Get out of the Pigpen—Life Application for February 12, 2017

February 5, 2017 No Comments »
Get out of the Pigpen—Life Application for February 12, 2017

By David Faust

One of Jesus’ most famous quotes is, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). When he first said those words, however, his Jewish listeners didn’t appreciate the suggestion that they needed to be set free. “They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’” (v. 33).

Unacknowledged Slavery

Their problem? They thought they were free, but actually they were slaves. Proudly they insisted, “We have never been anyone’s slaves!” But consider their history. The Hebrews were slaves for four centuries before Moses led them out of Egypt. In Daniel’s lifetime they were deported and enslaved by the Babylonians and Persians for 70 years. Even while Jesus’ questioners stood there debating him, Rome dominated and oppressed the Jewish people. The Jews were no strangers to political slavery.

And what about spiritual slavery? Jesus explained, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (v. 34). Bad habits weigh us down like a ball and chain. Sin locks us in a prison constructed by our own hands. America may be the land of the free, but a sizeable percentage of our population remains hooked on pornography and struggles with other addictions. As the Bible teaches and as 12-step programs have verified, we can’t escape from spiritual prisons until we acknowledge our entrapment and recognize our dependence on God’s help.

Unrealized Liberty

It’s dangerous to assume you are free when in truth you are a slave. For some, however, the problem is just the opposite. We behave like slaves, when actually we are free.

My family raised pigs on the farm where I grew up. The hogs lived in a holding pen during the months before we took them to market. It was a concrete slab surrounded by a wooden fence. There were troughs for food and water, but the pigpen was a smelly and confining place. One day Dad decided to move the hogs to a nearby field. We opened the wooden gate and tried to shoo them out of the pen, but at first they stubbornly stayed put. The hogs were free to go—at liberty to enjoy an open, grassy field—but they were so accustomed to their confined space that they refused to leave the concrete slab. We had to practically push them out of the pen so they could enjoy their freedom.

Something in the human spirit tends to lean toward one of two extremes: 1—irresponsible liberty that rebels against any authority at all or 2—unhealthy legalism that prefers the security of living on a concrete slab of authoritarian rules. The apostle Paul reminded the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). He didn’t want them to be “in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world” (4:3) or to live under the thumb of legalistic religion that replaced God’s grace with rules about “special days and months and seasons and years” (v. 10).

Christ opened the gate to spiritual freedom. “You are no longer a slave, but God’s child” (v. 7). Why dwell in the pigpen when you’re called to be free?

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

As you apply today’s Scripture study to everyday life, read Engage Your Faith by David Faust and the correlating Evaluation Questions.

Daily Readings

Jan. 30


Galatians 3:1-5

The Spirit Made You a Believer

Jan. 31


Genesis 22:15-18

All Peoples Are Blessed through Abraham

Feb. 1


Galatians 3:15-18

Jesus Fulfills the Promise to Abraham

Feb. 2


1 Corinthians 12:12-18

Baptized into One Body

Feb. 3


1 John 2:28–3:3

Know that You Are Children of God

Feb. 4


Colossians 3:12-17

Serve in the Name of Christ

Feb. 5


Galatians 3:26–4:7

Changed by Christ to Live in Harmony

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