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Shackles for Sale

How many of us are truly free? Personal freedom is something most people claim to value. They will go further and say that they are free. “Certainly,” they say, “I’m nobody’s slave!” Yet, the fact of the matter is that most people are not free. Even those who claim they can do whatever they like, whenever they want are most likely ruled by their own passions and desires. They have habits they cannot break. They have patterns of thought they cannot escape. They allow the opinions of others to control them. Their bonds may be invisible but they are just as captive as if they were shackled with chains of iron.

Our consciences bear witness to the fact that we are not free. Our consciences accuse us when we think or act in ways we know are wrong. Even when we want to do what is right we find ourselves doing the wrong and evil things we do not want to do and our consciences protest. It is though we are compelled to act against the very moral code we agree with.

What is this thing which forces us to act against our will? What compels us to do what we know is wrong? What keeps us from acting in the way we agree is good and right? The Bible calls it ‘sin.’ Once we have violated God’s standards sin holds us captive. It forces us to do what it wants rather than the good we want to do.

How can we gain our freedom? How can we be emancipated from the sin which holds us in bondage? Jesus said, “...If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV)

The truth will set us free? How can this be? How can truth release us from what holds us captive? Truth shows reality. Truth frees us to see things as they really are. It shatters the illusions which blind us to our real condition. Once we are free from illusion and able to recognize our true situation it enables us to look for true remedies to the things which enslave us.

There is another sense in which truth saves us. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life...” (John 14:6 NIV) Since the truth will set us free, and Jesus is the truth, then it is Jesus who frees us! We cannot save ourselves, but Jesus can. In fact, He is the only one who can free us from the slavery of sin. To put it another way, He paid the cost to buy us from our master.

But there is a condition. We will not know the truth unless we hold to Jesus’ teaching. We cannot merely say that we belong to Jesus – we must also embrace what He said. We must be His disciples in fact, not just in name. How does this free us? Following Jesus’ teaching changes our nature. He makes us into people who instinctively shun what is wrong and do what is right. When the process is complete we will be totally free to do whatever we like, because doing right will be the only thing we will want to do!

Do we know the truth? Have we allowed the truth to free us from all the things which enslave us?