We recently celebrated Independence Day. Typically, this is a day of family, friends, and the celebration of freedom. Communities will gather around parades and have firework shows in the evening. Families will spend the day together as many have the day off. On this day we celebrate our freedom. We harken back to that auspicious day when the colonists declared their independence from the tyranny of the British. I did a little research and discovered a few things.
1. The struggle for freedom started long before the declaration occurred. The “shot heard around the world” happened 15 months earlier on April 19, 1775 in Lexington. I often see that people who make a declaration about Christ have struggled with the concept for a while. Normally it does not just happen. Most of us go back and pinpoint a specific place or time where the decision was made much like our declaration as a country. However, if we were honest, God’s Spirit had already been at work in our lives. We had a feeling of frustration, guilt, shame, or just tired of having a loser life on the inside. The battle began long before the actual declaration.
2. The day of declaration was just the beginning. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was ratified by Congress. As far as we were concerned it was a done deal. We drafted it. We adjusted it. We declared it. However, the current controller was not happy with this decision. The day of declaration was not the end but the beginning. Followers of Christ look back at a place or time when they turned their lives over to God’s control. Church people will call this “getting saved” or “born again”. These statements are true but are misunderstand at times. The moment I made a declaration of faith in Christ was the day I was free on a spiritual and eternal level. However, the physical results would take a while to become real. Habits, addictions, and lifestyle patterns that had years of sediment in my life would not go away easily. As long as I breathe there will be a struggle to maintain the freedom I declared 30 years ago!
3. The Revolutionary War lasted for 5-7 years after the moment of declaration. Although Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown in the Fall of 1781 marked the end of the Revolutionary War, minor battles between the British and the colonists continued for another two years. Finally, in February of 1783 George III issued his Proclamation of Cessation of Hostilities, culminating in the Peace Treaty of 1783. Signed in Paris on September 3, 1783, the agreement — also known as the Paris Peace Treaty — formally ended the United States War for Independence. The colonists had to fight for their freedom. Many people died in the battles. Some battles were won gloriously and some battles were lost horribly. I find in our lives that the same is true. You will win some battles in your Christian walk. At times you will lose some battles. We must keep our eye on the final peace treaty to come at the Judgment Seat of God. According to one site there were 22 major battles (If I counted right!). We did not win every one of those, but we did win the war.
4. Paris Peace Treaty of 1783. This marked the official end to the war. The colonists would be officially free to live under new law after this moment. The British would relinquish all holds and control from this point forward. So often, we want our declaration day to be the day of the peace treaty. While it is true we have gained peace with God on that day of faith, we have also awakened a sleeping giant in Satan who will wage war until the end. You will fight battles until that day. Satan will find your weak points and attempt to divide and conquer you. While our eternal security is in place, we cannot just wimp out on the battles. Freedom today is available but must be fought for by the power and presence of Jesus Christ. The current struggles of alcohol, marijuana, sex, pornography, illicit drugs or battles we must fight. In addition, there will be battles for time, family, interests, and commitment. These may be lesser known battles but are just as dangerous.
Freedom is a reality but is one that is acquired not automatically given. We struggle to become free. We finally declare our freedom and ally with the right partner. This is not where freedom is won. Freedom is won through a series of battles until the Peace Treaty is signed. Our lives as followers of Christ will be a series of battles until Jesus returns. Focus on the big picture but fight in the present battle. You may lose a battle here and there. In these moments we cannot simply lay down our arms and give up. We must stand and fight in the power and strength of the Spirit and Scripture. Fight on. Fight long. The war belongs to the Lord!
21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me.
22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law.
23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body,
waging war against the law of my mind
and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:21-25 (HCSB)