are we really free?
As a teenager, I remember our french teacher reading a novel with us in school called “Le diable au corps” (the devil in the body). I can’t remember what it was about, but the title has always remained firmly lodged in my subconscious. Recent news with a particular theme has brought it back to mind - and that theme is alcoholism. 

It’s been constantly in the news. First, the relaxing of licensing laws, meant that pubs can stay open 24 hours a day, if they get the license and want to. Then, the news that British women under 30 are the heaviest drinkers on the planet, with rates continuing to rise. Then the news that cirrhosis of the liver is increasing in Britain, while going down in the rest of the world. Then, the denials of a party leader that he had a problem, followed by a frank admission, and the assertion that two months in the clear meant he had solved it. 

All these things remind me of ‘the devil in the body.’ Isn’t it true that despite our freedom, man has this innate capacity for self-destruction? Although we know how to be sensible, or how to be self-controlled, yet it is evident that we are slave to inward desires which we cannot master.

This reminds me of an argument that Jesus had one day with some Jews. Jesus said that if they truly knew and believed in him, He as the Son would set them free. But they plainly felt that as children of Abraham, they had always been free. So Jesus reminded them that whoever sins is a slave of sin (John 8:30-36). The truth is, that while we in our society believe in, and think we are free, we are enslaved to something that holds us in its grip. 

How many of us think we are free, but are in fact under the power of something we cannot break free from? Like what? Like alcoholism, like smoking, like drugs, or pornography, or spending, or chocolate, even! The privileged free world we live in has lead to health, wealth and now... obesity, gluttony, slavery, debt, you name it. 

The problem is ‘the devil in the body.’ We may live in an age where we think we are enlightened, but actually, the age old proverb is more true than any modern philosophy. The heart of man’s problem, is the problem of the heart. Our problem, as it has been from the beginning, is that we are fallen, we have become sinful, corrupt. The Bible says we are dead in trespasses and sins, as powerless as a corpse to change our true nature and become any better.

And this is why salvation is so important. God knows our pitiful estate, and in order to deliver us from the enemy without (Satan), and the enemy within (our own corrupt nature), God sent His Son. He died for sin and for sinners on the cross, that our corrupt nature might find its death with Him there. For those who trust Christ, we are promised all things new. We have a transforming taste of the new creation here and now, as He through His Spirit, forgives and regenerates us, giving us the power of a new life. And that is just a foretaste of what is to come. 

Certainly, no Christian is perfect. But if you want to be set free from the power that enslaves you, then it is the power of sin you need to be set free from. No education will do that, no drug will do that, no doctor will do that, no exercise will do that either. It is only the Lord Jesus Christ who can do that for you. He has the keys of death, and the grave, and will start a change in you now that will find it’s culmination in the age to come, when he makes all things new. Why let the devil remain master of your body, when you can have the Lord who loves you, and gave Himself for you? Why stay locked up, when God wants to set you free?
January 2006