For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:6-11
You never know what you will come across when you read the “In Other News” section found near the back pages of most newspapers. This is the place where tidbits of strange happenings make their home. They often tell of random events that don’t seem to fit anywhere else, but in the place labeled ‘other.’ If you ever find yourself in a bad mood, I’d suggest picking up your daily paper and reading this section. You are always guaranteed to find one gem that makes you at the very least chuckle or, at the very most, question what is wrong with humanity.
One of my all-time favorite “In Other News” stories is the one about the fiasco that took place a few years back during Halloween in White Plains, NY. A guy named Oscar was taking his daughter trick-or-treating in a local neighborhood. Both dad and daughter were dressed up in costumes going door to door. You might be wondering what is noteworthy about a little girl who dresses up like a princess or Disney character getting candy. We haven’t got to what Oscar was wearing; his old orange prisoner’s jumpsuit.
Just by chance, or because God has a great sense of humor, a county correction officer was out trick-or-treating with her child and spotted the familiar jumpsuit. Fearing he was an escaped convict, it sent the local jail into lockdown until they could establish no inmates were missing. Meanwhile, cops found Oscar and confiscated the genuine jumpsuit. Oscar was arrested and charged with petty larceny and possession of stolen property, both misdemeanors. You see prisoners are not permitted to take their jumpsuits home when they are released.
The 6th chapter in Romans speaks in great detail about how we were once slaves or prisoners to sin, but since we have accepted what Christ did on the cross, we have been set free. The chains have been taken off and we are able to live life freely. The door to our jail cell has been opened, we’ve been released and all we need to do is hand in our prisoner’s jumpsuit on the way out. We have been set free.
Very few words in the English language evoke more emotion than the word freedom. Something inside us feels liberated and joyful whenever it is spoken or experienced firsthand. We picture chains being broken and the weight of the world taken off our shoulders. It is only natural for us to yearn to be free.
Yet, how many of us still have the orange jumpsuit tucked away somewhere deep in our closet or take it out and wear it from time to time? We don’t know what it is, but there is something keeping us from getting rid of our old garb. We are so accustomed to how the prisoner’s jumpsuit feels that we struggle to part with it.
The longer we keep this jumpsuit in our possession the greater the pull we will feel to go back to our old lifestyle. In essence, we are helping put back on the very chains that Christ went to the cross to break for good. The reason we find ourselves dealing with the same old struggles time and time again is that we are suffering from a case of mistaken identity.
This piece of clothing symbolizes our old condition, not our new identity in Christ. Our sin nature might always be a part of us, but we are no longer obligated to sin. Our freedom is found in God’s truth. Rather than living under the constant pressure of trying to reach an unattainable standard (the law), we are instead covered by God’s grace, which looks so much better than that tacky, old orange jumpsuit.
Why do you keep the orange prisoner’s jumpsuit that symbolizes your old identity still around? What security do you think it provides you? What makes you doubt that you can ever let it go?
What would it look like for you to walk in freedom?
God, today I want to walk in Your freedom. May I see myself the way You see me. Help me to trust that the old is gone and the new has come. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.