Wednesday, June 24, 2020

LHM Daily Devotions - June 24, 2020 - "No Longer Captive"

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"No Longer Captive"

June 24, 2020

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the Law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the Law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

I can't even begin to imagine what it's like when someone incarcerated for a heinous crime—possibly even facing the death penalty—has their case reversed based on evidence that clears them. For years they endured the deplorable conditions of prison life: the mind-numbing confinement, the constant head games of dealing with raucous inmates and prison guards. And then there was the feeling that your life accounts for nothing and will, in the end, amount to nothing.

What must it be like to exit prison and re-enter society after years of such brutal living!

In one way this is our story, and in another way it isn't. Like the prisoner who's been allowed "to walk," we too have been granted freedom. Once sentenced under God's Law (and justifiably so; we can't claim "innocence" in this matter), we now—because of Jesus—are no longer criminals before the Almighty. But here's the big difference with the prisoner above: our freedom is undeserved; our sentence is just; we are guilty.

Our only recourse is to make a plea for God's mercy on account of the blood of Jesus—"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Jesus has made our freedom possible, and it's a freedom our sins cannot nullify. As Paul writes elsewhere, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

In another place, the apostle spells it out beautifully: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1-4).

Jesus has done this for us. Freedom is now possible because of Him. God has flung open wide the doors. Our sins can no longer hold us captive.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You have given us freedom and eternal life in Jesus. Thank You. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Have you ever visited someone in prison? What was that experience like?

2. What does it mean that the Law arouses "our sinful passions"?

3. Why is it that it seems a little commonplace for inmates to "find God" while they are in prison?
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber. Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Have you ever visited someone in prison? What was that experience like?

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