Americans celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July as a public holiday with fireworks, barbecues, flags, and expressions of gratitude for the freedom we have as Americans. Most celebrations of national independence mark the day of “final victory” in the struggle for freedom. Perhaps it’s a mark of our American pride and boldness that we celebrate, on July 4th, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which occurred seven years before the final treaty ending the Revolutionary War on September 3, 1783. That Declaration’s adoption on July 4, 1776 burned the final bridges of England’s authority over America. The signers of this Declaration of Independence recognized that liberty could not be preserved unless this new nation recognized its dependence on God. The brave men who initiated and signed it realized that genuine freedom comes only through reliance on the Almighty. Do you consider yourself to be truly free? Whether you live in a free country or not, are you free on the inside? Are you free from guilt and fears? Are you free from the fear of death, and from the eternal consequences of your actions? Are you free from greed and other “sinful” passions that have become beyond your control? The sad thing is that the world often describes sin as the essence of freedom. “I can do what I please because it’s my life, and I am the master of my fate.” This is also what Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden when he said, in effect, “Don’t be bound by God’s command! Be free! Eat the fruit and become as God, knowing good and evil!” When Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and also gave some to Adam, and he ate it, what happened? They died! They immediately died spiritually because their fellowship with God was broken and they hid from God. Their personalities also began to decay because they began to lie and shift the blame to one another. And eventually their bodies died. They certainly weren’t the masters of their fate, were they? The Bible teaches that true freedom can only be found through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He set us free at the cost of His own life.
ILLUSTRATIONS: TWO ACTUAL RESPONSES TO ONE’S FREEDOM
A heathen girl was bought at a slave auction for a large sum of money. The Christian man who purchased her did so in order to set her free. When he came to get her the next day, she said simply, “Master, I am ready to serve you.” He replied, “While it is true that I bought you, I did so only to relieve you of the bonds of slavery.” Then, with a smile he handed the surprised girl her freedom papers. She looked at him for a moment in sheer astonishment. Then, seeing that he meant what he said, she cried out, “Am I truly free? Am I my own? May I go where I wish?” “Yes”, he said. “That’s why I bought you, so that you could be freed from the restrictions of slavery. “Sir”, she said as she fell at his feet in heartfelt devotion, “my greatest joy will be to dwell with you and go wherever you direct me.”
I’m closing with another true story that made a tremendous impression on me. A young convert on the west coast of Africa, who was saved out of the most horrible savagery, came on Christmas Day into the little chapel on the mission compound to offer her sacrifice of praise in the form of a gift of money. As a rule, the natives in that area were so poor that only a handful of vegetables was considered a generous offering. Some, in fact, could only bring a bunch of wild flowers to show their good will. If anyone ever managed to bring a coin worth a penny or two, it was considered as a tremendous gift. This girl of sixteen, however, drew from under her tattered outer garments a silver coin worth about a dollar! The missionary was so amazed at the amount of the offering that he refused, at first, to accept it, for he thought she must have gotten it dishonestly. In order to avoid confusion and embarrassment, he finally agreed to accept it. But at the end of the service he called her aside to ask her where she obtained such a fortune. She explained very simply that, in order to present to the Lord Jesus Christ an offering that satisfied her own heart’s love for Him, she had gone to a neighboring plantation and sold herself to the plantation owner as a slave to him for the rest of her life! She had, in effect, brought the whole financial equivalent of her life and laid it down in a single gift at the feet of her Savior and spiritual Liberator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
This Fourth of July, may we celebrate with joy the freedoms and privileges we possess, both as citizens of this great nation and, hopefully also, as citizens of heaven. If you are not sure whether or not you are a citizen of heaven, please read the ABOUT PAGE on this blog site, and the section entitled “Question”. In John’s Gospel, chapter 8,. and verses 31 and 32, Jesus said: “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”