Around this time of year, conscientious citizens of the United States should feel a surge of appreciation for the freedom we enjoy. However, freedom demands more than gratitude; it must also be passionately protected. Dwight Eisenhower, in his first inaugural address, said:
“We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
And who can forget the powerful statement made by Ronald Reagan?
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
What a holy responsibility is ours of accepting the torch from those who crafted this unique republic, men like Patrick Henry who stirred his countrymen with a question that continues to ring like the liberty bell in our national conscience:
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Yes, we must reproduce this tenacious attitude when it comes to our personal freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to bear arms, freedom to peacefully assemble, freedom to stand up for what is morally, ethically and even scripturally correct and freedom to elect representatives to the government who will not rob us of our freedoms, but celebrate them—men and women who recognize they have not been placed in positions of authority to tyrannically rule but to humbly serve.
This passion to promote true freedom should also penetrate our spirituality, for Jesus did not come to just set up another religion. He came to bring us spiritual freedom: freedom from the curse of separation from God, freedom from the fallen human nature, freedom from the power of sin, freedom from the tyrannical control of satanic powers, freedom from the empty regulations of mere religion and freedom from the bonds of death.
When the Messiah announced His ministry in Nazareth, the New Covenant spread its wings and took to the sky. The Son of God read from the prophet Isaiah’s writings:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD . . .” (Isaiah 61:1-2).
The “acceptable year of the LORD” was also called the “year of Jubilee” in Leviticus 25:28 and “the year of liberty” in Ezekiel 46:17. It was a joyous time that came every 50 years when among the Israelites all debts were forgiven, all lost land and properties (with a few exceptions) were restored to the original owners, Jews who were slaves to their brethren were set free and some were even released from prison. It was a time of great rejoicing, forgiveness, restoration, and new beginnings.
No wonder Jesus used this notable natural holiday (holy-day) to represent what He came to do supernaturally. His mission was to “proclaim liberty to the captives” for we have all been captivated by the bondage of this realm. But Jesus’ shed blood opens the prison doors and gives us hope. With the coming of the Lord Jesus and the deliverance He provided, Jubilee became a constant celebration of the heart, not just a memorial held every half-a-century. The fulfillment of the event was lifted to a spiritual level, for we have been released, not from a monetary debt but a sin debt that could only be paid off with death (both physical and eternal). But Jesus tasted death for everyone so that we could inherit eternal life.
If shofars were joyously blown to usher in the Year of Jubilee under the Old Covenant, how much more should we be lifting up our voices like trumpets and shouting for joy that in the New Covenant what was lost has now been restored—access into intimacy with the Creator, as Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden.
But unfortunately, history often repeats itself.
The children of Israel came out of the bondage of Egypt to incredible freedom in the Land of Promise. For a season they greatly valued this inheritance, but sin took its toll and after about 900 years they lost it, and went back into bondage again—Babylonian captivity. And so it has been during the history of the church (both corporately and individually). Too often we leave behind the bondage of sin and carnality only to be re-enslaved by religion and legalism. No wonder Paul gave us the exhortation:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1)
The epistle writer was warning the Galatians not to go back to the Law (the Torah) to try and become righteous before God when they had been given the “gift of righteousness” (the awesome inheritance of becoming “the righteousness of God in Christ”) (Ro. 5:17, 2 Cor. 5:21). No such righteous standing could ever be obtained by ceremonies or church traditions. It comes by simple faith in the crucified, resurrected and ascended Savior. “If the Son sets you free you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).
James called this victory of grace in the New Covenant “the perfect law of liberty” (Ja. 2:12). It works perfectly, because it’s not based on rules, regulations and rituals; it is based on love—true love for God and love for others. It’s not religion; it’s relationship. It sets us free from sin because, instead of condemning us for our fallen nature—once we repent and believe—God dwells within, grants us spiritual rebirth and gives us a new nature. Then, it’s not about living righteously in order to become righteous, but living righteously because we are righteous, for the born again part of us is “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24 KJV).
These wondrous things do not result from becoming the member of a denomination, but by becoming a citizen of heaven and an heir of the kingdom of God. This is true freedom and this is the purest essence of true Christianity.
This July 4thlet’s “proclaim liberty throughout the land,” both politically and spiritually, but more than that, let us courageously take a stand for what is right in this challenging hour—for it is the truth that make us free, both now and forevermore (Lev. 25:10).
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.