“I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.” Excerpt from a letter written by John Wesley to William Wilberforce as he battled to end slavery in England.
Those are tremendous historical words exchanged between two great men of faith and virtue. It is easy to romanticize the words and only see them as some heroic idealism that only a few can ever really experience, but I caution you in that mindset. Why? Because it is a word to everyone that claims the name of Christ.
Whether we truly grasp this thought or not, we have all been called into a battle for the lives of men. Slavery is not eradicated in our nation or abroad. It is man’s ultimate problem. Now not everyone is under the tyranny of legalized slavery, but make no mistake, the bondage is real and everyone of us that has come to a saving knowledge of Christ has been raised up to bring the liberating message of Jesus to any who are held captive in the slavery of sin.
There is only one Great Emancipator in this epic battle for the souls of men. His name is Jesus. He alone is the Savior of mankind, but God in His infinite wisdom has chosen His church to be the vessel that contains His precious Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that breathes life. It is the Spirit that breaks chains. It is the Spirit that sets the captive free.
Do we not realize that we have been called into something glorious? Not vainglory to honor the name of man, but glorious in that the God of the universe has chosen us to be the instrument in His hand that can truly crush Satan underfoot anywhere oppression and bondage is rearing its ugly head. Yes, the devil may strike at our heels, but truly Jesus has crushed his head when He gave up His life to secure our freedom.
So how do we pick up our cross and follow in our Saviors footsteps? We do the works that we saw our Savior do as He walked the earth. However, we do not get to pick and choose what portion of the works we will be involved in. Yes, the Lord desires His Church to walk in the authority that He gives to bind the devil off the lives of precious men and women, but the Lord’s victory was won on the Cross as He suffered and died, taking the burden of our sin and shame upon Himself. We do not share in the atoning work of our Savior. He alone is the sinless, spotless lamb that could take away our sins. Yet, we are called to experience a death within ourselves as we give up our rights, our creature comforts, our very lives as we know them to enter into the glorious work to which God desires to raise His Church.
We must begin by submitting to God and resisting the devil in our own lives before we can truly be effective in being instruments of liberty for others. Its not a black and white battle that is easy to define when it is within our own souls. We have areas of our flesh that scream out to live and yet, once the surrender has come we find that our flesh has deceived us and that true life is only found in the dying to self.
So how do we win the battle when we are weary of the opposition of men and devils? We ask the Lord to show us where we need to die to self so that we might be raised with Christ. Yes, we have been seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus from the moment that we gave our hearts to Him, but there is a raising up that God wants to do within His Church of walking in authority to cast out all that seeks to oppose His Kingdom ways. And what are those ways?…love, humility, justice, and mercy to name a few. Liberty for all that will listen to His voice to come and find rest. Deliverance from the slavery of sin for whosoever will come.