In slavery, the Israelites not only had their heads down in physical labor, but they also hung their heads in shame. They were ashamed of their plight and felt condemned to a life of bondage.
This same shame accompanies slavery to sin, and it makes us want to hide and cover ourselves up, even as Adam and Eve, after their sin, hid from God and made fig leaves to try and cover up their nakedness. Oh, the deep shame men and women can feel after they have committed adultery, gotten drunk again, gorged themselves on food, escaped into drugs, neglected important things to binge on gaming, television, etc.
But the good news is that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only removed the sin of every believer, He also took our shame. "Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God's throne" (Hebrews 12:2 CEV). If you look at the cross of Christ, what you see is Jesus suffering in shame, as if He were the worst criminal, dying with your sin under the wrath of God. The cross was the worst shameful method of execution ever invented, and Jesus was carrying the sin of the world in shame, dying to atone for it all.
In dying in this way, and then rising three days later in victory, Jesus has removed the shame of every person who puts faith in Him. He not only broke the bars of our yoke, but He also enabled us to walk with our heads held high. “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:5). Yes, when Jesus died on the cross, He removed not only our sin but also our shame. He removed the stain that no one sees. As the old hymn says,
"On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain"
The believer in Jesus, though guilty of sin, is pronounced “Not Guilty” in the court of heaven, set free from all charges, is washed and cleansed from the stain of sin, has all shame removed, and is made radiant in Christ’s righteousness.
“...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
The first verse in our series on Biblical Verses About Freedom is Leviticus 26:13, which was fulfilled for us at the cross/resurrection of Jesus:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13).