Our nation just celebrated our independence on the fourth of July. If you are like me you probably didn’t give the reason for this holiday celebration much thought, other than what my responsibility for bringing to the barbecue was. However, the fourth of July is much more than fireworks, barbecues and a much needed day off of work.
July 4th is the day that we as Americans recognize that the Declaration of Independence had its wording finalized. The authors of this great document had been working on and editing it since July 2nd and it wasn’t signed until August 2nd, 1776. As with many holidays and celebrations in our lives they can become traditions that we observe without much real understanding of the reason for them.
It is important for us to know the history of our nation and understand why we even needed the Declaration of Independence in the first place. Even more importantly is it for us to know and understand the need for our spiritual freedom and the great price that was paid for us to receive it.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5:1 “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. 2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.”
As Americans many of us have forgotten or possibly have not even been taught the great cost that was paid for the founding of our nation. There was tremendous sacrifice given by men, women and families, some even before they came to the nation they were trying to help establish. (Think of the first Pilgrims.) There is a price that comes with forgetting purpose. It can cause us to be deceived, as Paul was warning the people of Galatia. He didn’t want them to fall into the trap of doing what was familiar to them and thinking that it would make God happy, that on their own there was no way of making themselves right before God.
This is not just a warning for Paul’s friends, but also for us. Because we are Americans, it does not make us Christians. Without receiving the greatest gift that Jesus purchased for us we remain in bondage as slaves to sin. The only way to break free from the bondage of slavery to sin is to confess your sins to Jesus, believe in your heart that He died on the cross in your place, cleansed you with HIs sinless blood and that God the Father raised Him on the third day. There is nothing that we as sinful people can do to earn a place in heaven.
After we receive Jesus, we have a responsibility to live life in a new way. Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
We have been given freedom through Jesus and His death and resurrection! This gift is just that, a gift. It is not something that we earn or do to make ourselves right before God. When we try to make ourselves right by our actions we are insulting God, and Paul says that we are cut off from Christ! Grace is amazing, just like the song says, it is to be received and can’t be earned.
I pray that this freedom and His grace will become more and more real to each of us and that we will not take for granted the great expense of the purchase that was made on our behalf that we can enjoy each day!