Towering above New York Harbor is the Statue of Liberty. For more than 100 years, the stately lady, with freedom’s torch held high, has beckoned millions of people who are choking from the stifling air of tyranny and oppression. They’ve been drawn to what that monument symbolizes—freedom. Inscribed on Lady Liberty’s pedestal are the deeply moving words by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
A different monument towers over history, offering spiritual freedom to enslaved people throughout the world. It’s the Roman Cross where Jesus Christ hung 2,000 years ago. Prior to His arrest, trial beating and crucifixion, Jesus said: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die” (Jn. 12:32,33). At first the Cross repels. Then we see the sinless Son of God dying in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. From the Cross we hear the words, “Father forgive them” (Lk. 23:34) and “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30), proclaiming the believers’ “Declaration of Independence.” All of humanity was under the tyranny of sin and death. But Christ, the sinless One took our place on Calvary and died for our sins. Having satisfied God’s righteous demands, He now sets free for eternity all who trust Him for eternal life. Jesus said to His disciples, “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free…If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:32,36). The Apostle Paul wrote: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:2-3). “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
I thank God for the freedom I enjoy as a United States citizen, but above all believers worldwide can praise God for the freedom that is found in Christ—freedom from the penalty of sin—freedom from the power of sin in our lives (freedom from bondage to the old sinful flesh) and ultimately freedom from the very presence of sin. Our greatest freedom is freedom from sin. But as with our national and political freedom, there was a high cost to our spiritual freedom. God the Son, although He was equal with the God the Father, emptied Himself of His glory in heaven, took the form of a bondservant and was made in the likeness of men; and He humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death—death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8). The sinless Son became the suffering Savior in order to bear our iniquities (Isa. 53). What a price Jesus paid. Don’t ever take your spiritual freedom for granted—it was purchased at a great price on our behalf. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18,19).
As you celebrate our national independence today, don’t forget to also thank God for your spiritual freedom and for Christ’s sacrifice which made it possible.