In late 1776, the Colonial army had lost battle after battle to the British forces. Soldiers began to doubt their ability to win the war and were not as quick to reenlist. Because of the people’s dwindling faith in Washington’s leadership, new enlistments had dropped off. Less than one year into the revolution, hope for victory was bleak at best. Truly the thirteen colonies were facing a debilitating crisis.
Author and Patriot Thomas Paine had been instrumental in rallying the citizenry to take up arms and fight for freedom. During the cold, dark days of war, he once again took up his pen and wrote:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated”(Crisis).
Just as before the war, his challenge set in ink spread across the colonies, reigniting the fires of freedom which had grown cold in the face of strong opposition, defeat, and the harshness of winter. The people rallied and the war for freedom continued until its victorious end in 1783.
Today, Christianity faces a major crisis. Belief in Christ has been watered down to a faith with no requirements. People are asking, “What is the least I can do to be a Christian and still get to heaven?” Others are stripping away verses of the Bible to make it more palatable for those who just want to squeak their way into heaven. Truly, we are facing a crisis in Christianity.
We need true Christians to rally together even though “these are times that try men’s souls.” We must remember that sin “is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” If the sacrifice of Christ was for our forgiveness and victory over sin, death, and hell, we cannot continue in this conflict in the power of our sinful flesh. This conflict is difficult. Many have spent years feeding the lusts of the flesh, pursuing their every desire, and enjoying that which God sees as sin. Our human desires do not give us the freedom to change, deny, or re-write the Word of God.
My friends, our salvation came by the shedding of Christ’s blood. It was not just a prick of the finger, nor was it simple act. Our salvation came through the loss of Jesus’ life. He willingly hung on the cross in our place that we might have victory over sin. If we water down the gospel, if we allow respectable sins, if we remove that which offends others, then we cheapen the loving sacrifice of Christ Jesus!
Thomas Paine’s quote is perfect for the crisis we face today: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” Do we as individual Christians esteem too lightly what Jesus has done? Has salvation been obtained so cheaply that its cost means nothing? I would ask you today to take up your Bible and read Luke 22:39-24:53. Think about what it cost Jesus for your freedom—freedom—not tolerance. FREEDOM! Freedom from the tyranny of sin, guilt, lust, envy, lying, stealing, and the like. Freedom to live the life God intended from the beginning of time. Freedom for a life of faith, hope, and love. Remember, sin “like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
All quotes from Thomas Paine “Crisis”