In marketing, “FREE” is called a “magic word.” It immediately captures our attention. Who doesn’t like something free? Usually, however, we are tripped up by the fine print. In the fine print we discover “FREE” is not really “FREE” – just “almost free.”
Have you noticed that the more magnificent the FREE offeris, the more we distrust it? Someone might offer a free piece of penny candy and we think little of it.What if someone offers you a car, house or $1 million? “What’s the catch?” We immediately are convinced something this great and this wonderful cannot truly be free.
In all of us there is this attitude called the opinion legis. It is the feeling that nothing is truly FREE. It creates havoc when it comes to understanding our salvation.
Five hundred years ago the church offered the forgiveness of sins for FREE, but there was fine print. In other words, it wasn’t completely FREE. The church sold indulgences to help ease one’s passage into heaven and also fund the work to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Selling indulgences prompted Martin Luther to compose 95theses and nail them to the community bulletin board (which was the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany).
The theses were Luther’s attempt to debate the place of indulgences in Christian life. He wanted to know how the sale of indulgences meshed with the teachings of Scripture.
Even without indulgences our nature suspects FREE really isn’t FREE. Yet, Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). It is a gift. It is FREE.
When we think our sin is too big and our shame too great, we reveal the opinion legis in our hearts. We may reject buying an indulgence to make forgiveness our own, yet we often carry guilt and shame.We think we are unworthy of this FREE gift. Yet, guilt and shame create the fertile soil for us to believe FREE is not really FREE and minimizes the sacrifice of Christ.
There is no fine print. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the full, complete, and final payment for our forgiveness of sins. It requires nothing of us to earn it, but it compels us to live God-fearing lives to demonstrate what this gift means to us. Never surrender this true FREEdom won for you in Christ. It is FREE. No fine print whatsoever.
~ Pastor Robert Fleischmann