While we all claim to be living in a free world, many are actually living in slavery. They are slaves to those who mastered them. In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul said, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). But how many fully understand this truth? Not a lot. This is particularly true to those who are living in sin. They cannot fully grasp the power of sin to enslave them. This is the reason Jesus said to those who believed in him, “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).
Because of the increase in wickedness, many become so familiar with it that they turn out to be insensitive to the dangers that it poses. They tend to go with the flow and blindly follow the crowd and thus, are enslaved. Slavery is not necessarily physically as when you become a slave of someone. This was the argument of the Jews who had believed in Jesus. They said, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” But Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin . . . So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:33-34). This is a very liberating truth. Indeed, slavery can come in the form of spiritual bondage. Unless we recognize that sin can enslave us spiritually, we will never want to be liberated from its grasp. And because sin is a harsh taskmaster, only the Lord Jesus Christ can set us free.
To fully appreciate the helplessness of those who are under the yoke of the wicked one, we need to consider the plight of a woman who had been crippled by a spirit. She was bent over and could not straighten up. As far as she was concerned, this was a hopeless case. However, when Jesus came along, he said to the woman, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity” (Luke 13:12). Immediately she straightened up and praised God for her deliverance. Praise the Lord! This woman was bound by Satan for eighteen long years and no one could set her free. She could have tried everything to get relief from her situation but to no avail. This was a spiritual oppression and the truth is that no one else could help but the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
On another occasion, Jesus healed a man who was an invalid for thirty eight years. All those years, he was pinning his hope on the water of the pool of Bethesda. He and others who were similarly sick believed that when an angel comes to stir the water in the pool, the first to get in will be healed. But since he was too weak to compete with the rest, he was unable to get to the water quick enough. Things changed when Jesus came along. At Jesus’ command, he was instantly healed. Indeed, Jesus can minister healing to anyone who believes in him. All that is needed is for us to respond in faith to the same question he asked the lame man, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) And just like the lame man who picked up his mat and walked when commanded to do so, we too need to believe and act out our faith.
Jesus performed miracles upon miracles for one reason – that those who believed in him might be set free. The apostle Paul properly articulated this truth when he said, “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” (Gal. 5:1). As we receive deliverance from spiritual and physical oppressions, we need to keep close to the Lord. There is a great temptation for us to go back to the same route we came from and thus be embroiled in all kinds of wickedness again. Jesus himself emphasized this when he warned the lame man, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).
We need to learn our lessons well. For us to go back to a sinful lifestyle is foolishness. We shall not only suffer the same oppression but even worse. In the instances mentioned above, sin was the reason for their physical oppression. While sin is something of the spirit, it has a devastating effect on us physically. The only way to overcome it is through our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is the truth of Jesus’ words that will set us free. Therefore, let us hold on to his teachings and become faithful followers through our obedience. We shall come to know the truth and the truth will set us free. Hallelujah!