This song tells the story of a man who repents for his sins, coming back to Jesus after losing his way and finding himself in jail. His journey proceeds step by step as his gives up his vices for a shot at redemption.
Most songs of this nature are personal testimonials, but Livingston Taylor (brother of James) was writing in character. "I've never been in jail," he said in a Songfacts interview
. "You try to write an empathetic character that people can identify with and then you put a melody to it and that's what happens."
Many of Taylor's songs have spiritual themes, but they are part of his narratives and not written with any agenda.