The Bible and society agree on what freedom feels like. In fact, you can even agree, in some ways, on the definition of freedom. If you just simply defined it in terms of how it feels. Freedom is the fulfillment that comes when you’re doing what you most deeply desire. Freedom is the fulfillment that comes when you’re doing what you most deeply desire at the bottom.
The difference between what the Bible says and what society says is the Bible says if you know man is not what he ought to be, if you know a human being, to a great degree, is warped, is selfish, is self-centered, is self-absorbed, is sinful; therefore, our desires are at war with each other. They’re conflicting. Freedom is not necessarily the ability to do anything you want.
But freedom happens in our lives when we obey our deepest desires, the ones God put in us from the beginning, most of which are unconscious, because the thing we most desire to do is to be fulfilled by submitting to our Creator. We were built to do that. The trouble is sin has made that impossible or very, very hard for us to know consciously until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to it. Therefore, though everybody agrees (Christians and everyone else) freedom is the fulfillment that comes from doing what you most deeply desire, the Bible says that only happens when you’re willing to be completely dependent on God.
Becoming a Christian is like this: The day you become a Christian is the day you look at God, and you say, ‘You know, Lord, all along I’ve been dependent on you. I’ve been dependent on you for everything. You’ve kept me alive every moment. You kept me alive. I’m dependent on you for every breath. I’m dependent on you for keeping my molecules together. If it wasn’t for you holding me together, my molecules would go off in a billion different directions at once, and where would I be?
Even my rebellion against you, even my desire to live my own life, in a sense, has been like I’ve been slapping you in the face the way a little girl slaps her father in the face. She only can slap him in the face because he’s holding her up. I see all along I’ve been dependent, but today I declare my dependence. Today I make you my Master. I give up my right to organize my own life. I will obey you and your Word and not all of my contradictory, conflicting impulses. I will do what you say, and I know, then, I’ll find myself because I was built to obey you.’
— Tim Keller
*Words found in Tim Keller’s 1990 Sermon, “Active Discipline”