(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article, read by the author)
Freedom. Can you taste it? What greater prize is there than freedom? Above all else, above money, nice cars, excelling in sports, people tend to value freedom. But are you really free?
You can think what you want, say what you want, do what you want. It’s a free country. Everything is your decision. Until you happen to see that new pair of shoes in the mall and you just have to have them. Or your classmate says something extra stupid and you just have to give a sarcastic reply. Or when somebody attractive walks past you on the beach and you just have to look. Suddenly you don’t have too much of a choice in the matter.
It’s slavery of the worst kind. Slavery to sin. Like Jesus says in John 8:34, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”
Maybe you’re not as free as you thought.
And it often doesn’t feel like slavery. It feels like you are doing what you want. Because something in you wants to spend money you know you don’t have on those new shoes in the mall. Something in you wants to come with a really biting retort when your classmates act stupidly. Something in you wants to look at the attractive people walking around on the beach. It feels like freedom. It feels like you are getting all the things you want.
But as a Christian you also want to live like the Bible commands you to, holy and pure and free from sin. (1 John 3:3) That something in you that wants to sin is still there. And deep down inside it isn’t even really what you want any more. When you feel the chains binding you, keeping you from doing God’s will, time after time then a real hate for sin is awakened in you.
“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” Romans 7:21-22.
You delight in the law of God and yet there is evil present with you. Even though you will to do the good. Just because you decide to live for Jesus doesn’t mean your sin goes away by itself. But you can conquer its power over you. You can break the chains that bind you. When your hate for sin is strong enough you can deny the sin that tries to force you to do or think in ways that aren’t pleasing to God. You can put the sinful nature in you to death and become free. (Colossians 3:5)
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” Acts 1:8. The power of the Holy Spirit was given for exactly this reason. By faith, by obedience, by God’s great grace and mercy, the shackles of sin are shattered and you become free. The Bible contains the power you need to be finished with sin. The power you need not to do the things you don’t want to do. Obedience to God will set you free. Obedience to the truth will set you free. You don’t owe Satan anything. Jesus has bought you out from all your guilt and sin.
And when sin seems to be compelling you to do this, that, and the other thing, to look here and there, and it’s so strong that you feel you just have to do it, then you can remember this promise. Remember that the Bible calls us to be free. Completely free. We are no longer bound by the shackles of sin. Pray to God. Do what He commands. Resist the desires that rise up within you and put them to death.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. In other words, you will be free.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.