Recently I took a trip to visit my cousins. Before leaving to return home, on a Sunday morning, I attended church with them.
During the sermon, the pastor told a story about a time he had visited a prison to play a softball game with the prisoners, have lunch with them and minister to them.
He mentioned that during the worship and ministry time with the prisoners, he marveled at their freedom. They didn’t restrict their worship or their joy for fear of what others might think. They were completely free! It’s what I like to call “reckless abandonment.”
Having visited a loved one in prison, hearing the pastor’s description of his prison experience brought me to tears. I was flooded with distracting memories of someone I love with all my heart, in an orange jumpsuit, shackles, and chains.
Thankfully, the pastor made the statement that redirected my focus, “Those men were locked up for life with no hope for parole and they were freer and more joyful than people that are outside of visible prison walls.”
The prisoners were physically captive but spiritually free. As a result of their spiritual freedom, they had unexplainable hope, peace, and joy.
There are people walking around today with sadness, anxiety, and anger on their faces, on their tongues, and in their hearts. They have no hope, no peace, and no joy.
But if you ask them if they are free they would say, “Of course I am free!” “I can do what I want when I want and where I want!” They would think that your question was silly. But is it?
Jesus said in John 8:34 that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Slaves are not free!
Romans 6:16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
So we have two choices, we can choose to be obedient to sin or obedient to God. One leads to death and the other leads to righteousness, holiness and eternal life [Romans 6:22].
I don’t know about you but if I only have two choices in whom to obey, sin or God, obedience to God sounds like a much better deal. Not to mention that hope, peace and joy are included in the package.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’m reminded of an incident in God’s Word where Paul and Silas had been severely flogged and wrongfully imprisoned. Their feet were fastened in stocks. Then around midnight, they began praying and singing hymns to God [Acts 16:23-25].
How could men who had just been severely flogged/beaten, thrown into prison, with their feet in stocks, pray and sing hymns at midnight? They had to be in horrible pain. How were they able to move beyond their pain, suffering, and disappointment to praise and worship?
They were free on the inside! They had a hope, a peace and a joy that was not a result of their circumstance but instead a result of their faith in God.
A true sign of someone who is set free from a life of slavery to sin is hope, peace, and joy.
How do we get this freedom from sin?
Jesus said in John 8:31-32 That if we hold to His teaching and are true followers of Him then we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Jesus is the truth that we need to know in order to be set free from slavery to sin. He is the only way to eternal life. He is the only way to hope, peace, and joy.
Don’t go through life shackled and chained by sin having no hope, peace or joy. Choose to know the truth! Choose to know Jesus! Choose to be free!
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.