Restored for Future Freedom

On September 12, 1777, the day after General Washington’s defeat at the Battle of Brandywine, Thomas Paine wrote in his pamphlet series The American Crisis, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Paine wrote to encourage Americans that, despite the previous day’s defeat, their cause was right and they were sure to be victorious in the end. However, within two weeks, Philadelphia was captured by the British and held for nine months. Certainly, our new country felt the fatigue of supporting its freedom, but Paine was right; as the troops and the country as a whole continued to defend their freedom, little by little, the war was won and freedom secured.

When Paine wrote this pamphlet, he wrote with several assumptions: that the people were already free, that there were blessings yet to come from that freedom, and that they must strive to maintain that freedom and secure those blessings. Clearly, Paine knew what our country’s history bears out, that the Declaration of Independence was not the goal but the beginning, as the war continued another six years and as the struggle to maintain that freedom continues.

Paul recognized a similar struggle in our spiritual lives. Paul knew that those who put their faith in Jesus – believing that he is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose to give us new life; repenting of our sins; confessing Jesus as Lord; and joining with him in baptism – are saved, freed from sin, but he also knew that there is an ongoing struggle to live within that freedom and to receive the blessings that are yet to come. Paul wrote to the early church about that struggle and future blessings in Romans 8:18-21:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Just as Paine described the newfound American freedom, Paul reminded the early church that while they had received salvation and freedom in Christ there is more to come and toward that future blessing there will be an ongoing struggle.

We know that life is a struggle because human sin has corrupted the physical world itself, even our bodies, which Paul explained throughout Romans 8. We also know the Good News: because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, even the physical universe will be restored. Paul tells us (Romans 8:21) that our salvation through faith in Jesus is evidence of that future freedom for all of God’s creation. However, even though we have already been saved, we still wait for that final restoration, as Paul writes in Romans 8:23-25:

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

“Wait for it patiently”; easier said than done, right? Praise God that we don’t have to do it alone! Paul also reminds us: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26).

Because we are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit who helps us to live this newly restored life as we anticipate future freedom. This is why and how we can praise and serve God despite our ongoing struggles. Celebrate your freedom because there’s more to come!