2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
The apostle assumes, almost as an axiom of the spiritual life, that the presence of the Spirit gives freedom, as contrasted with the bondage of the letter - freedom from slavish fear, freedom from the guilt and burden of sin, freedom from the tyranny of the Law. Distinguish carefully between liberty and licence. Whether a man can have and use liberty depends entirely upon what a man is. Some men are better in bonds; they must be in bonds; their fancied liberty is but a delusion. The point urged by the apostle is that the man who is renewed in Christ Jesus can be safely trusted with his full liberty, because he is established in principles, and upheld by a power which guarantees that he will put his liberty into reasonable and righteous limitations. We observe some of the reasons why "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
I. BECAUSE THERE IS LIFE. A new life, a Divine life. Life can always be allowed its free and natural expression. It is disease that must be set in limitations and bondages. The forces and expressions of life are evenly and harmoniously balanced; and order is preserved when life is permitted to be free. The expressions of the Christian life, the life of the Spirit, can only be true and beautiful and good.
II. BECAUSE THERE IS FREEDOM FROM BONDS. That is, from the bonds of formal rules. The Spirit establishes principles, and so frees us from rules. God's laws are written by the Spirit in our minds and on our hearts. Illustrate by the passing away of schoolboy commands and regulations when manhood has come and principles are established.
III. BECAUSE THERE IS KNOWLEDGE OF THE RIGHT. This the indwelling Spirit guarantees, because he takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us. He is our inward Monitor, our Teacher as well as our Comforter. Illustrate by the perplexity of life if we must control it by fashion and custom, deciding what we may eat and what we may not eat; what we may enjoy and what we may not enjoy; what is consistent and what is inconsistent. The Spirit shows the right; it is liberty to act on its great principle that we must everywhere be
(1) true to God, and
(2) helpful to our brethren.
IV. BECAUSE THERE IS DESIRE FOR THE RIGHT. He who is without the Spirit may "know the better but follow the worse." That is saying he is in bondages of self-will and evil which he cannot break. The indwelling Spirit controls the will and affections so that we desire what is right, and therefore are tree to follow the right of which we may know.
V. BECAUSE THERE IS QUICK SENSITIVENESS TO THE WRONG. So that it is detected and its slavery resisted. The liberty of the Spirit is such that it cannot be taken at unawares. From these considerations plead for the importance of keeping our minds and hearts ever open to the Spirit's love and lead, as the secret of maintaining the only liberty that is worth calling such. For the liberty that is assured to man by the gospel, see John 8:32; Romans 6:18, 22; Romans 8:2; James 1:25; James 2:12; 1 Peter 2:16. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.