Ron Witbeck: Independence Day — are we free?

By Ron Witbeck

Associate Pastor, Resurrection Life Church

As we have just celebrated the freedoms given to us by our forefathers we need to ask ourselves "Are we free?" There are many different forms of freedom.

Years ago in my early Christian walk I had a hard time trying to break the habit of swearing. It seemed the harder I tried, the more helpless I felt with continued failure. It seemed I was being influenced by the people around me and the lack of my own ability to break this habit, knowing it was not right while claiming to be a Christian.

During the summer while I was still in high school, I became friends with a young man named John from Saginaw, whose parents had a cottage on Hicks Lake located a mile and a half from my father’s farm in Evart. I don’t remember how we met but we became good friends. After doing my chores on the farm we spent a lot of time at the lake which included swimming, fishing, and sharing dreams of the future.

We both served in the military during the Vietnam War. He served with the ground forces in the U.S. Army, while I served in the U.S. Navy along the northern coast of Vietnam and we both made it back home alive.

John, shortly after returning home from the service, committed his life to Jesus Christ. He shared this change in his life with me. It was some time later I also surrendered to the call of God.

Later upon sharing with John of my desire to quit the habit of swearing,  I said it seemed the harder I tried, the harder I failed. John then told me that on our own some habits are almost impossible to break! He didn’t quote Scriptures to me, and I don’t remember if he prayed for me, but he did tell me I needed to confess my weaknesses to Jesus and ask Him for His strength.

That was a hard decision to make, to turn my control over to Jesus after all these years of "me, myself, and I," then turning to a stronger faith in the power of Jesus’ name. To my surprise it worked!

Since then I’ve found submitting to God and His power, not only myself, but anyone can break those chains of worldly habits that take hold of us. The Apostle Paul found that true when he was dealing with the "thorn in his flesh;" you can read about that in his writings found in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Check it out!

I have also found in the Book of James, where submitting to God’s power can change things. Let’s take a look at James 4:5-8, 10

“What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

"'God sets himself against the proud,

"but he shows favor to the humble.'

"'So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. . .'

“When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor.” (NLT)

You may not have a John in your life who will speak the truth to you, so seek out a true Christian who will.

Jesus gave us our TRUE Independence Day. Let Him set you free!