Independence is freedom. As we celebrate the freedom of the USA from the rule of the British, we give thanks to God for that freedom. It meant that those who lived in the USA could rule themselves. They were no longer under the restrictions imposed by the British. America became a place for Americans, not underlings or slaves of the King.
To achieve that freedom, blood was shed. People died. For those people, freedom was something worth fighting and dying for. They would never experience it for themselves, yet they did it for the sake of those who were to follow them, their children. More than 200 years later, we still enjoy that freedom.
It is noteworthy that freedom, even in this case, is freedom from something. Americans were not free until they fought for freedom from the British. Our freedom was from British rule.
So how does this relate to individuals? Are we free? Sure, we have freedom to make decisions. We can choose who we marry, where we live, what we eat etc. But are those decisions made freely? Not quite, those decisions are made in the context of who we are. Our character, our nature, our beliefs determine what we choose to do.
Human nature or character is not neutral or libertarian. Our inner self, our very essence, is ruled by what we are. For the materialist, human decisions are deterministically bound by the laws and uniformity of nature. For the religious, our decisions are made relationally to a soul, or some kind of extra-materialistic entity.
Christians understand this clearly from Scripture. Humans are not free. We are slaves:
Joh 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Joh 8:33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
Sin, in Greek, simply means “offense”. It comes from a root that means “to miss the mark, trespass, err”. Due to the corporate sin committed by the first humans, all of mankind have become slaves to sin. It is carried over from generation to generation: Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–
Just like it was necessary that blood be shed to free America from British rule, blood had to be shed to free us from the rule of sin. The consequence of sin is death, eternal agony in separation from God. The blood shed by Christ on the cross sets us free from that slavery. No longer will we be ruled by sin, Christ has made us free from rule by sin. By virtue of the grace of God and our subsequent faith, our decisions are now made relative to our relationship with Christ, not subject to the flesh, and not subject to the evils of sin.
Joh 8:35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.
Joh 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
So today, while we celebrate our freedom from British rule as a country, let us as a covenant people also remember our freedom from sin, by the blood of the Son of God.
And today, if you are still a slave to sin, know that you too can be free from that slavery by trusting in the grace and love of God. Turn from your sin, face God and ask for forgiveness. Believe that the blood of Jesus will set you free, just as the American forefathers believed that their blood will set America free from British rule. And His freedom is eternal, set in love and peace, free from evil.
Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs has a great post in similar vein: Real Liberty