If we asked most people, “is it possible to find freedom from sin in prison?” they would not like the odds. They think real life is tough enough. They find it almost impossible to face life’s temptations and traps in their own situation. Surrounded by criminals must make it almost impossible.
But what makes prison inmates any different than us? We are all sinners, damned to be so by the transgression of Adam and Eve. The Bible tells us there is not much difference between one sin and another. While murder may be a more serious offense, hate is still a demerit on the scorecard of life. Maybe prisoners did something a little more serious than your typical offense, but maybe not.
Besides the ranks of innocents living among the inmate population are those who differ from you and me only in the fact that they got caught. There are people in jail because they had a marijuana cigarette in their pocket. Others got drunk and crashed a car. In 2015, 111 million Americans admitted that they got behind the wheel of a car drunk. 150 million Americans said they tried marijuana.
“There but for the grace of God go I” is the saying. How many people walk free with crimes of theft, tax-evasion, or fraud on their mind? These are otherwise good people. What if a good person got sentenced to a year or even three months in jail? Are they instantly doomed to three months of constant sinning to survive? Or is it possible to find freedom from sin in prison?
There are a lot of good people residing in prison facilities around the country. The overwhelming majority are not hardened criminals. They are regular people in a bad situation. One way many of them seek to make the best of that situation is to join religious groups in the facilities, including Christian groups.
Many jails have Christian and Islamic study groups or counseling groups. The facilities allow and often encourage inmates to keep a Bible in their cells. Prison ministries abound, ranging from on-site churches to weekly services to intermittent visits.
For some prisoners, the outside ministries are not enough. Their thirst for Christ leads them to start prison-based study groups. Thousands of prisoners take advantage of theological and bible study courses like those provided by the International Christian College and Seminary (ICCS) (http://www.iccscampus.org/). These courses add practical skills to the faith of the inmates, including how to share the faith among their peers.
Whatever their spiritual outlet is, these men and women are among the majority of inmates trying to get through their terms without further troubles. You could argue that their motivation to get out early or on time, along with less influence from television, gives them as good a chance as any of us to find freedom from sin. Is it possible to find freedom from sin behind prison walls? As possible as it is for anyone else in this tricky world God has placed us in.