You're a slave. Did you know that? No, not in a physical sense - although you may feel like that at work or even at home sometimes. Your slavery is of a spiritual/emotional/mental nature. The chains that bind you are not made of iron, but they are stronger than anything ever forged by human hands.
Don't believe me? OK - let me ask you a few questions:
• How many times a week do you say something, think something, or do something that makes you ask, "Why am I such an IDIOT???"
• How many bad habits do you have lurking in the cellar of your soul that leap out and ambush your life at just the wrong times?
• How many of you have a deep and abiding longing to be set free so you can live the liberated life you always dreamed of?
Yep - me too. And not only me, but probably everyone who has, is, or will walk on planet Earth.
You know who else was a slave? The Apostle Paul. That's right - the guy who wrote a huge chunk of the Bible and is one of the primary reasons you have heard the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How do I know he was a slave? He told us! Check this out:
The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. I have discovered this principle of life - that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:14; 16; 21-24, NLT).
Last question: how many of you can totally relate to what Paul is saying? I know I can. But I can also tell you that freedom is possible - the choice is completely yours…but you have to know that freedom doesn't come without a fight.
Just like the amazing freedom we have in America, right? To refresh our memories, King George and the Brits didn't just read the Declaration of Independence and say 'cool beans mates, have fun with the whole new nation thing. Keep in touch - cheerio!"
Ah, no. Thousands of volunteer American patriots spilled their blood and sacrificed their lives at places like Bunker Hill, Lexington and Concord, Saratoga and Yorktown so their children, grand children, great grandchildren, and all future generations (i.e. you and me) would experience freedom from the tyrannical rule of the English.
That's why we celebrate the 4th of July - remember?
Listen, I know you want to be free. Truth be told, you despise your slavery to sin, and God despises it as well. That's why 2,000 years ago, at another battlefield called Calvary, Jesus Christ spilled His blood and defeated the power of sin.
That's why He offers freedom to anyone willing to trust in Him for salvation. The moment you trust Christ, you are set free from your slavery to sin. But you must choose to let Jesus defeat your sinful nature every minute of every day.
That's why the Apostle Paul wraps up his slavery lament with this glorious answer:
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 7:25; 8:1-2, NLT).
Thank God indeed! The words are my declaration of independence every single day. I'm a slave, but I am also free when I choose to let the Holy Spirit unlock the chains of my old self and enable me to live a life of freedom I never thought possible.
I've come to realize that I'm always a slave to something, but through Christ I am free to be a slave to Him - which is the only place true freedom is found. Weird, huh?
So how about you?
Let the 4th of July holiday be your independence day as well. Ask Jesus to set you free from your slavery and your life will light up this dark world like a major league fireworks display against the dead of night.
And…let these words be your battle cry:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
Happy Independence Day!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Remember, deep down people know that they are trapped, that's why they hide with sarcasm, and try to escape that feeling with addictions and destructive lifestyles. Ask God to open a door to a spiritual conversation about freedom with your friends. Use the 4th of July holiday to talk about the freedom you've found by trusting Christ, and springboard that into presenting the gospel.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free…" (Luke 4:18).
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).