Each year on July 4th our nation celebrates its independence, which was first declared by the Continental Congress on this date in 1776. The freedoms we enjoy as Americans are special in the history of the world, for no other people have had such personal control of their own lives, and of their national destiny, as we do. Many act as though these freedoms are just inherently ours, like the air we breathe. And, like the air we breathe, they treat these freedoms as though they cost nothing. A cursory survey of our nation’s history shows that this is not the case.
When the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence they pledged their lives, their wealth, and their sacred honor in pursuit of freeing the colonies from the domination of the British. Most of them lost much, if not all, of their wealth during the course of the eight years it took to win our independence. Since that time, our freedoms have cost us dearly in the lives that have been lost in defense of them.
Since the Revolutionary War, U.S. military deaths have totaled more than 1.3 million. More than 1.5 million have been wounded in action, and over 38,000 are still listed as missing in action. These numbers may seem unreal to some of us, but to those whose loved ones are among the dead, they are more real than anyone else can imagine. Ongoing conflicts around the world continue to add to these numbers. The bottom line is that freedom is not free. It is a costly pursuit, perhaps the most costly pursuit in human endeavors.
In Gal. 5:1 Paul said, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” The yoke of slavery to which Paul referred was the Old Testament Law, which was nailed to the cross by our Lord (Col. 2:14). The freedom of which he spoke is the freedom from the bondage and consequences of sin. When one is baptized into Christ, he clothes himself with Christ, and is made a son of God, a descendant of Abraham, and an heir according to promise (Gal. 3:26-29).
Being set free from the bondage of sin, the Christian no longer struggles under its weight and burden. Some Christians, however, like those Americans who forget the price paid for their freedoms, treat their newly found spiritual freedom as though it cost nothing. Consequently, they abuse it. Paul anticipated such an attitude and warned the churches of Galatia not to go there. In Gal. 5:13 he said, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Our freedom in Christ lays great responsibility upon us, and that responsibility is directly related to the cost that was paid for it.
Our spiritual freedom was purchased with the most precious price that has ever been paid in the history of the world. It was paid for by the blood of the one and only Son of God, who sacrificed His life in order to atone for our sins. Had this price not been paid, we would still be in our sins, and we would have no hope for eternity. It is because this price is so dear that we must honor it by obeying God’s will.
We often say that the value of an item may be determined by its cost. In this case, our freedom from sin is the most valuable commodity that man has ever known. Therefore, let us show respect for the price that has been paid for our salvation by obeying the gospel and by serving the Lord faithfully until He comes again. Let us show by our obedience that we understand that freedom is not free.