Summary: We are prisoners in one of two ways and we can illustrate by looking at the lives of Samson and Joseph
What’s it like to be a prisoner?
Galatians 3:22, “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
Despite its Christian heritage, the United States leads every other nation in the industrialized world in the percentage of:
• single-parent families (23%)
• abortion rate (22.9 per 1,000 women aged 15-44)
• sexually transmitted diseases (syphillis rate is 6.3 per 100,000 and gonorrhea rate is 149.5 per 100,000)
• teenage birth rate (42 per 1,000 girls aged 15-19)
• use of illegal drugs by students (44.9 % using in 1998)
• the size of the prison population (327 per 100,000)
• rate of child poverty (20%) is likewise abysmal.
Source: "Lost in America" by Tom Clegg and Warren Bird
We are prisoners in one of two ways and we can illustrate by looking at the lives of two men:
1. Samson had all the strength to gain freedom and yet was held captive by his sin.
a. Think about the life of Samson
We can be held captive by all sorts of things.
b. Fear—Shohoiya Yokowai spent 28 years of his life in prison. It was not a prison of bars & locks & wardens, but a self-imposed prison of fear. He was a Japanese soldier on the island of Guam during WW2. And when American forces landed, he fled into the jungle & found a cave in which he hid for 28 years because he was afraid of being captured by the Americans. He learned that the war was over by reading one of the thousands of pamphlets dropped into the jungle. But he was afraid. So for 28 years he lived in the cave, coming out only at night to look for roaches & rats & frogs & mangoes on which he survived.
Finally some natives found him & convinced him that it would be all right for him to come out of his jungle prison.
We think, "What a waste! Imagine, spending 28 years living as a a prisoner of fear." Yet, there are a lot of people who are prisoners of fear.
2. Joseph was held prisoner and yet he was free.
a. Think about the life of Joseph
One of the most incredible stories of forgiveness I’ve ever heard came out of Tulsa, OK, a couple of years ago. Tom McGee was a young man who went out for a night of partying & revelry. He got drunk & ran head-on into a car driven by a young man by the name of Ted Morris. He killed Ted Morris instantly while driving under the influence of alcohol.
This wasn’t the first time he had been arrested for drunk driving, so Tom McGee was put on trial for manslaughter, found guilty & sentenced to a term of several years in prison. But the prison was crowded, & prisoners were being given early paroles, so Tom McGee actually spent only a few months in prison before being released on parole.
But he evidently hadn’t learned his lesson, for it wasn’t long until he was arrested again for drunk driving. So his parole was revoked, & he was sent back to complete his prison sentence.
Jack Morris, his victim’s father, visited Tom McGee in prison. After visiting several times, he started taking cookies that his wife, Elizabeth, had baked for him. And they became friends.
Finally Tom McGee was released from prison, but he had no place to go. So Jack & Elizabeth Morris invited him into their home, & gave him a place to stay. They provided the means by which he could receive an education, & helped him find a job.
They were members of a Church of Christ in Tulsa, so they took him to church with them, where Tom McGee accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord & Savior, & was baptized for the remission of his sins.
Just recently, the news has come out that Jack & Elizabeth Morris have formally adopted Tom McGee & made him their son. When Jack & Elizabeth Morris die, Tom McGee will inherit whatever they have accumulated in this life. Now that’s forgiveness - an incredible story of forgiveness.
c. Look at Paul’s attitude about his imprisonment
PHP 1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.