The Fourth of July is just around the corner. It is a day on which we celebrate our freedoms. In the US, we have a lot of them, even if many of them appear to be in jeopardy. Our disintegrating culture might actually cause us to value our freedoms to a greater degree.
I consider myself a fairly patriotic person. It’s natural I suppose. I was born on a military installation. I spent many years in the military myself. I have lived in places where their citizens don’t enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.
This July Fourth, which freedom do you value the most? Would it be the freedom of speech, the freedom to bear arms, the freedom of religion, or some other freedom enumerated in the Constitution? Maybe someone would value the freedom to pursue happiness the most. Business owners will often describe how the US is the land of opportunity. Anybody who works hard can realize their dreams. This kind of happiness cannot be found in many countries, where people are born into a class or economic situation and are not given the chance to improve their lot in life.
I must admit, all those freedoms are great. How different would our lives be if even one of these freedoms were taken away? My guess is that if you were asked to give your most important freedom, it would be one of the ones I just listed.
But a friend sent me a picture of a church sign that might make us reconsider. I guess the church was preparing for July Fourth. The sign said, “The greatest freedom of all is freedom from sin.” I am pretty sure very few people would have given that as an answer to the question I just asked.
No doubt, some (perhaps most?) people reading that church sign would think it’s talking about salvation from hell. Hell is seen as a place of punishment for sin, and freedom from sin is seen as not going to that place. The sign, then, would say that the greatest freedom is being saved from hell.
The Bible does not talk about salvation from hell in that way. Instead, it refers to receiving eternal life. Technically speaking, eternal life is not a freedom. It is a gift, given by faith in Christ alone for that gift.
Still, the church sign, if understood Biblically, speaks the truth. The death of Christ did indeed give the believer freedom. Paul specifically says it in Rom 8:2: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” Paul is talking about the freedom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s indwelling every person who believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life. The Holy Spirit gives the new believer the power—the freedom—to no longer serve sin in his human body. That kind of life sets believers free from the negative consequences of sin, which Paul describes as “death.” The death sin brings includes not only the futility that arises from sinful actions; it may result in physical death as well. As believers, we have been set free from that power and now have the freedom to live in the sphere of life instead of death. Life is a description of all that the Spirit brings.
July Fourth is a day when we can reflect on the freedoms given to us as citizens of the US. They are some really great freedoms. In fact, it would be tempting to say that such freedoms can’t be beaten. But that would be wrong. The blessings those freedoms bring are temporary. The pursuit of happiness can bring us the satisfaction of building a business and developing a wonderful 401k. But the day will come when all of that will disappear.
When the believer walks in the freedom he has in the Spirit, the blessings from such a life will endure forever. They will bring eternal riches as rewards in an eternal kingdom. The church sign was right after all.