What Shackles Are Holding Your Captive?

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer…For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. — Romans 6:1-2, 6, 11

When a captive elephant is young, its handler will place a shackle around its leg and chain it to a tree so that it will not escape. At this age, the elephant is too small to pull the tree over. Try as it might, the baby elephant cannot get away. However, when the elephant is full-grown the handler can chain it to a stick in the ground and it will not escape. The elephant still thinks itself to be chained to an unmovable tree.

Think for a few moments: is it possible that a “shackle” of some kind of habitual sin is tied around your leg? What is it that holds you back from experiencing the freedom found only in Christ? It might seem like you are tied to an unmovable tree. Yet, I’d like to challenge you to consider instead, that “thing” that holds you might only be a small stick in the ground. If you become comfortable with your captivity, you may be just like an elephant that was trained to believe it could not break free.

Even as Christ-followers, we’re still susceptible to sin and its natural consequences. But according to the Apostle Paul, the truth is that, by our relationship with Christ, we have died to sin. The fact is, that the old shackle around your ankle can no longer hold you, if you recognize that you are a new creation and are no longer a “slave to sin.” While Christ can and has miraculously changed lives and immediately “set captives free” from habits and addictions; for most of us, old habits die hard. It takes a lot of work and prayer to accomplish change. But if you find yourself struggling, understand that you can break free. Christ’s death and resurrection has made it possible. In Christ, your old self is gone, your spirit has been made alive, the new has come and freedom is within your reach.

GOING DEEPER:
1. What holds you back from experiencing the grace and truth that the Lord has waiting for you?

2. What are steps you can take to begin to break free from an old habit? Ask for God’s help to take the steps you’ve identified.

FURTHER READING:
Romans 8:1-17; Galatians 5:1-26; 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Kelly McFadden

Kelly McFadden

Kelly McFadden is a wife and mother and is part of the HomeWord daily devotional writing team. Kelly graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2000 with a degree in journalism. Following a season of playing professional volleyball and training with the US National team, Kelly returned to school and received her Masters in Christian Education from Azusa Pacific University.

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