From childhood, we know what July the Fourth is about – fireworks and cookouts. Under these festivities, though, we are commemorating the freedoms we have in this country as individuals as well as the price those freedoms carry. Sometimes this message may be lost, and we may fail to appreciate the price that had to be paid for the liberty we have. It is a message we don’t allow to resonate within us because, in many cases, it was someone else who paid the price.
In John 8:12, Jesus is preaching that He is the light of the world, and, in verses 31-32, He speaks of obeying the truth of His word, which will set them free. In subsequent verses, the Jewish audience contest him on this, saying they have never been under bondage – despite examples from their own history. Those past captivities were impersonal, served by others, and they have little impact on the individuals in Jesus’ time.
Israel’s Captivity and Redemption
Hosea 8:13-14 records God’s dissatisfaction with His people’s service, and He speaks of sending them into captivity. Amos 4:2-3 speaks of the Assyrians coming to lead the children of Israel away on hooks. Amos 2:4-5, alluding to the Babylonian captivity, God describes fire that would consume Judah and Jerusalem. Israel’s history is full of these terrible captivities, but, in every case, God redeems His people.
In Exodus 6:6, God is describing to Moses His plans to free the children of Israel and deliver them to the Promised Land. At the base of Sinai, God reminds them that He has done as He said. He has redeemed them from bondage. Concerning the Assyrian captivity, Micah 2:12-13 records God promising to bring the faithful of the northern kingdom into His fold. Zephaniah 3:16-20 is yet another promise of God to gather His scattered people and redeem them.
Despite all God does for them, many of the Israelites grow to tolerate being enslaved. Numbers 4 records the people crying out for food, and, even after manna is provided, they weep for the days of their enslavement in Egypt. Similar themes crop up in Numbers 14 when their confidence that they can take the lands of Canaan is shaken. They go so far as planning to usurp Moses to return to Egypt. Additionally, once the Babylonian captivity ends, God has to send messengers to remind them to go home from their content slavery.
Our Slavery and Redemption
The sad truth is that we do the same thing as these individuals we criticize for embracing captivity. Romans 7:14 is in the midst of Paul discussing his struggles with being enslaved to sin. Romans 6:6 also describes sin as a form of slavery, but, sadly, we may have grown to tolerate or even enjoy this enslavement. John 8:34 records Jesus saying that sinning brings us under captivity to sin.
John 8:36, Romans 6:7, Romans 8:2, Galatians 5:1, and more tell us that the price for our freedom has already been paid. However, sometimes we forget that price. We forget God’s promises and what He has done through Christ on our behalves. Far too often, we dismiss what sin does to us, and we use terms and phrases that endear sinful behaviors. We grow content to lie, steal, gossip, and act ungodly while refusing to see that we need to be set free. Unfortunately, Hebrews 10:26 reminds us that turning our backs on Christ in sinning removes the effects of His sacrifice in our lives.
The price paid for our freedom from sin is not casual or common. While I may have not paid that price, One gave His life in my place. I might be far removed from the scene at Calvary, but I can know that God is personally invested in my spiritual freedom. As a result, I should be personally investing myself into following after His footsteps and avoid willing reentering the slavery of sin, which brings separation from God and death. We must come out of this captivity and seek to never turn back.
lesson by Tim Smelser