“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
—Galatians 5:1, 13
The movie, “Saving Private Ryan” is an intense and emotional war drama about a group of soldiers searching for one Private James Francis Ryan during World War 2, after three of his brothers had all died in combat. The unit that is searching for him goes through the emotions of why they are searching for one young man. One soldier says, “This Ryan better be worth it. He better go home and cure some disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb, or something.” But imagine if after all that the soldiers went through in trying to rescue Private Ryan if he surrendered to the Germans and they had to start all over again. Maybe that’s the sequel, “Saving Private Ryan Again,” a new group of guys is sent into set him free, but only to have him imprisoned again.” It sounds ridiculous, but the question is why would people sacrifice themselves to set another free only to have them return to their slavery.
The writer to the Hebrews describes sin as something that so easily entangles. How true that is for God’s people who are saints purchased and won by God to lead holy lives, but also are sinners with feet of clay. Sin wraps around our legs, our eyes and ears, our tongue and even our mind and it won’t let go. In fact, sin captures us and enslaves in such a way that we can ever free ourselves. We are trapped in sin and therefore sin has made us slaves. Those who are slaves can only serve one master. Since sin has made us its slaves, we seek only our own good, satisfying our own desires, serving only the bottomless pit of greed and lust. Slaves to sin have no concern for the needs of others.
Our culture spends a great deal of time talking about freedom - free to choose, free to do what you want, free to decide for yourselves. But these are just lies and deceit. It is not freedom at all, but slavery. The person who must serve themselves, who must satisfy their own wishes has become sin’s slave. There is no freedom at all. From the allure of a man or a woman to wealth and possessions to a momentary high, we have all been enslaved by sin. We have all entangled by sin’s deceit as we try to justify ourselves, while trying to satisfy ourselves. We have sought to fill that god-shaped whole inside of us as we seek to fill ourselves with more.
But Christ Jesus came to set us free. He came as the second Moses to rescue and redeem us from the slavery to sin. The redemption price for our freedom was not gold or silver, but his holy, precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. Christ frees us from the shackles of sin to walk in freedom. Once we were captives, but Christ has freed us by His becoming accursed for us.
But Christ has not set us free to use our freedom to become slaves again. Christ has not set us free so that we can serve only ourselves. Freedom never seeks to harm or steal from my neighbor. Freedom never seeks to betray my neighbor. Freedom never seeks to hate God or to reject the gifts that God gives. These things flow from slavery, not freedom.
The freedom, for which Christ has come and to which he has called us, is to allow us to be free to serve where God has called us and with the gifts that God has given. You have been freed by Christ to serve and you are free to serve. We are not required to all serve in the same way because we have not all been given the same gifts. We are free to serve – some with their hands, some with their mouths. Some serve by getting up in front of people and some serve behind the scenes without any notice or fanfare. There is so mandate, no requirement. Christ has fulfilled the Law in our place, freed us from the Law’s obligation and freed us to serve where He leads and directs.
But the reality is that the sin that so easily entangles will get its clutches around you again. And again. And again. Pious Christians who have been freed by Christ to serve in their home and in their community and in the church and in their place of work still fall back into the selfish traps and find themselves enslaved once again. We all have used our freedom as opportunities for the flesh. But God in His mercy, through His Word, continues to set free those who are lost, those who are imprisoned, those who are captured, those who are slaves. Through His Word, God continues sets us free. Christ Jesus only died once for all, but the proclamation of the freedom happens again and again.
Prayer – Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance and every evil course of action. Grant that we, who came from many nations with many different languages, may become a united people. Support us in defending our liberties and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan