Freedom! What an amazing word!
Along with love and security, freedom is the deepest desire of every human heart. Throughout history, people have sacrificed their lives and all that they have to win freedom. In the words of an old gospel song, "All God's children just want to be free."
We live in the midst of the greatest time of freedom in human history. But just because we are politically and socially free, that does not mean we are completely free. We are bound by chains of addiction, sickness, poor choices, fear, depression, prejudice, guilt, past bitterness, and deception.
Any one of these agents of bondage causes freedom to become the proverbial carrot dangling from the end of a stick. These chains are not visible to the naked eye. These are not the shackles of a human tyrant, whose goal is to silence our speech. These are the chains of the Deceiver, whose goal is to kill, steal, and destroy humanity.
And if the voices of those in bondage could describe their greatest wish, they would tell you how they long for just one moment of freedom from the demons of their darkness.
There is a freedom that is greater than any of the chains that bind you. This is a freedom that is stronger than the grip of your greatest fear or deepest despair. This freedom is more powerful than the stronghold of sin and guilt.
The One who freed the thief on the cross from the hell he deserved is the same One who holds the power that can free us from the chains we carry. His name is Jesus Christ.
It is His appointed purpose to set us free. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
On Calvary's cross, Jesus was carrying our chains with him. When He screamed from the cross, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me," it was because the weight of every sin, addiction, despair, fear, and anxiety of every person who had or would ever live was on Him.
In that moment, Jesus felt the pain and bondage of sin for every person for all time. Yet when He rose from the grave, where the devil had tried to keep Him, Jesus broke the chains and set us free. Death couldn't hold Him. The grave could not keep Him. The devil couldn't defeat Him. He was free, and in Him, we are free!
Second Corinthians 3:17 says, "For where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
That is why Paul could write in Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
Jesus is our rock! Jesus is our fortress! Jesus is our deliverer! Jesus has destroyed sin and conquered the grave! In Jesus, we are free. John 8:36 says, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
If you are in Jesus, and if Jesus is in you, you no longer have to be controlled by the power of sin!
The Rev. Chris Reynolds is pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Christian Academy in Jonesboro.