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August 1, 2010

There are more slaves today than at any other point in history.  A significant number of these slaves are in the United States.

During the 16th to 19th centuries there were 13 million slaves taken from Africa.  Today there are an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide.  50 thousand of these are in the United States (some estimate as many as 600,000).  17 plus thousand people are trafficked into the United States every year.  In 1850 dollars the value of a slave was about $43,000.  Today the cost of a slave is about $40.  Such is the value of a human being bound in slavery.

When Paul writes to the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” (Galatians 5:1a) he is writing to Christians well acquainted with the horrors of slavery in the Roman Empire.  How desperate is the slave to be set free?

Such is sin.  Sin captivates us.  Binds us.  Uses us.  Abuses us.  Sin promises so much yet delivers such emptiness.  Sin leads us away from God.  When we try to escape from our sin we find out just how powerfully bound we are. 

Can any of us say that we have not felt the bondage of sin?  How greatly each of us longs to be set free from sin and its effects on our lives.

There is a deeper horror of sin.  Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death”  (Romans 6:23).  Sinning, we earn for ourselves eternal separation from God.  Bound by sin we are objects of God’s condemnation and eternal wrath.

Freedom in Jesus is much more than a theological understanding of our position before God.  The freedom God gives to us in Jesus describes the life that we now live.

In the midst of what this world tries to abuse us with, to conform us to, to beat us down with, and ultimately to destroy us with God gives to each of us something tremendously different.  His forgiveness.  His approval.  His provision for our lives.  His healing.  His restoration.  His purpose for us.  The freedom from condemnation and wrath that is ours the moment we come to put our trust in Jesus as the Savior and Lord.

Rather than being slaves God makes us to be His adopted children, heirs of the riches of heaven with the right to call upon God as our Father (Ephesians 1:3-14).

How awesome is the freedom that is ours in Jesus!

Paul continues writing to the Galatians, Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1b)

Where we struggle is in the practical realization that we are free.  In a sense, “You can take the slave out of slavery but you can’t take the slavery out of the slave.”  Set free, it is difficult to think of ourselves as free.  And yet, free we are.

Standing firm is not giving increasingly greater effort to maintaining our freedom by being good and not messing up too much.  Freedom is not what we earn by doing religious and righteous acts.  In Jesus, we cannot be more free than we are right now.

Standing firm is the daily choice to live in that freedom - to allow the reality of our freedom to permeate every aspect of our lives.  To pursue God and to go ever deeper in our relationship with Him, learning to follow Him through life, coming to Him with our daily needs so that we can experience the liberating power of His gospel every day and in every way.

Standing firm asks the questions, “How does freedom in Jesus impact my life?  How I view myself?  The circumstances of my life?  My relationships with others?”

Set free, we no longer need to live in fear.  Set free we no longer need to seek the approval of others.  Set free we no longer need to be in control of our lives.  Set free I can be satisfied with what God blesses me with.  Set free I can… 

May we learn to live as the free men and women  that we are.