July 4th American Freedom and True Freedom
This weekend we celebrate the birthday of America and in the end that is the celebration of our freedom. We enjoy an unbelievable amount of freedom that is only a dream for millions of people in many parts of our world. This week we ought to thank God for the freedom we enjoy and for all who have made it possible for us to have it. Unfortunately, too often we take the freedom we have for granted and forget both its cost and the responsibility that comes with it.
American freedom did not come freely. It all began 244 years ago, when on July 4th, 1776, 56 brave men signed a document known as “The Declaration of Independence.” Many of them paid heavily for taking that stand. Freedom was not free and a part of what we are to remember is the price paid then and paid since then to retain that freedom. The price of our freedom has always been high but that price has been gladly paid by those who initially declared their freedom and by the thousands who have paid the extreme price since then to maintain it because they believed that to be free was truly worth any price.
The blood spilled by Americans to secure our freedom was not, however, the first-time blood was shed for freedom. Nearly 2,000 years ago the blood of Jesus was shed so we could all experience true freedom. Read John 8:34-36 and Romans 8:1-3.
As Americans we need to remember that the freedom that we all enjoy is a temporary freedom while the freedom Jesus provided is designed to be an everlasting freedom. The freedom Jesus provided gives us freedom first, from the penalty of sin, second, from the power of sin and finally from the very presence of sin. It is complete and glorious freedom, far more valuable than our American freedom that can be either lost or abused.
First, the death of Jesus allows us to be set free from the penalty of sin. To fully appreciate the significance of that freedom we must look back to the sin of Adam and Eve and remember what was enslaved by that sin. We know that when God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in a beautiful garden and had perfect fellowship with them. They had only one restriction; there was a tree that they were forbidden to eat of. The outcome of eating that fruit was spelled out very clearly, “the day you eat of it you will die.” That death took three different forms. Death in the Bible always means separation. The death that God spoke of was first a spiritual death, which meant the fellowship initially enjoyed with a holy God was no longer possible. That spiritual death took place the moment man became a sinner. God could no longer come to them and walk and talk to them. Second, that death meant physical death. As a result of decay, sickness, disease, and lots of other by-products of sin, death entered the world. Physical death is separation of the body and soul. The Cross dealt with the death that comes to all men. Third, the death that came to us because of sin is an everlasting death, an everlasting separation from the God. Read Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23.
Because of man’s sin we lost the freedom that God desired for us. On the Cross Jesus paid the price of our sin. He took upon Himself our death sentence. He died in our place. We were dead in our sins, but Jesus took our sin upon Himself so all who believe in Him can be free of that sentence.
When we talk of freedom from death in Jesus, we need to see this in terms of three precious freedoms lost by sin. Paul wrote in Romans that the death of Jesus in our place on the Cross was adequate to not only justify us but to satisfy the just nature of God allowing the penalty of death to be covered. With the penalty of sin covered we have the reversal of all that was lost by sin.
Immediately we have the new freedom of spiritual life. We too often ignore this freedom. Spiritual life means we can talk to God, which is what prayer really is. Spiritual freedom means we can worship God and know the worship is acceptable. Spiritual freedom means we can be conscious of His presence with us each day. Unfortunately, too many fail to realize the full reality of that freedom, choosing instead to live each day in their own strength and seemingly unaware of His walk with us.
His death also brought freedom from physical death. Physical death is still going to be an issue we will all face unless Jesus comes again before we die, but the judgment associated with physical death was cared for by Jesus. Paul detailed for us in I Corinthians 15 the truth that the resurrection of Jesus guarantees the resurrection of all who have accepted His provision on the Cross. Read I Corinthians 15:42-58.
The provision of the Cross is a freedom from an everlasting separation from God. We can now know that we will spend all eternity with God. Read II Timothy 1:10 and John 3:36. Because we have been set free from separation because of sin we don’t have to say things like, “I hope I’ll get to go to heaven” or even “I think I will” but rather, “I will spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven because He provided freedom for it and promised it to me as His child.”
If freedom from the death caused by sin were all that was provided for us on the Cross, we would have incredible reason to rejoice and give thanks. It is, however, only one part of the freedom available because of the death of Jesus for us. His death provided us with the potential of freedom from the power of sin. In a sense that provision will not be fully realized until we are with Him in glory but the potential of being victorious over the grip of sin is ours if we learn to rely on the power available to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Apostle Paul talks of what that power means to him when he wrote in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Theologically this is called sanctification which means that as Christians we have a power within that is greater than that of Satan and his sin. Read Ephesians 6:10-13 and I Corinthians 10:13.
What we need to do is to determine where we need to change and then realize that the power to make that change is available to us. You and I don’t have to be slaves to sin. We can have freedom from its power if we allow God to work in and through us. Too many Christians are slaves to some addiction, not always a major one like drugs but often a simple habit or character trait that has been a part of them too long. They would like see it gone but have decided it is simply something they and their family must accept and live with. Too often we forget that there is freedom available in the power of Him who was raised from the dead. Paul, therefore, could speak in Philippians 3:10 of wanting to know even more fully that power in his life.
In Jesus we have freedom from the penalty of sin called theologically justification. We also have freedom from the power of sin called sanctification. Ultimately, we will have freedom from the very presence of sin which is called glorification. In heaven there will be no possibility of sin. Satan will not be there so there will be no temptation. In addition, we will all be transformed into the holy likeness of Jesus and will have no desire to sin. The fellowship experienced by Adam and Eve in the garden before sin will once again be a reality. Read Philippians 3:21-22. What a blessing that will be!
As we celebrate America’s freedom let’s not fail to celebrate and live in the freedom all who have accepted the finished work of Jesus on the Cross have. In Jesus we have freedom from the penalty of sin that allows us to have true fellowship with God and guarantees new glorified bodies and an eternity with God. We have a freedom from the power of sin that enables us to overcome temptations and live as He would have us live. And we have the freedom to look ahead with excitement and peace to the reality that one day we will be in His presence with not only new bodies but new hearts and there, there will be no more sin. That is freedom to be enjoyed each and every day.