Whereas Independence Day for us is a day of celebration when fun, picnics, and fireworks are the order of the day, can you imagine the sobriety present in the room when the signers of the Declaration of Independence put their signatures on that document?
With just a few strokes of a pen, each man put a huge target on his back, a target which was especially suited for a British musket shot or cannon ball. At risk were not only their lives, but also the lives of their families and all of their earthly possessions.
We have much to be thankful for in 2016 because of what those brave men did 240 years ago. Gaining their independence cost them much. In contrast, gaining ours only required being born in America.
With the subject of freedom so prevalent in our minds because of the July 4th holiday, I have an important question for us to consider. In the midst of our political freedoms, are we truly free?
Can we say we’re truly free if in the midst of our political freedom, our souls are enslaved?
- What if while living freely in a democratic republic, we are enslaved to our fears?
- What if while being free to come and go pretty much as we please, we are enslaved to a sense of hopelessness?
- What if while being free to set the course of our lives based on what we desire and what we are able to achieve, we are enslaved to the consequences of the choices we make?
- What if while being free to establish relationships with whomever we want, we are enslaved to jealousy, anger, and bitterness within those relationships?
The Apostle Paul knew about soul enslavement. Whether you are a follower of Jesus Christ or not, surely you can relate to the truth expressed by Paul in Romans 7:19 when he said, “For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.” (NASB) Who among us has not been a participant in the dilemma Paul describes – having the deepest desire to do right, yet finding ourselves practicing the very evil that we want to avoid?
What is there about us that causes us to be that way? Paul answers that question in Romans 7:20-21: “If I am doing the very thing that I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells within me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.” In other words, we do wrong instead of right because we are enslaved by the sin nature that dwells within each of us.
In the midst of this condition can we ever hope to be truly free? Paul poses that very question in Romans 7:24 when he asks, “Wretched man that I am, who will set me free from the body of this death?” Filled with hope, one verse later Paul answers his own question, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Freedom from the tyranny of sin is available through Jesus Christ by means of His death and resurrection.
July 4th is a great time to reflect upon our personal freedoms. While reflecting on the freedoms you enjoy as an American, I urge you to also take time to reflect on whether or not your soul is truly free. If I can be of help in that process, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy July 4th.
About the Author
Jerry Long is a retired minister [38 years] living in metro Greenville, SC. He and his wife Lynne have two daughters and three grandchildren. He holds degrees from Clemson University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.