Today in the United States we celebrate Independence Day.  Some go watch a parade, or fireworks displays after dark, but most of us mark this as an important day each year.  What is “Independence”?  The dictionary defines independence as freedom from being under the control of others.  Independence for our nation was won at great sacrifice and expense by good people who wanted to be free from the unwanted control by the King of England.  War was fought, the King’s forces were defeated, and the people here won the freedom to govern themselves.  Many today don’t appreciate the immense cost of the gift they have been handed down during several generations of freedom.  But the people who shed their blood fighting for that freedom surely knew the cost.  And they counted it a bargain, even if it cost their life, so that others could be free.  Many of our living service men and women paid a high price for our freedom, and some of us are still paying yet today from service injuries.  Ask them if freedom is really free….I for one think of this every July 4th and have for the past 40 years.  Freedom costs! 

      By not firmly holding on to your freedom, you could soon and easily lose it, for there are those who would like you to live in bondage to them, and they have a plan for your life, and are presently working that plan.  You’d be amazed to know how few people worldwide really control how we live, “the powers that be”, we’ll call them, versus, how many ordinary people like you and me who just want to live their lives in freedom to raise their families in peace and quiet.  By “burying your head in the sand” and ignoring what is going on around you, what you are really doing is giving away your freedom, calling it of no value whatsoever.  You could be living under a dictatorship right now, and REALLY have something to complain about. People in those countries thought it couldn’t happen to them, either, but it did.   Or you could be living under Islamic law with very limited or no freedom at all, depending on your gender.  Just read the news, and you’ll quickly find out how good we have it in America, compared to many countries around the earth.  But our freedom could disappear if we’re not diligent to take care of it.  By the way, how you vote at election time might put you in that position in the not-so-distant future.  But that’s not what I’m writing about today.  What I am writing about is freedom.  Freedom from what?  Glad you asked!

      I think you know where I’m going with this.  There is One who paid a very, very high price to win freedom for us, and His name is Jesus Christ.  By dying for us (that’s you and me), He purchased our freedom from eternal death, which is the wages of sin.   And not only that, by the beatings laid upon Him, He bore all our sicknesses and diseases, as well.  The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”  Jesus gave us independence from the devil having control over our lives.  That includes your spirit, soul, body, money, and everything else you have in your life.  Everything! 

    In a nutshell, this is the independence we, as born-again men and women of God have:  we have the freedom to live free from sin, because Jesus became sin for us, who knew no sin.  Because of that one gift alone, God looks at us through the blood of the Lord Jesus, and declares us no longer sinners, but justified, FREE FROM SIN FOREVER!  Not having our own righteousness, but that which was purchased FOR us by the Lord Jesus.  That means the devil no longer has power over your life to make you live in sin, or to make you ignore God, or to do anything against your will.  You have been made independent from the devil who once ruled you; spirit, soul, and body.  We are given freedom from sickness, poverty, fear, and every other work of the devil.  Have you thanked God for that today?  Do you appreciate how costly your freedom was to Jesus?  Free to YOU, but certainly not free to HIM!!!!!   When Jesus saved me in July 1993, He also freed me from cancer and sickness.  And I’m STILL free, and loving every minute of that freedom, and I tell Him so, and thank Him constantly!    Is there still a cost involved yet today for you and me to stay free?

    I believe there is.  It’s called “watchfulness”.  You have to keep an eye out for your freedom, because Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  The devil comes to steal your health, joy, peace, and everything you have.  He’s an equal-opportunity thief.  He would just as soon steal from you as he would from me.  The words of Jesus are written in red, which happens to be the color of blood, which also happens to be the cost for freedom.  Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin, by the way.  It could have been YOUR blood, but it wasn’t.  It was HIS!!  Are you thanking Jesus for that right now?  If not, then you don’t appreciate your independence!!  It is far too easy to take independence for granted, if it costs you little or nothing.  

    As I was saying earlier, we need to be watchful over our freedom.  The devil is a sly one, who slips in unannounced and unseen, and tries to get us to give up what Jesus has won for us.  He can’t take it from us, but if he can get us to forfeit it, to abandon it, and turn away from it,  the end result is still the same.  The devil cannot stop ANYONE from getting saved, no matter how wicked we have lived.  But if he can get us to declare our  “independence” from God, by talking us into not letting God have control over our lives, then by default, the devil wins, and we lose.  What does that mean?  Think of it like the old “Monopoly Game”…and you draw the “Go to jail” card, which means, “Go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.”  That means we are not independent at all, but slaves to the devil.  The only freedom there really is therefore,  is in our Savior,  the Lord Jesus Christ, who has made us free indeed!  Our job is to REMAIN FREE by praying, studying, and obeying God’s Word.

    We can celebrate independence two ways;  we can send up fireworks, in which we see our money go up in smoke, and gone in a second, OR…..we can send up our thanksgiving and praises to God, and see our sins go up in smoke, and gone forever.  And we have the freedom to decide!  May we each make the right choice today!!

    If you’re not celebrating your Independence Day today, then it’s high time you did.   After all, the blood of Jesus has been shed, and the price for your freedom has been paid in full.  What are you waiting for??