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Running Towards Captivity

I've been in bondage to many things in my life. And the thing is, often times we don't even realize that we've been in bondage until we become free. It's not until the chains have come off, that we understand how blind we were and how something has held us down for so long.

See, sin is tricky. The enemy comes disguised as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and we fall for it time after time. Our flesh gives in to the deceitful promises that actually are waging war against our very souls, One of the biggest ways I see this happening now is bondage coming disguised as "freedom". I've seen this lie repeatedly accepted on a major scale by believers, and it has had me asking myself some pretty big questions:

  • If Jesus says, "You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free", then why is freedom not a reality for so many Christians?

  • Jesus also says, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments." So why is such a large portion of the church not only continuing to live in sin, but seemily running towards it?

  • How can I reconcile the truth of scripture and what it says about us and God's promises, compared to what I see in the American church?

Our souls long for freedom. But freedom from what? For what? There is only one answer. I love how John Piper puts it, and most recently I've heard it in his podcast "The Power of a Superior Promise". He says freedom is being "free from what we hate, and free for what we love". He says John 8:34-36 essentially says that Christ brings "freedom from the slavery of sin, and freedom for holiness". But how do we get there?

In high school, I was so lost. You see, I had no desire to live like Christ. I only wanted to live by my rules, the way I wanted, in ways that fulfilled my desires. I had a cold, dead heart. But in my senior year, I really liked this boy who was a Christian and his parents wouldn't let him date someone who wasn't. So I started going to church with him. I told myself, "Okay, don't have sex, don't cuss..."you know, look good. In reality, I just tried really hard to "be good." That lasted for about a week. See, all that happened was some things changed on the outside. My heart never changed, There was no change in desires. It was all for selfish gain. I was still in bondage, and I had no way out. And that's our dilemma, isn't it?

Here's what I know about the humanity, sin, and the Lord:

No one is "good" and we all fall short (Romans 3:10,23 AMP). We are all born dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-2 AMP, Psalm 51:5). The consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23 AMP, James 1:15) and separation from God. (Isaiah 59:2). Since we are spiritually dead, we cannot understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP).

Seems pretty hopeless, doesn't it? Now, this tells me that I, along with all of mankind, are without hope, at least in ourselves. These verses also tell me that it is ONLY by an act of God that I can be saved, let alone understand the truth and reality of these concepts. Fortunately, here's where Christ comes in.

Jesus made a way for us to be righteous in the sight of God, through the payment of His sacrifice on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21 AMP), (1 John 4:10 AMP), (Ephesians 1:7 AMP) He gives us new hearts, a new Spirit (His) and removes our old hearts of stone (Ezekiel 36:26). When we receive His Spirit, we are literally brought to life, and we receive an entirely new nature (Romans 8:10, 2 Peter 1:4).

God is holy, and He demands holiness. But we simply can't meet that. Thankfully, His grace is what provides the power that makes His demands of holiness possible for us. And that my dear friends, is freedom. Freedom over fear. By the Spirit, we are free for what we now love...Jesus.

So why do so many of us still run into captivity? Why are we not changed? Well, I believe there are really only 2 options:

Either we don't believe His words (all satan can do is lie to us, right? Romans 8:31), or we simply don't have the Spirit.

I heard a sermon by Paul Washer where he used an analogy of a man being late for work, and his excuse was that he'd been hit by a semi-truck. His boss was confused, seeing that he looked perfectly fine. He said something like "surely if you'd come into contact with something as big as a semi-truck, there would be a noticeable difference". To think, if we have truly come into contact with the infinite God of the entire universe and have His Spirit living inside of us, surely there would be a noticeable difference.

I do think this is something we all need to authentically consider about ourselves at some point in our lives. We can be so lost in the deception of our flesh and sin that maybe we need some help to see the truth of our situation, or maybe in some cases the Spirit is lacking. There have definitely been times in the past that I've questioned my salvation, but it's by remembering the power that I've felt, the work I"ve seen Him do in me, and the immense amount of peace and deliverance (from things that draw me away from him) He continuously gives me, that I know I'm sealed by the Holy Spirit. There is no other explanation.

In the Bible, John says that he writes to us so "that we may not sin". We must believe these words stated over and over again that Jesus defeated sin and death, that they no longer have power over us, and that we are now slaves of righteousness by the power of God Himself working in us. And the God who has begun that work in us will be faithful to complete it. We still have our flesh, so by no means will we ever reach perfection on this earth, nor we ever be free from temptation (Jesus Himself wasn't temptation free while He walked here either by the way) but it's by the continual sanctification of the Spirit and our humble repentance granted by the Lord that He proves His love, care and devotion to us over and over again.

Let us also make sure that we are presenting the Truth of the gospel correctly, both in our words and in our lives. Let's be careful to not make "disciples" whose lives and hearts aren't changed and be okay with that. No, we don't have control over who will receive Christ authentically, but we can't be content with the people around us who claim Jesus while all the while running towards captivity.

Let's run this race, towards Jesus, pursuing freedom and joy in the only thing that can truly satisfy our hearts. Don't settle for half-in lives, but let us chase our new desires of loving God and honoring Him in all we do. Let Him be first, in everything, because that is what we owe Him. Let us lose our lives so that we may find them in Him. Shake off the weight of sin that so easily entangles us, and cling to the hope and Truth that our God is The God who actually sets captives free.

Psalm 119:45, "I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments."

❤ Courtney

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