On December 6, 1865, after almost two hundred and fifty years of slavery, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution that officially abolished slavery was adopted. At that time there were approximately four million slaves in the United States who, almost overnight went from being a slave to being free men and women. However this did not mean that most of them ever got to enjoy their new found freedom. Being descendent from many generations of slaves, a slave-consciousness was so ingrained upon their minds that they simply did not know how to be anything but slaves. Of course, it did not help that there were many former slave owners who were determined to keep things as they were in spite of the change to the constitution. Initiatives of these former slave owner’s such as sharecropping and segregation, made it extremely difficult for former slaves to rid themselves of their long held servitude mentality. Many never got past just hearing about their freedom, failing to come to the point of embracing it as their own reality. Like the Hebrews of old “the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” (Heb 4:2). Many of the slaves in America just could not get past the generational conditioning of their minds and the persistent efforts of the former slave owners to keep the world around them such that they could not freely exercise their freedom (Gal 5:17). They did not embrace the truth in faith. It was that “faith without works” that James writes “is dead” (Jas 2:17). It took the faith of a Martin Luther King, a Rosa Parks and many others to walk out their freedom despite living in a world that perpetually encouraged the slave mentality.
Slavery in the United States and in many other countries even to this day is a sad commentary on the history of humanity, but there is an even sadder story to be told. It is the perpetual slavery of generation after generation of Christian believers. Like the slaves of old in America, many Christians live with a persistent belief that they are yet slaves to sin, despite the freedom procured by Jesus Christ through His experience of the cross. And as with the newly emancipated slaves in the U.S., the old slave master persists in his attempts to keep the believer from walking in freedom even to the point of using many religious leaders to keep their flocks in bondage because of their own unbelief. Only those who are willing to walk out their freedom in faith can be guides to those struggling to come out from under a sin-consciousness.
Part of the problem is that, whereas the slaves in the U.S. knew that they were slaves needing freedom, the world in general does not recognize its own slavery. Not recognizing their slavery, many come to Christ seeing only the need for forgiveness of their sins but totally unaware that that their sins were the result of them being enslaved to sin or the satan, the personification of sin. Jesus spoke of this slavery to the Jews:
“As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (Joh 8:30-34 NASB)
For those who recognize their slavery, the gospel message is indeed good news! The good news is that Christ has redeemed us from that slavery once and for all. But being free and living it out are two different things and we can only experience that freedom as we learn to walk by faith and NOT by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
Too many Christians, although free, are living as though they are still slaves to sin and missing out on the freedom to which we have been called. A culture of unbelief is rampant throughout professing Christianity. It persistently embraces the elementary principles of the world (Col 2:8, 20). It hangs on to a slave mentality manifesting itself as a persistent sin consciousness, that is, a constant introspection of one’s performance. It thinks of itself as made up of sinners or as sinners saved by grace instead of as saints. Consequently many dear souls live out their lives in a kind of desperate spiritual poverty that after a flurry of self-effort, often ends with burnout or a hopeless “going through the motions” form of Christianity.
It is hoped that the following series of six writings will help to illustrate the miraculous accomplishment of the person of Jesus Christ on the Cross, in truly setting us free. There is nothing in these writings that has not been stated elsewhere. The intent here is to outline the truths that have helped me to progressively walk in freedom. We start with God’s reason for creating mankind, allowing it to fall into slavery, redeeming it and finally giving it a Life that is so much more than anything we could have imagined.
“…just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”” (1Co 2:9 NASB)
In relaying such truths I have no claim to having seen all things perfectly but I do have faith that God is well able to express Himself through my weakness. It can only be the Spirit who brings revelation to us, so there is a freedom to read and consider while depending on Him to separate the wheat from the dross.
Paul reminds us that:
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1 NASB)