Have you ever felt locked up? Have you ever felt like you are bound by chains and didn’t know why? I’ve been there. Recently I discovered the reason for feeling this way. I saw this when I was listening to a message by Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church on Paul and Silas in prison.
We find the story recorded by Luke in Acts 16. I’ll do my best to summarize it for you, but if you get the chance, you should go read the story for yourself.
So Paul and Silas get severely beaten, thrown in prison, and locked up in the inner cell with their feet fastened in the stocks because they caste out a spirit from within a slave girl. Paul and Silas didn’t do anything wrong, in fact they actually helped this girl out, but they were put in chains for it. Funny how Paul and Silas got locked up for setting someone else free. But that didn’t stop them. At midnight they started to pray and sing hymns to God. Suddenly there was an earthquake that shook the whole jail, opened the prison doors, and everyone’s chains fell off.
A couple of takeaways we can pull from this story that will be beneficial to those of us that are feeling locked up or bound in chains and don’t know why.
1) Sometimes you will get put in chains not because you’ve done something wrong but because you have done something right.
Maybe you even helped someone else out but you were locked up because of it. You might have even set someone else free. Whatever the reason is for you being locked up, you can’t let that prevent you from what God has called you to do. Paul and Silas didn’t let the reason for them being locked up keep them down. They decided to keep doing what God had called them to do no matter what the circumstance they were in.
2) Sometimes God will lock you up in order to set others free.
Notice that only Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God but everyone’s chains fell off. God will not only set you free, but He will set everyone free who is connected to you. Maybe God’s placed you in that family because when He sets you free, everyone else’s chains will fall off too. Maybe God’s put you in that job so that when He opens the prison doors for you, everyone else will walk out in freedom as well. Maybe God doesn’t just want to set you free, but He wants to set everyone who is connected to you free too.
3) When Jesus sets you free, you are truly free.
Not only did everyone’s chains fall off, but the prison doors were opened as well. How cruel would it be if the chains had fallen off, but the prison doors were still locked shut? This is what the world has to offer. The world can only set you free from your chains temporarily, but it leaves you still locked up in the prison you’re in. Only Jesus can set you free completely. John writes it this way “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (See John 8:36 ESV) That bottle will only set you free for a moment, but it will leave you trapped in your prison. That pipe will only relieve your pain temporarily, but it will still leave you locked up inside. That pill will only let you escape for a season, but when you wake up, you’ll still find yourself in that cell. But when Jesus sets you free, He not only takes your chains off but He swings open the prison doors so that you can walk out in true freedom.