From Bound to Free

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate….I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. – Romans 7:15, 18b-19

Most of us struggle to admit the truth of Paul’s words until we’ve lived enough life to make the truth unavoidable. I’ve met recovering addicts who got this sooner, but most of us bristle at the notion that we’re in bondage in any real sense.

The Lutheran liturgy that I first learned begins with these words, “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” I’ve said those words countless times, but didn’t really believe them. Not really. Deep down I thought that if I just tried harder, I could do the right thing.

And then life happened.

I want to love my wife completely, but I still say and do things that wound her heart and leave me feeling ashamed.

I want to steward my body well by eating a healthy diet, but I still find myself half-way through a jelly doughnut before I realize what I’m doing (and then I just have to finish it because throwing away half of a perfectly good jelly doughnut isn’t good stewardship either).

I want to forgive as God has forgiven me, but I still find myself nursing grudges I thought I had released years ago.

I am in bondage to sin and cannot free myself. And so are you.

But here’s some good news: God is in the business of setting people free. Trying harder doesn’t work. At least not for long. As counter-intuitive as it seems, the journey to greater freedom is traveled on a road called surrender. It’s a journey of trusting more. And our friends in the Twelve-Step community can show us how the journey begins:

First Step: We admitted that we were powerless over [fill in your own bondage] – that our lives had become unmanageable. That’s bondage.

Second Step: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. That’s admitting that we need a Savoir.

Third Step: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. That’s knowing the truth, entrusting ourselves and our bondage to Jesus.

Not more willpower, more trust. Not more self-discipline, more surrender. And on the journey from bound to free we take these first three steps over and over again.

We are all in bondage. None of us is truly free. But Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Knowing and entrusting ourselves to Jesus is the pathway to real freedom.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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Showing 2 comments
  • Nicholas

    Great stuff, shared the message with a friend

  • Eileen J Luedtke

    Excellent reminder. Humans struggle so hard to retain control. When I was 49 I wanted to get a tattoo. One that I would never regret putting on my body! It says, “Let go, let God”. No regrets. A constant reminder.

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