First, there is liberation from social situations of oppression and marginalization that force many (and indeed all in one or another way) to live in conditions contrary to God’s will for their life. But it is not enough that we be liberated from oppressive socio-economic structures; also needed is a personal transformation by which we live with profound inner freedom in the face of every kind of servitude, and this is the second dimension or level of liberation.
Finally, there is liberation from sin, which attacks the deepest root of all servitude; for sin is the breaking of friendship with God and with other human beings, and therefore cannot be eradicated except by the unmerited redemptive love of the Lord whom we receive by faith and in communion with one another. Theological analysis (and not social or philosophical analysis) leads to the position that only liberation from sin gets to the very source of social injustice and other forms of human oppression and reconciles us with God and our fellow human beings.
… Liberation theology is thus intended as a theology of salvation. Salvation is God’s unmerited action in history, which God leads beyond itself. It is God’s gift of definitive life to God’s children, given in a history in which we must build fellowship. Filiation and fellowship are both a grace and a task to be carried out; these two aspects must be distinguished without being separated, just as, in accordance with the faith of the church as definitively settled at the council of Chalcedon, we distinguish in Christ a divine condition and a human condition, but we do not separate the two.
Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation, 1988 Introduction, pages xxxvii and xxxix