August 31, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We will focus on Exodus 1:8 through 11 one more time as we examine our own slavery to sin. It is foreshadowed by the Hebrews slavery in Egypt:
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he
said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and
mightier than we; come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and
it happen, in the event of war, that they join our enemies and fight against
us, and so go up out of the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them
to afflict them with their burdens.
This family of Israel (Jacob’s new name given to him by God – see Genesis 32:28) had no inkling of the coming subjection to forced servitude that awaited them in Egypt in the future. But a generation after Joseph died (Joseph being the prime minister of Egypt – see Genesis 41:37-44) the current pharaoh did not know Joseph or remember all the good he had done for the country! And so the Israelites were enslaved!
We so often start out facing this life with big dreams and plans. I did. I wanted to be a farmer, taking over the 200 plus acre family dairy farm in the Berkshire Mountains of Connecticut. I knew it would be hard work, but at ten years old I was already doing a lot of farm labor – and I loved that farm! My parents having bought it in 1937, it was the most secure place for me in the world! It always had been there and always would be!
But my father left the family in 1956, before I turned eleven, and my mother had to sell our farm the next spring. My world fell apart! I did not understand it all until a 30 years or so later, but I was so deeply hurt, I started medicating myself with alcohol at age twelve! By the time I was 15, I was a binge alcoholic! I considered myself a loser, and ran with companions of the same kind! Several of those ‘buddies’ are today either dead or incarcerated!
The point is, I started out fine, with good dreams and plans, but sin got its hold and I increasingly became enslaved! I was rebellious in school and in trouble different times with the police. It was as Jesus said in John 8:34, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” And I think one of my worst enslavements was to pornography! I was in the Boy Scouts for several years. That is one good thing I pursued – I made Eagle Scout at age 15! But I was living a double life in sin as well! My troop’s Assistant Scoutmaster introduce three of us older boys to pornography, showing us pictures from a very explicit book! I was only 14, but I remember that initial thrill! I was hooked! I struggled with that addiction for the next 40 years!
Sin often starts out as something inviting and pleasurable! I liked the feelings alcohol and viewing porn gave me. I was also addicted to nicotine – having smoked my first cigarette at age five! But it is no fun to be increasingly addicted – a slave to sin! I remember a cartoon drawing of a man with a key in his hand crawling up to unlock the chain cuffed around the ankle of a creature called ‘addiction’. The man had good intentions of freeing this poor beast that was chained and restricted. But the creature’s designs were plainly evident! He was ready to pounce on the man as soon as it was let loose!
That is what happened to me, and I hated it! It took me many years – even as a Christian – to understand God’s dynamics of freedom and allow my Lord Jesus Christ to give me that freedom from habitual sin! As Jesus told the Jews in John 8:36, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” By the grace of God I am free of my prison of addictions today!
That freedom started when I was 19 and in the Air Force. In talking with a friend who had converted to become a Roman Catholic, I wanted to know why he had done it. As he explained his devotion, I thought, “I might as well become a Catholic too.” I really didn’t have much religious training in my young life. But something happened. I began to read my Air Force issued New Testament, and I realized three things:
• Jesus was alive!
• He was real!
• He loved me!
…and I fell head over heels in love with Him! It wasn’t until about five years later that I began to understand enough to articulate what the Lord had done for me:
• Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God the Son, came to earth, incarnate as a human being, and lived the perfect life none of us could ever live! He fully obeyed and pleased the Father! (See John 8:29).
• He then offered Himself, that perfect life, as a sacrifice before God for sin – not His own, for He had none! (See II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:22). It was for us! He took upon Himself our sins – all the sin that ever was or will be committed, and He died as the condemned sinner before God in our place! (See Galatians 3:13; I Peter 2:24).
• As proof that His sacrifice was sufficient and acceptable before the Father, Jesus rose from the dead after three days, never to die again, always to live to apply that salvation to those who come to Him by faith believing! (See Hebrews 7:25; 10:10).
• Jesus not only took our sins upon Himself, but when we come and put our faith in Him, He wraps His own perfect righteousness about us as a robe. (See II Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 61:10). We can then stand before God as forgiven and perfect!
• All that is left for us to do is believe – believe it was for me that the Lord died and rose again! He paid for my sins! And He offers me eternal life – escaping from condemnation in hell, and being with Him forever in heaven! (See John 1:12; 5:24).
• He promises to be with Christians forever (see Matthew 29:20, Hebrews 13:5), guiding us (see Isaiah 30:21), and providing for all our needs! (See Philippians 4:19).
The Israelites had Moses as their God-directed deliverer! We have Jesus as ours!