July 4th, 1776 Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence which made claim that the Colonies were to be “absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown,” on the basis of the king’s “injuries and usurpations.” They were able to do this on the authority of Natural Law which granted them the right to “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.” I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on America’s beginnings and celebrate our independence come Friday. Yet, freedom in America is a different than freedom depicted in God’s Word.
Believers in Jesus have been granted access to intimate fellowship with the one true God of the universe. This occurred because God the Father was satisfied with the payment made on our behalf by God the Son on the cross. After the Son died, was buried, resurrected, and ascended into heaven, the Helper – God the Holy Spirit – was sent for those who would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. So today, when a person chooses to accept the free gift of salvation, they are freed. One might ask, “Freed from what and for what purpose?”
Paul illustrates the new struggle that occurs once someone believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian now has two opposing natures, the first being the flesh which all are born with. Yet now within the flesh also dwells God’s Holy Spirit. In Romans 8 he explains, “He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” God condemned Jesus so that all those who believe would be freed to fulfill the Law by walking according to the Holy Spirit.
Yet how does this teaching manifest itself in the daily life? We know with our heads that we are free; scripture continually reminds us of that. Yet, our freedom in Christ is a truth which can be easy to take for granted. We can voluntarily relinquish our freedom in Christ by choosing to live life according to our own prerogative instead of His, which is sin. We are then again entangled with the yoke of bondage instead of living in the liberty in which Christ has made us free (Galatians 5:1). Living a life of freedom in Christ does not mean freedom to live independently; it means freedom to be completely devoted to Him alone.
Complete surrender to God may cause a bit of indignation, especially here in the land of the free where independence is revered. Paul was a self-proclaimed bond-servant of Christ. It is a curious thing when a group of people voluntarily submit themselves to an outside authority while proclaiming their freedom. Yet submission to God is the only way to gain true and everlasting freedom! We affirm that, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… (Galatians 2:20)”
My challenge for believers then is to consider if we are using our freedom to be devoted to God or to serve our own appetites. Do not let selfishness push and pull you in every direction, distracting you from your purpose. In Leviticus the people are told to devote to the LORDall that they have. All means all, and we forfeit everything of ourselves in order that He may increase and we may decrease (John 3:30). This whole hearted devotion is possible by walking in the Spirit because the Spirit sets its desire against the flesh. It is only then that our will can be consumed by the will of our Master and true freedom can be experienced.