"My Own Prison" by Creed.
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If you search the web you'll find numerous sites with potential interpretations of these lyrics. Explainations and interpretations of this song range from calling this song the product of a extreme night of drug use, a claim supported by the line "Should have been dead on a Sunday Morning, banging my head..." to those who interpret this song a a recognition of human responsibility before a just and soverign God. Admittably I tend toward this interpretation not simply because of a few particular words in the song but because of the the whole direction of this piece.
Apart from absolutely stirring music and evocative drum and bass playing the words to this song evoke the chilling imagery of a sinner standing before the judgment seat of God. The lyrics open with:"A court is in session, a verdict is in, No appeal on the docket today, Just my own sin" This is a place depicted in this song as a place of fear and trembling, demons crowd near our narrator expecting another soul to be handed over to them amidst the screams of the judged. Our narrator is "shackled" by his sentence and before the judge he expects no return, that is no release from the penalty he is bearing and the reality of this is expressed in the words "Here there is no penance, My skin begins to burn..."
This chilling imagery is punctuated by the chorus which takes into the mind and heart of narrator who stands in the midst of this scene. The narrator standing before God expecting to receive judgment for the sentence that shackles him exposes what is going in inside of him at that moment by the refrain, "So I held my head up high
Hiding hate that burns inside, Which only fuels their selfish pride"
. This to me is amazing insight because I believe it is an accurate depiction of what the judgment day will look like. We have it in our minds that sinners, unrepentant in this life will somehow suddenly, when faced with the withering glory of God, will fall on their knees and worship him. How is this possible? If they hate God in this life when they have not seen him, how much more will the despise him when they stand face to face with him? The sinner in that day will 'Hold his head up high'- this is pride, but tempered by the awesome fierceness of God will temper this rebellion, i.e. 'Hiding hate that burns inside'- that is hate for God. The antecedent to 'their' is the demons cluttering around in the first verse, they are fueled by the sight of rebellious pride in one they are about to receive.
We are again returned to the scene of the courtroom and the proud defendant but this time a vivid scene involving the cross of Christ is interjected. We know it is Christ who is the center of this verse because the imagery of a lion is used for the on who only "holds the keys". What are these keys? According to the song they are the means by which our defendant can be "freed from my burden" and "grant me life eternally" Namely the imagery of Christ is one who has born the Cross, is now resurrected in power and who holds the power to free men from their sins and to grant them life eternally.
At this point the initial chorus is replaced by one that expresses the recognition that our defendant, who before the cross imagery was holding his head up high but is now recognizing that he, not Christ, "Should have been dead, On a Sunday morning". But as is true to Scripture, the sinner who stands before God on judgment day has "No Time for Mourning...". God has warned that he will not always strive with man and the clock on his longsuffering will have hit midnight at judgment day. For the man in that situation the end of this chorus stands as a stark reminder that he "Ain't got no time..." This understanding only serves to further harden the heart of the defendant who after what seems to be a moment of possible repentance resumes his arrogant stance and returns to his burning hate.
There is nothing left now but to seek God's decision, the defendant cries out to God, "Seeking only his decision". Gabriel the angel is pictured here as a sort of ballif confirming the testimony of the defendant and the sentence of God. The truth of the situation is made explicitly clear at this point, God is not to blame because man, as represented by our defendant has 'created his own prison...' What response could we expect from the condemnd sinner? It only inflates his pride and hatred, a point driven home by the repeating of the chorus twice in a row.
The song concludes with the repeating of the recognition that the defendant ought to have been dead upon the Cross which Christ bore. It this end it is a terribly sad and tragic song, one that though written by pagan artists still serves to illustrate is a lesser degree some of the theological teaching that the bible proclaims in a much greater degree.
First, the God if the universe is a God whose very character demands of him that he be a judge. Sin must be punished, the criminal must be found guilty, righteousness and holiness must be preserved in all purity. We will all be judged accordingly. The difference is those who have Christ have the greatest defense attorney possible because he will tell God the judge that the penalty represented by the sins of each believer has been paid, on the Cross. This is what it means to be saved, saved from the wrath of God. The unbeliever does not have a defense attorney on that day.
Secondly, the reason for all of this is because mankind wilfully rebelled against God, each of us has build his own prison of sin and pride. We are self condemned and shackled to a sentence from which the only return we can expect is to handed over to the demons and Satan in judgment forever.
Third, man is inherently sinful and prideful- even standing before God sinners will not repent. They have but one option and that is to rebel as mightily as possible before being consigned to torment.
Lastly, it is a firm teaching of the bible that all who have rejected Christ in this life and have disavowed all knowledge of him here, will see him as he is in glory on that day of judgment. The cross will loom large because it will be the insurmountable piece of evidence that condemns the sinner. No man will enter hell without thourougly understanding that Christ came, suffered and died to prevent the torment about to be endured for eternity. I believe every sinner as he is handed into the realm of the damned will know as sure as day that he belonged on the cross and not Jesus.
In conclusion let it be stated clearly that God is a judge, a day of judgment is coming, the eternal prison stands ready to recieve the damned and all of this threat is cancelled but by one thing, namely Jesus. If you embrace him as a loving Savior and righteous King you will be burdened no more by your sentence of sin. Hate will be replaced with love and pride with humility. The judge will become a father to you and the defense attorney, closer than a brother. The greatest tradgety is representing in this song and it is the one who fails to repent and embrace Jesus. The day of judgment will be to late, there will not be anytime left to correct the mistake. While it is yet day then, let us work out our salvation, for night will come when no man can work" And what work is left at night will remain as such forever, either good works of repentance leading to eternal reward or evil works of pride leading to distruction.
Creeds song "My Own Prison" shows us that even pagan minds can apprehend the didactic truth of Scripture but fail to grasp it's meaning. This should not be surprising, the demons cast into swine has a perfect knowledge of eschatology so why should men who have access to the word not derive from it's contents the concepts contained in this song? The thing you must make sure of for yourself is that you not stop at simply knowing the Word of God, but that you truly understand it in life changing ways.