Deliverance from Captivity
William Nicholson, 1862
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" Luke 4:18
The mission of Christ to earth was most momentous. The deliverance of a country from famine, of a nation from the horrors of war, would be a mighty achievement. But these are trifles compared with the great Salvation which Christ came to procure.
Christ declared the authority and design of his mission, by an appeal to prophecy, verse 17, 18. He showed the credentials of his office.
How benevolent was his design! "to preach good news to the poor . . . to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed . . ."
I. Man Is in a State of Spiritual Captivity.
Ordinary captivity is a state of slavish servitude, under some tyrant or cruel enemy, who may have seized the captive as a prisoner of war, or stolen him from his peaceful home for the purposes of servitude.
Man is in a state of spiritual captivity, as appears from the following Scriptural representations:
1. He is in bondage to sin, John 8:34. Sin rules and reigns in him.
2. He is a slave to his lusts, 2 Peter 2:19.
3. Be is in bondage to Satan, 2 Timothy 2:26. Satan rules in his heart, Ephesians 2:2.
4. He is in bondage to the law. Not having performed the requirements of that law, he is placed under arrest to it. Galatians 4:24, 25; 3:10.
5. He is in bondage to death, Hebrews 2:15.
6. He is in bondage to the wrath of God, which abides on him, John 3:36.
1. This state of bondage implies that the lost sinner is in a state of darkness. Prisons are dark and gloomy — fit emblems of a sinner's mind. It was customary in ancient times to put out the eyes of some prisoners of war, and in some way or other to maim them. As Zedekiah, 2 Kings 25:7; see Isaiah 49:9; Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14. Satan blinds the sinner's mind!
2. This state of bondage implies that the lost sinner is bound with fetters. These are called the "bonds of iniquity." "The opening of the prison to those who are bound," Isaiah 1:1. He is bound with the fetters . . .
of a hard heart,
of prejudice against the truth,
of fleshly lusts,
of worldly pleasures.
3. This state of bondage implies that the lost sinner is an exile. Like the Prodigal, by allurements, by Satanic strategy, etc. — he has been carried from his Father's house into a far country, even to Sinai, where he is under arrest to the law.
He is fettered by the allurements of this present world, Proverbs 7:21; and is under Satanic influence, 2 Corinthians 11:14.
Satan, like a cursed pirate, puts out false colors, and pretends to a friend. He then presents the pleasures and profits of the world, by which he overcomes, and carries him away captive. This state of exile is represented as being, "separate from Christ, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world!" Ephesians 2:12
4. This state of bondage implies that the lost sinner is in a state of great need. Even as an earthly captive is supported by the coarsest fare, etc.
Sinners do not eat that which is really good; "They spend their money for that which is not bread; and labor on what does not satisfy!" Isaiah 55:1, 2.
They are said to feed on the wind, on ashes, on husks, etc. See Isaiah 44:20; Hosea 12:1; Proverbs 20:17.
Wealth, honor, and worldly pleasures are but husks — when compared with Christ? They are without peace, without comfort, without substantial enjoyment.
5. This state of bondage implies that the lost sinner is in a state of wretchedness and misery.
A captive is frequently stripped naked. Just so, the sinner is naked, without the robe of righteousness, Isaiah 64:6
A captive is frequently in a state of disease, Isaiah 1:5, 6; of extreme poverty and helpless, Revelation 3:17; and under sentence of death, Romans 6:23. If not liberated he "will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power!" 2 Thessalonians 1:9
II. The Nature of the Deliverance to Be Preached.
1. This Deliverance was preached by Christ, and it is fully announced by the Gospel; it is glad tidings of salvation to poor guilty captives ready to perish.
2. Jesus Christ is the great Deliverer. The 18th verse sets forth his glorious prerogatives as the Savior of the lost.
Deliverance from this captivity, could only have been effected by him, Acts 4:12; John 8:36.
(1 ) Christ delivers by a great Ransom. "You are bought with a price," 1 Corinthians 6:20, and see 1 Peter 1:18. "The redemption of the soul is precious." All the gold and silver in the world, and all the wealth thereof, were there ten thousand worlds more — could not redeem one soul from this captivity! "Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" Micah 6:7
Nothing but the blood of Christ could ever ransom sin's captives, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect!" 1 Peter 1:18-19
(2.) Christ delivers by conquest. He not merely paid the ransom price, but he destroyed the power of man's enslavers. See the argument of Christ, Luke 11:21, 22. Satan is the strong man armed, and Jesus Christ the Person who is stronger than he — able to subdue sin, conquer Satan, overcome death, 1 John 3:8. He rescues sinners from the thraldom of Satan, and gives them the liberty of the sons of God.
Behold then the love of Christ — His work is perfect — He became man's substitute.
Was man involved in darkness? So was Christ, Luke 22:53; Matthew 26:37.
Was man bound with fetters? So was Christ, Matthew 27:2
Was man an exile? So was Christ — he left Heaven and came into this vile world.
Was man in a state of need? "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head!" Luke 9:58.
Was man in a state of wretchedness and misery? So was Christ; "My soul is exceeding sorrowful," etc., "and he sweat as it were great drops of blood," etc.
Was man condemned to die? So was Christ; "he was made a curse for us."
3. Multitudes have been delivered, and are now in a state of perfect freedom. He has delivered them from their prison-house, paid their debts and poured oil and wine into their bleeding hearts; Romans 5:1; 8:1.
Their darkness is gone, 2 Corinthians 4:6. They are no longer aliens, but fellow-citizens, etc. Though formerly in need — now they have abundance from the fullness of Christ. Their misery has given place to happiness; and their despair to the hope of everlasting glory.
4. This deliverance is realized by faith. Many passages teach this. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
III. This Deliverance Must Be Preached.
It was the will of Christ that it should be. Hence the commission. It must be conveyed and preached to the captives wherever placed.
It must be preached fully as a free deliverance for the vilest of the vile. It must be preached simply, sincerely — and with great boldness, earnestness, and affection preached to all.
1. Humility. Those now free, were once captives. They are wholly indebted to Christ — all boasting is excluded.
2. Joy. You have everlasting freedom.
3. Encouragement. The sighing, groaning captive may be delivered.