It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
One of my great joys is knowing that Jesus Christ died for me. He did it for me. Without me asking or even hinting, he knew what I needed centuries before I was born. At one point in my life it was very difficult to grasp this concept, along with that of sin. I can remember thinking to myself, many years ago, "Sin? I am not a sinner. God made me perfect therefore I am perfect. Sin is for those who don't see the perfection of life or aren't educated enough to know better." Even though I believed in God, I did not fully accept all of the teachings in scripture. I was still lost.
As my faith has grown over the years, I've learned that I am a sinner. In fact, I would even say that I have been a slave to sin for most of my life. I look back over my years and I look at how many things or people I idolized; how many possessions have controlled my thoughts; how many human desires have driven my decision making; how I denied Jesus. And, now, I see that I am still a sinner. While my sins are more internalized at this point in my life, I am still sinning.
The difference, I can see, in my life now compared to then is what Paul wrote about in Galatians 5:1. In Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I do experience freedom sin. To live my life with short, and sometimes long, periods without sin brings great joy to my spirit and warms my heart. Having a dedicated prayer life and a personal relationship with Jesus has given me the power to to be free from the continuous sinful life I once had.
Being with Jesus also gives me strength in the moment of sin. If you look at this verse, Paul is telling us to "Be strong, in the moment of truth". With the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, I truly am free and have the strength to withstand the temptations of this world. "Stand firm, then," is how Paul wrote it.
In scripture we are also told that we cannot be a slave to two masters, that being sin and Jesus. When we give our life to the Lord, he becomes master of us and we gain all the fruits of his blessings. When we remain a slave to sin, we only get the spoils of that one sin, which in turn, leads to another sin. Paul's word here are strong, "and never let yourselves be burdened by a yoke". None of us like to be burdened and, although I've never been in an actual yoke, I've seen one first hand- it wouldn't be pretty. I wouldn't say I could "get by" living yoked. I wouldn't say I was enjoying life being burdened. I certainly would not express the fullness of who I am living that way. Strong words.
I often will think about what I have become a slave to, as I have realized there are many things. The Holy Spirit has been sent to release the yoke of slavery in our lives. The real question is, what are you a slave to?