The fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s great hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” compares Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison with a sinner’s deliverance from bondage to sin. “Peter was sleeping, . . . bound with two chains. . . . And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: . . . And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him . . . follow me” (Acts 12:6-8).
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light:
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
The Bible teaches that before being delivered, “ye were the servants of sin [i.e., in bondage to sin], but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). We were powerless to gain freedom on our own.
But “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), bringing freedom and life. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened [i.e., made alive] by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). “And you, being dead in your sins . . . hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). If He has done all this for us, how can we do less than follow Him? JDM