July is the month that we Americans tend to think about the word “liberty.” Since July 4 is the day that we codified the notion that we have the right to liberty, there will be several celebrations to remember that event.
But we should more concerned about the liberty that the Bible teaches that Jesus brought us.
When Jesus began his public ministry on Earth, he made it clear that his purpose was to bring liberty to us. Luke 4:17-19, “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus then in verse 21 stated that this scripture was fulfilled in the ears of those listening to him, basically telling everyone that he was the Messiah and that he came to give us liberty.
But what do we need liberty from? Most Americans live a peaceful life without the need for liberty. Christ, however, offers us liberty from the only thing that we can find no liberty from: sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 6:23.
We, despite our best intentions, are enslaved by sin. And though the United States of America can offer us liberty from the political oppressions of the past, it can’t offer us salvation—only Jesus by his death on the cross can do that.
In fact, the liberty that Christ offers us is so complete and wonderful that the writer of the book of James tells us that it’s perfect. But he continues on to remind us that that perfect liberty requires something from us.
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain,” (James 1:25-26).
This means that if we claim to have partaken in this liberty, what we sometimes call salvation, that means that we must act like those who are saved. Our actions are what tells other people that Christ has saved us.
These actions that we perform demonstrate that we are saved, but they do not earn us the right of salvation. They merely show others that we belong to Christ. In verse 27 of James 1, he tells us that some of these actions are to help those who are in need and can’t help themselves—the widows and orphans.
The only thing left to say is that to partake of this liberty, you must join with Christ. The only way to do that is to be baptized into his death.
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin,” Romans 6:4-6.
The result of baptism, as well as belief and repentance, is a new life. Liberty from the slave master of sin. And that is a liberty far greater than any that man could have created.