Rear Admiral Barry C. Black, the 62nd Chaplain of the United States Senate, reflected on the true meaning of Independence Day and asked if Americans are “free indeed” during a Sunday sermon.
Black began his sermon by recalling that on July 4, 1776, America declared freedom from Great Britain and democracy was born. As a result, Americans had the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of petition.
Yet “in spite of the marvelous freedom we have in this great land, there is still slavery in America because people are enslaved by sin, and the word of God declares if you are addicted to sin you are a slave of sin,” said Black in an In Touch Ministries special Independence Day program.
By recognizing that sin still enslaves us and that although we may be socially free we are not spiritually free, Independence Day “is not just a declaration of something that just happened centuries ago, but something that has happened in the here and the now,” he said.
The Chaplain cited John 8:31-36: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’ Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ‘”
Black conditioned that once the son makes you free, then anyone can truly celebrate Independence Day “because then you are free indeed. If you are a slave to sin, then you are not free” regardless if the government says otherwise.
“Sin does not care that your name is America. Sin reproaches any people,” the Senate Chaplain declared.
An example of a free person in the Bible is Joseph, Black offered, when Joseph was in prison he was freer than his warden.
In order for anyone to experience true freedom, people must follow a minimum of three guidelines: first, people must begin their discipleship with belief in Jesus. He emphasized that it’s not about increasing church members but the number of true followers of Christ. “Doers of the word and not just hearers,” he said.
Being a follower means abiding by God’s word. It means eating spiritual food every day and not just physical, Black explained. It is about getting through the entire love letter, the Bible, God gave to us.
Secondly, it is important to not be ignorant of our bondage, in other words, to avoid false notions of freedom. “If you are to experience true freedom you must go to the source of true freedom,” he said.
Finally, and most importantly, we must go to the source of true freedom, which is the son of God, whom we crucified with our sins so he can set us free.
He concluded his sermon by summarizing, “Start your discipleship with belief in Jesus. Abide in his word. Don’t be ignorant of your bondage. Avoid false freedom. And come to know him … for if the son has set you free, every day is Independence Day for you, [and you] are free indeed.”