Thoughts on Independence
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,
and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal 5:1)
As we celebrate Independence Day it is good for us to be reminded that “freedom is never free”. Our Armed Forces are at war against a diabolical enemy, against whom defeat will mean the death of Western Civilization. Our warriors are this very day standing in harm’s way, that we might remain free. Far too many in our country today have no real appreciation of the sacrifice necessary to sustain freedom. Neither do we reflect on how many others in the past laid down all their tomorrows so that we might enjoy the gift and blessing of liberty on this day.
In the text cited above, Paul reminds us that our spiritual liberation came at the cost of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Apart from a relationship to God through faith in Christ, every soul remains a slave of sin and death. Jesus Christ invaded this prison camp of a world to liberate the captives. Like a mighty and valiant Warrior-King, He set His people free through His own sacrificial death. When we pledge allegiance to Him by faith, our spiritual shackles are shattered and we taste true freedom for the first time.
Paul wants us to know, however, that this new-found liberty will be challenged. Although our eternal liberation is secure, yet we may become slaves again by willful surrender to the siren call of this world. When we are set free, our deliverance is not only from the ancient archenemy of God, Satan himself, it is also from his greatest ally, the sinful self. The liberty purchased by our Lord came at His own self-sacrifice, establishing forever the terms of spiritual liberty. The greatest threat to those who are free is the indulgence of this enemy within, until all the blessing and joy of liberty are drowned again in a volitional slavery. It has been said before, “free men cannot be enslaved, only slaves can be enslaved.” I do not recall the source, but years ago I heard this scenario of the course of nations:
Nations go from slavery to faith,
from faith to spiritual courage,
from courage to winning liberty,
from liberty to prosperity,
from prosperity to complacency,
from complacency to apathy,
from apathy back into slavery.
No free people have ever been conquered and enslaved until their own prosperity and self-indulgence led them into defeat. The greatest fighters in the world are always, as Leonidas says in the movie “300”, free men. Our gallant warriors are proving this maxim true every day, in the face of vile cowards who butcher their own people, even beheading little children (see post by Michael Yon, “Bless the Beasts and Children”). Yet while our young men and women honorably serve around the world, we at home too often get “entangled again” in the slavery of the “American Dream”. This so-called dream was the nightmare of our founding fathers.
In his recent article on WorldNetDaily, Chuck Norris wrote of “Thomas Jefferson’s Nightmare”. In the post he quoted Jefferson as saying, “Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.” Chuck Norris goes on to quote the Apostle Paul, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (1Ti 6:17)
We see the wisdom of our forefathers when we read in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It was their stated conviction that all human liberty, and therefore “inalienable rights” found their source in our Creator. In other words, true freedom must come from God. But they also realized that, apart from maintaining trust and dependence upon God, liberty would inevitably be lost. Here is their closing statement, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
Not only did they see that our national “Independence” was wholly dependant on our submission to God, but also that it demanded their own personal sacrifice. In making their final “pledge” to one another, and to this country, the fifty-six signers of the Declaration willingly took on the price of freedom–a price which they paid in full–in impoverishment, imprisonment, torture, and death.
Is it any wonder that the apostle, after charging us not to be “entangled again in a yoke of bondage” (Gal 5:1), then amplifies the thought later when he says,
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an
opportunity for the flesh [i.e. self-indulgence], but through love serve
one another.” (Gal 5:13)
Again, the truth is upheld, liberty can only be sustained by self-sacrifice and service. In exhorting His disciples to “love one another as I have loved you” (Joh 15:12), Jesus went on to say, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (Joh 15:13). The very spirit of the love of Christ is sacrificial. And while we often see this verse quoted when a soldier dies on the battlefront, when will we begin to realize that it applies equally to those of us who enjoy the freedoms of this country. Only through a return to willing self-restraint and sacrificial service, can our great nation remain great. We are being destroyed daily by the “American Dream”. By living for “Me” in the pursuit of “More” we are selling our birthright as surely as Esau did. And apart from a true spiritual awakening across this land, we too may find ourselves like Esau…
“For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the
blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance,
though he sought it diligently with tears.” (Heb 12:17)
May God be merciful and deliver us from ourselves! May His Spirit stir in us a re-awakening of the true American spirit of sacrificial living. Might we find, through the truth of His Word, the inner power to labor for His kingdom, to live for eternity, and to utilize the riches He has given us to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through this land and throughout our world. Only then will we know true freedom, and escape the very present danger of returning again to slavery.
God bless America!
Pastor Gene Cunningham