Here in the United States no other holiday causes us to reflect on FREEDOM more so than the 4th of July. What follows are two definitions from the Encarta Dictionary for the word FREEDOM. Read them carefully. These definitions have vastly different implications.
- release or rescue from being physically bound, or from being confined, enslaved, captured, or imprisoned
- a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions
As a Christian, which of these two definitions do you think is correct? Please read more…
It seems to me that our modern culture has adopted the later of the two definitions above to describe what it sees as freedom. Our culture tells us that freedom comes from the unrestrained ability to do whatever we want to do. Interestingly enough, this is exactly the opposite of Biblical Freedom. Definition number one above more closely aligns with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Christian understanding of freedom presents a paradox. The Bible tells us that in order to gain one’s life we must be willing to lose it. We are told that in order to be free we must die to our own desires. God gave us free will. This free will should act as the compass that points our entire life back towards our creator.
Paul points out in Romans 7:21-25 one of the great paradoxes of life. The more we use our free will to seek freedom that is opposed to the will of God, the less freedom we actually experience. In fact, if we choose to pursue our own will, we will become more enslaved and captive to the law of sin that lives within us. Thankfully Paul does not leave us to despair. He gives us the solution when he states: “Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In our earthly existence we are inclined to remain captive and enslaved to our sinfulness and our rebellion against God’s laws. As Paul states it is only through Jesus Christ that we can hope to find freedom. In Galatians 5:13 Paul writes: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Because this is a holiday week for most Americans and a week of travel and vacations, I will keep today’s message short.
Take a quick look at what John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail as it pertained to the future celebrations of this historic day. He wrote this the day after Congress voted to declare independence: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
For us then to grow spiritually, we must bring our lives into complete conformity to the will of God. John Adams suggested above that American Independence Day should be celebrated with many types of festivities and fireworks but also celebrated with Acts of Devotion to God. On a day dedicated to freedom, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate than to rededicate our lives to following God’s will and abandoning our own. Freedom is God’s gift to man, but the paradox remains. In order to experience His gift of freedom, we must be willing to submit ourselves to living by His precepts, NOT OURS! When we do, true freedom will be ours!
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of my free will. Help me always to choose a course in life that is pleasing to you. I want to experience the TRUE FREEDOM available through following your Son Jesus the Christ, amen.
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