I was in Cincinnati, working on the message I was going to give that night, and I had a wonderful view of the Ohio River out my hotel window. But it wasn't until I talked with an African-American friend that night that I realized the significance of that river in the history of his people's long fight for freedom. In the days of slavery, many slaves managed to run away from their slave masters, thus beginning their desperate flight for freedom. If they were captured, well, their fate could be severe punishment or even worse. If they could make it to northern Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati, they were on the edge of their goal. And, once they were in what was the North, they would be helped to safety, maybe in Canada, or by those who ran safe houses on what became known as the Underground Railroad.
Once I heard the history, I saw something very different as I looked out my window at the Ohio River from Cincinnati. I was thinking of slaves looking across from the border in Kentucky, realizing that if they could just get across that river, they’d finally be free.
Now, not all slaves wear chains; and not all slaves are sold on an auction block. Some of us who have been physically free our whole lives have never really been free on the inside, like from the guilt over the mistakes in our past, from the shame over what we've been or what we've done. Some of us know what it is to be slaves to our own dark side, I mean our anger, our selfishness, those habits and patterns that we just seem powerless to break. You can even be a slave to religious bondages. There are fears, and there’s legalism to the tyranny of what we feel our religion demands: so many shackles, so many slaves.
Then along comes the Liberator. His name is Jesus Christ, and He comes with what could be the very best news you have ever heard. It's recorded in John 8:34. It’s our word for today from the Word of God. First, the bad news: "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin." We know that all too well —slaves to sin's power, to its guilt, its consequences. Then comes the good news. "If the Son (that's Jesus, the Son of God) makes you free, you are free indeed" — freedom from life's most vicious slave master.
There is no religion, no spirituality, and no ritual that can liberate you from sin's shackles. You probably have realized that. The only One who can do that is the man who bought your freedom with His blood. Jesus said He came to give His life (in His words) as a "ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). He gave His life on the cross to take the guilt and the penalty for every wrong thing you have ever done. There was no other way to break sin's hold over us and to keep our sin from condemning us for all eternity.
So for you and me, the line between spiritual slavery and spiritual freedom runs by the cross of Jesus Christ. The question is: have you ever really stepped across that line and into His waiting, forgiving, healing arms? This very day you stand on the edge of an inner freedom you’ve never experienced before. You cross that line when you say to Jesus, "I understand now, Lord, that you loved me so much You died for me. You took the rap for my sin, and now I am going to give my life to the One who gave His life for me. I am Yours, Lord. I’m giving me to You. You’re my only hope."
I hope this is the day you’ll experience that freedom. It might help if you went to our website. There many people have found some help right from God’s own words to make sure that they belong to Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll visit today. It’s called ANewStory.com. Because this could be the beginning of your new story.
It would be great if this day could be your personal independence day. There’s an old hymn that says, "He breaks the power of cancelled sin; He sets the prisoner free." That could be you today. You're at the freedom line. I’m just praying that you’ll step across.
© Ronald P. Hutchcraft 2019