The month of July stands out as the month that we as Americans celebrate our Independence. July 4th commemorates the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Declaration of Independence contains the words:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
This statement is a statement of theology. It is making a statement about God; that God has granted certain unalienable rights to all men -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When you make theological statements, however, they must be absolutely true. Of these rights we would certainly agree that life is granted by God. The Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" demonstrates that God has a high view of life. We should do all that we can do to protect life. There are elements of this statement in the Declaration, however, that are not completely true. First, the Bible does not declare absolute liberty to be an unalienable right. No man lives under absolute freedom. All men are under authority and are commanded to submit to that authority. There are familial authorities, civil authorities, ecclesiastical authorities, etc. there are many libertarians today who push for zero restraint. Such a condition of absolute autonomy does not exist upon the earth. Second, the Bible does not declare happiness as an absolute, unalienable right. The Bible confined happiness to a very narrow definition. The Bible does not guarantee the right to satisfy every carnal lust. We have the right to pursue God and true happiness is to be found in that pursuit. For many, the concept of independence is actually lawlessness. They feel they have an unalienable right to live without restraints or accountability.
The truth is, freedom can only be found in Christ. The lost man is rebellious and self-willed, continually seeking autonomy from God and His Law. In reality he is bound up in slavery. He is held captive by sin and Satan and has not way of escaping from this servitude. The Christian has surrendered his will to Christ. The Christian has thrown down every bastion of independence and has signed a declaration of dependence. But in surrendering all of his liberties to Christ he has actually found true freedom. In Christ we have been set free from sin and Satan and granted great liberty as we gladly serve Christ. We have found true happiness as we find our full enjoyment in Christ.
This Independence Day may we take time to celebrate the true liberty we have been granted in Christ.