Completely Clean

The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:7b

I rejoice in every opportunity I get to walk through a forest and surround myself with things God made, unsullied by man’s masterpieces. One such occasion arose several years ago, and just in time to see the gorgeous autumn colors in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia. The color red appeared prominently nearly everywhere I looked, reminding me of the precious blood of Christ, which washes away our sin. Am I a sinner? Yes. (We all are.) But when God looks at me, He doesn’t see my sin; He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I’m not perfect, but my sins are under the blood. I am completely clean before a holy God.

There’s a beautiful gospel song which talks about this very truth. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy it with me.


Photo taken in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, 2014

O Beautiful for Heroes Proved

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

Your prayers and your alms are come up for a memorial before God.

Acts 10:4b

Photo taken in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, 2014

Sacrificial Freedom

I will freely sacrifice unto Thee: I will praise Thy name, O Lord, for it is good.

Psalm 54:6

On this Independence Day, I wish to spend a few minutes reflecting upon what true freedom looks like. To some, freedom means being able to do what you please, go where you want, and say what’s on your mind. And while our Constitution does grant us those rights (so long as the expression of our rights does not infringe upon those of others), true freedom is much more basic than that.

Slavery was not forbidden in the Bible: rather, it was considered a fact of life. Masters were instructed to be kind to their slaves (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1), and slaves likewise were admonished to honor and obey their masters (Tit. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:18). Many slaves were better off in such a condition than they would be on their own. They had a roof over their heads, food to eat, job security, and more. In fact, when the debt was paid, they could choose to become a servant for life (bondslave), and many did, for the love they had for their masters.

Philemon was a slave owner. Paul wrote a letter to him and sent it by the hand of Onesimus, a runaway slave. Onesimus had thought he could get lost in the crowd in Rome, but instead the Lord led him to the doorstep of Paul, who was then a prisoner in that city. Paul led Onesimus to the Lord, discipled him in the teachings of Christ, then sent him back to his master Philemon to right the wrong he had done and suffer whatever punishment he might face. Granted, in the letter, Paul took upon himself Onesimus’s guilt and debt, urging Philemon to accept his slave back as a brother.

The Bible is replete with object lessons that teach us various aspects of our relationship with God. Just as marriage pictures the relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:31-32), so slavery illustrates the relationship between man and God (Col. 4:1; Eph. 6:5). God created us and sustains our lives. As our Creator, He owns us. We belong to Him. But all of us at one point or another have run away from Him (Isa. 53:6). Yet He in love drew us back to Himself (Isa. 43:1). It is His love for us that motivates us to love and serve Him. I take you back to the verse with which we began:

I will freely sacrifice unto Thee: I will praise Thy name, O Lord, for it is good.

Psalm 54:6

True freedom is not those expressions protected by the Constitution. True freedom comes from God. In Him, you can be freeā€”in your home, on the street, in prison, in a job you hate, in a job you love, whether you are the boss or the employee, whether a student or a graduate, single or married.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

John 8:36

Happy Independence Day to one and all, whether or not you live in the United States of America! Are you free from the power of sin? If you are not yet free in Christ, regardless of your status in society, I pray that today will become your Independence Day.

Image by Simple-aign from Pixabay