“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ ” (John 8:31,32).
Freedom. Independence. It’s more than parades and picnics and fireworks. It’s more than hamburgers and watermelon and apple pie. It’s something that brave men and women have fought for and defended with their very lives. The Fourth of July. Independence Day. The United States of America. The land of the free and the home of the brave.
Striving for freedom
Standing on the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He spoke about justice and equality and freedom. He shared his dream that one day all Americans of all ethnic backgrounds would live together peacefully. He said that when that day comes, freedom would finally ring throughout our country. “Let freedom ring” were the words that he repeated over and over again until he brought his speech to a dramatic conclusion with the words “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
We share that dream for our country. We all want to live our lives here peaceably without violence and oppression. Working toward that goal is an ongoing challenge in this life.
Finding freedom in Christ
Yet a freedom exists that we do not need to work to accomplish. It’s already completed. In Christ, we are free from the guilt of sin and the fear of death.
Another Martin Luther found himself trapped in bondage to sin and fear. He thought, God, you demand what I cannot give, what I cannot do! You expect perfection! Who is perfect but you alone? Who can keep your commands? And yet you threaten to punish all who break them? Luther knew that he couldn’t keep God’s commands; he could not escape the penalty for his sin. He was afraid to die because he didn’t want to face God’s judgment. He was also afraid to live because each day that he lived he added to the punishment he deserved for his disobedience. Guilt. Fear. Luther lived with them every day. What could set him free?
The truth! Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth is that we are sinners who deserve God’s eternal punishment. The truth is that purely out of love God sent his own Son to be our Savior. The truth is that Jesus lived in our place, fulfilling every just requirement of the law for us. The truth is that we are holy and blameless in his sight through faith in him. The truth is that the blood Jesus shed on the cross purified us from all unrighteousness. The truth is that his death on the cross paid the wages of our sin. The truth is that he rose on the third day. The truth is that because he lives, we also will live with him in heaven, forever.
Freedom. Independence. It’s more than parades and picnics and fireworks. It’s more than a dream. It’s a reality. We are free from the demands of the law, the guilt of sin, and the fear of death. We are free in Christ. We are free to love others and be lights in this dark world. We are free to speak what God has entrusted to us.
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, in Christ, we’re free at last!
Author: Stephen Helwig
Volume 109, Number 07
Issue: July 2022