The Fourth of July—a beautiful day full of food, fun, and fireworks. It is a day that the United States of America celebrates its independence as a free nation. We are not alone in this celebration. Nations all over the world celebrate their independence and establishment of their nations.
The fact is everyone desires independence and freedom. No one wants to be in submission or bondage. This is want inspired our founding fathers to being the Revolutionary War to gain freedom as an independent nation from Great Britain.
However, not all people in the world get the privilege and freedom of earthly/physical independence as we experience in the United States. Many still live in dictatorships, monarchies, and oppressive governments. In fact, Jesus, Paul, and the early Christians lived in these types of oppressive forms of governments.
Although our freedom and independence is a blessing and many laid down their lives to provide, it is not our greatest blessing nor is it something we should necessarily actively pursue as Christians. While we appreciate the freedom we have to worship in our nation, we also realize that our true freedom comes from Christ, who gives us freedom from our sins.
Before Christ we all had a sin problem. Consider the following verses:
“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin” (Romans 6:16-18)
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)
We were slaves to our sin, but when we encountered Jesus the Christ we were set free.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
It is through the truth of salvation that he brings to our lives the he frees us from the bondage of our sins.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36)
Yet when he set us free, he did not make us independent. Instead he made us independent from our sin so that we would be dependent on him.
Consider the second part of Romans 6:
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:19-23)
Yes, this week we celebrate our freedom and independence as a nation. It is perfectly acceptable for a Christian to engage in this celebration. Yet, the Christian must remember that independence is not the ultimate goal in life, because we must be completely dependent on God. We can do nothing that carries the weight of eternity independent from God. He is our source of life, joy, and freedom. In him, and him, alone is our hope and trust.