Find the Ability to Break Free
Hall of Prisoners
In the Accademia Gallery in Florence, there is a room called the Hall of the Prisoners. Displayed there are the unfinished sculptures of four human figures. Still partially encased in the stones from which they were being sculpted.
They were the work of the renowned Michelangelo. He stopped working before he finished. When seen on display they are an eerie sight. A man’s torso still encased, a hand trying to emerge, a head not quite formed.
There is a kind of yearning in all the figures – you sense their desperation to be finished. Look at them very long and you will begin to feel a familiar sensation in you – your own sense of incompleteness.
Not Fully Formed
At a soul level – the four figures are you and me. Not fully formed. Captive to what has not yet been chiseled away. Bound by what is unformed still clinging to our character.
The gospel answers the longing to be freed from the incompleteness we feel. The inner sense that the person we could be is deeply bound to something we can’t break. We know it will take the chisel of a Greater Artist to break it off from us.
The gospel offers the promise that you can change, even in the most difficult and stubborn places of your character. Romans 6 is the gospel of how our core, our character, our inner being changes.
Romans 6:17-18 (ESV)
17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Ruled by What We Worship
Everyone is ruled by something or someone. Here’s why – because we are all essentially worshippers. Whatever we look to be our bottom line meaning, significance, or security rules us. Your character, your identity, your life is affected most of all by whatever or whoever you look to for that meaning.
So we give ourselves over to people, causes, or pleasures – and they become the center of our lives. They become the reason for our existence. They become the answer to our questions. They become objects of our worship. And they come to rule us.
Carry these insights with you to freedom –
1. Accept the reality that you obey whatever you worship
You will serve something in the core of your being. Choose it wisely. The gospel makes the case for giving yourself to the One who created you. Let the God of the Bible rule your life and you’ll find the freest freedom that you soul can know.
2. Realize that you become like the one you worship
You will be transformed into whatever you worship. Choose it wisely. The gospel makes the case for making Jesus Christ the center of your devotion. And with it comes the slow transformation of your character into a replica of His. Full of joy, courage, compassion, purpose and meaning.
3. Know that the gospel frees you from substitute saviors
The gospel of Romans 6 declares that in the widest possible sense, there are only two ultimate rulers. The first ruler is sin. It means life lived with no reference to the God who created you and loves you. That spiritual separation is a kind of death while still existing.
The other ruler is righteousness. The definition of this righteousness is not “living up to moral perfection.” Rather it means living in a sphere, an environment where you were created to flourish; found in the whole body of teaching that is the gospel. Righteousness in the gospel of Romans 6 is embracing the life of Christ to live in you and through you. This is where the change comes from. His life through you, over time, offers the strength to break off the unformed granite of an old life, and it offers a joy that grows out of embracing a new-formed life in Christ.