Happy Independence Day!
Today Americans celebrate the ‘Declaration of Independence’; a fledgling consortium of colonies banded together to oppose the then superpower of the world. They, under the influence of European political and moral philosophy and the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, had a deep and profound sense of righteousness in their defiance of the government in authority over them at the time. They had the strong conviction that there are certain “laws” and “truths” that transcend any form of human government, to which these human governments must submit if they are to remain in authority. It was their conviction that Great Britain had abdicated their right to authority over the American Colonies because they had violated these laws and truths; in doing so, they had spurned God Himself, Who, for the greater part of these colonies and colonists, served as the Ground and Source of these transcendent laws and truths. And so, in obedience to the Greater Authority, they rebelled and they succeeded.
Many believe, as do I, that the hand of Divine Providence was active in the birth of this nation. If so, we must recognize that not all authority is just and that not all rebellion is evil. In other words, God does not bless all authority nor does He curse all rebellion.
So, when you celebrate today, remember what exactly we are celebrating. We are celebrating the fact that there is a Law and a Truth that transcends any human authority; that no human authority has the right to impose itself in defiance of that Law and Truth. And, in celebrating this, celebrate with all your might!
The NT Scriptures have much to say about “freedom”. I would invite my Christian friends to spend some time reflecting what exactly we are free from. Romans 5-8 goes to great lengths discussing our freedom.
Of utmost importance is the freedom from the condemnation of sin. Romans 5 begins by celebrating our “justification” which is our “being made right” with God. Our account has been cleared; we are no longer under the wrath of God!
Of equal importance is our freedom from slavery to sin. Romans 6-7 discuss and refute errors that are easy to fall into about sin. For example, one prominent error today is the idea that, being justified by grace, our post-justification sin has no effect on our relationship with God or our eternity. To this and other errors, Paul says “Absolutely not!”. And yet, as we see in Romans 7, Paul himself recognizes that Christians will struggle with sin. The solution to this struggle is the work of Jesus Christ (see the end of Romans 7) and the work of the Holy Spirit (see the beginning of Romans 8.). As we submit to the power of the Spirit, we are empowered to walk with Him and so overcome our struggle with sin.
So, as you celebrate Independence Day, I would invite you to remember that we, as Christians, DO NOT celebrate our freedom *to* sin but we do celebrate our freedom *from* sin.
As American Christians, let us celebrate with vigor our freedom from tyrannical political authorities and our freedom in Christ from the condemnation and slavery of sin.
Let Freedom Ring!