It was 245 years ago in July of 1776, when this nation declared its independence from England and began the Revolutionary War. Since then, the United States of America became known as the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yet, as a follower of Jesus, we have been called to a life of dependence.
In his Gospel, John records the seven "I am" statements uttered by Jesus Christ. In John 15, Jesus says that he alone is the Vine. In verse 5 Jesus makes this statement of an absolute truth. "I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Paul shares his conclusion to that statement in his letter to the Philippians. “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
The greatest freedom that any of us will ever experience is to be found in total dependence on God alone. Many people, including myself at one time, viewed being a Christian as the most repressive and limiting of all existences imaginable. It appeared void of all the joy and pleasures that life had to offer.
However, when each of us takes a real honest look at ourselves and where we are, our personal pursuit of pleasure became the most unbearable bondage we could have imagined. This became crystal clear during my last term in prison.
Yet that time in prison had become to me a State-Sponsored Spiritual Retreat. My need for dependence on Christ showed itself in finding God as the ultimate source of my pleasure and satisfaction. Reading what king David wrote about meditating on the Word of God both day and night fed a desire in me to commit as much of God's word to memory. As a result, I have come to a deeper understanding of who God is and where true joy and pleasure were to be found. Pastor Paul Washer put it perfectly when he said, "The happiest man is the one who is the slave to the perfect master."
My passion for God and to continually be in his presence was such that I was apprehensive about being released. Those two years were like what I imagine Moses felt during his 40 days on Mount Sinai surrounded by the presence of God. I thought, "Why would anyone want anything else, ever." And because of that personal experience with God, I discovered a passion for God's word that I had never known before. That has fueled my personal growth as a man who is intentional about becoming the spiritual leader and moral example for my family, at any cost. I want more of God in my life. God has blessed me with the passion to be part of encouraging other men by sharing the hope and joy that I found. I want to be that contagious Christian that infects others with the transforming love of Christ.
Why is this dependence so essential?
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
1 Corinthians 10:13 is often misquoted as God saying that he will never give us more than we can bear. We begin to start to think God must really be impressed with me because of what I have to endure right now. If that really was the case, there would be no real need for my surrender and dependence on God in Christ. However, that is taking that scripture out of context. But looking at the second part of the verse shows the truth and necessity of dependence on God.
During our toughest trial and struggles, we can tend to try to muscle through it on our own. We often forget that a way of escape has been provided. Jesus is that way.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9
We spend more time listening to those around us or reading self-help books than we do in our personal devotional time with God. Jesus is the truth.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
Some of these temptations can seem so overwhelming to the point where despair and hopelessness can take us to very dark places. Waking up becomes another day of existing, but no longer living. Jesus is the life.
I am the bread of life. John 6:48
The escape is provided, but each one of us still need to choose to use it.
This is why Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We must depend on God for everything, because our salvation and eternal destiny fully depends on Christ.
So you also must “consider yourselves DEAD TO SIN and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11, emphasis mine). So by the power of the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us, each one of us can say to sin, "I'm dead to that!" So join me in this declaration of freedom through Christ.
To sexual immorality and all of its forms - I'm dead to that!
To following idols or anything but God - I'm dead to that!
To mind altering substances - I'm dead to that!
To jealousy and trying to control others - I'm dead to that!
To anger, rage, and selfishness - I'm dead to that!
To dividing and breaking fellowship - I'm dead to that!
To anything that draws my affection from my Savior - I'm dead to that!
If you are a follower of Jesus, this is who we are called to be in him today. If you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ, he is inviting you to find true freedom through complete dependence in him.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30
Let today be the day you make your own Declaration of Dependence. It's as simple as A, B, C:
Acknowledge that you are hopelessly lost. Your life is beyond your control and ability to manage it. That it is impossible for you to change by your power and effort.
Believe that the work of Christ on the cross and his resurrection is sufficient to save you. Believe that he alone has the power to restore and transform you to what he created you to be.
Commit your life and will completely to Christ's care and control without reservation. Repent (change direction in thought and action) from your way to his way.
If you have decided to follow Jesus Christ today, let someone know. You can also shoot us an email letting us know about your decision so that we can help you understand and grow.