Summary: While we celebrate Independence Day we need to remember that we are a dependent people that rely on Christ for forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
We celebrate Independence Day on July 4th with cookouts, festivals, parties, bands playing, family reunions and of course fireworks. The 4th of July is a significant day in the history of our country because on July 4th 1776 the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence which was a statement that we, the United States of America were a separate country and no longer a part of Great Britain or under its authority. The thirteen American Colonies had already been at war with Great Britain for almost one year at this time. In the Declaration of Independence the writers declared that the 13 Colonies of the United States were free. Freedom implies being free from something and free to something else. In this case the colonists were free from taxation without representation and the tyranny and rule of Great Britain. Instead, they were free to pursue life, liberty and happiness and free to govern themselves.
The Epistle to the Galatians is a letter written by Paul that challenges the practices of Mosaic Law such as circumcision and dietary laws in order to attain salvation. Paul reminds the people that the Law does not provide salvation but rather identifies sin and man’s hopeless and helpless state of being able to achieve salvation by being “good enough.” Paul reminds the people that they are free from the constraints of the Law and sin and free to live an abundant life in Christ by providing them with this “Declaration of Dependence” found in Gal 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me and this life which I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”
1. The Great Association
The writers of the Declaration of Independence disassociate themselves from the King and Great Britain. Paul, in his Declaration of Dependence, does just the opposite. Paul says that he has been crucified with Christ. He associates himself with Jesus as He hangs on the cross as a banner over us taking the punishment for your sin and mine and receives God’s wrath upon himself. The cross at that time was a tool of death, scorn, excruciating pain, and humiliation. Jesus transformed the image of the cross into a place of life, love, victory, joy, and forgiveness. Jesus was motivated to go to the cross by his unwavering love for a people who loved only themselves and were blinded to the glory of God by their own sin of selfishness and self righteousness. He went to the cross not for his own good but for yours and mine. We come to the cross because we are drawn by the love of God who sent his one and only Son to die for us so that you and I could have the opportunity to be forgiven of our sin, past, present and future and receive the free gift of eternal life in heaven with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. When we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior we receive forgiveness of sin but we are crucifying our old way of life where sin and the world had control and authority in our lives. We are committing to leave that old way of life at the cross and turn to walk a new way of life with Jesus Christ in control of our lives. We are not an independent people. We are a dependent people because we cannot save ourselves; we need the forgiveness of sin that was paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are not your own, you have been bought with a price.
2. The Great Adoption
Once we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior we receive a new identity because now the Holy Spirit lives within us. That makes you a temple of God. 1 Cor 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? When you receive Christ as your personal Lord and Savior you become adopted into God’s family which makes you a child of God as indicated by Rom 8:15 where it says “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” and it continues in verse 17 “and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” That’s why Paul was able to declare that “it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” So often we try to live up to the expectations of our parents, coworkers, teammates, spouse, or friends. We want to “measure up.” We want to be “good enough.” That translates into our spiritual lives as wanting to please God so we can feel worthy of going to heaven or for Jesus Christ dying for us. I’ve got good news for you. When you receive Jesus Christ you don’t have to worry about “measuring up” or being “good enough.” You and I could never measure up to God’s standard or ever be good enough on our own. That’s the point. That’s the glory of Christ in us. Once again, we are not an independent people. Our eternal salvation depends on Christ in us.