Renovated for Freedom

A while back businessmen and architects faced the question of what to do with a crumbling, old jailhouse in Boston. At the cost of 150 million dollars, the building was thoroughly renovated to become the city’s newest luxury hotel! The distinctive, eight-sided building was originally completed in 1851. It finally closed its operation as a detention facility in 1990. The new design retains the octagonal structure, including catwalks and barred windows to retaining the jailhouse feel.[1]

This building’s drastic change of quality, purpose, and identity illustrates the amazing changes God accomplishes in the life of everyone who becomes reconciled to Him. Let’s explore this comparison.

A New Freedom

Imagine how pitiful it would be for a guest of the new hotel to lock himself in his bathroom and revert to the false belief that he was a mere prisoner! Appearances can be misleading. Our new spiritual life and freedom are experienced by faith.

Due to Adam’s original sin and our own waywardness, we all are naturally alienated from God. We were imprisoned in spiritual darkness. The New Testament paints this dismal picture of unbelievers: “at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). We were prisoners of guilt and condemnation: “Even so we … were in bondage under the elements of the world” (Gal. 4:3.) Yet, while we were His enemies, God demonstrated His supreme, merciful love to us: “… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)!

Those who try to live apart from a personal relationship with God think that they are free from restraint. In reality, they are under the dominion of their fallen nature, this world system, and the devil. They are forfeiting their spiritual potential and bound for prison of Hell. Christ warned, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin [without repentance] is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).

Due to this somber verdict, the liberating offer of the gospel is great news! Jesus continued, “… And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:35,36). This promise of freedom was integral to Christ’s calling. Quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus identified Himself as fulfilling this prophetic mission:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:18,19).

Everyone who turns from his/her pride and independence, and receives Jesus as Lord and Savior by faith, experiences a revolution within. Instead of being imprisoned by guilt, fear, and condemnation he/she is declared righteous by God’s amazing grace: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). One’s quality of life radically changes in the human spirit: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

A New Identity

That familiar octagonal building now has a radically different identity; it is no longer a jail, but a hotel!

Likewise born-again Christians have a new identity in Christ. Believers are now sons and daughters of God, joint-heirs with Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit! As Paul affirmed, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:19,20).

A New Value

The hotel’s transformation cost 150 million dollars. The spiritual transformation of God’s people cost much more–the precious blood Jesus shed on the cross (1 Peter 1:18,19).

In light of salvation’s priceless value, Christ’s disciples are to respond in full, grateful devotion to Him: “Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).

A New Purpose

That old Boston prison was built to incarcerate criminals. However, the renovated building now has a radically different purpose as place of luxurious hospitality.

Similarly, the believer has a new purpose for living. The main goal of life is to bring glory to God, our Creator and Redeemer. This is accomplished by experiencing a growing personal relationship with Him, sharing His love, and furthering His strategic mission of bringing spiritual freedom in Christ to all nations.

The Holy Spirit does a transformational work in the lives of God’s people. So, live each day in light of your new identity, freedom, value, and mission!

By the way, the renovated jailhouse in Boston also has a new name: The Liberty Hotel.

[1] As reported in World magazine, September 22, 2007, p. 6


2nd edition.