July 4, 1776 is a day all patriotic Americans remember as the birth of our nation. It was on that historic date that British colonies declared their independence from England. On July 8, 1776, along with church bells throughout the colonies, the Liberty Bell peeled out the symbolic message of freedom and independence. On the bell is found the inscription, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” The inscription is taken from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10.
Until 1835 the bell rang every year during the celebration of the declaration of independence. Now it is just a relic. The Liberty Bell is one of the few remaining national symbols on which a passage from the Holy Book of God remains. That indicates the respect the founding fathers of this nation held toward God and His word. The current legislators reflect just how far away from that respect this nation has come. The Bible has been made an illegal book in federally funded programs and in public schools.
The declaration of independence cost many rebellious colonists their lives. They fought for freedom, the right to pursue their own happiness. They inscribed on our currency, “In God We Trust.” But like the Liberty Bell, that inscription means very little to Americans. Some have tried to get it removed from our currency. Quite candidly, I believe it may as well be removed — not to satisfy the foolish purposes of some radical group of godless people, but to come even with the way most Americans really think. How much trust do you think the majority of Americans really put in God Almighty? Americans show very little trust in anyone or anything. This nation’s problems could easily be fixed by a return to the foundational disposition expressed in “In God We Trust.” “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him” (Proverbs 30:5).
Men will shed blood for political freedom. It is not so with spiritual freedom. More seek to avoid spiritual freedom than to achieve it. Bruce Barton once said, “What a curious phenomenon it is that you can get men to die for the liberty of the world who will not make the little sacrifice that is needed to free themselves from their own individual bondage.” The way to spiritual liberty is through Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Truth is the only thing that frees man from spiritual slavery. But liberty requires that the slaves to sin rise up in a spiritual revolution and rebellion. A declaration of freedom against the bondage of sin is made the very moment one comes out of sin into freedom. By inspiration, Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). The turning point from slavery in sin to freedom in Christ is wholehearted obedience.
Obedience must be grounded in faith. Faith is produced by divine revelation (Romans 10:17). Saving faith obeys the word of God without reservation. Obedience is compliance with law. Cicero said, “Liberty consists in the power of doing that which is permitted by the law.” Living under God’s law is the only way to be free from the blight of sin.
This year, when you celebrate the 4th of July, remember the wide discrepancy between the moral and spiritual values of America today and those of the men and women who died to make this one free nation under God. We need to return to the former disposition toward God and to a time when men felt free to inscribe passages from the Holy Word of God on our most valued national symbols.