Nothing’s Free (The Last Temptation, 1994)
“Nothing’s Free” Lyrics:
Shake my hand
Last chance, little man
Ain’t it grand
It’s a bargain, it’s a steal
30 pieces of silver
And a deal’s a deal
Sign upon the dotted line
I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine
From the rules and laws of morality
Free to take your fill
Free from your own free will
My boy, it’s getting late
I’ll raise the stakes
Control your fate, why hesitate
Seal the deal, close the sale
Take my hammer, drive the nail
Sign upon the bloody line
A drop of yours, a drop of mine
From your conscience and
Free from the consequence
Free to sin to death
Free till your final breath
Free from the claws and flaws of your family
Free from obedient life
You’re cut like a double-edged knife
Nothing’s free, nothing’s free
Oh, you pay me
Free to ignore the bore of authority
Free to spit in the face
Be the winningest rat in the race till Judgement Day
Then nothing’s free
Bow to me if you want to be free
Free from life, come die with me
And when we’re dead it’s for eternity
Come on little one and dance in the fire
The end’s getting close
and the flame’s getting higher
When the music’s over there’s a hush in the choir
When the trumpets sounds
and His light is all around
And the saints all raise from the graves
in the ground
We’ll be going way downtown
But we’re free, so free
Trust me (I wanna be free, yeah I wanna be free)
It’s dark, and it’s cold
You’re alone, but you’re free
Isn’t that what you wanted?
This week we again re-visit ‘The Last Temptation‘. An LP which is full of insight and direction of Biblical proportion. Alice admits, “It’s a very strong concept album, a real morality play.” The album does a great job bridging the gap between generations of Alice fans as well. It’s a well-received record and a fan favorite. On that album there are songs about choice, virtue, vice, and redemption. The gravitas of such matters can be felt both in the music and the lyrics. ‘The Last Temptation’ forces the listener to pay attention. Attention to the story – as it unfolds. Attention to the interactions between the Showman, Steven, and Mercy. Attention to the parallels between the album content and the choices which may reside in their own lives. Choices laced with virtue, vice, and redemption. Almost as if the role of Steven could have just as easily been played by the listener. It hits you where you live.
Last week we looked at the song “Freedom”. We discussed where true freedom is found and who freely offers it. This week we look at the opposite. We look at the song “Nothings’ Free“. A song about oppression and captivity. A song about the promise of freedom wrapped in a lie. Instead of freedom through Christ, we find the ensnarement of sin and death. We find the enemy promising things he cannot deliver. He pleads and persuades. Weaving a web of lies. Declaring, “sign upon the dotted line, I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine”, you’ll be free “from the rules and laws of morality”, “free from your conscience and consequence”, “free from obedient life”, and so on. The song spells out what the enemy falsely offers. However, Alice sneaks in a few lines of truth as well. You’re free to live however you want ’til your final breath’. Then as the song dies down, we find the enemy gloating as those ‘freedoms’ are stripped away. His loud declarations are now low whispers as he softly declares, “it’s dark, and it’s cold. You’re alone, but you’re free. Isn’t that what you wanted?” The enemy’s sinister plot is revealed, but only at the end.
It’s no accident, the enemy is in open rebellion from our Lord (Ephesians 6:12), slanderous towards Him (Revelation 13:6), and desires to be equal to Him (Isaiah 14:12-14). We were at peace with our Creator willing to walk in obedience and love. Life was good. But it only took a hint of uncertainty to change the course. Sin wasn’t present until we were introduced to it. Not until we ‘took advice from that deceiving snake’. But notice, the serpent’s initial deception was not a bold face lie, but instead, it was accomplished by planting seeds of doubt. Just enough trickery to alter reality the slightest bit was all it took. All it took for humanity to be enticed to believe something different than what God said and meant. In Genesis 3:1-5, we find the interactions between the serpent, Eve, and Adam. Eve tells the serpent that both her and Adam are not to eat, or even touch, the fruit from the tree (of Knowledge) in the middle of the garden. But the serpent pushes back, “You will not certainly die” is his reply. That hint of doubt was enough. For that moment, she had been convinced that maybe God doesn’t have her best interest in mind. It was enough to introduce sin to humanity. Thus, separating us from Him – leaving us naked and afraid (by our own doing). The enemy had convinced them that surely God isn’t giving them everything. Instead, he convinced them that true freedom lies with him and his suggestions/offerings (in this case, eating the fruit).
The enemy believes that he knows our weaknesses and he seeks to use and manipulate us with them. Like a lion searching for young, sick, or straying animals, he seeks to devour those that are not ready for his attack (1 Peter 5:8). However, here’s the truth, we have been given the strength through Christ to deflect and resist those attempts (1 Peter 5:9, 1 Corinthians 10:13). The enemy seeks to provide you with false hope and fulfillment. He’s always willing and ready to offer you the things of this world. The things that may offer instant gratification but lack eternal joy or fulfillment. Instead we should know and study what is right and holy. Make choices that work towards building His kingdom here on earth. Choices that focus instead on the gifts we’ve been given and using those to share His Gospel, Grace, and Love with others (Titus 2:12-14). All the possessions, wealth, and power of this world are fleeting aspects of this life. They can be attained here on Earth, but they can’t be taken with you. The one who “dies with the most toys” does not win. It’s not to say that any of those things are bad or evil on their own. In your decisions, consider the price paid to obtain your material goals? Is this price an eternal one? Are you willing to give up glory in order to wrongfully attain the things of this world? The Good News is you have control over your choices. As long as you draw breath, it is never to late to adjust your course.
Anything the enemy offers is a lie, yet he does not utilize obvious lies. His are more dangerous, slyer, more elusive. Obvious lies would be too easy to detect, resist, and therefore flee from. The best lies are wrapped in a good bit of truth, distorted just enough to change that same certainty into a perilous lie. One that can easily be believed. Satan is no amateur – he is the “Father of Lies” aiming to instill fear and doubt through masterful deception (John 8:44), but he is not original. Most of his lies are seeded in the distortion of God’s existing truth. He does not come up with original content, but takes the Father’s truths and varies them just the slightest bit. Make no mistake, using this is a very effective form of deception. Satan’s goal is to see all humanity separated from eternal glory.
Wrapping this up, Jesus knows our needs. He’s lived here. He’s been through the same emotional and physical experiences that we have here on this Earth. Jesus seeks to help us understand the spiritual realm by drawing parallels to the things of this world. He takes the enormity of all eternal glory and parallels this with very real things that we can see, feel, and experience on a daily basis. Jesus explains his father’s truth in simple ways to help us better understand His Word. In John 4:13-15 Jesus speaks about the unquenchable thirst. He notes that, “everyone who drinks this water (from the well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” There’s nothing in this world that can fulfill that void. In fact, many of the things we try to force into that God-Shaped hole will lead to our demise. For some, there are only earthly consequences… for others, who have not accepted Christ, they have both earthly and eternal consequences. However, there’s always hope. It’s true, Freedom through Christ does come with a cost. Walking in obedience to Him and submitting to His Will requires us to lay down our lives, but we gain a renewed life instead. A life lived in eternity.
In conclusion, this may be my favorite Alice track to date. Arguably, there are many more to choose from, but most of his catalog is cautionary in nature, and this track lays it out perfectly. There’s no guessing or wondering about the enemy’s motives. The song is a reminder of who the enemy is and why you shouldn’t choose, trust, or consider him or his ways – why you should always resist him. Even Alice, the man, admits that the character – the villain – gets it. In fact, Alice mentions that the character never really took a position on certain things until “The Last Temptation” album. That album and the two following ones were a narration of how Alice, the character, sees the world. And his conclusion is this, “what this whole planet needs is a shot of morality”. Wise words. One’s you can’t really argue with. With that, remember where true “Freedom” can be found. You have one of two different eternal scenarios. The price of sin has already been paid. All you must do is accept, embrace, and submit to the will of Christ. The other path requires you make your own payment for your sins. Because in the end “Nothing’s Free”.
*Father in Heaven, we thank you for our Freedom. Freedom of choice and freedom to walk hand and hand with your Spirit. We ask that your truths remain at the forefront in our lives. That the enemy’s plots and plans be revealed and thwarted by your power and presence. We ask that your Spirit remain in our hearts, guarding us from evil and keeping us protected from the lies of the enemy. If, when, and where we’ve fallen prey to those lies, we ask that you might intervene with your truth – removing deception and replacing that with your mercy and grace. We forever thank you for your intervention on the cross. For your willingness to save us, despite our addictions to sin and self. Your love knows no ends and we are humbled by it. To you all glory and honor we give. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.*
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