You ought to go to church. You ought to read your Bible, eat right, quit smoking, pay your tithes, and be a better mom… dad… husband… wife… yodeler, underwater basket-weaver, etc.
Once we find freedom from guilt and condemnation through Jesus, freedom from the bondage of sin, and freedom from legalism and empty religion, it’s time to really live life the way God intended – fruitfully!
We’re all caught. We’ve all sinned. And Jesus said, “whoever sins is the slave of sin.” But because of the amazing grace of God, shown through his Son, we can be freed from sin’s penalty, power, and someday, its presence. The Apostle Paul wrote about how to be set free in his letter to the Romans.
We’re caught. We’re guilty of sin. In fact, we’re enslaved by it. That’s the reason Jesus came – to give his life for ours, to set us free forever, and to remove the condemnation we deserve for our rebellion. The very first step to living in spiritual freedom is placing our trust in Jesus alone.
When you read the book of Exodus, you’re reading the story of a God who is determined to free his people from bondage and slavery. No matter how hard the Egyptians fight, no matter how much the Israelites misunderstand God’s motives, and no matter how long the journey ahead might seem, God keeps on working to free his people.
We have an enemy, and he loves to hurt us because he loves to hurt anything or anyone that God loves. So he uses the most brief or subtle of experiences to create pockets of guilt, bitterness, and resentment. A single experience of abuse, one word of unfair criticism, or perhaps a lifetime of being manipulated by someone close to us can all create warped views of self, sin, and God in us. The pain of these experiences locks us in bondage and puts us in a stronghold.
As I write this, the United States government is weighing the possibility of using ground military forces to rescue the Yazidi people who are trapped on a mountain in Iraz, surrounded by the threat of extermination by the Islamic State, a terrorist group currently taking control of a growing number of towns in their region. Politicians and military strategists are debating whether this is the right thing to do or not from a variety of perspectives.
Captivity does something to the human brain. Captivity trains us to act like captives. There have been instances of people having been kidnapped and held captive for long periods of time who, when faced with an opportunity to flee, actually choose to remain in captivity. In fact, that’s what we often do spiritually as well.
I like rules, lines, and boundaries. I feel safer if I have clear parameters, which explains my love for graph paper. I like it when everything is nice and tidy. The problem is, life isn’t always nice and tidy. People around me don’t always play by my rules, and I’m the biggest boundary breaker of them all.