Read Romans 6:17-18
17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. (NLT)
A story has been told of a polar bear that had been kept in crude and restricted surroundings in a Russian zoo. The bear was rescued and transferred to a spacious new environment in a much more enlightened sort of zoo.
The keepers noticed that when placed in its new surroundings, the bear continued to walk in restricted circles just as it had done in its old enclosure. It was free to roam at length in the new enclosure but the old habits were hard to break. The bear acted like a restricted captive despite having a new freedom.
A picture of what most of us who follow Jesus experience. As Paul reminds us, we are free from slavery to our rebellion against God. Once we had no choice but to assert ourselves over against God. Now we have a choice. Now we surrender not to sin but to God and his way of life.
That at least is what it is like in principle. In practice, we still act like that polar bear. In our new environment as followers of Jesus and children of God, we stick to our old ways. Later in his letter, Paul tells us that we need to follow the dictates of the Holy Spirit who alone can empower us to enjoy our hard-won freedom. The prison door has been opened. How sad and futile it is when we stay lurking in our cells when true freedom is staring us in the face.
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