"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36
Today, Independence Day, we celebrate our Nation's 235th birthday. This day is really a celebration of freedom. We commemorate America's Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of England under King George. To be independent means to take care of yourself, making your own rules and providing for your own needs. We have wonderful rights in this country to live as we choose and worship as we choose. But, even with this independence, many are caught up in the bondage of hopelessness, despair, fear, and addiction. We struggle with hate, prejudice, and self-centered, materialistic pursuits. The ideals of independence and freedom permeate our culture, but are we truly free? True spiritual freedom comes not from "independence", but from "dependence" on our relationship to Jesus Christ.
During my first few months in college at USC, away from home, I was free from the "oppression" of my parents rules. I was totally independent. But, I made some horrible choices. I experimented with alcohol, drugs, wild partying and sexual encounters. I struggled with guilt, loneliness, and I was moody. It wasn't until I began to study the Bible and attended a Christian retreat on Catalina Island that my life was completely transformed. I remember going to a hill with a ragged looking wooden cross and kneeling down with tears to pray. I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and I submitted to His Lordship and control in my life. I began a walk of dependence with my Savior and my life has never been the same since. I was completely free and filled with so much joy!
In Christ, we can experience true liberation and spiritual freedom. We are set free from the power of sin in our lives. We are set free from the guilt, shame, and condemnation of our past. We are set free from the bondage of addiction. We are set free from hatred and self-centered living. We are set free from the power of death and hopelessness. We are set free to live for God and love others through the power of His Spirit within us. This freedom is only found in Jesus Christ. ("...for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12)
When America declared its independence, they still had to fight the revolutionary war for many years until that freedom was realized. Blood was spilled and lives were lost. The release from oppression and tyranny was not immediate. But, when Jesus Christ gave us everlasting spiritual freedom from the tyranny and oppression of sin in our lives, He shed His own blood. The price has already been paid and the battle has already been won. All we need to do is to receive Him by faith and the victory is ours. But, even with this great news, many of us still choose to live like slaves. Slavery in the United States was abolished by the 13th Amendment on December 18, 1865. But, many still lived like slaves even after that day. Many did this because they never learned the truth. Others knew that they were free, but chose to continue living as they had always been taught. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the "emancipation proclamation" for every sinner who is sold into slavery of sin. It is time for us to start living like we are truly free.
Let's take time right now to thank God for the freedom we have in this country to worship Him. Many countries do not enjoy this same privilege. But most of all, remember to thank God for the freedom we have in Christ from the power, penalty and presence of sin. This is the freedom that can never be taken away!
Posted on Mon, July 4, 2011
by Gregory Hooper