We just celebrated the Fourth of July. Of course, that is the day the United States celebrates the day when our Founding Fathers declared our independence from Great Britain.
I recently saw one of the man in the street interviews where people were asked questions about the 4th of July. One question was, “In what year did the United States declare its independence from Great Britain?” A college student in Arizona answered, “1984.” Maybe we could benefit from a brief historical review.
The colonists declared their independence in 1776 because they felt they were not free to live their lives as they saw fit. England had charged them taxes to pay for a war that Great Britain had fought in. They were forcing the colonists to house and feed British soldiers in their homes. England was also making decisions that affected the economy of the colonies.
In the United States we have enjoyed the freedoms that all this brought. When you look at the history of the world, we have been very, very fortunate. Billions of people have lived and died never having experienced the freedoms that we have. Even though we all take these freedoms for granted, there is no need to discuss them. If we just stop and think about how “unfree” many people are in the word today, are blessings are evident.
In John 8, Jesus also talks about freedom. But it is not the kind of freedom we enjoy here in the United States as citizens. It is much, much better. Jesus says,
As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:30-32)
In John 8 there is a large group of Jews to Jesus is speaking. Among the group there are unbelievers and believers. But it is clear that in these verses Jesus is talking to believers. John tells us twice in this short passage that they were believers.
To these believers, Jesus says they can be free. But in order to experience this freedom a believer must abide in the word of Jesus Christ. This will result in them knowing the truth. This truth will make them free.
It is not surprising that Jesus’ word is true. After all, He is true (John 1:14). To abide in His word means to listen to it, study it, and keep it. We live in a world that is morally and spiritually bankrupt. If we are not careful, we can fall prey to the power of sin and become enslaved to it (Rom 6:16). A believer can be a slave to sin and all that it brings.
The way to be set free is the Word of God. It teaches us how we should live as believers in order to experience freedom in fellowship with Christ. When we became believers in Christ, the Spirit of God came to indwell us. When we live by the Spirit, as the Word teaches us, we live in the freedom of who we are.
When I travel to other countries, I often notice how unfree people are. I remember one time being in a cab in Central America. I asked the cab driver if he had been to the United States, about a three hour plane ride. He said he had never been because his government would not let him go.
I thought that people in the Unites States would never put up with that. We resent others telling us where we can or can’t go. We are a free people.
How sad, however, that many Christians do not give a second thought to the freedom Christ speaks of here. This is a freedom which is the result of abiding with Christ as we live our lives. This occurs as we become “disciples” or learners of His word.
In the words of Christ you and I as believers in Christ can experience freedom. Freedom to live free from the power of sin (and the death it brings) and to live a life that reflects who we are as children of God. Freedom to experience the power of God in our lives as He transforms us into the image of Christ. That kind of freedom is greater than any freedom we got as a result of what happened in 1776. May we have the wisdom not to accept anything less.