December 18, 1865 was a special day for those who lived under the harsh conditions of slavery. That day, the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution of the United States of America, the amendment that would official abolish slavery, was passed.
Not every slave heard the good news, however, and those who didn’t know continued to live in slavery. Others did hear the good news, but they continued to live in slavery because they had no idea what freedom meant.
Why the confusion? Because many of the plantation owners kept the truth from their slaves! They knew the moment the slaves learned about their freedom, their free labour would be gone, but as long as the slaves didn’t understand, they would continue to serve their masters. These conniving plantation owners even used a few persuasive slaves to convince others that they were still in slavery and that everything was in “status quo”.
It didn’t help that the Union army couldn’t offer much protection to these ex-slaves, or that Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, ignored the living conditions of these former slaves. Many of the southern governors even passed state laws in order to keep these ex-slaves in poverty, in situations where they had no choice but to serve as slaves again. Legally they were free, but many among them didn’t know how to claim that freedom and remained in bondage for the rest of their lives.
We often find ourselves in a similar situation. We may not be the property of a plantation owner, but we live in bondage to vicious addictions. No matter how hard we try to rid ourselves of them, they cling stubbornly to our souls, keeping us soundly in a state of defeat.
Jesus, however, officially proclaimed our freedom: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-32, 34-36 NIV)
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 4:6-7 NIV)
But just like the slaves of old, we too are often confused by this proclamation and so we continue to live under bondage, not realizing that freedom is within our grasp.
Freedom is really a question of what we consider to be the truth. Just like the former-slaves after December 18, 1865. Some enjoyed their freedom because they fully embraced the truth of the Thirteenth Amendment. Others, however, remained in bondage letting their current circumstances be their reality.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Jesus set us free and that is the reality!
We may wonder why we often don’t feel free. Our addictions have become acute obsessions that dominate our very thoughts, dictating that we cannot live without giving in to their demands, leaving us feeling utterly miserable and under bondage.
Is it possible that we are giving credence to a lie instead of experiencing real freedom?
Is it possible that the evil one has us so confused that he is keeping us in bondage, hindering us from understanding the truth about our freedom?
Watch what God’s Word says about this one:
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NIV)
“The thief (the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10 NIV)
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits…” (1 Tim 4:1 NIV)
The evil one doesn’t have our best intentions in mind. He wants to keep us under his control just as if we were his personal slaves! This is why Peter warns us: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
Instead of accepting his word as truth, we are to resist him and be on alert, as he is only out there for our destruction!
But how can we resist temptation when it comes at our very door?
The text clearly declares that we are to “resist him, standing firm in the faith”. But just as the word “freedom” can at times be quite obscure to us, the word “faith” can also be quite confusing.
Next week we will discover what faith truly means and we will find out that not only is it the gateway to heaven through Jesus, but it is also the foundation to our freedom through Christ.
We are free! It has officially been publicized. Now what are we going to do with this freedom? Will we continue to live under bondage or will we learn to enjoy freedom?
It depends on what we consider to be the truth.
(To access the entire “How Can I Break Free From my Addictions?” devotional series, please click here.)