We probably don’t see it until it becomes extreme, but there are many unclaimed liberties all around us. People go back into abusive relationships when they could walk away and start new lives. People repeat self-destructive behaviors that could be changed for healthier habits. People remain in jobs, churches, and communities that oppress their spirits even when freedom is offered. Sometimes those people are us.
“Better the devil that you know than the devil you don’t know” is how the reluctance to accept liberation is expressed. But, does there have to be a devil?
When little brother puts a live frog in big sister’s bed, he may claim the devil made him do it. We know that is simply externalizing his own desire for excitement or possibly revenge. The devil in this case is simply a lack of internal self-discipline. Often that is all the devil is.
Fearing the devil is often simply fearing one’s own abilities or lack thereof. There are other forces that seem demonic, bent on hurting us. These things will always exist. The key issue may be whether or not we can step onto the battlefield and hold it together, that is, continue to be whole within. When we know that neither death nor life can separate us from God’s love, we are ready to claim the liberties – the freedoms from guilt, shame, fear, etc. – that are ours.