This week, America celebrates our 247th Independence Day. Our freedom began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but shortly thereafter the resolve by those who desired freedom was tested by means of war. Those who previously held power over the colonies would not willingly yield that power without a fight. As Americans, we all look to July 4, 1776, as the date of our nation’s birth. But our declared freedom was not fully secured for a few more years as the war effectively ended in 1781 and the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Our declared freedom required great struggle for those who sought to secure it.
The American story of independence carries undertones of our own personal stories of freedom from the tyranny of sin. God’s Word states each of us were (or are) slaves to sin. We are powerless against sin by our own efforts. But Christ’s atoning work on the cross offers everlasting freedom from sin and its devastating effects on our souls. Just as our American forefathers purposed to separate from Britain, we, too, must purpose to repent from our natural way of life and turn to the life offered by Christ. The moment we submit to the Lordship of Jesus, we are declared guiltless by God, the Righteous Judge, and saved from the wrath our sin deserves. But with that declaration comes daily struggle. Our struggle is not to earn our freedom (Jesus did that already), but it is nonetheless a war against our flesh and sinful nature (Romans 7:21-25).
The life of a Christ follower is notably marked by struggle. Jesus often reminded His followers that they would face hardships. Paul urged believers to wear spiritual armor to withstand the onslaught of the enemy (Ephesians 6). Paul also reminded the Church to “put to death what is earthly” in us (Colossians 3:5). Our freedom has been declared by Christ, and the Spirit calls us all to “press on” through the struggle “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Happy Independence Day! Thank God for those who fought to earn the freedoms we enjoy as a nation. But thank God all the more for the freedom He offers in Christ Jesus.