The Power of Bondage


In John 5:6 Jesus asked a man who had been an invalid for 38 years if he wanted to be healed. Some people might find His question difficult to understand. It seems logical that the invalid would want to be healed. However, in asking the question, Jesus demonstrated His understanding of human nature. He understood that some people actually find a measure of comfort and security in physical bondage—especially those who have learned to adapt to their difficult circumstances. This, of course, wasn’t the case with respect to the two inmates who recently escaped from a New York prison.

 

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be surprised that there are many today who prefer bondage and misery to freedom. Like the Israelites who during their exodus told Moses that they were better off in Egypt (Exodus 16:3; 17:3). We know that some inmates released from prison are unwilling to adapt to freedom outside prison walls. Some of them end up committing crimes for no other reason than to return to the familiarity of a controlled prison environment.

 

Other examples might include those women who allow themselves to remain unnecessarily trapped in abusive relationships, or voters willing to put their trust in big government officials, politicians, and bureaucrats—regardless of their performance and ethics.

 

Paul’s letter to the Galatians offers some insight. To some in the early church who desired to return to the bondage of legalism, Paul writes:

 

But in the past, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt elemental forces?  Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? (Galatians 4:8-9)

 

In Galatians 5:1,13 Paul adds:

 

Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery . . . . For you were called to be free . . . only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but to serve one another through love.

 

God intends true freedom—His gift to us by His grace and mercy—to be used for the benefit of others. As Principle #9 in Galatians (Life Essentials Study Bible, p. 1619) explains:  To be set free from the bondage of sin, we must become servants of God and one another.

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