This Saturday, we will celebrate the Fourth of July, a uniquely American holiday. No other nation has a holiday quite like it. No other nation on Earth has aspired to a higher and simpler ideal.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Eighty-seven years later, on July 4, 1863, Lee’s Confederate Army withdrew in defeat from Gettysburg. On that same day, Vicksburg fell to Grant, two pivotal battles that decided the preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery.

On July 4, 1884, France presented the Statue of Liberty to the United States.

In many ways, the history of our nation has been written by our efforts to live up to the declaration of freedom and equality for all. We’re engaged in perhaps our greatest struggle to rise to the ideals of our nation since the civil rights movement.

We’ve learned that ultimate freedom can never be achieved though legislation and government alone, as important as those are. Ultimate freedom must be achieved in each human heart.

Every one of us must fight a personal war with our own sin nature that seeks to make us captive and steal our freedom. Greed, corruption and prejudice remain the greatest obstacles to freedom and equality.

Two thousand years ago another document was drafted. It wasn’t voted upon by representatives and did not found any government. But those words spoken long ago hold the secret to the ideals that we have embraced. Jesus said, “I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin ... If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

God sent his Son into the world not merely to pay the penalty for our sin so that we might enter Heaven; he sent him in order that he might overcome sin’s grip on our lives and set us free.

The Apostle Paul had once been enslaved to ambition, anger and prejudice. He started his early career arresting the innocent and locking them up. But he found a better way. He confessed, “The good that I would do, I don’t. And that that I don’t want to do is exactly what I end up doing ... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24)

This Fourth, as we celebrate the freedom envisioned by our nation’s founders, may we experience true freedom that is found through faith in the one who laid down his life for all people of every nation and every generation.

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Visit www.tinsleycenter.com. Email bill@tinsleycenter.com.

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