“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
“Liberty” is a beautiful word. It is an American word, a patriotic word. Many will recognize the words on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” They are from Leviticus 25:10. The fact that these words came from the Bible tells us that early Americans had high respect for God and His Word.
Words from the Declaration of Independence also say, “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.” The founding Fathers never claimed to have the power to give liberty or to take it away. They called it a self-evident truth that liberty is a right that comes from God alone: “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” (boldface added)
Most importantly, “liberty” is a Bible word. It does not just mean freedom, but freedom in submission to God’s authority. “And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” (Psalm 119:45) The psalmist would seek God’s precepts for guidance. As a result, guided by God’s precepts, he would walk at liberty.
Submission to God brings liberty. That statement may seem contradictory. If God’s Word forbids certain behaviors, how can we refrain from those behaviors and still have liberty? The answer is that liberty is not absolute. It has restrictions. We have many liberties in America, but we still must obey civil law.
Rebellion from God, on the other hand, brings bondage. That statement may also seem contradictory. Is a person not at liberty when he thinks that no one, not even God, will tell him how to live? Yet sin brings bondage. Jesus said, “…Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin:” (John 8:34) Alcoholics, tobacco users, compulsive gamblers, and drug and porn addicts all can testify that sin brings personal bondage.
Sin also invites bondage for a nation. Isaiah 5:24 says Israel had “…cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” To disregard God’s Word is to disregard God. Israel had turned from God many times, and He let them be taken in bondage by hostile, ungodly powers. We love America, but America can be taken in bondage by ungodly powers if we disregard God’s Word.
Many behaviors described as sins in the Bible are constitutionally protected and legal. The Constitution does not, for instance, forbid tobacco, alcohol, gambling, same-sex intimacy, abortion, transgenderism, or pornography, nor does civil law. Yet the Constitution and civil law are not inspired by God. The Bible is.
The Constitution has been amended in the past, and even Supreme Courts have issued bad rulings, like Dred Scott v. Sandford, which upheld slavery; and Korematsu v. U.S., which upheld Japanese internment camps in World War II. Civil laws have also been enacted which were later repealed. Christians should respect the Constitution and civil law, but they are not our ultimate guides for conduct. The Bible is.
Most importantly, though, the Bible is God’s source of hope for everyone. We have all broken God’s law. Yet the good news of God’s Word is that Jesus, God the Son, died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. No matter who they are or what they’ve done, people are all precious to God. Christians have the right, but more importantly, the command from God to be “…speaking the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15) to people, telling them about Jesus who loves them, forgives sins, saves souls, and changes lives.
The most wonderful liberty a person can have is to be free from condemnation for sin. Do you know for sure your sins are forgiven and that heaven is your eternal home? If you are not, but you would like to be, please go to www.clevelandbaptist.org, click “Helpful Links,” then “How Do I Go to Heaven?”
Brian Miller 3/17/2023
Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216/671-2822