Rev. Mark H. Creech
There are few charges more often leveled against the Christian religion than those that claim it’s too restrictive. It stifles passions that are innate and can be harmful to suppress, say its critics. Nothing could be further from the truth. The opposite is the case. True religion provides freedom entirely unknown by the libertine. Someone has wisely said, “The practice of true religion is much easier than the servitude of sin.”
No astute individual would deny there is something terribly wrong, something grievously broken, about human nature. The Scriptures reference this as “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7). Seneca described it this way, “Men love their vices and hate them at the same time.” God has obviously planted a sense of good within us, but evil lives within us too, and good and evil always fight each other.
Christianity promises to provide a supernatural power found in a personal relationship of repentance and faith in the risen Christ, enabling one to characteristically overcome wrongful impulses. It assures us of grace, an empowerment, which leads to joyous liberty in life. It positions the human spirit to operate in its proper state.
The concept may have fallen much out of favor these days, but it is nonetheless true. Sin is real, and it accounts for our most profound problems. The prophet Jeremiah stated the human condition, saying: “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). The apostle Paul said that each person is “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:10). Again, Paul said, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). Spiritually speaking, everyone is born in a state of alienation from God, insensitive to him and his ways.
If the truth is told, this condition, this way of living by one’s inherent passions, ungoverned by a redeemed heart, is tough, complicated, and too difficult. One Christian writer explained it this way:
“What inward struggles precede! What bitter pangs attend sinful excesses! What guilty blushes and uneasy fears! What frightful prospects and pale reviews! ‘Terrors are upon them, and a fire not blown consumeth them.’ To make a mock of sin, and to commit iniquity without remorse, is in some instances an attainment that requires length of time and much painful labor – more labor than is requisite to attain that salvation which is the glory of man, the ornament of the Christian and the chief of his happiness. The soul can no more be reconciled to acts of wickedness and injustice, than the body to excess, but by suffering many pains and cruel attacks.
“Not so in the case of true religion. For, when religion pure and genuine forms the temper and governs the life, conscience applauds, and peace takes her residence in the breast… There is order and regularity both in the faculties and actions. Conscious of its own integrity and secure of divine approbation, the soul enjoys a calmness not to be described.
“The All-wise Author of our being hath so framed our natures, and placed us in such relations, that there is nothing vicious but what is injurious, nothing virtuous but what is advantageous to our present interest, both with respect to body and mind. Meekness and humility, patience, and universal charity and grace, give a joy ‘unknown to transgressors.’
“Temperance and sobriety are the best preservatives of health and strength, but sin and debauchery impair the body, consume the substance, reduce to poverty, and form the direct path to an immediate and untimely death.” 
Indeed living by human instincts alone, which are essentially our sinful proclivities, produce death – the death of peace, the death of satisfaction and happiness, the death of meaningful and productive relationships, etc. This is why the Scriptures say, “The wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23).
It is much harder to live apart from God and reject his way than it is to live in right relationship to him. The Bible teaches, “Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward” (Prov. 22:5). The way of the transgressor of God’s commands, as found in the Bible, is hard.
Liberty is not a license to do whatever we want. True freedom is the right to do what we ought. Liberty, peace, and prosperity are thus sustained. When the laws of our land neglect this great principle, the things people search and hope for the most in life elude them. But when we walk in the ways of the Lord, we are free and strong. There may be dreadful pressures and heavy afflictions even for the righteous, yet there is an unearthly strength that rallies the spirit because the Lord never disappoints the faithful.
Whether to the individual prodigal or a nation very much like our own trapped in the malaise and misery of moral depravity, Jesus extends the invitation:
“Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30).
 More extensive quote taken from The History of the Life of Jesus Christ. I secured this book from an antique store, and I have no other information available. Although I suspect the book to be more than 100 years old, there is no page with a date, an author’s name, or publisher.© Rev. Mark H. Creech
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