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Kinds of Captivity

07 June 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Freedom is an ideal that has been exalted to the highest heaven in Western culture. We demand freedom for ourselves, and we demand freedom for others. We believe that every man, woman, and child is born with the right to liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness. We love it so much that we hardly pause to question the wisdom of freedom. The wise can see, however, that freedom can be a tyranny. I hope you will give me the chance to explain why this is so.

Our first parents were made good. There was no moral blemish in Adam and Eve. They had no inborn compulsion to sin, foolishness, and selfishness as we have. They were innocent in a way we are not, and thank God, never can be. They lived in a blissful naivete that had never known, seen, experienced, or even heard of sin. This can never be again. Never, ever again.

When Eve stretched out her hand to become like God, she had no idea that it would mean the spiritual death of her soul. When Adam tasted the sweet fruit of transgression, he had no idea that his beloved son Cain would rise up and murder his beloved son Abel. All Adam could see in that moment was himself; he cared not for the consequence. He was, in that moment, enthralled with his own self, in his own sin. Once, he had been captive to the love of God, now he was enslaved to the love of self. And there are those who call this self-love "freedom." God did not give man the "freedom" to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave Adam a command, not a choice. Adam excercised a kind of freedom that should never have been, and by God's grace, someday never will be again.

This morning, I came to work and I brewed some coffee. I sat at my desk and turned on my computer. There, in my inbox, was an unsolicited email from some pornographer who stole or bought my email from someone. I have a wife. I have two children. I am the pastor of a church. I am a Christian. I felt the ghostly pleasures of sins past stirred by sins from which my God has been weaning me, but I was free to click away and kill myself with ruinous pleasure.

Thank God, I was repulsed. I was restrained. My Master has enslaved me. He has bound my soul fast with the bonds of love. I have seen, unlike Adam, what sin does to sons. I have seen the horror of what sin does to marriages and mothers. I put that email in that little box marked "spam" and destroyed it as a man destroys a loathsome bug. When confronted with a sin, like adultery, I do not want freedom. I want love to close all options but one, and then I want love to compel down the road of righteousness.

May the love of God in Christ constrain us so that every option is removed except the one choice that brings the most glory to our wonderful God.