The road to escape the confines of poverty is paved with education. When you hear about people who have gotten out of their terrible early life situations, most of the time the story begins with education. Frederick Douglass was a slave who started learning to read and write. The wife of his “master” began teaching him, but the master would have none of it. Once he began learning, though, Douglass kept reading, and learning, and to the chagrin of slave owners in the area, taught other slaves to read using the New Testament. As he read and grew intellectually he finally realized that “knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom.” He eventually escaped and became an orator of such skill that people had a hard time believing that he was once a slave. He was one of the most important voices in the abolitionist movement.
For Douglass, education opened up that pathway to freedom. He had to realize not only that his condition, slavery, was not natural, but that there were alternatives. If he had never learned to read and write, he might never have learned that not only was slavery not natural, it was immoral. This is true in the realm of the spirit as well. So many people wander around, in slavery to sin, not realizing that continuing to live in a state of sin is not God’s desire for them. We may understand a little bit about right and wrong; we may understand about the punishments for doing what’s wrong, but we don’t understand the way out of our sin; the way of salvation. “For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.” (Hebrews 2:2-3)
Many people are caught up in the endless loop of knowing right and wrong, trying to do right, and then still doing wrong. They try hard to do right. Then they slip and do wrong and begin berating themselves. So they try harder. And they fail harder. Somehow into this endless loop of right and wrong comes an amazing message from Jesus: there is hope. This hope is not found in trying harder. This hope is not found in never making mistakes. This hope is found in trusting Jesus. Jesus announced that hope while He walked on the earth. Those who walked with Him and witnessed His resurrection not only announced that hope, they lived it and confirmed it in all they did. It wasn’t that they never did wrong; it was that they continued to live in hope even when they did wrong because of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. There was no longer any condemnation when they did wrong – from themselves or from their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let’s make this personal. Are you caught in that cycle of right and wrong where you feel condemnation at every mistake? Oh, we should feel regret when we do something wrong. But if you are in that cycle there is only one hope: the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to pay the cost to bring you forgiveness. He is the only escape from the guilt and fear you have if you are trying to live by some set of moral laws that come from God or from any other source. You have the knowledge. Now escape from that cycle. How will you escape unless you accept that great salvation?
Oh Lord, if I depended on myself, I would be stuck in the ruts of sin. I would be condemning myself for each and every time I did wrong. Thank You for the forgiveness and salvation that comes from Jesus.