Freedom: how much do we possess?
On the fourth of July, we, the people of the United States of America, celebrate the adoption of our Declaration of Independence, which severed our legal ties to Great Britain. We celebrate this national holiday with picnics and barbecues, fireworks and song because freedom is a blessing all people cherish.
Freedom is indeed a blessing to be thankful for, especially since so many people around the world are repressed, living under the rule and reign of cruel dictators. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and even the freedom to bear arms, are just some of the freedoms and privileges we enjoy, and they must be carefully guarded or we could suffer their loss.
And yet, even in a free democratic society, our freedom to live according to our own conscience is still limited; freedom is not a license to do whatever we want. Our freedoms are restricted; we do have restraints, and even unwanted compulsions. After all, how many of us pay taxes because we want to?
Freedom in civilized societies is often limited for the common good. Law abiding citizens live within the restraints our elected officials put into place to maintain order, and to respect, as much as possible, the rights of the individual while protecting the rights of the members of a community. And we have an obligation to observe those restraints or suffer the consequences.
So, are we really free? Not absolutely. No one, the Bible declares, has absolute freedom because we are born in sin, and are, therefore, subject to death. Only Jesus Christ has the power to set individuals free, and the freedom He grants is from sin, death and the curse of the law (Galatians 3).
Paul the Apostle, in writing to the Christians at Rome, stated that all men were either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness (Romans 6). And slavery, by its very definition, connotes a lack of freedom. How then can we be truly free? If every man, woman and child is a slave of either sin under the dominion of Satan, or a slave of righteousness under the dominion of Jesus Christ, then no one is absolutely free. Therefore, we each must choose wisely which master we will serve.
24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. KJV
What is the difference between these two groups of slaves? Satan enslaves his followers seeking their destruction; his tyranny is unrelenting. Christ died to set men free from Satan’s tyranny, and delivers all those who come to Him for forgiveness of sin; these He chooses to call friends. A desire to serve Christ arises in the hearts of His followers; their “attitude of gratitude” compels them to serve Him out of love, not obligation.
While Christians are slaves of righteousness, and servants of God, they still enjoy true and lasting freedom. Their willing obedience to God, and His Word, which imposes necessary restraints on their behavior, is a blessing that works to keep them safe from danger and disaster. The Apostle Paul understood this and penned this verse for our admonition:
1 Corinthians 6:12
12All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. KJV
And while the gift of salvation granted to men and women is free, it places each under an obligation to share what they have freely received with those who remain in a state of bondage.
7And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. KJV
Do you feel free? Have you ever struggled when you tried to diet, break a bad habit, or an addiction? If so, then you understand something about bondage. And just as many will deny their addictions, many are also unaware of their bondage. Satan has done a good job keeping his subjects in the darkness about their own spiritual condition. I know; I once was under his spell.
Fortunately, all men can be set free from his deceptions; they simply must hear the truth and receive it into their hearts. The Truth is a person whose name is Jesus; Jesus Christ is the only Truth that can set men free.
John 8:32; 36
32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. KJV
36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. KJV
6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. KJV
The Fourth of July is an important date in American history, which Americans gather together to celebrate. On Sundays, Christians in America and around the world gather in local churches to do the same: to celebrate freedom; to worship and offer thanks to Jesus Christ who suffered, died, and rose again, to deliver His subjects from sin and death.
Freedom must never be taken for granted; it is a blessing with responsibility that we must guard with great care.
1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. KJV
"So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men." - Voltaire
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." - Wendell Phillips
"If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too." - Somerset Maugham