It’s that time of year when pops of firecrackers and the crackle of fireworks can be heard in the night. A mid-year vacation time when among the picnics, ballgames, and fireworks, a reference or two will be made to independence as a nation. Freedom will sometimes be mentioned as we celebrate. What does freedom mean to you?
It was observed just a few weeks ago on Memorial Day that freedom isn’t free. It cost many lives in our case as a nation. On the grandest scale it cost Jesus Christ His earthly life as He died on the cross for our freedom from sin (John 8:36). No, freedom isn’t free at all, it comes with a high price. Freedom from sin carried the highest price the world has ever known, but the rewards of freedom are exquisite (John 14:1-4). Freedom from oppression and the individual liberties that United States citizens have enjoyed for nearly two and a half centuries is quite a reward, too.
Individual freedom does not and cannot mean a freedom to do whatever one wants to do. A Christian is free in Christ, but he/she isn’t free to do anything they want to do. Is a Christian free to tell a lie? Well, yes, one can tell a lie if they want, but a severe price will be paid for it without repentance (Rev. 21:8). The Christian as well as the American citizen can steal from another if they so choose, but a price will be paid for such action. You see, true freedom isn’t freedom to do anything I want to do. Everyone is under a law. Like it or not you’re under a governing law. Even in the land of the free and the home of the brave, you’re under a law. I had an 8th grade teacher that credited the old radio characters Lum and Abner with saying “Your freedom ends where my nose begins” (perhaps they got it from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.), but she often quoted that to remind us that freedom does not allow me to hurt another individual or intrude into their personal space or individual liberty. Freedom does not mean I can do whatever I want to do. Even in freedom actions have consequences.
The prophet Isaiah saw a time when the people of God did not know Him (God), and did not know His will (Isa. 1:3). It was a sinful mixed-up time for the people of Israel. The kings were corrupt, the priests were as well and the people were comfortable (Jer. 5:31, Amos 6:1). In fact it was during this time that some had concluded they could do whatever they wanted to do in service to the Lord. Jeremiah records a rhetorical question “We are permitted to do all these abominations?” to try and bring them to their senses (Jer. 7:8-11). They had not seen aggressive judgment from their leaders and they came to the false conclusion that they could do anything they wanted to do and still worship the living God with no consequence. The Lord was warning them to repent or perish but they were not listening. Their hearts were darkened and ears dull and they were sitting in the seat of the scornful. How sad to see a people so confused that they couldn’t tell the difference in good and evil, light and darkness, sweet and bitter (Isa. 5:20).
Last week across the nation “Pride Day” was observed. Thousands and thousands of homosexuals, transgender and other confused individuals took to the streets to proclaim gay pride. In Nashville the crowd was estimated at around 16,000. Many politicians were there, several top corporations were delightfully sponsoring and if anyone dare speak against it, then they were “wrong”, “bigoted”, even referred to as “sinful” by what law? All done in the name of freedom and done with the blessing of the laws of the land. It was pride day alright (Prov. 16:18). If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches such abomination will not be permitted forever and will bring destruction.
The question is this, how far will such lawlessness go? Murder? Will we live so long as to see murderers’ pride day? It could happen in the name of freedom (Jer. 7:9). We may have already seen it under the banner of abortion rights. The same law that condemns murder condemns homosexuality and perversion, and that law is God’s moral law which has never changed. Does perversion affect your civil liberties? Read Genesis 19. Does such bring destruction? Read Jude 7. The sad fact is lawlessness brings on more lawlessness. Don’t believe it? Need I remind of the bathroom?
True freedom is under attack in this nation. In fact we’re in a morality war. I can’t forget all the voices heard through the years saying, “It won’t happen here.” “That doesn’t bother me.” What does freedom mean to you? Christians are still free to speak in this nation. Christians are still free to vote. Christians can pray and should be praying for this great land. Freedom can surely be taken away, and the price to get it back?
The only hope we have is the salvation in Christ. It can make the difference for good (I Cor. 6:9-11). The sinner can change and be redeemed. As we celebrate our independence as a nation, examine what freedom means.
–David Hill, President of Tennessee Bible College