2 Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. NIV
Two obvious questions come to mind when reading this verse. First, where is the Spirit of the Lord? Second, what kind of freedom are we talking about? Knowing the answers to these two questions and living in light of that knowledge, will bring about a life filled with hope, peace and joy, so let’s look closely for those answers.
Question one, where is the Spirit of the Lord? In the context of this chapter, Paul has been comparing the ministry of the Holy Spirit with the ministry of the Law. He explains that though the Law is righteous and holy, it results in death because no one is able to fully keep it. The ministry of the Spirit, on the other hand, is working to bring us into a glory (life with God) that lasts eternally (v11). The key in discovering where “the Spirit is” though, is found in verses 2-3. Paul explains that these Corinthians are a “living letter” to the world because the Spirit Himself has written on “the tablet of their hearts.”
The Spirit then, is to be found in the life of a believer in Christ. Every person who has trusted in Christ for their salvation has received the Holy Spirit into their life. If you are a Christian, you need look no further for the Spirit. God has placed His Spirit inside you, for His own purposes. He is there to provide comfort in times of trouble and to teach you (Jn 14:16, 26). He comes to give you power (Ac 1:8) and He lives in you to bring you freedom.
Freedom from what? From the power of sin and death! To really understand this concept, it is good to go to the book of Romans, chapter 8. In that chapter, Paul makes this truth very clear. There are two types of people described in this chapter. Those who are still in bondage to the law of sin and death and those who are free from that law. Which category they are in, is based upon of their acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ.
Here is how he describes those who have not received Christ, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires…” (Rom 8:5 NIV) “… the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” (Rom 8:7-8 NIV) The person who has not received Christ as their Savior and Lord, is controlled (slaves to) their sinful nature. They cannot please God. They are not free.
The believer in Christ however, is set free from bondage to the sinful nature and its resulting death. We are free to live under the control of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Rom 8:9, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Ro 8:11 NIV)
What an amazing truth! If you are a believer in Christ, the Spirit of the Lord is in you and you are free! This is what Jesus was talking about all the way back in the book of John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ “…everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (V34) “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)
So Christian, live your life in the light of this truth. Follow Paul’s instruction in Gal 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (NIV) Surrender your life daily, even moment by moment, to the control of the Holy Spirit living inside of you. That is where freedom is found!