Hello, this is pastor Gerald Malkus, I am pastor of Jehoash Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Catlett, and I am your pastor for this Day.
This week we celebrate July 4th. I have right here in front of me, the document written by Thomas Jefferson, – The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America. Perhaps you have read it before, and maybe you even memorized these lines in school:
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Liberty – Today we call it freedom. Actually, freedom is a frustrating, or maybe even a dangerous concept because so many people today do not understand freedom properly. Christian people are greatly comforted by the many passages in the Bible which speak of our liberty, or freedom:
Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:32 & 36
And the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:2
You have to be careful with biblical freedom, because as many have said before, freedom is not the right to do as you please, it is the liberty to do as you ought. You have probably heard the illustration of the man who wanted to display the power of a locomotive – so he got one of the huge steam engines and to give it the most freedom, placed it in the middle of his field. While a locomotive in the middle of a field remains powerful, it is also useless. Only when that train is placed on the limitations of steel tracks does it have the ability to do what it was made to do.
So it is with us. St. Augustine said it very clearly: Man is most free when he is controlled by God alone. In his first letter, recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter reminds believers in Jesus of their rich privileges as a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God.
Then he gives this very clear exhortation:
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16
Our release from the bondage of keeping the law of God perfectly was purchased for us by the work of Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. Through him we are indeed free. But now, today, as the people of God, as the disciples of Jesus, we are free to show ourselves at liberty from the practice of sin, and free to love and serve God in all of life. I hope that this July 4th you will have an even greater appreciation for the marvelous freedom that is found in Jesus Christ alone.