Never free?

Saruman says of Grima, “He will never be free.”[1]

He is so right.

He is so right because Grima believes him.

It’s a wretched, awful day for Saruman and Grima.  Their orcs have died in the torrent of water the Ents set loose.  The steel-like, impregnable-looking tower has lost its appeal now that it is sitting in water and guarded by an Ent.  The wicked Sauron who they swore allegiance to is no where to be found to help them (of course).  And conjuring Saruman and minion Grima are left to die whichever way they choose.

Saruman is in a determined craze to either get Gandalf to worship him (not happening) or bring as many down in his death with him as he can.

Grima, on the other hand, is totally terrified of what has happened.  He has the sense to realize Saruman has gone totally nuts in megalomania craziness.  He also has the sense to realize he has not one hope of escaping death.

Trapped on the top of a formidable tower with no way down, Saruman and Grima are confronted by Gandalf and King Theoden.

Gandalf offers Saruman a chance for life, and he has no desire for it.  To top off the impending doom, Saruman’s staff–his last realm of power–is snapped in half by Gandalf, who was once subordinate to him but now has greater skills.

Grima has been silently waiting his own death as Saruman raves madness down to Gandalf.  But then something happens that Grima does not expect.

King Theoden offers for Grima to come down.

“Grima, you need not follow him.  You were not always as you are now.  You were once a man of Rohan.  Come down.” [1]

Grima can hardly believe what he is hearing.  For a moment, he begins to consider what King Theoden has said, as Saruman continues his stupid ranting.

“Grima, come down.  Be free of him,” King Theoden says. [1]

To which Saruman says, “Free?  He’ll never be free.”

Have you ever felt like Grima?  Have you ever felt like your alliance with darkness has caused you to be on the top of an impregnable tower that you wish you’d never entered?  Does your sin ever make you feel as though there is no going back, that God wouldn’t take you in no matter what you did, no matter how hard you begged?

Rather than come down, Grima tries to free himself of the wickedness he’s become captured by, and the result is he dies.  Only after he stabs Saruman repeatedly does he realize it was not Saruman who destroyed him, but himself.  Grima destroyed himself–and he dies knowing that.  Had he but come down, he could have been free.  Even if he had not made it down, even if Saruman had killed him after only one step, he would have died having been set free by King Theoden’s words.  He would have died a man of Rohan.

There is no way that you can defeat your own sin.  There is no way that you can slay what has been haunting you.  In the end, all you can destroy is yourself.

It seems too simple an offer to simply come down, and yet King Theoden has every authority to offer this.  Grima is his subject.  He has rebelled and was owned by Saruman, but Theoden’s alliance has conquered Saruman, and Grima is once again Theoden’s subject.  Grima has a single choice to make.  It is the only decision which can change the course of his life.  He can either be free, or he can die Saruman’s subject.

Grima dies Saruman’s subject, and yet he came so close to not doing so.  But coming close isn’t enough.  He doesn’t take the freedom, and it turns out to be his last chance.  He is forever bound as Saruman’s subject–his treacherous subject–but his subject nonetheless.

Why didn’t he come down?

If you feel hemmed in by your sin, I could ask you the same question.  Why don’t you come down?  I could ask myself the same question, because I went for years feeling frightened and further and further in debt to a God I knew I could never pay.

God is like King Theoden in this story, because He offers us the chance to come down.  We were once His subjects, and He wants us to be His subjects again.

In the Lord of the Rings series, Grima is directly responsible for the murder of Theodred, King Theoden’s son.  Yet King Theoden chooses to extend his scepter of forgiveness towards Grima in an act of unmerited love.

Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t come up with this idea?  Our God, the Great I AM, sent His Son, Jesus, to earth, and we killed Him.  Even though you and I were not there at that time in history, by the evil in our hearts we would have done the same as the people who crucified Him.

But this is where the story takes a sharp turn from Tolkien’s.  Theodred certainly did not choose to die for Grima, nor would Theoden have ever sent his son to die for Grima.  But did you know that God the Father chose to send His Son to us, because it was more bearable to the Father and Jesus for them to suffer the agony of Jesus’ death than for you and I to be lost forever? 

Just think about that!  Just think about that!

Jesus willingly went to His death for us, knowing exactly what He was doing.  He even knew that many of us wouldn’t turn to Him as soon as we hear about His death for us, but we would continue sinning for a long time before turning to Him!  Have you known about the cross of Jesus for a long time?  Do you think you’ve known about Him for too long for Him to forgive you now?  That is simply not true!  Like King Theoden extended grace to Grima even after he razed most of Rohan with his sin and killed even the weak, elderly, and children by his actions, God is still willing to extend His grace to you.  Will you accept it?

The price God paid to bring us back is the death of His Son.  Think of how heavy this price really was.  No one can imagine paying it!  But ask yourself this, very seriously: If the only way the price of my sin could be paid was by God sending His Son to die for me, then what will happen if I am faced with paying for my sin myself?

We cannot escape our sin by remorse, acts of penitence, good works, or even killing ourselves.  None of this will pay for our sin.  Only the Son of God, who is eternal and has the ability to take infinite suffering on Himself in a finite amount of time, could pay for our sin.  Do you want to take the penalty for your sin on yourself?  Can you bear it!?!?

Remember, God the Father chose to send His Son to us, because it was more bearable to the Father and Jesus for them to suffer the agony of Jesus’ death than for you and I to be lost forever!!!

I know, I fully know, I cannot bear the penalty of my own sin.  I cannot even bear the thought!  It is enough to drive us mad to think of paying for what we cannot pay.  Just as Grima, trapped on that tower, had no ability to replant crops or rebuild houses, we cannot make up for our sin.  But the worst of all is, Grima could not bring back the dead, and that is what he would really have to do to pay for his sin.  He would have to raise the people back from the dead whose lives he cost.  And he knew he could not do it.

You may say, But I have never killed anyone.  But you say this because you don’t understand the consequences of sin.  Sin always brings about death.  Your sin and my sin causes destruction on this world that we are not even capable of understanding the full ramifications of.  To get a better understanding, just look at Adam’s sin of disobeying God once.  That doesn’t seem so serious, right?  But Adam’s one sin brought about all the havoc we see in the world today, like illness, injury, natural disasters, wars, murders, terrorism, and death of every kind.  Adam’s sin had a domino effect on the world.  And that was just one sin.

Do you think you have sinned, even once?  The Bible teaches that if you disobey God even once you have sinned and are guilty before Him.  We all know in our heart we have done this–many times.  I know there is no way I can make up for my sin.  I, like Grima, have done things I cannot pay for.  Even if I could imagine in my head that I could somehow plant new crops and build new houses, I could never raise the dead.  We might be able to make restitution on a superficial level, but we can never make up or pay back the depth of what we have caused by our disobedience.

The joy of my life is that I did not choose as Grima chose.  I asked Jesus to forgive me and be the Master of my life.  All my sin is paid in full–from birth to death.  I have been totally pardoned.  Unlike Grima, I chose to come down from the tower.  I am no longer Satan’s property.  I belong once again to the Kingdom of God.

Even though my joy for myself is indescribable, belonging to God means that He gives you a heart of love for others.  I know that I have come down from the tower, but I can’t simply stop at that.  I recognize that there are millions who still stand on top of that tower, totally hopeless and either believing there is no way down or not even realizing that they are trapped.  If you are one of those who has not made it down from the tower yet, I challenge you to receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior.  Satan will fight hard and long against you.  He will try to incite you, as Saruman incited Grima.  Satan will try to incite you against God or against me or against yourself or even against himself (Satan), but what he will try everything in his power to stop you from doing is from coming down from your lofty Hell and accepting the free Gift of Jesus Christ.

Come down, right now.  Come down and be free.  Satan can’t make you stay on that tower.  He can only try to make you think he can.

“I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” (Jesus, quoted in John 8:34b-36, HCSB)

[1] Lord of the Rings: return of the king, extended edition script, New Line Cinema.  Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson.  Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, Lord of the Rings: The return of the king.

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Why we bow our head when we pray . .

“We pray with our head down because the tax collector did.  [We see as he did that] we have no inherent right to be [in God’s presence].”

–Pastor John

And [Jesus] also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NASB)