Summary: Independence Day: Our country was founded on a value for religious freedom. As biblical morality fades, immorality and moral decay are taking its place; which will eventually lead to the collapse of this nation unless people repent.
This week we celebrate Independence Day, the day that our nation commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.(1)
We must not forget that our country’s drive for independence began with a quest for religious freedom. Under the new king, Charles I, the situation in England was bad for the religious group called the Puritans.
They had hoped to “purify” the Church of England. But the king wouldn’t let them. So between 1630 and 1640, 20,000 Puritans sailed for New England. They wanted to practice their religion in peace. They wanted to build a holy community where people would live by the rules of the Bible. They expected their Massachusetts Bay Colony to be an example for all the world. One of the colony’s governors, John Winthrop, explained: “We must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.”(2)
Our country was founded on a strong value for religious freedom and biblical values. Our freedom, however, is slowly being lost as people devalue Christian morals and principles more and more. As biblical morality gradually fades away, immorality and moral decay are taking its place; and moral decay will eventually lead to the collapse of a society if we fail to change our ways.
In our passage today, we will see how the apostle Paul spoke of spiritual and moral decay and how it can lead to the forfeiture of one’s spiritual freedom in Christ. I will bring out the spiritual application as we go along; but I wish to primarily apply this passage to how we can lose societal freedom, and even our country’s freedom, by tossing aside our Christian values.
Stand Firm in Your Freedom (v. 1)
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Paul stated here how you need to be certain to maintain your freedom. Spiritually speaking, you fought hard to get where you are. You may have sacrificed friends and family to follow Christ. Perhaps you endured criticism for your faith. You spent hours of devotion in learning the Bible and the ways of God. You have attained an understanding of God’s love, mercy and grace which sets you free from the slavery of sin. Make sure you do not allow yourself to become all tied up again in the chains of spiritual bondage.
Physically speaking, a lot of soldiers have fought hard and lost their lives for our country’s freedom. Remember that “freedom isn’t really free.” This expression means that freedom actually costs something. Many brave military men and women have given their all for the freedom we experience here in America; and to maintain freedom requires responsibility, and sacrificing ourselves and some of our own desires. Therefore, the cost of freedom for us as civilians might be to let go of some of our own personal wants for the greater good of other individuals and the nation as a whole; and the “personal wants” to which I am referring are sinful lusts and desires.
Be Careful You Are Not Hindered (vv. 7-10a)
7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10a I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind.
Paul said, “You ran well” (v. 7). Your faith was founded on the truth of Jesus Christ; or when applied to our nation, this country was founded on the truth of biblical morality. Paul meant to say, “You started off right.”
He then asked, “Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (v. 7), and he called this spiritual hindrance “this persuasion” (v. 8). The definition of “persuasion” in this context is, “an established creed or belief, especially a religious one” and “a sect, party, or faction.”(3) Paul was asking, “Who tempted you, and with what sinful or wrong information? What morally corrupt message or values have you received and believed?” Perhaps some of us should ask ourselves this morning, “What immoral persuasions are being taught in America, and have I subscribed to any of them?”
Paul then stated, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (v. 9). A little misinformation can contaminate one’s mind, or perhaps even an entire society. If you take one step away from the light the room actually begins to darken, but it’s such a small increment that you don’t even notice that it’s happening.
In the song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns, it is accurately stated, “It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away. It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray. Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid when you give yourself away. People never crumble in a day.” And I wish to add that “countries never crumble in a day.” It is a slow fade as a country falls from grace to moral compromise, and eventually self-destruction.