Summary: The Condemned Prisoner, the slave, and the addict - all pictures of us without Christ as Savior. But Christ came to set us free.
What it means to be Free
Imagine spending 23 hours a day in a cement enclosure the size of a bathroom. Now imagine sitting in that small room nearly all day, every day without respite, for a year, five years, even 10 years. How long before you start pacing and talking to yourself? How long before you lose your mind? This is the life of a condemned prisoner on death row. See in your mind's eye living in the confinement of a 60-square-foot cell awaiting the inevitable execution of the sentence that has been imposed upon you.
The futility and frustration of those who are prisoners condemned waiting the carrying out of their sentences is seen in a poem entitled “Journey to Nowhere” written by Ramon Rogers as he sat on death row in a 4 X 9 cell in San Quentin Prison:
I pace back and forth in a straight line,
Thinking of nothing, trying to burn Time.
The soles of my shoes grow thinner each day,
Black hairs on my head are turning to gray.
My sight starts to blur, my eyes are quite sore,
Pacing repeatedly across this hard floor.
A thousand miles have already been paved,
But there's no destination this side of the grave.
Envision yourself longing, hoping for a stay of execution, knowing that at any moment you might be cast into the blackness of eternity. Think what it is like being a condemned prisoner with no hope. Can you, by some miracle, ever be set free?
Imagine, if you can, being bought, traded and sold like an animal, regarded as a "thing," not a person, with no rights or possessions. Envision having the possibility at anytime of being sold off to a distant land and separated from your family. Imagine being bound in chains hand and foot; and unable to successfully struggle against misfortune, punishment, degradation, or to be able to help yourself or free yourself from the ever tightening chains. Picture, being a slave, a prisoner for life, wishing and hoping this torment would someday end. Imagine, being a possession of a master who does not have your interest at heart and has the power to do anything to you. Is there anyone who can unshackle the chains of slavery that keep you from being a freeman or freewoman?
Imagine if you will, waking up not wanting to open your eyes yet because the light hurts them, unable to remember what day it is with a head that is throbbing and mouth that tastes foul, You have no recollection of what was said last night. You can’t remember what. You want to quit because your habit is killing you. But you can’t quit. It seems the harder you try the stronger the habit’s tentacles wrap themselves around you. You win one battle one day only to be defeated the next. You’re life is a major roller coaster. The moment you think you have risen your addiction pulls you back down. Picture yourself as an addict, wanting help but so controlled by your addiction that you deny needing help. Deep inside you long to be free but how can you stop your addiction from having dominion over you? Is there anyone who can set me free from this cruel master?
The condemned prisoner, the slave, and the addict all hopelessly longing for freedom are pictures of each of us when we were without Jesus Christ. But Christ came to set us free. Listen to His words in Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight of the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
I. Condemned Prisoners
A. The Bible declares that because of our sins we stand before a Holy God condemned.
B. John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
C. Understand that we bring the condemnation upon ourselves by voluntarily breaking the law.
D. Romans 3:19, 23 “Now we know that what things so ever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
E. In Paul's letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses our imprisonment. In 3:22, He states that the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner because of sin. As prisoners the law condemns us and is our jailer that locks us up. (3:23)
F. Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”