Stay Free

Jail Cell With Open Door And Bunch Of Keys

A closeup of the lock of a jail cell with iron bars and a bunch of key in the locking mechanism with the door open

Galatians 5:1 (NLT) So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

The word “slavery” is ugly and seldom used in anything other than a negative connotation. Freedom is the celebrated term which is opposite. People desire liberty. No one cries out to return to prison except maybe those who do not know how to properly maintain freedom. For many years, I worked in Student Services for a local technical institution. My position would change my perspective about many things as I began to see more than just my life, circumstances and condition. There were many young people seeking registration as a court-ordered requirement. Many adjudications include a provision for gainful employment or education. Education is usually more accepting of those who have seen the inside of a jail than most workplaces. I encountered those who decided that they did not want to return to their former life shaped by bad choices, but would rather pursue freedom in their second chance. Well…and then there were others.

One young man had missed the deadline for registration and made an appointment to plead his case. It was my responsibility to listen to him and decide if he could enter school or must wait until the next semester. A professional judgment is made by financial aid representatives in such circumstances. Some are unable to do so due to personal illness or that of immediate family member. Others have extraordinary situations that are uncommon so therefore considered. He had been an unwilling client of the local jail due to pending drug charges. I asked if he had been exonerated or held unjustly. He said, “Yes! I explained that we would just need a copy of the court documents clearing him of all charges. He looked perplexed. See he had pleaded down to misdemeanor charges and credited with time served. He now was on probation so although he was “free” it did not remove his record just satisfied the charges. The boy was quite incredulous when he was not allowed to enter school. See in his mind, if you did not do jail time then he was innocent which was not the case according to the county court house and document of record.

Christ sets us free. It is up to us to maintain our freedom. There are many today who like this young man do not fully understand the requirements of freedom, resolution of sin, and our new life in Jesus Christ. It is important to take the time and invest energy and effort understanding freedom in Christ and working to maintain it. The fact that Jesus Christ took the Keys to the Kingdom and opened the door does not mean that everyone knows how to walk out of bondage into freedom forever. In fact, there are many people who look right, act right, talk right but do not live in right standing with God through His Son, Jesus. I don’t want that to be me. You don’t want that to be you either?

John 8:36 (NLT) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

First let’s talk about the process of freedom for a moment. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one accesses the Father any other way but through the Son. It doesn’t matter how or what you believe. If you do not come to the Father through His Son, Jesus you have not arrived. “God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.” (Ephesians 1:22-23) Jesus can set you free because He all things have been placed under His Authority by God. “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) This power and authority obtained by Christ through the sacrifice of His Life for us allowed the debt of sin levied against us to be completely satisfied. Our debt paid in full allows us to step into freedom. Are you with me so far?

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” Jesus Christ has given us the opportunity to live apart from sin. We are free to step out of darkness into light. Turn from evil and do good. We are no longer slaves to sin because we are no longer indebted to it. “And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:21-23) Now the part the church is divided over and Christians struggle with every day…we are no longer slaves to sin BUT become slaves of God. What? What’s the point of freedom if I am just enslaved again? God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (I Corinthians 1:30) We cannot earn our freedom because we cannot pay the debt of our sin. We need Jesus to do that. His Grace is sufficient for me and must be applied to my life every single time that I sin willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly. Apart from Christ I can do nothing, I will inevitably die eternally without a constant and complete union to Jesus Christ. Since I cannot purchase my freedom, my life belongs to Jesus Christ. I am enslaved to God.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Psalm 119:44-45 (NLT) I will keep on obeying your instructions forever and ever. I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

2 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

Jesus told the woman at the well that a day was coming when true worshippers would do so in Spirit and in Truth. We are that generation. We worship by the Spirit given to us by Christ. We worship by living and breathing the Word of God. The Word made flesh was Jesus. The Word of God is necessary. It is true. Living out the Word of God demonstrates that we are His Disciples. The Word of God keeps us on the straightaway called freedom. By doing what the Word says, we avoid sin that allows us to live in freedom. When we fall short, grace can be applied to regain our position of right standing once lost.

The common mistake and misconception that comes from a lack of knowledge that God deems as deadly is that because Jesus died for our sin and applied grace to our life that nothing further is required of us as God’s People. When a person commits a crime, he or she is sentenced to a penalty for their crime. When they satisfy this requirement, they are free to go back into society and live a life of newfound freedom. However, if they continue to commit crimes or break the law, they will find themselves back in the same captivity and imprisonment. They will go right back to the place they were freed from. Why? They continued to transgress against society. There are many Christians who have the same problem. They are set free but cannot seem to maintain their freedom. Each time the penalty gets steeper in an effort to dissuade the criminal from continuing to commit crimes. I know…I have a brother on his third strike. He cannot maintain his freedom because he chooses to take things that do not belong to him. Thou shalt not steal does not seem to apply to his life. If and when it does, he will maintain his freedom longer than a few years.

Galatian 5:7-9 (NLT) You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!

It is up to you and me to maintain our freedom in Christ. We must strive to stay free each day. The only way to successfully accomplish this task is to be completely bound to Jesus Christ. We can do nothing apart from Him. (John 15:5) God has called you free. Jesus has opened the door of captivity and swung it wide. The price. Self. All of you. Why? Because any part of our life given to sin is a place of stronghold that will be easily taken over.

Why freedom? Faith in God maintains our freedom. Trusting Him with our entire life and being. Loving Him with our whole heart. Accepting the Mind of Christ in exchange for rebellious thoughts. What is in it for me? Freedom from guilt. (Psalm 19:12-14) Freedom from fear and trouble. (Psalm 34:4-7) He frees our hands from heavy tasks that we were never intended to bear so we become successful in achieving His Purpose and Plan for us. (Psalm 81:6-7) In fact, Jesus sets us free from all captivity. He frees us from isolation. (Psalm68:5-6) What is holding your thoughts captive today? What bondage persists in your body? What is the stronghold in your mind? Jesus has the means to set all captives free. Do you want to be free?

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

My husband is not enslaved to me. We live in covenant. Yet I do lay my life down for him each day because we are life partners. I love him. I have decided to lay my life down for Jesus Christ. My partnership with Jesus indicates that I am a servant of God. We like that word better because is indicates a choice. We do have a choice. The choice is life or death. Once the choice for life is made it is an automatic acceptance of becoming bound to Jesus Christ. If I decide to keep things from Jesus – it is not different than keeping things from my husband. Marital secrets will destroy a relationship quickly. It eradicates our partnership with Christ immediately. Aren’t you thankful for grace and new mercy each day? We have every spiritual gift both in His Word and the Holy Spirit to eagerly await the return of Jesus with great expectation. To live in expectation is to exercise one’s freedom from sin. Our only success against sin is Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, sin is the authority in my life. It is one or the other. Freedom or bondage? What will your choice be today?

Psalm 116:16 (NLT) O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.

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