Sunday, June 28, 2009

Modern American Slavery

This week, we as Americans will set aside our political and ideological differences to become one voice celebrating the freedoms granted to us in 1776 by the Declaration of Independence. Speakers nationwide will uplift the founding fathers who established this great nation and give homage to those throughout history who have given their lives to uphold our costly freedoms.

Americans delight in this notion of individual freedom—free to say, think, dream, do, buy, and become what they want. But while most Americans believe they are free, they are far from it. Most Americans are slaves.

No, you may say, the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ensured freedom for all, establishing that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude... shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Yes, that is true, but at its very foundation, freedom is spiritual, is of one’s soul. And in that sense, most Americans are in slavery, in bondage.

Much like many Americans, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day thought themselves to be free, too, but Jesus said otherwise: “’If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They [Pharisees] answered Him, ‘We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'’? Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin’” (John 8:31b-34).

In this passage, Jesus said all men and women are slaves of sin, and the only way to be truly free is to “continue” following Him. Note that Jesus did not say freedom would come with a one-time dash down a church aisle to the altar. Yes, freedom is only found in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross: “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b). But Jesus also said living this free life requires one to “continue” in obedience to His word.

Even in Jesus’ day, false prophets offered a heretical gospel that claimed once a person is saved, she can then follow her own fleshly desires and sin without fear of God’s judgment. Peter claimed these false prophets were “promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them” (2 Peter 2:19-21). In other words, one cannot be free from the slavery of sin and continue to practice a life of sin.

Paul, too, understood how sin enslaved him: “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:14-15). He also knew that only a life lived in obedience to the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” would “set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2).

Are you living in obedience to Jesus? Are you truly free? Or are you really enslaved by sin? Immorality? Lust? Anger? Materialism? Self-centeredness? Pride? An addiction? So many Americans’ souls are in bondage, weighed down by these invisible chains. If this is you, make today your spiritual Independence Day from sin and commit to a lifelong journey of practicing righteousness in Jesus.

And if you are already living in obedience to Jesus’ words, this July 4, consider not merely the cost that our forefathers paid for our country’s freedom but rather the ultimate cost the Lord Jesus paid on the cross for our eternal spiritual freedom.


  1. Amazing how we so easily become convinced that we've mastered sin when so often the opposite is most true.

  2. Freedom through the cross ...
    Nothing else compares.
    The Truth shall set us free.

    Great post, Jennifer.