Our celebration of Independence Day has come and gone, but I wonder if we know what it really means to be “set free” in our personal lives.
As a boy I enjoyed the Fourth of July on my grandfather’s farm, where I shot off bottle rockets and sat on the wooden bench watching the colorful fireworks from a distant town. I grew up celebrating and appreciating the blessings of living in a country free from tyranny. With age I gained a deeper understanding of the sacrifices of countless people who have fought and died to keep us free. I am so grateful for the liberties we enjoy in this country.
As I got older I learned a sobering fact—even free people aren’t always free. There is sad truth in the statement that, “Debt is the Slavery of the Free.” But the Bible tells us that there is something even worse than monetary debt to which free people are enslaved.
Jesus told a group of His followers who had never been enslaved to anyone, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34) We all commit sin. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (became sinners). Every human being sins by nature and by choice and deserves God’s just punishment—physical and spiritual death.
That’s terribly bad news, but Jesus didn’t leave people then or today without hope. There is good news. He said, “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free… If therefore the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:32,34) The secret to being set free is found in Jesus. He told us, “…for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24) We must believe that in His death He took the punishment we deserve for our own rebellion.
My physical birth in America enables me to enjoy and celebrate living in a free country. Only through spiritual birth—active faith in Jesus—can we individually enjoy and celebrate being set free from the penalty of sin (spiritual death) and the power of sin (perpetual disobedience).
Ex-convict Harold Morris was twice pardoned—first by the state as a participant in a crime and secondly by the Savior as a slave of sin. I hope each of us is twice liberated—first from human tyranny as a citizen of this country, and secondly from sin’s slavery as a citizen of Heaven.