Sunday morning we begin a series of lessons on Breaking Free. We will be examining various sins from which we find it difficult to break free. In the weeks to come we will discuss how we can break free from sins like gossip, anger, bitterness, and greed.
Jesus can set us free from the sins that so easily entangle us. In John 8:31-36 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
These lesson, as well as Independence Day, has allowed me to do a good bit of thinking on the subject of freedom. In my imagination, I put myself in the place of different groups of people who would desire freedom. Let me share some thoughts on two of these groups: prisoners and slaves.
Prisoners are locked behind iron bars. Their routine is restricted. They are told what, when, and how to do everything. Freedom for prisoners would be for them to have the doors opened and be released. Then there would be no more restrictions; they could live however they saw fit.
The slave’s life is not his own. He must work for another who could be kind or cruel. However, even under the kindest conditions, he must still do what his master says. He is told when to get up, where and when to work, and how he must behave. For the slave, freedom is to be released from his obligations to his master and the ability to make his own decisions about life.
I jotted down a few observations I believe can help us.
- Freedom, in human terms anyway, always involves a desire to haveno restrictions. We see freedom as a kind of self-autonomy which allows us to live for our own self-interests.
- For this reason true freedom demandsresponsibility. This is a quality the recently liberated may not have. Slavery and imprisonment replace personal responsibility with imposed obedience. There is no need to think or decide, only obey.
- Without responsibility,this kind of freedom only leads back to slavery. The prison recidivism rate speaks for itself. In the OT some slaves, even when freed, opted to remain with their masters rather than provide for themselves in the real world.
- Jesus offers a freedom that he describes as being “free indeed.” His is a freedom from sin, self-interest, and the slavery that counterfeit freedom can bring. His is not a freedom from restrictions or responsibility. Rather it is a freedom to truly live and enjoy the life that comes from complete and total surrender to him!