By Pastor Bill Fix ThD
When I was a teenager living in North Central Ohio, I had an old hound dog named “Brownie.” Mom did not want that big old hound dog in the house, so I chained him to the dog house. I packed the dog house with blankets and straw so old Brownie could stay warm and comfortable. Brownie loved to sleep in that old dog house, and in the summer he slept with his head outside the door. When I would go out the back door and yell his name, it was like he had forgotten all about the chain. He would charge towards me, tail wagging, eager to greet me until he suddenly reached the end of his chain. It was then that he realized he remained restrained. It was a bondage that he could not break. Every day I would go through this same ritual with Brownie. I would watch him go to the end of his chain as I walked toward his dog house. He would jump on me, and I would reach down and unclip his chain. When he knew he was free, he would run in circles around and around in the back yard. It was as if he were screaming, “I am free! I am Free! I am Free!” He enjoyed his freedom.
I understand what Brownie felt like because I was in a chain of sin. When I finally put my faith and trust in Jesus, he unhooked the chain. I was indeed set free. When I was twelve years old, two of my friends drowned in a farm pond after a small raft they were on capsized. It was a tragic day. Two of my friends, including my best friend, had died. If I had been there no doubt, I would have been the 3rd boy who drowned because I was much like them I could not swim. That summer, I was introduced to someone who became my new and forever best friend. His name is Jesus. When I met Him and put my faith in Him, He released me from a chain that had me bound. It was a chain of sin. When I believed on the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit began to reside in me. Since that time, I have realized that we are possessed by something, the world, the devil, demons, or ourselves. Christians, though are possessed by God.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
Much like my old hound dog, Brownie, “I am Free! I am Free! I am Free!” Christian Freedom has responsibility and accountability. Martin Luther believed and taught that boundaries were a good thing for Christians. In other words, not having to obey and follow Christ would not be a good thing. The Christian Journey is like a train that is free to roam the country. The train has to stay on the tracks. The Christian journey has a path we need to stay on. Train wrecks occur when you and I decide to journey off the tracks or the straight and narrow path God has for us.
It is possible though to be possessed by Christ and oppressed by many things of the world. When we choose to meander off the right path, we always reap the consequences of doing that. Sometimes those consequences are severe. Christian freedom has a type of voluntary bondage. We are bound or possessed by Christ. We become bond-servants to Christ not because we have to, but because we desire to. The word of God says, “We will reap what we sow.” So there are consequences for using Christian freedom unwisely.
Captivity can feel like freedom. When I was captive to sin, I thought I was free, but sin had a stronghold on me. A friend of mine used to say, “The devil wants to grab your toe so he can get a toe hold; then he will get your foot so he can have a foothold; eventually, he will grab you and have a stronghold on your life. I now know the primary reason I felt like I was free only because I had never tried to escape from the grips of sin. I now know that Satan will not fight me as long as I am going along with his plan. When I tried to break free is when I felt the bondage. It was sort of like Brownie reaching the end of his chain.
But the Scriptures declare, the whole world is a prisoner to sin so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22
As Christians, we need to understand what the Apostle Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians chapter 6:12. Yes, we are free, but our freedom can lead us closer to God, or our freedom can cause havoc in our lives.
Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
For Brownie and me it took a “Master” to set us free. I confessed my sin and confessed Jesus as my Savior, and he cut me loose from my bondage of sin. I am now free to do anything, but I must choose wisely because not everything is beneficial. I am accountable for the choices I make, and so is everyone else.
It is comforting to know that no one can take my freedom from me. Even though I have been set free, many things that can oppress me. I need to remember oppression is not possession. I belong to Christ and set free by Him. I might be in chains, as the Apostle Paul was. I might take a beating. I might be ship-wrecked. I can be ill or at the very point of death, yet I am free in Christ because Jesus is my Lord and my Savior.
To sum things up, everyone can be set free from the bondage of sin. Our Master and Maker; our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died on a cross shedding His blood to pay the atonement for our sin. Our part is to believe and accept Him as our very own personal Savior and follow Him as our very own personal Lord. Remember, our world has great oppression. We live in the world. Possession, praise the Lord, is something entirely different. When we give Jesus our life and promise to follow Him, we will forever be His possession. And guess what? You are free to tell others about your Lord and Savior.