Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)
Paul makes it clear – Jesus sets us free but need to take care we do not become entangled in bondage again. How can we be brought under bondage?
Long ago, two brothers fought for piece of land in what is now Belgium. The older brother’s name was Raynald, but everyone called him “Crassus,” a Latin nickname meaning “fat,” for he was terribly overweight. After a tough battle, Raynald’s younger brother Edward took his lands. But Edward didn’t kill Raynald. Instead, he had a room in the castle built around “Crassus,” a room with only one skinny door. The door wasn’t locked, the windows weren’t barred, and Edward promised Raynald he could regain his land and title anytime he wanted. All he had to do was leave the room. The obstacle to freedom wasn’t the door or the windows, but Raynald himself. He was so overweight, he couldn’t fit through the door. All that Raynald needed to do was diet down to a smaller size and walk out a free man.
However, his younger brother kept sending him tasty foods, and Raynald’s desire to be free never won out over his desire to eat. Some accused Edward of being cruel to his brother, but he simply replied: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he wants to.” But Raynald stayed in that room for ten years, until Edward himself was killed in battle.
This is a dramatic picture of how many Christians live. Jesus has set them forever free legally, and they may walk in that freedom from sin whenever they choose. But since they keep yielding their bodily desires to the service of sin, they live a life of defeat, discouragement, and imprisonment. Because of unbelief, self-reliance, or ignorance, many Christians never live in the freedom Christ paid for on the cross.
The Evangelist D. L. Moody used to speak of an old black woman in the South following the Civil War. Being a former slave, she was confused about her status and asked: “Now am I free, or am I not? When I go to my old master, he says I’m not free, and when I go to my own people, they say I am, and I don’t know whether I’m free or not. Some people told me that Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation, but master says he didn’t; that Lincoln he didn’t have any right to.”
That is exactly the place many Christians are. They are, and have been, legally set free from their slavery to sin, yet they are unsure of that truth. And of course, our “old master” is always trying to convince us that we are not free from his dominion.
Today, don’t listen to your old master. Do all you can to walk in the liberty for which Jesus has set you free.