In the years leading up to 1776, the British colonists in North America were frustrated with the laws, taxes and regulations that were levied against them by King George III. After much discussion and debate, the colonial representatives gathered together to compose a written document to inform him (and the rest of the world) of their desire to be free.
As we once again celebrate of our country’s birth, I want to point believers everywhere to a more important freedom that was won for you by Christ on a cross outside Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. However, for you to benefit from this victory in your life right now, it may be time for some radical action of your own.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Christ died, not only to free us from the eternal consequences of sin, but to break the power of sin in our lives today, yet the lives of many Christians don’t often display much liberty. Instead even believers who’ve walked with Christ a long time choose to allow all kinds of ungodly attitudes and behaviors to rule and dominate their lives, and as a result, they end up appearing to be no different than the average unbeliever. That’s not because believers don’t care about godliness. More often, it’s because we often fail to apply the truth of what Christ has done to our everyday lives. His perfect life and sacrificial death paved the way for us to become the beloved sons and daughters of God. (1 Peter 2:9-10) Accepting that truth by faith alters our eternal destiny, but it won’t necessarily change our lives now unless we begin to live the truth. Making this transition from spiritual belief to real life application can be compared with making a declaration of freedom not unlike what the colonists did two centuries ago.
Declare – In a bold move the Second Continental congress wrote the Declaration and stated clearly that they no longer intended to live under the rulership of another country. They signed and sent it directly to King George, and then had it copied and read in townships in all 13 colonies. Your freedom from the tyranny of temptation and habitual sin can begin with a statement as well. Start by naming the thing that trips you up. Is it a person? A habit, like overeating or greed? An attitude, like unforgiveness or envy? Maybe a lustful fantasy? Or self-destructive thoughts? What is it that you want to be free of? If you can’t clearly put it into words, then it will continue to rule your life. Once you specifically acknowledge your desire for freedom, then, it’s imperative that you clearly state how you want to change. Ephesians 4:17-32 outlines an important concept for making lasting alterations. Paul doesn’t just give a list of things to stop doing; He encourages these young Christians by giving them other things to do in place of their former behavior. So don’t just make your declaration about what you’re not going to do. Make sure you also include biblical strategies for replacing those behaviors with right actions.
Adjust –You may have seen the bumpersticker that says “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.” How many of us are spiritually guilty of the same thing? We may want to live for God and experience His freedom, but we go the same places, do the same things, think the same thoughts, and then wonder why our lives remain unchanged year after year. The founders of this country didn’t sit still once they issued the Declaration. They immediately took steps necessary to begin functioning as an independent country. We will never see the kind of transformations that God intends unless we’re ready to take radical steps that will bring our lives into conformity to His Word. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s up to us to do the changing. That’s the role of the Holy Spirit, but He will never override our wills. Once we say “yes” to His promptings, then He gives us the power necessary to follow through with godly living.
Expect Opposition – Before the Declaration was signed and sent to King George, there had already been a few skirmishes in what would be soon called the War for Independence, but the intensity and frequency of the battles increased once their intentions were made plain. When you commit to changing, you can expect the enemy to increase his attacks against you. He will fire at you with doubt, fear, insecurity and will lob your past failures at you with the intention of driving you back into captivity. Let me remind you that you cannot win spiritual battles on your own. This is why you need to understand and use the spiritual armor outlined in Ephesians 6. Daily seek protection behind “the shield of faith” and defeat Satan’s lies with the “sword of Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Eph 6:16-17)
Remember – July 4 is the day the United States sets aside to remember the sacrifice and commitment of the men and women who helped secure the freedom we enjoy in our country. I think remembering is also the key to maintaining our spiritual freedom as well. Once we have a few spiritual victories and begin to walk in freedom, Satan will frequently back off and give us some room to relax. Sometimes he leaves us alone for just long enough for us to feel comfortable. Then he sends a little temptation in our area of weakness… then a little more… and then a little more. He is very patient, so it may not happen for a few months or a couple of years, but if forgetfulness sets in and we can easily find ourselves enslaved again to the very things that we worked so hard to overcome. This tendency to forget and relapse is why God instituted a significant number of feasts and celebrations in the Old Testament. He wanted His children to be regularly reminded of His presence and work in their lives. A journal can be a fantastic modern-day way to symbolically set up memorials to God’s work in you as well. As you chronicle your journey to wholeness, you have a tangible and irrefutable record of how God has liberated you. In time, you can reread it and even shoot off a few fireworks to celebrate the freedom you have found in Jesus Christ!