Living In Freedom

"The thief comes for no other reason than to steal, kill, and destroy;
but I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly."
(John 10:10)

Are you living in thefreedom and abundance that Christ made possible, or are you living in bondage? Bondage is defined as “servitude or subjugation to a controlling person or force; becoming a slave or servant in captivity to something that has the power to control one's actions and behavior”. Bondage is the opposite of freedom.

There are so many kinds of bondage, it would be impossible to name them all. We often think of bondage in terms of addictions, and indeed, many are addicted to things they cannot shake free of. This type of bondage may include drugs or alcohol, food, sex, or more subtle bondage, like shopping, spending money excessively, or hoarding tons of things we don't really need or use. Other bondages are far more deceptive: a deep-seated need for power, fame, prestige, or accolades. We can be in bondage to worry, anxiety, fear, or strong emotional outbursts.

Satan does not want us to live the abundant life Jesus promised us. He cannot take away our salvation, once we have accepted His sacrificial atonement for our sin and the salvation He provides. So he does the next best thing: he causes us to live in bondage. We do not have to remain in our bondage, however, whether it is physical or emotional. Jesus died for our sin, that we could live in true freedom and victory.

It is a war the enemy of our souls is waging against us. In any war, it is of vital importance to know and understand the tactics of your enemy. Spiritual battles are no exception: we must understand how our enemy works against us. The Bible is very clear: he will destroy us any way he can. He will destroy our witness; he will steal our peace, our joy, and our freedom; and he will kill our spirit, robbing us of a true and powerful relationship with God. It is a spiritual battle that rages daily.

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 heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

So how do we find ourselves living in bondage, when Christ came to set us free? All bondage begins with deception. This is so important, let me repeat it: ALL BONDAGE BEGINS WITH DECEPTION. How does Satan deceive us? Three ways: First, he plants seeds of doubt --- making us doubt God's words, His purpose, or His love for us. Satan has used this same strategy from the very beginning: in the garden of Eden, He caused Eve to sin by making her doubt God's goodness and His provision.

Secondly, he uses God's Holy Word carelessly, twisting it around, or adding to it, or taking away from it. He then encourages us to be careless with the Word of God. That is exactly what he did to Eve, asking her, “Did God really say that you couldn't eat of that fruit?” He caused her to doubt God's goodness and provision. And Eve responded by being careless with God's words; she added to them, saying that not only could they not eat this fruit, they couldn't even touch the tree or they would surely die.

Third, he lies about the consequences. The serpent told Eve, "You will not surely die". (Gen 3:4) This was obviously an outright lie, since God had told Adam "In the day you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen. 2:17) It has truly been said: “Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go, will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay.” When we are deceived about the cost of sin, we aren't too worried about the consequences. That suits our enemy just fine. He knows his time is short, that hell is waiting for him and his minions, and he wants to take as many people as possible with him. Not because he wants them, particularly, but because he knows that God loves them - and he hates God.

Every form of bondage begins with deception. Bondage occurs when we:

  1. Listen to a lie.
  2. Dwell on the lie.
  3. Believe the lie.
  4. Act on the lie.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust,
and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin:
and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)

Do you see how it progresses?
Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust (he listens to the lie.)
And enticed (he starts to dwell on the lie, thinking about it, rationalizing it, building it up in his mind.)
Then when lust has conceived, (he begins believing the lie.)
It brings forth sin: (Finally, he acts on the lie.)
And sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.

Look how it worked on Eve in the garden. First, she listened to the lie: “You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Notice how the serpent cast doubt on God's words, and twisted them. Then she began dwelling on the lie: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise”. Then she believed the lie, and acted on it: “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” The serpent lied about the consequences of their sin when he told them "You will not surely die". Believing the lie means DISBELIEVING the truth, and disregarding the consequences.

The progression is always the same: Listen to a lie, dwell on it, finally coming to believe it, and then acting on it. That is how we wind up in bondage, being enslaved by the lie and our actions. Our actions will always reflect what we believe; not what we SAY we believe, but what we truly believe in our hearts. If we believe that God's word is the only standard for us to live by, our actions will refelect that, and we will refuse to listen to the lies. But when we believe a lie, THAT is what our actions will show. Remember, believing the lie means we choose to DISBELIEVE the truth.

Causing us to doubt God is still one of the greatest weapons in the enemy's arsenal. He is still using it against God's people all these centuries later, because IT NEVER FAILS! Any time we give in to doubting God, we are going to fall into sin, just as Eve did. Fortunately, our God does not leave us to fight the battle alone: He gave us the weapons we need to defeat the enemy and live in victory and abundance!

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able
to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph. 6:12)

Truth does not just come to us naturally. The world teaches us nothing but lies. I have said it repeatedly - and will keep on saying it until God calls me home - that everything the world teaches us is in direct opposition to God. That's because Satan is (for now, anyway) the prince of this fallen, sinful world. (see John 12:31, and 16:11; II Cor.4:4; Eph. 2:2) The only way we can know the truth is by diligently studying God's Word for ourselves, praying for Him to give us wisdom and understanding.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men
liberally, and reproaches not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

Do not be deceived by false teachers and preachers who take a few Scriptures and twist them to mean something God never intended. They promise freedom, but deliver bondage. The Bible warns about such false teachers when it says:

While they promise them freedom, they themselves
are slaves of depravity and corruption: for a man is
the slave of whatever has mastered him. (II Pet. 2:19)

True freedom is not about blindly following a particular set of laws. That is called legalism, and it can enslave us, too. True freedom is knowing for ourselves what God's Word says, and believing the truth of God's word rather than a lie, even though the whole world may believe the lie. True freedom is trusting that when God has said no to something, it is for our own protection, to keep us from sorrow, heartache, and regret. True freedom is knowing that some things simply are not beneficial to us, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Those things can become our masters, holding power over us if we aren't wise enough to say, as the apostle Paul did:

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are
lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Cor. 6:12)

Jesus Christ set us free so that we could live free and abundant lives. He never intended for us to get entangled again in any kind of bondage. We can surrender to Him anything that holds us in bondage, and be assured that when we do, He will give us the grace and power to overcome.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not
let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

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