Declaration of Independence
July 4, 1776 stands out in American history as a turning point that laid the foundation for a new, free, and independent country, the United States of America. Freeing yourself from the known and moving into unchartered waters is risky, fraught with numerous dangers and the possibility of ultimate failure. In our history, however, it paid off, and the rest, as we say, is history.
This event in history takes my mind to another liberating declaration of independence, that of a scene of execution by way of crucifixion on a hill outside Jerusalem in AD 31. Before that date we all were slaves to Lucifer’s kingdom. We all were sinners, and as Jesus said, “everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34 NLT). You and I were set at liberty from a tyrannical ruler on the 14th day of the Jewish year Nissan, AD 31. Jesus wrote the declaration with His own blood, and said, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (vs. 36).
How does this declaration play out in our lives now? Scripture says, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6 NLT). So if we are free from the tyrant who used to control our lives, then we should live as free citizens. “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires” (vs. 12); “... sin is no longer your master” (vs. 14).
New York was the last of the 13 states that voted for independence from the British crown. They chose to obey another master than the British monarch. You and I, too, have that choice. Scripture says, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living” (vss. 16-18).
Who is now our new master? We are now “controlled by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 8:5), for “letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace” (vs. 6). We are told that the same “Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you” (vs. 11). He empowers you to obey your new Master and gives you a new name, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (vs. 14, emphasis mine). You have a new name – child of God (cf. 1 John 3:1). What an amazing GIFT OF FREEDOM you and I have been given.
During some of the apartheid years in South Africa, my passport allowed me only limited travel possibilities. It was a time when sanctions against South Africa closed the doors for travel to about half or more of the countries of the world. I now have a new passport, one stamped with the blood of Jesus Himself, that will not only allow me to travel to any country, but to any planet and galaxy in the universe. My date of travel is coming up soon (cf. Revelation 22:12). Are you coming with me?