I was sitting in an FCA meeting this morning at one of the high schools here in Lee County and the song “Liberty” by Shane & Shane was playing on some speakers. Here’s the song.
The chorus goes: “For freedom He set me free/and yes, I am free indeed/You rewrote my name, unshackled my shame/opened my eyes to see/I am free.”
I imagine the song is based out of Galatians 5:1, which says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
The reason Christ set us free is freedom, that we’re no longer slaves, not for us to go back into slavery.
In the whole of the Old Testament, we see an excellent example of how this is not followed. In Exodus 14:12, you see the ancient Israelites say, “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” They were set free from 400+ years of harsh, cruel slavery, yet they desired to be back in slavery rather than to trust God’s plan of freedom. We do the same when we go back to the slavery of sin instead of trusting God’s plan of freedom.
Friendly reminder: slavery can seem appealing sometimes in light of God’s freedom. That seems counterintuitive, but look at the Israelites. They said, “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt?” They were thinking this from the beginning. We can have the same mindset.
What’s most important is that we realize God’s plan of freedom is so much better than the slavery of sin and disobedience to God. God brought the Israelites out of slavery so He could restore a nation to Himself. It was for their good. It wasn’t an easy thing. But it was ultimately for their good.
Yet, as you see throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites went back to what they wanted – slavery. They found themselves enslaved to many kings and kingdoms that were not God. Even when the King of kings came – Jesus Christ – they rejected Him. Only the Israelites who believed in Jesus, even though they were initially under the rule of Roman authority, experienced true freedom.
At that FCA meeting, a couple students shared about Lamentations 3:22-24 (read that here), and one of those students closed with this statement: “Life is hard but God is good.” When we believe it’s true freedom Christ has set us free for, not to go back into the slavery of sin, we are truly free.
Sin is bondage, ya’ll. It drags you down. It masters you. It controls you. It offers you things here and there, even freedom, but it’s bondage. It wants you. When you run away, it wants you back.
I was looking for a picture to go with this blog and I found the one on the left here. It’s a clip from the Anti-Slavery Bugle, reporting a story from the Cincinnati Gazette of Jan. 29, 1858. The headline reads: “Arrest of Fugitive Slaves: A Slave Mother Murders Her Child Rather Than See It Returned to Slavery.” It tells the story of a slave woman named Margaret Garner who slit her own daughter’s throat and tried to kill her other children rather than see them go back to being slaves, which was about to happen after her family had run away from being enslaved in Kentucky. It’s a tragic story (read more about it here) but it illustrates two points.
First, sin (represented here by the slave owners) will do anything to get you back into its clutches. It will chase you down, arrest you and bring you back to where you once came. Second, freedom is worth doing anything for. Even if it means fleeing continually from your old life.
I wish Margaret Garner hadn’t killed her daughter or tried to kill her other children. I wish she had thought of a better way. I hate that part of this story. But her well-intentioned desire was for her children to experience freedom. When she died later that year, Margaret Garner’s last words to her husband Robert were reportedly to “never marry again in slavery, but to live in the hope of freedom.”
That’s the kind of attitude we need in following Jesus. To not go back to slavery, to not marry ourselves to that old life, but to live in the freedom that we have in Jesus Christ. When a sin takes over you, you struggle to think about anything else, you struggle to know the peace and love of God that was displayed through Jesus Christ. Choose freedom. Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. You already have many times. Choose every day to not submit again.
And remember, when you do submit to the slavery, which we inevitably do as sinners, we have the freedom to runs to the arms of our liberator, Jesus Christ, and find love, peace and forgiveness.