Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Thoughts about Freedom and Independence
from Fred Carpenter
July 4th is the day when the U.S.A. celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776. Considering the current spiritual condition of our nation, perhaps it is time for America to rethink the meaning of freedom and to adopt a Declaration of Dependence.
The world values independence, the freedom from having someone tell you how to run your life. The Bible on the other hand, speaks about a dependence that leads to freedom and fulfillment. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matt.16:25
The mark of a mature Christian is not how much he knows, but rather how much he depends on Christ to express His life in and through him on a moment by moment basis. Jesus said, “. . . apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5.
Dependence on Christ, not only results in our fulfillment, it results in the glorification of God. In fact, in a sermon preached on July 8, 1731, Jonathan Edwards made the case that when we do not depend on God, we rob him of glory. “Now whatever scheme is inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and of having all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its luster and glory.”
For many people, freedom means the ability to do what they want, when they want, the way they want. But Jesus, the only one who could have actually lived that out, chose another way. He did nothing of His own initiative, but only what the Father was doing – John 8:28, 5:19. What a perfect model for us!
Freedom is a two sided coin. On one side there is “freedom from”, on the other, “freedom to.” In Romans 1:1, Paul identifies himself as a bondservant of Christ. A bondservant was a slave who had been set free from bondage, and then chose of his own volition to return to the status of a slave, serving his master for the rest of his life, not out of duty, but out of love. Paul understood that God had set him free from serving the law of sin and death, but he also understood that God had freed him to surrender totally to Christ, and to become all that Christ intended him to be.
It is one thing to know what you have been freed from. It is entirely something else to know what you have been freed to. In the words of Ray Stedman, “true freedom is being able to do and be that which we were made for.” Notice that he says, “to do and be that which we were made for,” not “to do and be whatever you want.” Spiritual maturity is when those two become one in the same.
The truth is this; we have been set free to depend on Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to do the will of our Father. “. . . know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32. This Fourth of July, don’t forget to celebrate your real freedom in Christ, and declare your dependence on Him.
For further reading “GOD GLORIFIED IN MAN’S DEPENDENCE” by Jonathan Edwards, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/sermons.dependence.2.html
All scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.