This is what God the Lord says – he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it; “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” – Isaiah 42:5-9
Like Satan was so crafty in the garden, he continues to be crafty with us. There was nothing wrong with me wanting to get married and have kids. In the same way, there is nothing wrong with checking the news, our phones, etc. Rather, there is everything wrong with loving something more than God. When we do, that thing will control us. It will distance us from God. And that separation yields death.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world… All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ… and seated us with him in the heavenly realms… – Ephesians 2:1-6
Here’s the thing – chasing after the things that we want in this life, living like the world around us – it seems like the right way. It seems like the path to life because we chase after “good things” and don’t even realize when they become an object of worship. But when we chase after these good things instead of falling at the feet of the One who is Good, we will become slaves. We will be held captive. And every time we say “yes” to that thing we care so much about, we will fall deeper and deeper into captivity.
But like the people of Judah weren’t to stay in Babylon forever, we’re not left stuck in our sin forever. Galatians 5:1 offers: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
God’s purpose for us has always been about restoration, about bringing his people back to himself. But our sins are great and our tendencies to satisfy our own desires are so, so strong. We need help. We need someone to sweep in and rescue us, because we’ll never break the pattern on our own.
… I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. – Jeremiah 24:6-7
Like God regarded the exiles as good, He is able to regard us as good because he regarded someone else as bad. The only reason we have hope of returning to our homelands, returning to a right standing with God, is because someone else was kicked out. We’re built up because someone else was beaten and torn down. We’re planted because He was uprooted.
He stepped into our place. He took on what we deserved. He gifted us what we could never earn. He endured our punishment and handed over his righteousness, an eternal inheritance.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
How could anything of this world ever matter more?
Maybe you know what’s controlling you, maybe you think you are free. But if I know one thing to be true, it is that we will always be in a battle this side of Heaven, constantly fighting against our own desires. The idea used to bring me down, to think I will always be struggling with something. But what if it’s really the opposite? What if the beauty is that as we walk with the Lord, he will continue to set us free, idol after idol after idol?
He is the giver of life. We were made to love him with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds and all our strengths. He loved us first. He is our greatest reward.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ… – Ephesians 2:4
Read: Galatians 5
What stands out to you from these verses?
How might the things of this world interfere with the fruit of the Spirit? (vs 22) When you are caught up with anything other than God, how does it impact your love, joy, peace, patience, etc.?
Listen: Podcast, Tim Keller Sin as Slavery