As the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence was being signed, Samuel Adams declared: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”
America may celebrate its emancipation from British rule this Independence day, but sadly America should mourn its independence from God.
Founding Father John Adams envisioned Independence Day to be celebrated by generations to come as the great anniversary festival. He said, “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” And while we celebrate by doing many of these things, we’ve omitted, “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty”. Anything good, right, and true comes from above (James 1:17). JFK reminded Americans that, “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
History allows us to learn from mistakes made in the past, but it can also help us remember what was done right and has worked. One only has to read the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible to see how things went when the Israelites turned away from God and “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” General Douglas MacArthur said this, “History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline.” America’s first president George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Ronald Reagan, our 33rd president proclaimed, “Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience…without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure…If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
Is it any wonder that our country today is in the mess it’s in?
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).
Dependence on self or the flesh brings about these things: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like (Galatians 5:19-21).
Dependence on God bears the fruit of the Spirit, which is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). There is freedom where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Cor. 3:17).
Which would you rather be ruled by?
God’s ways are superior because He is superior. He doesn’t judge people or show favoritism by outward appearances, but sees the inner man (1 Sam. 16:7, Job 34:18, Prov. 5:21, 15:3, 16:2, 21:2). If we ever hope to go back to being one nation under God, we mustn’t show favoritism or partiality to any one group or people over another. Injustice is injustice— Evil is evil no matter your ethnicity, economic status, or station in life. Showing partiality is a sin (James 2:9, Prov. 24:23, 28:21, Mal. 2:9, 1 Tim. 5:21). Love rejoices in the truth, not in unrighteousness (1 Cor. 13:6). “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25).
Imperfect men and women can do great things for the glory of God when they put their trust in Him. As General Lee led his army of 76,000 men into Pennsylvania, panic took hold of Washington, DC. In the midst President Lincoln remained strangely confident. He later told a general wounded at Gettysburg, “When everyone seemed panic-stricken…I went to my room…and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed…soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into His own hands…”
Christ Jesus made of himself no reputation and took on the form of a slave and came in the likeness of men. Although He was innocent, He suffered ridicule, humiliation, beatings, and was spit on. Still He humbled Himself and died on the cross, paying the penalty for the sin of mankind. After this, God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to His rightful position. God offers life and liberty to all who believe and receive what Christ Jesus did on their behalf (Phil. 2:5-11, Mark 10:34, Isa. 53:3-7, Rom. 8:34, 1 Cor. 15:20, 2 Cor. 5:21, John 3:16). Salvation is not for a select few, each man and woman has the opportunity to become emancipated from their bondage to sin. It requires no work on their part. It’s a gift from God to be received with gratitude (Rom. 6:22-23, Eph. 2:8-9).
Freedom in Christ is not freedom to do whatever one wants. It’s freedom to live righteously—something that can’t be done when one is enslaved to sin (Rom. 7:15-24). This liberty enables one to serve one another in love, not to bite, devour, and consume one another (Gal. 5:13-15).
After President Eisenhower signed the Congressional Act and Joint Resolution to add the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 he said, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
We can only influence others, not control them. As an individual, choose to declare your dependence on the Lord. Don’t fret because of those who bring wicked schemes to pass. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. As you commit your way to the Lord and trust in Him, He will bring it to pass (Ps. 37:7, 5). We’re only strangers passing through this life, our true citizenship is in heaven, from where we eagerly await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20).