by Oracio Sandoval
As we all know here in the US, every 4th of July we celebrate Independence Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This holiday is essentially rooted in celebrating freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion. I am grateful to God for all the freedoms we enjoy in this nation.
Yet, despite having all these outward freedoms, many of us are not aware that we can be inwardly in bondage, in our hearts and minds. We may be in inner bondage whether were rich or poor (or middle-class), black, white, or brown, highly educated or poorly educated. Inner bondage can take on several different forms. Some people are bound to alcohol or drugs. Some are bound to pornography, homosexuality, or other types of sexual addictions or sexual promiscuity. Others are bound to bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness toward others. Today there are multitudes that have been diagnosed with mental disorders that have them bound in one form or another. I'm referring to disorders such as Manic Depression or Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, etc.
I want to submit to you that all forms of inner bondage just mentioned, whether they have a psychiatric label or not, stem from a spiritual problem in our hearts and minds rather than from a mere physical one. They are all byproducts and symptoms of a much deeper issue than many realize.
In the Bible there's an incident where Jesus Christ spoke of the reality of inner, spiritual bondage and spiritual freedom. He told the crowds, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). At hearing that statement some of the Jews were offended. They told Christ that they were already free and had never been in bondage to anyone. Just like many today, they denied the inner, spiritual bondage they were heavily under. Christ then went on to reason with them of the reality of being in bondage to sin and the need for true spiritual freedom. He went on to declare, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).
So I pose the question, are we truly free on the inside, or are we in spiritual bondage and don't realize it? Before anyone can become free inwardly they must acknowledge their need. Its like a man who has a dreadful and fatal disease and doesn't realize it. That man first needs to acknowledge his need for a cure if he is to have any hope of being cured.
So in light of that principle, I'd like to deal with the bad news before dealing with the good news. Id like to first explain why and how it is that many people are in inner, spiritual bondage.
According to the Bible, apart from the mercy of God, people are under the most severe bondage and curse imaginable. Im referring to the curse of Gods holy law, for having violated that law by sinning against God. God says in the Bible, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them" (Galatians 3:10). In another part of the Bible God says, "The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).
God has written His moral laws on our consciences so that we know intuitively that certain things are morally wrong, things like lying, stealing, adultery, murder, etc. God holds each of us accountable for what we do with that inner knowledge. He even holds us accountable for our thought-life. He considers sexual lust to be adultery of the heart. He considers unjust hatred to be murder of the heart. So if we have lied, stolen, had sex outside of marriage, looked at someone with sexual lust, felt unjust hatred toward anyone, used curse words, or done any other sinful thing in God's sight, we stand guilty before Him and deserve His punishment.
Because God is infinitely holy, any violation of His holy law demands an infinite punishment. The punishment God has ordained for sin is eternity in hell, also called the lake of fire. In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, we read these solemn words, But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
On account of our sins (our violations of God's law) we are, as it were, held in bondage to the curse of God's law. The just judgment of Almighty God hangs over our heads and we are in danger of dying and ending up in hell forever. No matter how hard we may try to keep the moral law, we cannot break free from its curse with any effort of our own. We may go to church every week or all week long, we may say our prayers every day, we may read the Bible, we may help people out, give to the poor, etc. None of those things can set us free from the curse of God's law. We are too guilty to make up for our sins against God. This curse is the ultimate kind of bondage. As I already inferred, all other forms of bondage are byproducts and symptoms of this curse.
So the question becomes, is there really any hope of us being freed from that curse? I am happy to report to you that the answer is an emphatic YES!
Although God is holy, righteous, and just and must punish all sin, He made a way by which He could judge and punish our sin while at the same time be able to forgive us. At first that may sound like a contradiction. How can God judge and punish our sin while at the same time forgive us? Let me explain. Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully Man, took the curse and punishment for our sins upon Himself when He suffered and died on the cross. The Bible says, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree")" (Galatians 3:13). God's Word declares to us that Jesus "bore our sins in His own body on the tree"(1 Peter 2:24), that Christ "suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God"(1 Peter 3:18). It's been said that at the cross is where God's justice and mercy kissed. God can now legally dismiss the case of sin against us and remove the curse of His law from us!
Three days after His death Jesus rose from the dead and forever defeated death! Christ is alive right now and offers the complete forgiveness of all sins to all of humanity!
In order for us to receive that forgiveness there are two things which God requires of us. God commands us to 1) repent of our sins, and 2) believe in Jesus Christ. Those two things must go together (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21).
To repent is to truly be sorry for our sins against God. It is to have a change of mind and heart about living our lives in rebellion against God, doing what is right in our own eyes. It is not just being sorry for being caught in our sins. It is being sorry for not giving God the honor and glory He rightfully deserves. To repent is to renounce our sins (to turn away from them in disgust). That does not mean we will be perfect or sinless while on this earth. But it does mean we will continually renounce our sins and turn away from them as God reveals them to us and works in our hearts and lives.
To believe in Jesus Christ is to trust that He fully paid the penalty for our sins when He suffered and died on the cross. It is to rely only on Christ and His sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. We cannot rely on any kinds of deeds we can do to earn God's mercy. We could never do enough good deeds to earn God's forgiveness because our sin-debt is too great and we are too sinful. God sees our hearts as being desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18). Our sins can only be forgiven because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The Bible makes it very clear that we are saved only by God's grace (God's free, unearned, undeserved favor toward us), not by any supposed good deeds we can do (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can only thrust ourselves upon the mercy and grace of God. God's command to us is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31). We must humble ourselves and receive God's forgiveness on His terms and not ours.
So that, my friends, is how we are set free from the curse of God's law. Simply put, it is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And that is the first and most important step to being set free from all other forms of inner, spiritual bondage. When we are set free from the curse of the law God begins to do a radical work of change in our hearts and lives from the inside out. We begin to grow stronger and stronger spiritually as we walk with God like never before. We begin to experience true inner, spiritual freedom from all forms of sin and bondage as we yield to God's work in our hearts and lives.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. God bless you as you continue to draw near to God through His Son Jesus Christ.