This excerpt is taken from The Body Tithe Devotional by Matthew Pryor with permission from Sophros, LLC (publisher), 2015.
I’m writing this on the Fourth of July, when our great country celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Independence Day is the perfect name for it. We had declared our independence from Great Britain and established sovereignty as our own nation. We got our own form of government, laws, and rights. Now, we take this day every year to observe the meaning of this historic day.
We also use the Fourth of July as an opportunity to honor the military who sacrificed to preserve our freedoms. Hopefully, we stop to recognize God’s role in it all. As John Adams wrote to his wife two days before Congress approved the declaration, “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
Here we are nearly 250 years later still celebrating. We gather for picnics and parties, food and games, family reunions and fireworks in a national recognition of our heritage.
Well before our independence was secured, it was a far different story. The ideals that prompted the formation of a new nation were under the subjection of a hostile leadership, one that discouraged the various liberties we now hold dear. The dreams and aspirations of many could not be fulfilled while under the oppression of that form of government. Not under the rule of that kind of law.
Some brave men and women who could no longer stand the status quo of helplessness and condemnation sought change. They needed freedom from the law of their day.
We, too, need freedom from the law, but not the law from which our founders fled. If we want freedom, true freedom, we need release from the law of sin and death. Christ provided that unique freedom by His work on the cross. Before Christ came, we were bound to the law and slaves to our sin.
Then, by His death and resurrection, we ourselves have “died to the law” through the body of Christ and risen from our dead bodies of sin. Jesus changed everything. He broke the chains that shackled us and in their place, He gave us true freedom:
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”—Romans 8:6 (NIV)
With that freedom in Christ comes freedom from the old way of things: freedom from the flesh (Galatians 5:13), freedom from accusation (Colossians 1:22), freedom from sin (Romans 6:6–7), and freedom from the yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
We have been delivered from death. No longer sentenced to be slaves to our old sin nature, we are now to live as God’s slaves (Romans 6:22).
That’s the interesting thing about this. The independence we have in Christ requires total dependence on Christ. We live by Him, for Him.
When we do that, we are freed from condemnation and are given life:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” —Romans 8:1–2 (NIV)
Your body was designed to move and God intended for you to have fun moving. Your mouth was designed to taste and God intended for you to enjoy eating. Your body was designed to rest and God intended for you to enjoy sleeping.
From the beginning, He gave us the ultimate freedom to enjoy our lives and all the gifts He gave us. Those gifts, however, can take precedence over the Giver and very quickly we can become slaves to the law of sin.
God, nevertheless, gave us more gifts because of His gracious love for us. His first gift, Jesus, freed us from death. The second gift, the Holy Spirit, freed us to live abundantly. No longer slaves to the law, we are slaves to the Spirit, where freedom lives:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”—2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)
As great as the impact of Independence Day, dependence on Christ is greater still. The freedom represented by the Fourth of July pales in comparison with the freedom we have in Christ.