A prison. Most major towns have one: a gray drab building with barred windows. You don’t know what’s going on behind the thick walls. What’s worse: those inside cannot see the outside world. The inmates would love to go outside and be free. But there is a power that prevents them – irresistible, and for some for the rest of their life.
Being a prisoner – regardless of the reason is bad news. Being under someone else’s control, having lost your freedom is terrible.
But it is something that can happen even outside a prison – you can be made captive even without knowing or feeling it. Have you ever realized that all men are in that position? I am a prisoner, you are a prisoner ….unless…. Without exception, we are all prisoners of Satan by nature. Satan is the great opponent of God. His password is: Sin- revolt against God.
“By one man (Adam) sin entered tile world…” (Romans 5:12). You can read the story of the Fall in Genesis 3. God had said that Man would die if he ate of the tree knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). The penalty for eating the forbidden fruit would be death. Not just a physical death – our bodies decomposing until they “return to dust”; but above all a spiritual death by which the bond with God is broken. The consequence is eternal death, to be forever forsaken of God, and to be in hellish torment. That punishment came because the first man ate. Adam was the “head” of the coming human race. In his choice for obedience or disobedience he would determine his descendants’ destiny. His fall became our fall.
Thus sin became an inherent quality to us all; and with it the penalty – death. Our bond with God was broken, and we became prisoners of Satan. He would use us now, and he has, repeatedly. Since sin, by our own fault, came into our lives, we cannot get rid of it. Our lives, our work, our dedication towards our families are all affected and depraved. Death is the impending consequence; and then eternal death, when we will forever be separate from God, surrendered to Satan.
Is there no chance to be saved? Can’t we free ourselves from Satan’s grasp? Many people have asked this. All sorts of solutions have been suggested by which man might liberate himself. Paganism has self-preservation as its highest ideal. Many others seek their salvation through good works. We insist: we can never do it ourselves (Psalm. 14:3). Why? In the first place, because our hearts are totally depraved and we can never do the “good” which God expects. In the second place, each day we only increase our debt – without having any means to repay God – by sinning against Him.
But, you might ask, doesn’t God turn a blind eye to sin? While He originally threatened with death, didn’t He show mercy? Didn’t He, like an earthly judge, but with the much greater love that He surely has, commute the death sentence? If God said that man would die, He committed Himself. God is truth; He does not say one thing today and another tomorrow. He was man’s Creator, He had sole rights; but man rejected God and followed Satan. This had to bring God’s wrath. His right had to be maintained. Sin demanded payment (Isaiah 1:27).
Don’t protest: where is the God of Love? What strength could you derive from a God who wouldn’t keep His Word? What guarantee would you have of His promises? However, God’s love for His Creation is everlasting. He had to demand satisfaction for the violation of His rights. But He gave the means of escape: if the debt of sin was paid, His wrath would be stilled. He would again look upon the condemned in love. He would grant forgiveness. Paid – fallen man could never pay. He couldn’t even stop sinning. But a miracle occurred. God sent a man to stand in our place.
Who is that man?
His coming was announced repeatedly in the Old Testament, as in Genesis 3 and Isaiah 53. And John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NIV) Jesus Christ, who was – and remained – God, became human, by the birth out of a woman – the virgin Mary through the working of the Holy Spirit. Son of God and Son of Man. Incomprehensible. He became human, because the very human nature that had sinned had to pay. He was God, because no mere man could endure God’s wrath.
The Lord Jesus had to suffer deeply to redeem us. Read the first four books of the New Testament, and even then you won’t truly understand how Christ could be both God and Man. But in that mystery lies the wonder of our redemption. How He suffered!! He even died the accursed death of the cross. He experienced the full hell of God forsakenness. He bore it all – in our place.
Would we refuse such a Saviour? Could anyone look the other way, and remain in Satan’s grasp? But can we be sure that Christ really obtained complete salvation? He died, didn’t He? Just as we must? Surely Satan was the victor?
No, for Christ didn’t remain dead. He rose from the grave and ascended to heaven. His Father received Him into His glory. With that the Father can CANCEL the debt we owed.
Our salvation is with Christ and with Him alone. We can go to Him with our burden of sin. God calls us, urges us, so that we will come for our life’s sake. Read your Bible and study it, so you will know yourself truly, and understand your need. Seek the Lord in your prayers, so that you will come to faith. Thus you will be freed from Satan’s power. “lf the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) And thus you will be blessed, in this life, and in the life to come.
Read Romans 3: 23, 24 and 1 John 5: 11, 12
This tract was originally published by the Free Reformed Church of Albany Australia