When my husband and I visited Niagara Falls, we discovered that the area had once been a prime location of the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves sought out abolitionists in the area who could help them escape the brutality of slavery by getting them to and across the Niagara River, which separated the United States from Canada.
Ever since our Niagara experience with the historic Underground Railroad sites, we have become Underground Railroad connoisseurs, searching out other areas that have preserved the basements, lofts, nooks, and trails upon which our forefathers stealthily traveled to get to freedom. So far, we’ve been to Buffalo, New York; Memphis, Tennessee; Cleveland, Ohio; and Columbus, Ohio, seeing the sites, hearing the stories, and reliving the heart pain of our ancestors. Sorrow and anger well up as we read the stories of the hardships of slavery. We also feel an amazing sense of pride realizing that the strength and determination those runaways had also runs through our veins.
Slavery is always a thing to run away from. It is an institution that lends itself to the ultimate, violently brutal treatment of those enslaved. And that’s exactly what sin does to us. Oh, it comes on nice and meek at the beginning, but little by little, it tightens its screws and increases its demands. We must obey sin’s wishes. Even when doing so, we will still be beaten by the whips of guilt and shame. In the case of sin’s slavery, there is no Underground Railroad.
Now here’s the good news! Death will free us. “He who has died has been freed from sin” Romans 6:7 (NKJ). That may not sound like good news until we realize that we do not die of ourselves. By identifying with Jesus Christ, we are “buried with Him through baptism into [His] death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” Romans 6:4. The passage even asks the question, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:2. That would be a ridiculous as a freed man going back to volunteer to be a slave again.
Just like the change brought about by transitioning from slavery to freedom, this death to sin leads to a brand new kind of life. Since “death no longer has dominion of Him [Jesus],” we who are dead to sin in Him are able to “reckon [ourselves] to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:9-11.
In one of the Underground Railroad locations, I read an account of a runaway slave who made it to Canada. The gentleman was so happy that he kissed the ground and jumped up and down yelling, “I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!” That’s how we should feel and act every day about our release from sin. Whenever we’re enticed by sin—the captor that tries to lure us—or threatened by those whips of guilt and shame, we can remember we are standing on the free soil of salvation in Christ. Look that enslaving temptation in the eye and yell, “I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!”
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