Have you ever met someone who is bound yet free? Read 2 Timothy 2:8-9 and you’ll encounter such an individual. Paul’s gospel loyalty had led to his imprisonment.
“This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.”
Paul spent a portion of his life imprisoned for the crime of being a Christ-follower. He was seen as a threat because of his convictions and the governing authorities had sentenced him to jailtime.
Persecution is normal. Some may heed the nonsensical affirmations of the ‘health, wealth and prosperity’ preachers, but the Bible teaches “All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised blessing to those who are reviled and persecuted like the prophets. Suffering saints are portrayed in both testaments.
Just yesterday I tuned in, unintentionally, to a broadcast depicting the progress of the gospel in hostile environments. Most of the leaders in the ‘country of focus’ had been imprisoned for their faith. Part of the planned curriculum for the theological education available to these leaders through ‘online courses’ included instruction in the normality of such hostility.
Despite Paul’s chains, he was free. He was ‘free’ in Christ and was sustained by the ‘unbound’ truth of God’s word.
Here’s the irony – Many who claim to be ‘free’ are actually bound by sinful habits. As Charles Wesley wrote, “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night…” Others who are ‘bound,’ restricted by humanistic man-made laws opposing the gospel are free. What sustains those thus bound? The word of God–which is not chained!