This week I’ll be combining the message with the theme, which I hope is apparent at the end. I thought that I’d mix it up and this was a perfect way to do that.
This week the United States is celebrating “Independence Day” on July 4th. This is the day we celebrate our separation from England in 1776. Americans proudly talk about freedom and strength on the 4th of July. It is a great time of year because it happens at the start of summer. People are embracing the summer weather (unless you live in Arizona, its been “summer” since April) while most kids are planning a long summer away from schoolwork. People will celebrate the day with a barbeque, friends, and a few cold drinks and simply relaxing. The night is usually capped with a fireworks display to commemorate the rockets of the battle we fought. This year the holiday falls on a Friday so it is a three-day weekend for most everyone.
There is another independence day that happened on a Friday but we celebrate it in the spring – Good Friday. Independence, you ask? Yes, a separation from the power of the devil in our lives. “21But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” Romans 3:21-28
Paul’s letter describes our freedom from the guilt and power of sin. We are free from the law and yet remain redeemed. We are “justified freely” by God’s grace because of what Jesus did for us. American freedom comes with constraints just as God’s justice (punishment) was handed down through Christ; our freedom was also won through Him. We are free from sin not through our own work but through our faith in Christ and the righteousness of God. U.S. freedom today was won by the heroic acts of brave people fighting our enemy in 1776. We did nothing to earn it today. Jesus took the heroic fight against the power of sin and the devil and won our freedom too. This Friday is another Good Friday for us to celebrate our freedom (whether you are in the US or not). We are truly free “and justified freely by His grace through Christ Jesus.” Remain strong in faith and stay safe!