We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
I have never been in prison. For that matter I have never even been arrested. I do not know the cold feel of shackles around my wrists, the cramped confines of a jail cell, the coarse touch of a prison jumpsuit, or the strict orders of armed guards who are given dominion over every second of my existence.
I have, however, known the coldness of Sin’s vice grip upon my heart, the constrained existence of a life lived in fear, the rough nature of my old self, and the grim rule of worldliness. Before Christ Jesus set me free I knew these all too well. I did not fully understand that the manner in which I was living was prison-like at the time but I do now. Now that I know the freedom of life in Christ I am keenly aware of the newness of my life and that I have been freed, not just from a spiritual prison but, from a spiritual death.
Christ did that for me. He did it for all who are united with Him. He did it by entering the prison, that is the grave. He did not come in simply as a visitor but He became a fellow prisoner. More than that He came and took the sentence that was due to us – DEATH. He accepted the guilt of our sin on the cross and then conquered it three days later at the resurrection. In doing so He has busted wide open the gates of Sin’s penitentiary. There is nothing now holding us in; nothing holding us back from living freely and boldly the life that Christ has set before us. This is the reality of the resurrection of Christ for you, me, and for all who have been buried with Him in baptism. We have been raised with Him to new life. New life!
What is it that Christ has freed you from? Has He freed you from the need to please others? I do not mean the godly call to serve others. I mean the need to please others lest they withhold their love from you. The need to do enough to earn their favor. In Christ, you are freed from that. God the Father, in His love for you, has redeemed you and calls you child. You need not strive to earn the love of another, nor do you need to strive, even, to earn His love. It is already yours in Christ Jesus who died and rose again for you. You are a prisoner no longer to the expectations of others. You are shackled no longer by the threat of withheld love.
Has He freed you from the all out pursuit of worldly pleasure? Was your life before Christ characterized by drunkenness, sexual immorality, and/or greed? Were you pursuing all or some of these in an effort to feel something? Or, were you pursuing them to not feel? Perhaps the pain of being you was just too much and you sought to shut it all out with the numbness of pleasure. In Christ you are prisoner no longer to your fleshly desires for pleasure. Your pursuit of happiness at the expense of your soul is no more. You are a new creation in Him who loves you. The old has gone and the new has come. Fallen by your side are the chains of debauchery. In your past are the confines of greed and lust. You are Christ’s now and have been transformed to know the abundant joy of God’s grace.
Has He freed you from the bitterness you used to harbor in your heart toward another? Perhaps it was your father who abandoned you at a young age? Maybe it was the relative who abused you during your childhood? It could be that it is the spouse who betrayed you, or the friend who slandered you, or the child who wandered away? The pain and the hurt of these wounds is profound, but in Christ they hold you down no longer. Just as you have been forgiven, not because you deserved it but, by grace so too can you now forgive those who have wronged you. You are no longer locked inside the cell of your anger and resentment. The door has been thrust off of its hinges. You are free to show them the same grace you have so freely received.
Our freedom in Christ is a present reality. We are dead to sin. That being said we do still struggle, in this present darkness, to live out the life of faith in, by, and through Christ Jesus. We cannot do it in our own strength but must rely completely upon His Holy Spirit poured out richly upon us. We will all find that the sins and struggles I mentioned above do still tempt us and cause us to stumble. But take heart, Christ Jesus is with us always, by the Spirit, to remind us that He reigns supreme and that these old masters of our lives have no power over us any longer. My prayer for each of us is that we would take hold of Christ our Savior by faith and walk in the newness of life He has given us by His death and resurrection.