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St Johns Southgate

26 Oct 2014

In Acts 16 we witness an amazing event — Paul and Silas are flogged and thrown into prison. At midnight, an earthquake shook the foundation of the prison and everyone’s chains became loose.

What is striking is what these two men were doing just before the earthquake — they were praying and singing hymns to God (verse 25). They were free even in prison, under the worst of circumstances.

Paul reveals that sin has enslaved us — we are the prisoners of sin until Christ sets us free. That’s why he came to this world — to unlock and open the door. Our being set free cost Christ everything.

We often seek to escape reality only to find ourselves in prisons of indifference, materialism and self-righteousness and we look back to the freedom Christ made possible, an inner freedom that helps us to be victorious regardless of our circumstances. In the epistle to the Galatians, St Paul writes: “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” (5:1).

Freedom is life controlled by truth and motivated by love. Bondage is life controlled by lies and motivated by self-interest. Self-righteousness is also fuelled by lies and is borne into a heart filled with self-interest.

A really good question to ask is, “why am I a Christian?” A typical answer would enlist a lot of benefits, such as security of eternal life, happier life and earthly success. While these benefits often follow a Christian life, they should never be regarded as sole motivation for identifying ourselves with Christianity.

We are Christians because God in his son broke open the door of the prison cell of sin and self-righteousness and freed us from the bondage of sin. He did all this for us, “while we were still in our sin” (Romans 5:6).     

Christ came into our world and broke the door of our sin open at the point of our baptism and now declares us, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” That is true freedom and that is the message that we carry with us into this world enslaved by sin.

Pastor Ian  

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