If you've spent any time reading the Old Testament Scriptures, you've undoubtedly read about bondage, captives, prisoners and slaves. We read the stories in Genesis about the Hebrews who were held captive, in Deuteronomy it was the Israelites and Isaiah told of Judah. It's interesting to note that in the Old Testament we read of actual physical bondage, but when we move to the New Testament we read of those who are held captive by sin–a spiritual prison.
The good news is that God can and does set the captives free! Unfortunately, today we see many of our Christian brothers and sisters who have not claimed their freedom. It's like being behind prison bars with the cell door open but refusing to walk out. Why is this? Why do so many continue to hang on to their prison terms, when in fact they have been pardoned?
I think there are many reasons for this actually. I believe that many have gotten so used to being held captive that it has become the norm for them. They don't know anything of what real freedom is, captivity has become their "comfort zone." I've read stories of actual inmates that have been in prison for so long that once they are released they intentionally do something so that they can return to the confines of their cell. It's all they've known for so long, they don't know how to function on the "outside." I see Christians who would rather hang on to their captivity than be released.
Unfortunately, I also see Christians who are held captive in a prison of their own making. They have the "key," but they chose instead to remain locked up. This is very sad and unnecessary! Before Christ's birth, God orchestrated events to ensure that His people could be released from the physical bondage that they had gotten themselves in to. With the birth, life and death of Christ, we were given the means to be released from physical, emotional and spiritual imprisonment.
Of course I see some who abuse the freedom that Christ has given them as well. Wielding their freedom as though it were some kind of license to do whatever they chose. I've actually heard some Christians say, "well, I'm a Christian, I can do this and not have to worry about it because after all I have liberty through Christ, I'll be forgiven anyway." This is the ultimate example of "playing with fire." Yes, we do have freedom and liberty through Christ and yes, we can receive forgiveness, but not when we are purposefully setting out to abuse that "power" out of our own ego and false bravado.
So what are the things that hold us in bondage? Who or what is our "jailer?" What must we do to take hold of the key and be released? What will happen upon our release? Once released, do we have all the rights, liberties and freedoms that the rest of society enjoys? This and more will be some of the answers that we will search out in the next installment titled "Setting the Captives Free!" Stay tuned.
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