You’re free to enjoy this independence-themed devotion.
The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 (most signatures weren’t added until 8/2). The American colonies officially announced independence from the British Empire.
Jewish tradition describes the annual Passover meal (Seder). The youngest child would ask the patriarch, “What makes this night different than any other night?” God’s deliverance for Israel would be rehearsed for the family. What would you say if a young person in our church asked you, “What makes July 4th different than any other day?”
Independence Day is not the most important event on the Christian Church calendar. July 4, 1776 does not have the same importance as the Passover celebration. But it has a rich spiritual heritage and is the most important day in American history.
Thinking about this day and the Declaration of Independence, we see a parallel to what Jesus did to purchase our independence from the penalty of sin and sinning.
There was a great cost for our nation’s freedom. The signers separated themselves from their past. The growing hostility between the colonies and Britain’s King George (III) led them to list their grievances and why Britain had forfeited her right to rule. These men sacrificed their lives. Of the 56 signers: 5 were captured and tortured to death. 12 had their homes burned. 2 lost their sons in the war. 9 either died from war wounds or the hardships of the war.
There is also a godly nature to our nation’s freedom. The Declaration is based on scriptural truth. Romans 2:14-15 teaches us that we have the law of God written on our hearts. God revealed His higher law to mankind in Scripture, nature, and human conscience. The Declaration is written from this perspective. “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Christianity gave birth to this concept centuries long before it found its way into the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson used what he’d learned from fundamental Bible theology.
Christians should highly treasure our nation’s freedom. We should not take it for granted. We often complain about attacks on our liberties, but we have many reasons to celebrate. But Americans enjoy more freedom than any other country. Generally, we have the right to express our opposing opinions and disagree with our government. We’ll gather this Sunday for worship with no fear of attack or arrest. In most Islamic nations, Christians are denied freedoms of press, speech, and assembly. In China, Communism is placed above faith in God. We should pray for those who are persecuted for their faith.
There was a great cost for our spiritual freedom. Jesus paid for our freedom on the Cross (Matthew 27:46). Jesus said, ““Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”” Jesus bore the full burden of our sins (not in part, but the whole). He gave His life for mankind. “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). He willingly purchased our salvation, thereby securing our freedom.
There is also a continuous godly nature to our spiritual freedom. All of Scripture is God-breathed and it points to the need for continuous reconciliation. “We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We are Christ’s ambassadors of peace, being used by God to bring back into friendship with God those who have been estranged through sin. God planned and initiated our great salvation, and spoke through the prophets of old. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). God provided the ultimate cure for our sin.
Christians should highly treasure their spiritual freedom. We are forever set free from the penalty of sin. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Salvation is a gift that must be accepted. “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). By grace, we are empowered to serve our true Master.
American Christians should never take our freedoms for granted, which were purchased at a great price. Most importantly, we must never take our spiritual freedom for granted. It was purchased at the greatest price of God’s own Son. We need to exercise and enjoy our freedoms and pray for those who don’t have the same freedoms. When it comes to persecution, it shouldn’t have to happen to you for it to matter to you. Let us pray right now for the persecuted church all around the world.
Disclaimer – I found a skeleton (outline dated 2005) on my computer and added some flesh to the bones. I’m not sure of sources for citation. Regardless, I sensed the freedom of the Spirit to use it. Maybe it’ll be a blessing to you.