Have you ever seen those invisible fences that people have in their yards that prevent their dogs from running out into the street? If not, it might be because they are invisible, ha! What they are meant to do though is allow the dogs the freedom of being in the yard, while keeping them contained. Because, as the name suggests, the fence is not visible but is run underground and controlled by a radio signal, the dog thinks its free until it ventures too close to the fence and is offered a mild shock of electricity. Whether or not you agree with this device, it is a good example of what an illusion of freedom looks like. You think you are free until you realize that your actions are not merely under your control.
At church one Sunday the pastor mentioned that a popular reason non-believers find it difficult to follow Christ is their reluctance to give up those things they are free to do. I could picture myself saying those same words as I battled with following Christ years ago and still oftentimes today. It is only now that I have experienced the freedom of a life committed to Christ and only now that my soul rejoices because I am free from my self-inflicted slavery.
There is this illusion that we live a life of sin freely, when in fact it is the very sin we enjoy that enslaves us. We can avoid digging deep for examples of this as our society is plagued with shallow enticements that force us to work out until we are sick and spend money that we don’t have and filter our lives into pure bliss. Ok, so of course working out, spending money and using filters are not inherently the cause of this self bondage. It is this overwhelming sense of anxiety we experience when we fail to function as society dictates. The danger comes when we do not realize that this freedom is an illusion, and we all know the danger of an illusion: a dress that is blue and black looks white and gold and the social media world goes into unrest.
Seriously though, the consequences of living in bondage to the desires of our flesh, society and so on, has far greater consequences. If we fail to see our own enslavement we fail to see the need for a Savior that offers complete freedom in Him. When we go about our lives fulfilling the desires of the flesh we do not realize our bondage until we attempt to refrain from these things by our own will. Why is that?. Perhaps because we get to wander around in our sin so much that the temporary satisfactions begin to look like eternal fulfillment or even worse, we become unaware of, unfazed by and comfortable in that state.
Romans chapter 6 presents an overview of this new life than we have in Christ. In goes in depth to illustrate our change from slaves of sin to slaves of God. At this point we recognize that the “freedom” of sin is nothing but an invisible fence; giving a taste of freedom but not offering the real thing. The sobering truth is offered up in verse 16, where it states “Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey – either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? Thankfully, there is more and Paul writes in verses 22 and 23, “But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification – and the end is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Just like the mechanism behind the invisible fence, our sins offer us the illusion of freedom to wander around in. However, we quickly realize that our fleshly desires control us and prevent us from experiencing freedom from sin. Believers and non-believers experience this in different degrees. The Christian, although set free from sin, oftentimes returns to serve their old master and the non-Christian does not recognize their need to be free.
The do-what-you-want, when-you-want freedom of this world is not true freedom but a mere illusion. True freedom is found in God’s grace to do what we should because we want to.