True freedom is the ability to choose. Being born with an inclination to do that, which is evil, man builds a personality that reflects the enslavement to evil. He constantly wishes he would do better and live more nobly. There are several aspects of his life he attempts to change, albeit unsuccessfully. New year resolutions come and go, but habits remain unchanged. Man has no choice but to continue with evil till he is reborn to be free.
The figure shows how man forms habit- cue, routine and reward drives man to take routes- some very easy, others very hard. It is easier to slouch on the couch and watch television rather than spend time doing exercise. It is much harder to eat healthy than to eat junk. Ever wondered why there are no popular programs like ‘biggest gainer’? Because gaining weight is easy, losing weight is hard. We are wired to do that which is evil or negative and lest man is reborn, he truly does not have the ability to even choose.
Once he is reborn, the possibility of choice comes to his life. He can now choose to continue to live life like he always did or else he can espouse a new way of life that is indeed more noble and in every way better- the way of forgiveness, love, humility, fearlessness and purity. This is a journey that man can undertake and is the essence of a life of discipleship under Christ. Paul describes this process in Romans 6:16-18,
‘Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.’
No man is absolutely free and that is understandable because man is not absolute. When man breaks the shackles of one, he only espouses the shackles of another. When a nationwide movement orchestrated by Mao Zedong overthrew the feudal system in China, the nation only exchanged the shackles of the feudal lords for that of the communist rule. The same is true of any country and society where widespread movements replace the rulers to only give you another ruler. Man has to decide which ruler or system is better.
When it comes to personal freedom, the only freedom that man can have is the one to choose; he still needs to choose whom he will follow- whether the old sinful nature within him or the promptings of God within him, now made possible by the rebirth through the death of Jesus on the cross. Though freedom becomes possible, it is an illusion to think that man will never be a slave. As Paul says, one leads to darkness and death and other leads you to light and eternal life.
Man will forever be a slave, but in Christ, he can choose his master and therefore make his life count.
- NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S JOURNEY TO GOD