The Fourth of July is a special day to patriotic Americans. The day is used to celebrate our independence from the rule and tyranny of the king of England. In a sense, our nation was born on this day in 1776. May we and our children never forget the sacrifices of our forefathers by which we are able to live in this "land of the free and the home of the brave." If we do, we will surely lose our freedom. Are we moving in that direction already? Americans living today have never known anything but freedom. Have we been free so long that we take freedom for granted? Will we, through carelessness and neglect, let our liberty slip away? As we celebrate our nation's birth, and our liberty, let us treasure the blessing of Freedom!
There is another kind of freedom, and it surpasses all others. We enjoy freedom from the bond-age and curse of sin. Sadly, most of the people of the world know nothing of this freedom. Too many who know of it are indifferent toward it. Many who once had this freedom have lost it. Is this not a good time to think about and study the blessing of spiritual freedom?
When we were born into this world, we were spiritually free. There was nothing that held us captive. However, as we have grown to maturity, we have all lost our freedom. We became the slaves of Satan, the servants of sin. Jesus said, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34). Because "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23), all have enslaved themselves to the devil and sin. The New Testament calls this slavery "bondage." Peter wrote: "...they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (2 Pet. 2:19). Obviously, those in bondage are not free!
Freedom From Bondage
The mission of Jesus was deliverance of man from the bondage of Satan and sin. John said, "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). He came to seek and to save his people from sin (Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10). At the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quoted Isaiah saying the prophet's words were fulfilled that day: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18). Jesus announced to the Jews, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:32, 36). Through the redemptive work of Christ, Paul could tell Roman Christians, "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Rom. 6:18). All of these passages convey the same message: When Jesus died for our sins, he brought freedom to those in bondage. This freedom is ours if we will only obey "from the heart" the 491 E. Woodsdale, Akron, Ohio 44301 gospel of Christ (Rom. 6:17). The gospel is God's power to save us (Rom. 1:16). You and I can remain in bondage to Satan and sin, or, we can be free by obeying the gospel.
Liberty By Law
When many people think of liberty, they are convinced that they can do as they please! They apparently believe they have a license to do anything they wish to do. They seem to think that Christ granted them freedom to attend the church of their choice, instead of the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28). They obviously think they have the liberty to refuse baptism for the remission of their sins, even though the gospel says otherwise (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). The supposed liberty of some grants them the right to marry, divorce for any cause and remarry, though Christ said people who do such are guilty of the sin of adultery (Man. 19:9). Others must believe they have the liberty to associate with every form of religious error, even the kind engaged in by liberal brethren, but the word of God says not to have fellowship with darkness (Eph. 5:11).
What is the freedom or liberty we enjoy? Are there any bounds or restrictions that control us? If so, what limits our liberty? Let the Scriptures answer that question: "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (Jas. 1:25). James also wrote, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty" (Jas. 2:12). Paul would add, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2). The law of Christ makes us free, and our liberty is controlled by that same law. We are free to do what the law of Christ authorizes us to do. And, nothing more! When we do more than the word authorizes, we abandon God and Christ (2 John 9), and plunge ourselves again in bondage to sin (2 Pet. 2:20).
Must Preserve Liberty
As nations must act to defend and preserve liberty, so also must we. Among the churches of Galatia, some were teaching that they should go back and again observe the ordinances of the Mosaic law. Paul told these brethren, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1). The "bondage" referred to is the bond-age of sin which the Old Testament law could not remove. Few Christians today will begin observing the Law of Moses. However, there is always a danger that Christians will return to the practice of sin in which they were formerly in bondage. That is why Paul exhorted that we stand fast in the liberty which Christ has provided. He told Timothy to "take heed unto thyself' (1 Tim. 4:16). He told the Corinthians to "take heed lest (they) fall" (1 Cor. 10:12). So, as America celebrates its freedom, let's celebrate ours. And, let's serve God faithfully, preserving our freedom!
Guardian of Truth XLI: 13 p. 1
July 3, 1997