Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Declaration of Independence

On July 4th, 1776 the thirteen American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. There were demonstrations of discontent and military skirmishes for more than a year leading up to the declaration, but the signing of the Declaration of Independence sparked an all out war. The colonies declared their freedom long before they experienced it's reality. They had to fight for seven long years for the independence they believed was theirs already. The last of the British troops did not leave the newly formed nation until November 25, 1783 - more than seven years later.

Here's something to think about. When we celebrate our independence as a nation, we date it back to 1776 and not 1783 when the war was over. In the minds of the eary fathers, freedom began when they declared it to be so - not when their enemy recognized it as well. During the war, the colonists considered themselves to be free and faught to attain the fullness of that freedom. The enemy, on the other hand, the British, maintained the exact opposite. They believed the colonies were not free and were under the dominion of the British empire.

As Christians, we have a Declaration of Independence as well. It is found in John 8:36. "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." Despite the opposition we may get from enemy, despite the sin and evidence to the contary, if Christ says He has made us free, then we are free. Like the colonists who declared their independence, our enemy may declare an all out war against us once we start to embrace this truth. He knows that the truth has the power to make us free (John 8:32). Once he sees that "we hold these truths to be self evident..." he is going to increase his attacks to try to convince us to the contrary. Every assault of the British was intended to convince the new nation that they were in fact still colonists of the British empire.

The truth is that we are no longer under the dominion of sin. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Dominion speaks of control and influence over another as a master to a slave. Sin does not have a right to exercise dominion over us because we have died to sin along with Christ (Romans 6:6). We are dead to the the imputation of guilt and condemnation of sin just as Christ died to the imputation of guilt and condemnation due us under the law (Romans 6:10-11). The dominion, continuing mastery and influence, of sin in our lives is a direct result of being under law (condemnation of the law) rather than grace. Romans 6:14 has two implicit statements in it. (1) Those who are dominated by sin are under law. (2) Those who are free from the domination of sin are under grace.

Had the early Americans not "reckoned" these things to be so, had they not clung to the belief that they were free, the enemy would have convinced them to give up the fight and there would be no new nation. They could have had a divine appointment from God, yet never realize all that God had for them because they were unable to believe. They would have been like the Isrealites who were not able to enter into the promises of God because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). They were free from the moment that God sent Moses to proclaim their freedom to Pharaoh, but they were not free in their minds. Even after miracoulosly crossing the Read Sea and leaving the Egyptian soldiers dead behind them, they longed to go back to Egypt - to slavery. The basic truth is this: Long before freedom can be enjoyed, it must be believed. If I do not believe I am free, I will turn back to the familiar, to the status quo with every oposition.

Christ has declared our freedom. The enemy will try to convince us otherwise, but let's make a choice to believe what He said. Let us enter into His rest through belief. If the Son has made us free, we are free indeed.

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