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John 5:19-23 (21)

In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and thronged around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln’s army had set them free. According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the crowd which had gather around him: “My poor friends, you are free—free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it … . Liberty is your birthright.”

But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. “Let the world see that you merit [your freedom],” Lincoln said, “Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them.” (“Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis,” by James L. Swanson, p24.)

In like manner, when Jesus forgives us for our sins He strikes off the manacles of sin’s slavery. We are free, yes, free indeed! We are brought from death to life in Him. The paradox of freedom, however, is that it can open up the possibility of re-enslavement. Freedom in Christ doesn’t give us license to sin. It is not freedom to disobey. It is freedom to learn, love, and live for Him.

by Dr. Gayle Woods

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