PRISONER OF THE MATRIX
Try to imagine this scenario.
When the film begins, Scene One, Neo is knocking on Morpheus’ door. When Morpheus answers, Neo says, “Look, I realize I’m a prisoner of the Matrix and I need to be rescued. Can you help me?”
Knowing what you now know about the Matrix, you know that just couldn’t have happened.
Well, first of all Neo didn’t actually know he was a prisoner.
Secondly he didn’t know he needed rescuing.
Thirdly he didn’t know Morpheus could help him.
Neo is in a strange situation, but so are we. We are all in a situation very much like Neo’s. Neo is a prisoner, and so are we. Neo is not aware that he is a prisoner, and neither are we. Neo has to be told by a complete stranger that he is a prisoner, and so must we be told.
These essays are an attempt by a complete stranger to alert you to the fact that you are a prisoner. You are in need of outside help to rescue you. You can’t do anything to rescue yourself.
The only difference between Neo’s situation in the Matrix and your own is in the details.
Of course, you may find this hard to believe. Why? Because, for one thing, you know the Matrix is fiction, and so while it may be interesting and exciting to watch, you know there’s no real danger in your own life. You know that you’re not in any real danger. Right?
The Biblical equivalent to your situation is not fiction― it’s fact, and it involves you and your life, whether you like it or not, and whether you want to hear about it or not. Neo may not have wanted to hear about it either, but the nagging splinter in his mind wouldn’t let him go until he had uncovered the truth, and hopefully the situation is the same with you.
Neo was a prisoner of the Matrix, which you are not. But you are the prisoner of something else, something equally as difficult to perceive, and as powerful, and as deadly.
What is keeping you prisoner?
Is it Society?
Is it The System?
Is it mom and dad?
Is it your teachers?
Is it your boss?
Is it other people?
Is it (if you are reading this in jail) your prison, with its bars, and locks, and guards?
Is it Fate?
Is it the Universe?
Or is it God?
Believe it or not, it is NONE OF THE ABOVE.
Then what is it?
If you really want to know, then you’re going to have to concentrate on the next few things I’m going to tell you, because what is holding you prisoner isn’t going to let you listen to this.
As a matter of fact, you may have to read this over again to keep it all straight in your mind.
Even then, even when you do understand it a bit, you’ll still have to get help escaping from what is holding you prisoner, before you’ll be truly able to understand it. I know how odd this sounds. Honestly, I’m warning you beforehand, this is going to feel (as Morpheus says when he plugs Neo in for the first time) “…a little weird.”
WHAT YOUR JAILER DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW:
Neo had to escape from the Matrix before
he could understand he needed to escape!
The Bible reveals that there are two interrelated things that hold you prisoner. The first is hard to believe, and the second is almost impossible to believe!
So hang on and stick with it! It will be as hard for you to believe the next few things I’m going to tell you, as it was for Neo to believed Morpheus when he said “you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot see, or taste, or touch…a prison for your mind.”
You, dear reader, are a prisoner.
You, dear reader, were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot see or taste or touch…a prison for your mind.
Don’t put this down until you get it.
The first thing that holds you prisoner is sin. Your sinful nature, which is so much a part of you that you don’t even know it’s there, is holding you prisoner! You may never have even heard of sin. You may not know what it is. But it is holding you prisoner right now, and it is more powerful and dangerous than anything you’ve ever imagined.
The great Christian missionary, the apostle Paul, said this about sin: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing… O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”¹ (Literally, “who can save me from this body of death?”) In other words, “something bad lives inside me…. but who can kill IT without killing me?”
Paul saw that his sin nature (which dwelt within his body), was so much a part of him that he would never be able to get rid of it by himself. In fact, it was himself. He was holding himself prisoner! You may have heard the saying, “WE HAVE FOUND THE ENEMY AND IT IS US”. This is actually true of all of us. We are all prisoners of our own sinful nature.
If you want to discover this for yourself, just try doing something you know you really should do. For instance, you know you should study for that exam. You know you should get up early to look for that job. You know you shouldn’t lose your temper. You know you shouldn’t eat so much, or drink too much, or whatever. Whatever you really don’t want to do (be selfish, be angry, be lazy) you find yourself doing, and it’s easy to do, but whatever you really want to do (be hard working, or self-controlled, or super-disciplined) is hard to do. Doing GOOD always seems to be opposed by something. It seems to be easy to do the things we don’t want to do, and hard to do the things we know we should.
Now think about this for a moment. Why is this true? Why is it so hard to do GOOD and so easy to do BAD? Why is it so hard to do RIGHT and so easy to do WRONG? This is exactly what was bugging the apostle Paul when he wrote:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” [Romans 7:18,19]
Paul experienced what we all experience― the only difference is that God opened up his eyes to see his real situation and he realized “Hey, there’s something very wrong here!”
That in itself was a phenomenal insight! It was a miracle! Why? Because he said that something was wrong, when the program shouldn’t have allowed him to say it!
It’s like Thomas Anderson plugged into the Matrix. He doesn’t know he’s plugged into the Matrix. And if he was to read a book or a piece of graffiti on a subway wall warning him that he was a prisoner of the Matrix, the Matrix (the program) would immediately tell him otherwise. After all, the whole purpose of the Matrix was to keep him distracted from the real truth.
The sin nature is like that. The sin nature is like an imbedded rogue program. It interferes. It’s like a Trojan virus. It interferes from inside. Try to think of your sin nature as a virus that was implanted before you were even born. Before the computer age it was almost impossible to describe how an enemy could get inside its victim and still be almost undetectable. Now we know how a virus program can get so deep into a system, you’d have to destroy the whole system trying to get rid of it.
The Bible is the only book that reveals this. The whole human race is infected. You were born in sin. Bottom line, unless you exert a great deal of energy and will power, by default your sin nature will always influence you to choose wrong instead of right. Wrong is our natural default setting.
To do RIGHT usually takes incredible will-power, but to do wrong takes no effort at all.
Why is this? Because wrong is so much easier to do than right. In fact, wrong is the absence of doing right, which means when we do wrong we’re not making any effort at all/ It was Edmund Burke who said, “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent.” Doing wrong is effortless…doing right takes willpower. Why is this? Because we are sinners by nature, we naturally sin.
Why are all human beings sinners? Because “by one man sin entered into the world”. [Rom. 5:12] The first man, Adam, disobeyed God, ate the forbidden fruit, and brought a curse upon us all.
The Matrix equivalent of this state is their helplessness. They are all prisoners. Even Morpheus and Trinity and Tank and Dozer and all the rest …even the men and women who have managed to be unplugged are still under the power of the machines. They are not yet completely free,even those who are citizens of the subterranean city of Zion. Until the curse of the machine is completely broken— and of course this is Morpheus’s great hope for Neo, who Morpheus believes is THE ONE who will break the power of the Matrix— until the machines are finally vanquished, the whole race of men lies helpless under their power.
And you’re in exactly the same situation.
You are being held prisoner by your sin nature, and that sin nature fights against you ever discovering your sin nature on your own
So is there anything you can do about it? Yes, but you’ve got to want to do something. A remedy has been provided, but you’ve got to want the remedy. The red pill is available, but you’ve got to want to take it when it’s offered.
So what’s the remedy? Paul asked the same question: “ O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” In the very next verse he gives the answer. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. [Rom.7:25a] The answer has something to do with Jesus Christ. (This isn’t the answer…this is just leading up to the answer. Stick around.)
Too many people have heard the name of Jesus Christ but have never made the connection. “I was around when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain, made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate.” The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil couldn’t have been any closer to the truth. Later in the same song they sing, “Pleased to meet you, hope you’ve guessed my name; but what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.”
He’s not talking here about Jesus Christ, of course. He’s talking about Christ’s arch-enemy, Lucifer. What is Lucifer’s game? It’s to use your ignorance about your sin nature to use you up and eventually kill you.
WHAT’S PUZZLING YOU IS THE NATURE OF MY GAME
For the first 30 years of my life I thought the devil was a myth. That’s exactly what the devil wants you to think. C.S.Lewis prefaces his novel “The Screwtape Letters” with this observation:
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” 
It’s one thing to base your the notion of “the devil” on amusing little anecdotes in English Literature class, or what you see and hear in movies and comic books, but it’s quite another thing to see it in print in the Bible. The Bible takes the devil very, very seriously. In the letter to his young protégé Timothy, Paul says very clearly that the devil holds people prisoner. It actually says that he holds them prisoner carefully because he doesn’t want them to know they are his prisoners. He keeps them in his SNARE, but only tightens the noose when he suspects they’re about to get way. This is what Paul is writing about to Timothy: “tell those ensnared by Satan the truth gently, because if they freak out, the devil will find out and will shut the connection down!”
2Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
2Timothy 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
What’s Paul saying? “Be careful how you talk to Neo. Be careful as you try to warn him… you need to warn him without tipping off the Matrix…and the Agents… you’ve got to get Neo to take that red pill before the Matrix is on to us trying to help him to escape.”
Still think I’m making this up? Still think the Matrix can’t possibly be talking about the same things the Bible is talking about (or the other way around)? Then read the next two passages from the Bible.
The first tells you that your ENEMY seeks to devour you (and the Matrix will flush you away once you are no longer useful):
1Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
The second tells you that the machine world of the MATRIX is big and powerful…and here the Bible says that Satan’s realm is also big and powerful:
Ephesians 6:11,12 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
So let me summarize. Number ONE, what’s holding you prisoner is your sin nature, and it will never let you go free without outside help. And number TWO, what’s also holding you prisoner is Satan, who has tried to keep you from understanding this so he can use you for his own purposes.
To Satan, you’re a source of power—a battery, if you please— and once you’re drained, he’ll throw you away.
Want to do something about it?
1. I want to go on to PART 6
 LEWIS, C.S., The Screwtape Letters, COLLINS, Glasgow; ©1942