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It’s that time of year again. Millions of Americans will commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence with backyard barbecues and family gatherings, capping it off with a local fireworks display.
Last year, I wrote an article explaining how we need to be dependent upon Jesus Christ in every area of life. I discussed how people far too often try to earn their own salvation. They establish systems of works that must be accomplished in an effort to merit God’s favor, as if performing a checklist of “good” deeds will make one holy. This is the nature of man’s religious systems: what can a he or she do to please their god(s) and achieve a blissful afterlife?
The Bible teaches something very different. We have all sinned against the infinitely holy Creator and deserve His wrath. We can do nothing on our own to earn His favor because God is a just God, so He cannot simply overlook our rebellious actions against Him. No amount of good deeds can absolve us of our guilt before the righteous Judge. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that God has a plan to redeem sinners. His Son, Jesus Christ, graciously paid the full penalty for our sins on the Cross (John 1:29; 19:30) and subsequently rose from the dead (Luke 24:5–6). His sacrificial death satisfied God’s wrath against us, making it possible for us to live with Him eternally. This salvation is a free gift, given to those who turn from their sin (repent) and trust (place their faith) in Jesus Christ.
When we understand this amazing truth, we can experience true independence—freedom from the guilt and eternal punishment due for our sin. But Christians have no reason to fear death or judgment; rather we can stand boldly in the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:17–19). The Apostle Paul discussed the incredible result of this gift of freedom.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22, (NIV))
Paul also told the Galatians that believers “
were called to freedom” (Galatians 5:13, (NASB)), but warned that this freedom should never be used as a license for ungodliness (Romans 6:1–2). This freedom he spoke of is a freedom from all man-made efforts to work for salvation. We have been freed from the power the law had over us. We have liberty in our Lord Jesus Christ, but we now have new passions and desires because the Holy Spirit dwells within believers, producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Paul described our newfound liberty this way: “
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
In other words, Christians are still supposed to do good deeds, but we do these from a heart of gratitude, recognizing that the work for our salvation is done. We do good works because we have been saved, not in a vain effort to be saved (Ephesians 2:10).
If you are celebrating Independence Day today, be sure to remember those who have fought to secure our freedoms. Many have given their lives for our liberty, and we should be extremely grateful for their sacrifice. How much more grateful should we be that the perfect Son of God loved us enough to die in our place! Though believers may not always share the same earthly freedoms, we can take hold of God’s promise for our spiritual freedom and have complete confidence in Jesus Christ our Savior. His sacrifice frees believers from eternal destruction and makes eternal life possible. It also gives us independence from the guilt and shame of our sins in the present. May we ever praise Him for His wonderfully incredible grace!