Let Freedom Reign…
This Saturday we are going to celebrate the Fourth of July-Independence Day. On the Fourth many of us will take time out to express thankfulness for our freedoms. Though we certainly may not agree with a lot of governmental changes, we still live in the most amazing country in the world. I feel so blessed that I live in the “Land of the Home and the Brave” where we have freedoms others only dream about. But, when I think about our nation’s freedom, I can’t help but also pause to give thanks for my spiritual freedom- my freedom from sin and death. And just as our nation’s freedom did not come free, for it was blood bought by men and women who spilled their blood at home and abroad; so my spiritual freedom was blood bought – bought by the blood of Christ.
One of the saddest things for me to see as a minister is to see Christians still bound, still in bondage to… you name it. They love the Lord but are bound up like a deranged man in a strait jacket! It shouldn’t be that way. Christ came to set us free, and “who the Son sets free is free in deed”. He has already won the victory, but, we, as His “saints”, need to learn how to walk in the victory He has given. Now there are many reasons people don’t have “victory” in their lives – many reasons people are haunted by old besetting sins, bad habits and addictions. But one big reason is because they have swallowed the lies of Satan! Many Christians have believed lies like, “I can never change”; “this is just too hard”; “I’m just not going to make it”…
Many years ago I met a girl who had every reason to think she would never get out of the hellish pit she was in. The pit was deep and dark and she had been there for years. Through her eyes, all she could see for her future was a life filled with addiction; broken promises and death.
Elaine came to us sick and sick and tired of being sick! She had been strung out on drugs for years. She had already spent time in custody and had pretty much destroyed all her personal relationships. Her poor body was tired; her emotions were raw and her mind just could not quite grasp what it would feel like to be set free from her chains of addiction. Her parents brought her to us – not really thinking there would be much chance of any change. (They admitted they came to us because we do not charge.) The dad, with tears in his eyes, said “We’ve been to so many rehabs, and she just goes right back as soon as she steps out the door. We just don’t know what to do to help her.” I explained to them that, number one, we weren’t a “rehab”. We were a Christian discipleship program for people with life controlling issues. I went onto explain that it is only as a person experiences a personal relationship with Christ that they stand a chance of being truly set free.
Elaine, not feeling very hopeful entered the program. When she came in she was so sick that she had to be waited on in bed as she recouped. She could not understand why the staff and students wanted to wait on her; or why they were constantly asking her if they could do something for her. It was close to a week before she could be a part of the center’s regular schedule, and when she did, she would sit in the back of the room, with her arms crossed, just watch and wait to see what would happen. It was during one of our chapel times that she thought she would “give Jesus a try.” She felt she had tried everything else – what did she have to lose. I’d like to say it was easy sailing, it wasn’t. I don’t know at what point she completely surrendered it all to the Lord, but she did. When her parents came for her first visit they couldn’t believe the change. Each time they came to visit they were amazed at the change in her speech, her actions and even her looks. One day her parents stuck their heads into my office and said they never thought they would get their little girl back, but they did.
Elaine was successful after the program. She never looked back and never used a drug again. Then one day I received a very upsetting call…
Elaine’s parents called me to let me know Elaine had suddenly died. I don’t know if it was from the past abuse her body went through, but her precious little heart just gave out. I immediately told her parents how sorry I was for their loss. Their response: They said that yes, they were sad she was gone, but they were so thankful for the time they had with her. They said they had “had their little girl back,” and they were comforted by the fact that they knew they would see her again. One of the things Elaine’s parents cherished most was that they knew she died free! They knew the Lord had set her free of her addictions, and now she was even free from a body that had ceased to serve her.
So how do I, as a Christian, stay free? 2 Cor. 10:4 says: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. And what are these strongholds that are in need of demolishing? They are “lies”, or as the New Living Translation bible says, “false arguments”. The enemy of our soul; worldly philosophies; the trends of the day; all try to feed us lies straight from the pit of Hell! And if that wasn’t enough, we tell ourselves lies! Lies like: “I will never make it”; “I am too old to change”; “this ____ has too strong of a hold on me”; “I have to have it or have to do that”… and I could keep going.
Now, we can try to combat these “strongholds” in our own strength, but it won’t work-we just aren’t that strong. We can try a new regimen, a new “fad” fix – it may work for a minute but before you know it… same ol’ bondage. The only way to combat these false arguments is with the truth! So, let me close out this blog with a few important truths:
- No matter what anyone says, there is an absolute source of truth, it’s called the Bible. No matter how the world changes, the Word of God stands firm.
- There is no way we can fight this on our own, but “we can do ALL things through Christ”, in fact “in our weakness, His strength is made known”.
- Your past does not matter! No matter where you have been, how many times you have tried to change, you still have victory in Christ… “old things have passed away, all things have become new.” You are a new creation! Christ has set you free and He will show you how to walk in that freedom.
- One last truth… in order to pull down these strongholds with the truth of God’s Word, you have to have God’s Word in you. And the only way that happens is to prayerfully spend time in His Word. Romans 12:2 says Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I hope as we celebrate Independence Day that we will also be celebrating freedom in our personal lives, freedom bought and paid for by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.