We have all heard the story of how baby elephants are trained. A chain is placed around the baby elephant’s foot and attached to an iron stake driven into the ground. The young elephant pulls at the chain but does not have the strength to dislodge the stake. Eventually, the elephant gives up. As the story goes, when the elephant is fully grown, he can be easily contained by a chain and a stake – something he could now easily uproot – because he is conditioned by his past experience to believe the chain is a sufficient constraint. I have been unable to determine if this is a true method of elephant training or a story used by life coaches to identify the chains in your life that limit your potential. But I do like the picture it brings regarding the tug of sin’s power.
When you received Christ at your new birth, a thousand new things happened to you. One of these was your infusion of a new nature. The old nature, the flesh, died with Christ (Rom 6:6), and you were given a new nature filled with Christ’s resurrection power (Rom 6:4). However, even our dead flesh still carries some influence in our lives based on both the teaching of Scripture and our own experience with sin. So that even though we are controlled by the new nature, we still feel the tug of sin’s power.
But the sheer beauty of the exchanged life – Christ’s resurrection life now living inside – is that sin’s power is only a tug. Satan would have us to think that it is an irresistible force. But the tug of sin’s power, the chain you feel around your foot is attached TO NOTHING! Satan would have us believe it is attached to an immovable stake in the ground, tied to our past failures.
Christ would have us believe that it is attached to nothing. It is a chain without power, a chain without the power to constrain. Our past sins are forgiven; our present lives defined by Christ’s power, not by our failures. Just like the adult elephant, unaware of his power over the chain, so many Christians are unaware of the resurrection power dwelling inside them, yearning to break free.
Can I encourage you? Throw off your chain! It is not attached to anything. You have the power to sling it aside. Sin shall not be your master. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” (Heb 12:1-2). Would the author of the letter to the Hebrews suggest we “lay aside the sin that entangles us” if it were impossible to do so? He is asking us to throw aside our chain, we have been set free. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). Christ has set you free!