Unruly and untamed. That’s what they called Araminta “Minty” Ross. Born into slavery in 1820, in Maryland, the woman who’d later take the free name of Harriet Tubman knew evil from a young age. She was abused, manipulated and forced to watch as some of her own siblings were sold into slavery, far away from her and her family.
And just when she thought emancipation was near (due to her impending marriage to a free man named John Tubman), Harriet was brutally reminded that she would never see freedom and that all her future children would be destined for a life of captivity.
But such threats have a curious way of sparking rebelliousness. And Harriet Tubman was not a woman who was willing to submit to permanent enslavement. Instead, she ran from her slave masters in Maryland, journeying more than 100 miles to the free land of Pennsylvania. There, she found her true self as a liberated woman. But as she began tasting the fruit of freedom, she knew she couldn’t keep it to herself.
Soon, Harriet joined the Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia and later became a conductor for the Underground Railroad, obeying the voice of God and liberating hundreds of slaves, boldly proclaiming her life’s motto: “I’ma be free or die.”
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7U1xa3V-lsHarriet risked her life to run away from her slave owner. She ran from men with dogs and guns who were seeking to capture her and take her back as a slave. She jumped off a bridge into rushing water because she would be free or die. She was willing to risk it all. What are you willing to do to be free this morning? How much do you hate being a slave to sin? At what point are you willing to do whatever it takes to get free?
Are you willing to confess your sin to someone, or do you just want to keep battling in secret? Is pride keeping you from starting the process? What are you willing to do?
Are you willing to limit yourself in some way? Are you willing to end the relationship that is causing you to stumble and compromise? If the internet is a problem for you and pornography has a grip on your life, are you willing to shut off internet access on your phone and get controls put on your computer? Are you willing to get into a group for sex addicts? Are you willing to make yourself accountable to a brother or sister in Christ who can pray for you and be someone you can check in with? What are you willing to do?
In Matthew 5:29, when Jesus was talking about sexual sin, when He was addressing lust in our hearts, he said, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
That is next-level right there. That is drastic stuff. I’m not hoping we all walk in here one armed and one-eyed next Sunday, but I am hoping that we hear the heart of Jesus who says, “It is time to aggressively deal with our sin!” It isn’t something to toy with. It isn’t something to downplay. It isn’t something to minimize. It isn’t something to hide. We have got to get serious about our freedom from sin because sin brings death. It brings death to our relationship with God. It brings death to family relationships. It brings death to our finances. It brings death to our health. It brings death to our futures. Sin owns the people who participate in it. It will become the master of our lives if we don’t do whatever it takes to put it to death. Colossians 3:1 tells us to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly, sinful nature. We have to be drastic when it comes to the death of sin in our lives. What are you willing to do in order to get free from it?
Do you need to start a Bible study on how to break strongholds in your life? Get a copy of the Bondage Breaker and get after it. Do you need to get into therapy to figure out why you keep doing the things that bring pain to you and others around you? What are you willing to do?
Are you willing to tell someone today that you are sorry for something whether you think you are the main culprit or not so that the anger and bitterness with which you are now living can leave your attitude and behavior and you can actually attend the family reunion without creating drama for everyone else? What are you willing to do? Are you willing to memorize every Scripture that talks about your freedom in Christ and your authority over sin and are you willing to repeat those verses daily on your way to work until you know you have been delivered? What are you willing to do?
Are you willing to come to an altar of prayer and say out loud, “Lord, deliver me?” What are you willing to do?
Are you willing to limit or cut off contact with people who keep dragging you back into a life of deception and destruction? Are you willing to stop going places that demand you be sucked back into the sin cycle? What are you willing to do? Will you leave the gym you work out in so you aren’t tempted by that certain person who has been flirting with you? Will you cancel the subscription of that dirty magazine? What are you willing to do? Will you tell the boss you won’t take the overtime anymore because your job has owned you and your family has suffered? What are you willing to do?
What are you willing to lose in order to get free? Your reputation? Some of your money? Your status at a certain job? Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
When quarantine started, I was officially introduced to Tik Tok, a social media platform where people can share videos of themselves doing dances and all kinds of other crazy stuff. There is some funny and fun stuff on Tik Tok for sure, and there are even Christian Tik Tokers who are on there to share the light of Jesus. Thom and I even made a Tik Tok just for fun and to sort of enter into the cultural conversation which is a spiritual way to say, “We were trying to be cool.” I’ve probably been on Tik Tok ten times since then, but those ten times were lengthy sessions as I kind of got sucked into scrolling to find entertaining stuff. What I realized was that to find the wholesome and entertaining stuff, I was having to scroll through disgusting, unholy, perverse yuck that I wasn’t interested in seeing. For me, just speaking for me, I realized I needed to bow out and delete the app because the good didn’t outweigh the yuck and the pull to get on there and stay on there was increasing.
I’ll spare you the details about all that is on Tik Tok, but suffice it so say, “I do not want to be shaped by the things of this world,” and if you are sitting there thinking to yourself, “It’s not that bad,” let me just say that is probably the first thing Satan gets people to believe when he intends to take them down the road of destruction. “It’s not that bad.” I’m not telling everyone to delete Tik Tok from your phones, but I am confessing that in the ten times, approximately, that I scrolled through, they became lengthy sessions of time that I just don’t have to give to the kind of content I found there. I wasn’t going to allow my time to be in bondage to something like that, so I was willing to lose it. What are you willing to lose?
Romans 6:14 says, “Sin shall no longer be your master…” What are you willing to do in order to live that out? Anything that masters you but Jesus has the capacity to lead you astray. Jesus didn’t die for us to remain in sin. He died so we could be freed from it and be freed to live an entirely new life.
Harriet fled to a new location, far away from the old one. She moved from slavery to freedom. She was going to live a new life. She fled 100 miles without anyone helping her but the Lord! She embraced a new identity. She took a new name. She said, “I am Harriet Tubman.” She based her new identity not on her past, not on her experience as a slave, but on her new-found freedom. She was going to become who she was. She was going to live free. She moved from being a slave to being a deliverer of slaves, and in order for that to happen, there had to be a change in her mentality and a change in her mission. Listen, it is easy to change your name, but much harder to change your mindset, your mentality. It’s easy to say, “I’m a Christian,” but going through the process of becoming like Christ is another story. Living free to serve and love the Lord, adopting His mission for your life, takes another level of surrender.
Minty, now Harriet Tubman, had to change her mindset. She had to learn to live free and not think of herself as a slave anymore, and she had to adopt the mindset of a free person. Listen to me…If you are going to live free from the slavery of sin, you are going to have to go to some new places in your mind, friends. You are going to need to leave old ways of thinking behind. You are going to have to stop identifying with your past and the brokenness that you have experienced. You are no longer a slave to sin. John 8:36 says, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Not just free from the penalty of your sin, but free from its grip, free from its shame, free from its condemnation, free from its confining labels and limitations and free from its lies and deceit. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”
We don’t JUST get a fresh start, but we are made new to go along with the new life we have received. That happens in our minds as we are “made new in the attitude of our minds” as Paul describes it in Ephesians 4:23. It is a supernatural happening as we allow God to do His work and as we cooperate with Him as He is trying to bring change to our lives.
So, the Christian life comes with a new identity AND a new mindset. Why is that necessary? Let me explain. Often times when people have served time in prison, even though they are finally released and their body has been emancipated, their minds can still be incarcerated. They can still have a prison mentality. They have a limitation mentality. Their minds have to catch up to their new reality. Listen, that is true in the life of a person who gives their life to Christ as well. You are free the moment you say “yes” to Jesus, but the transforming of your mind, the renewing of your mind, (Romans 12:1-2) the changing of your thinking, allowing your mind to catch up with your spiritual reality can take some time, but oh, it is worth it!
When Harriet told the gentleman who it was that owned her, he had to remind her that she wasn’t owned anymore. She was no longer a slave. Her mind could hardly comprehend it even though her body was in a new, safe location. Friends, when we come to Christ, we need to remind ourselves that we are no longer slaves to sin. We are no longer defined by our sin. We are no longer headed to hell. We are no longer unworthy to be in God’s presence. We have been made worthy by the blood of Jesus. We are no longer damaged goods. We are a work in progress. We are no longer defeated and dejected and discarded. We are being restored. We are wanted and fiercely loved. We are no longer losers. We are victorious. We are overcomers. We are no longer ashamed. We are affirmed and adopted as Children of God.
As we get into the Word of God, it will wash and recreate our thoughts. Here is an example of one way to do that. Read Romans 8 sometime today. There you will learn that you are not condemned. (Vs 1) There you will read that the Spirit of God has set you free from sin and death. (Vs 2) There you will find that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and is giving you energy and strength. (Vs 11). There you will be reminded that you are led by God and are a child of God. (Vs. 14) There you will be instructed that you can call God, “Abba” or “Daddy” and trust Him with your very life. (Vs. 15) There you will read that you aren’t a pauper, but are an heir or heiress and have inherited Divine blessings. (Vs. 17) There you will discover that one day your body will be made new, whole and perfect. (Vs 23) There you will understand you have a prayer partner called the Holy Spirit who helps you pray. (Vs. 26) There it will be revealed that anything that happens to you, even the bad stuff you brought on yourself, will turn out for your good and God’s purpose. (Vs. 28) There, you will be reassured that God takes initiative to know you, guide you, call you, justify you and will one day glorify you in His presence and that God does the heavy lifting when it comes to helping you become more like Jesus. (Vs. 29-30) There you will become confident that because God is for you, nothing can come at you that would overtake you. (Vs. 31) There you will learn your real identity. God says you are more than a conqueror! (Vs 37) And there you will be convinced that nothing can distance you from God’s love or separate you from His goodness again! (Vs. 38-39)
Wouldn’t knowing those things change a person’s mind regarding who they are, why they are here, and what God wants for them? Wouldn’t knowing those truths set you free from deceptive lies that say you will never accomplish anything and that God couldn’t love you or use you? Wouldn’t that kind of knowledge change the way you see and live your life? And guess what? All of that was packed into just one chapter of the Bible. How much more will our mindset be made new if we immerse ourselves in the Word?
And as we pray and give the Holy Spirit access into our thought life, our minds will catch up with our reality. We will believe who we really are and will receive the new life that awaits us, and when we do, we will be unstoppable.
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM1L_jJy4ak
Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something. Once you have freedom, once you embrace your new identity that will come with a new mindset and a new mission, don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. God sets you free for a purpose. God remakes you for His purposes, and the Word of God tells us we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, Philippians 4:13, and that nothing is impossible with God, Matthew 19:26.
It might be difficult. It might be dangerous. You may not have all of the skills necessary, but if you did, what would you need God for? The movie eloquently depicts how the Holy Spirit led Harriet through visions and dreams, how time and time again He gave her what she needed at just the right time because she fully depended on Him. Watch this clip of one of her rescue missions when as they were running, the group faced a river there was no way they believed they could cross.
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuOkbVOU3gU
Oh Church, God is still parting the waters or in this case raising the river bed. However the miracle was accomplished, Harriet led people to safety because she wouldn’t be stopped. Somebody needs to develop an unstoppable mentality this morning!
Harriet was nicknamed Moses. Moses was a deliverer, a freer of slaves. She was freed to free others. Does anyone know where I am headed this morning? You have been freed to free others. You have been given a new mindset and a new mission to help unlock the chains of others who are enslaved to sin. Who have you freed?
What are you doing with your freedom, Christian? Harriet didn’t use her freedom to live an easy, quiet life, but she made trip after trip after trip back to her home area, 19 trips in all, and eventually brought freedom to hundreds of slaves. How many times have you stepped into enemy territory, into slave territory to bring rescue to someone?
Jesus came to seek and save the lost-Luke 19:10. That speaks of intentionality. He came seeking. He was on the lookout. He wasn’t just living with a willingness to pray for someone if they came up and said, “Hey, would you pray for me?” No! As He went about, He was always searching for someone who needed to be saved. He went to spiritual and emotional and social prisoners to unlock their chains. Christian, what are you doing with your freedom? Start looking for those who are bound. Start seeking those who are lost. Look for those who are in bondage to sin and share your story.
Your testimony is the vehicle through which God will bring freedom to others. How did you quit smoking weed? Tell someone and give God glory for it? How did God put your family back together? Tell someone and give someone else hope that it is possible. How did you find fulfillment in Jesus rather than in the things of this world? Tell someone and let them see that it is possible to live safe and satisfied inside of Jesus.
Oh, if we are going to get stirred up about anything, and there is plenty to be stirred up about, let’s be stirred up about sin. Let’s be stirred up about people who are living and dying without Jesus. Let’s get stirred up to go rescue somebody, to go free somebody!
What are you willing to do to get free?
What are you willing to do in order to embrace your Christian identity and allow God access to your mind?
What are you willing to do to help rescue others?
Whatever it takes, get free. Don’t be limited by labels from your past. Allow God to prepare your mind to live out your freedom and to bring rescue to others around you.