The Longest Day is an epic World War Two movie about the Normandy Invasion. Although it is cinematically and technologically dated by today’s standards, it was its generation’s Saving Private Ryan.
There’s a striking scene where the Allied forces begin shelling the French coastline in preparation for the beach assault. An older French couple live in one of the houses dotting the shoreline. German occupation has chafed away at the man especially and he is mocking and scornful of their lives. But the shells begin to fall around his house and he sees the Allied fleet on the horizon, he begins to celebrate ecstatically. He scurries to find the French flag he has kept hidden away and brings it out and begins to wave it. His more level-headed wife has concerns about their survival but he is oblivious—all he cares about is liberation.
There’s nothing like the loss of freedom to make you appreciate freedom, is there? If you’ve lived with any perceptiveness and self-awareness, you know there is such a thing as sin. You also know that not only does it not liberate, it imprisons. These are basic truths from the Bible but our experience bears them out as well. And while it’s almost always easier to spot sin in others (broken relationships, addictions, anger, bitterness, etc.), it’s in us as well.
No one that I know has graduated from the war with sin. While Christians have been set free from sin in that God through Jesus has forgiven us, we still struggle to reflect this liberation in our lives by living free from sin. Our reach greatly exceeds our grasp here (1 John 1:8-10).
Part of our problem is that we ignore God’s warnings, underestimate sin, and get as close to it as we can—to satisfy our “curiosity” (Eve in the garden, King David on the rooftop, etc.). Convinced that all that glitters is gold, we allow ourselves to get entangled in sin thinking we can get out of it and easily as we got into it. Too late do we find out that this is only one of many ways in which we have been deceived. Sin has a barb that makes it hard to get the hook out. There is a price to pay for its removal and many times we are simply unwilling to pay that price (see Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:29-30). We seek the path of least resistance. In the movie mentioned earlier, the French officer tells his crew on the battleship, “Soon we shall be engaged in battle. To drive the enemy out, we must fire on our homeland. This is the price of liberty.”
All of this is helps us to understand why the language of war is sometimes invoked in reference to sin (see Romans 7:23; 1 Peter 2:11 for examples). Wars are life and death struggles. Each little step we make away from sin is a step toward liberation. Romans 8 (the whole chapter but especially v. 18ff), tells us there is a day coming (the resurrection), when not only will there be no more sin and struggle, but liberation will be completely realized. We look forward and long for that day. We’re not alone. The text says (v. 22ff), that the creation joins with us in waiting for this deliverance. Everything lost because of sin (see Genesis 3:17ff), will be restored. Earth will no longer be subjected to a curse and our bodies will no longer be subject to sin or death. Sin’s occupation will be over and victory will be complete. Look out on the horizon and see our deliverance coming. When it comes, nothing else will matter except that we refused to surrender to the enemy.
Liberation day is coming—keep fighting!