“Sure, Why Not”: How We Enslave Ourselves Over and Over Again

So this past Sunday I was teaching a lesson on Moses and how God used him to free the enslaved Hebrews from Egypt. It’s a classic tale that most people (even those without a religious background) are at least somewhat familiar with. What inspired me to write this post was not the lesson I taught, but the strangely revealing interaction that happened as the lesson was wrapping up. My lesson was just a basic summation of the Exodus story and I tried to end the lesson by drawing a connection to Christ. The obvious metaphor I came up with was that just as God delivered the Israelites from physical slavery, God today delivers us from the binds of slavery to our sin. When I asked the question “Now that God has freed us from sin, should we go on sinning since we know that God will always redeem us?” I expected a chorus of “No” to echo out, but instead I got a “Sure, why not.”

“Sure, why not” took me completely off guard. I asked for the youth to clarify what he meant, hoping that he had mispoken or that I had misinterpreted him. I don’t remember exactly what he said word for word, but it was on the lines of “If God forgives us then why can’t we keep on sinning?”

For a moment I couldn’t understand how this young person could have gotten that after I had just taught for forty minutes about God’s amazing gift of liberation, then I realized exactly what was wrong here. This young person had come to love his prison. He didn’t want to be free, he was happy living in whatever sin he was going through. All he wanted was for God to leave him be, and in his mind as long as he was forgiven he was ok staying where he was.

As twisted as that seems to me, this young person is really not all that different from many people. He saw the hollow, temporary, and empty satisfaction sin gives us and had gotten so deeply hooked that he had forgotten what it is to be free. Like a prisoner who has spent too much time behind bars, he had learned to love his self-inflicted chains.

Let’s be clear right away that sin is always a destructive thing. Sin can only bring you further from the God who loves you and knows what is best for you. The pornographer may learn to love his solitary prison of loneliness and synthetic human connection if he forgets what it is like to be free and living in the real world. A substance abuser may learn to love his crippling addiction if he forgets what it is like to be free from the constant hunger for more. The unhealthy over eater may learn to love his fatty idols if he forgets what it is like to be able to exercise and operate in a healthy body. Regardless of the sin, we often become so enthralled with our demons that we no longer remember what it is like to be truly free.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

– C.S. Lewis.

Sin is always contrary to a healthy life, and freedom from sin is life as it was meant to be lived. To live a life of purity and freedom from the ever consuming and destructive passions of sin is a joy that very few live to know on this side of eternity. This is primarily because we love to sit in our own filth and pretend that it will someday make us happy. We give up on the gifts God has to offer us for the garbage of this world simply because it is easy.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-”
– Colossians 1:21-23

Sin makes us the enemy of God. It alienates us and takes us away from the good and pure natural order of creation. Sin only leads to more rage, lust, violence, selfishness, laziness, gluttony, greed, and other contaminating filth that poisons the soul. We poison ourselves daily to the point where we have come to love the poison. We are addicts who cannot free ourselves from our own downward spiral. Yet in spite of our lost state, Christ offers us freedom and redemption.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:17

So why on earth would you want to return to the filth and garbage you once were a part of? I’m just as human as you are and as a result I am prone to sin. God is not shocked that we fail and his grace and mercy are sufficient to forgive us and purify us whenever we fall and return to him with repentance, but that does not excuse us to return to our own filth any time we please.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
– Galatians 5:1

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
– Galatians 5:13

Every time we indulge in sin we are poisoning the pure, beautiful, and wonderful life that God envisioned for us. We are like slaves who have been liberated and then return back to their old masters at the first sign of trouble. Like Israel who often complained about freedom being too hard and wanted to return to slavery in Egypt, we in our weakness choose sin and death over life.

So should we go on sinning? Heck No!  We should hate our sin with a fiery passion!  We should despise our old chains and fight with all our ability to remain free. When we fail (as we all will eventually) we should be quick to return to the feet of God and repent. We should never feel at home wallowing in our muck and grime.  We are the freed children of God and this reality is one that needs to be embraced. God made you for so much more.

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