On this day that we celebrate our freedom & independence as a nation, I feel that it is important to understand what REAL freedom is and what it is not. Please understand, there is nothing wrong with patriotism but love of country should not be our primary focus.
Some “dictionary definitions” of freedom are:
- The power or right to act, speak or think as one who wants without hindrance or restraint
- Absence of subjugation to forced domination of a despotic government
- The power of self-determination attributed to the will, the quality of being independent of fate or necessity
To me those definitions are all very “me” centered and cold. Freedom should demonstrate God’s love to others in real and tangible ways.
- Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” – John 8:31-36 (NKJV)
- … where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom – 2 Corinthians 3:17b
- “If your love for your country supersedes your love for your Heavenly Father, you do not know true freedom.” – Pastor Nathan Bargo
- “If you demand your rights at the expense of someone else’s rights, neither one of you is free. “ – Pastor Neal Miller
Real freedom begins with obedience to Jesus. His commands are like guardrails on a mountain road, they are there to keep us on the road but we have to drive the car. Choosing to be obedient to Him can be one of the most freeing decisions you will ever make.
Real freedom comes from Truth. Principles that we “know” are true because we have encountered the living Christ. As is says in John 10:10, The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. The English language fails us here. We tend to think that “more abundantly” (or “to the full” as some translations say) means that we will be happier or more blessed than “normal” people; but in the original language this type of abundance is beyond anything we can understand, describe or explain in human terms. We can only experience this abundance when we are in a growing relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Real freedom is being set free from sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever- John 8:35 (NIV). We are called to preach the message of salvation to all who are lost so that none will perish. In fact, it is considered disobedience if you do not follow this command. What is better than being secure in your place in the Kingdom? Do you share this with everyone in your life?
Real freedom is maintained by cooperation with Jesus. By following His commands, we are considered to be His disciples. The relationship is not always easy but it is always worth it. Conversely, breaking His commands restricts our freedom.
Real freedom is the knowledge that I am forgiven and no longer a slave to sin.
FREEDOM IS NOT…
This week I came across the series Cults & Extreme Belief on A&E. It is a frightening insight into some of the more infamous (or should I say insidious) “churches” in our recent history. All of these organizations use various forms of brainwashing to manipulate their members and control every part of their lives. Once someone has been indoctrinated into one of these groups, they may never be free again. Below is a list of episodes or you can follow the link for more information.
- NXVIM – founder Keith Raniere
- Jehovah’s Witnesses – founded in the 1870’s
- Children of God (Family International) – founder David Berg
- N.O.I. – founder Royall Elliot Jenkins
- World Peace Unification Sanctuary (Moonies) – founded in the late 50’s/early 60’s
- Twelve Tribes (has had many names) – founded in 1972
- FLDS – founded by Lorin C. Woolley
- WATCH EPISODES
People who are enslaved by these and other such organizations should not be scorned or held in contempt. Furthermore, we should not have pride that we were not recruited. Instead, we should spend time on our knees, in prayer for their deliverance from the bondage and distorted beliefs that have enslaved them. If the Holy Spirit lays a burden on your heart for these people, do not ignore it. Your action (or inaction) can mean the difference between life and death for someone. I am not only talking about physical death; these men, women and children are in desperate need of the spiritual rebirth that can only come from receiving Christ as your Lord and Savior.
THERE IS HOPE
Before you lose heart in all humanity and “popular” religious leaders, I want to share some things from godly men whom we can look up to.
- “Our only hope as a nation is the scriptural underpinnings on which our laws, our understanding of morality and the institution of the family are based.” -Dr. James Dobson Independence Day Video
- “And I believe the only way that we’re going to win that battle is for America to turn back to God and back to Christ and back to the Bible at this hour! We need a revival!” – Rev. Billy Graham
I want to end by saying that I am proud to be American and am eternally grateful that I was born in this country. My prayer is that your first allegiance will always be to Jesus Christ and that we can serve him together on this side of heaven.
New King James Bible (NKJV)
New International Version (NIV)
Insights from Pastor Neal Miller
Sermon by Pastor Nathan Bargo – July 1, 2018
Dr. James Dodson’s Family Talk – July 4, 2018
A&E Series “Cults & Extreme Beliefs”
How Billy Graham Helped Merge Patriotism and Christianity – February 21, 2018