What could be more degrading than to be listed as property – owned by another human being – listed along with his corn and his cotton and his tools? But that’s what you were if you were a slave for the first 150 years of America’s history. It’s no wonder many of those slaves risked their lives to try to be free. I saw a TV documentary on the people who risked their lives to help those slaves be free; the courageous men and women of that long escape route known as the Underground Railroad. Of course it wasn’t a railroad and it wasn’t underground, but it was a series of people and places that assisted runaway slaves to finally live liberated lives. Some of those African Americans who were rescued had just four words on their tombstones, words that powerfully told their whole life story: “Born slave, died free.”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Free From the Chain of a Lifetime.”
I saw those words and I said to myself, “Hey, that’s me. That’s my spiritual autobiography: born slave, died free.” Because I’ve been a slave to what one NBA coach called “the disease of me” my whole life. We all have. We’ve all got this dark side of us that started rearing its ugly head when we were very small.
Babies are cute, but they’re totally self-centered, right? I mean, as they grow, nobody teaches them to lie or demand their own way. It’s like in the DNA. And I’ll be honest, there are parts of me – these ways that I handle things – that I really don’t like. The people I love don’t like them. I’m sure God doesn’t like them. We’ve all made choices that we’re not proud of because of this dark part of us that we really don’t want but we really can’t change. It’s like we’re slaves to a darkness the Bible identifies as “sin” – a me-centered life instead of the God-centered life that I was created for.
One of the writers of the Bible can feel our pain on this one. He says, “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 18). Then he cries out like the sin-slave that we all are, “Who will rescue me?” That question is the edge of going free, because you realize you can’t get yourself out of this. You need a rescuer. Then this writer finally crosses the river to freedom when he answers his own question, “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)
Our word for today from the Word of God really bottom lines how we are born slave but how we can die and live free. In John 8, beginning with verse 34, Jesus says: “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Amen to that. Then He speaks as the Liberator: “If the Son (of God) sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus went to the slave market of sin and He bid for you and me with His life. He said of Himself: “The Son of Man (came)…to give His life as a ransom” (Mark 10:45). It took the battering, the beating, and the butchering of God’s Son on the cross to pay for my sin and yours. But His death, followed by His resurrection, broke any power, any claim that sin or Satan has ever had on you.
But you can’t go free unless you drop what has chained you and you embrace Jesus, the Liberator who paid for you with His life. For many a slave, the Ohio River was the freedom line. For you, the freedom line runs by the cross of Jesus Christ. No religion can ever set you free. Only the Rescuer from heaven can do that, because only He died to make it possible, and He’s reaching for you today.
You need to reach back and say, “Jesus, I’m grabbing you as my Rescuer. I’m yours beginning today.” Talk to Him right where you are. And then I hope you’ll go to our website. You will find there what will help you be sure that you have begun your relationship with Him. That website is ANewStory.com.
You may have been born sin’s slave, you may have lived as sin’s slave, but from this day on, you’re going to live, and you’re going to die, free!