Many of us understand what bondage feels like. We feel like chains may be wrapped around multiple times constricting us with each action we make. I, personally, want to break free from the chains, and to live a life filled with God’s grace.
I realize that many of us have different battlegrounds; but, the thing we have in common is the overwhelming feeling of being held hostage within our own chains. I often wonder how am I ever going to be released from the chains in my life? These so-called chains that hold me back. Most of the time it’s my own idols holding me hostage; but, on occasion–it’s someone else’s idols holding me hostage…and that’s another blog.
Being aware of my own guilty feelings (from my past sexual abuse), I began to look inward to myself for help, instead of outward toward Him. I have worn many chains since the actual abuses have taken place. I have meticulously layered the chains of guilt, shame, perfectionism, and “pleasing others” around my neck until they have utterly weighed me down. I felt as if I were suffocating me. I was suffocating!
There are times, I have claimed freedom in Christ; only to let my past fears, and sometimes present, sneak in and take control–again. I forget that I’ve been saved by His grace. Instead I seek the wrong kind of hope, and I wait in the dark for help. I tend to put faith in myself. I tend to think that I will be able to break free from the chains on my own rather than putting my hope in God to help me break free from the chains.
I fear I am part of a commonality with other struggling Christians. I don’t always know who I am with Christ, nor do I fully understand what it means to be a child of God. And why not? In Romans it says that the Spirit Himself bore witness with my spirit to be a child of God. Ok, then why don’t I sense the feeling of being that child? Could it be the chains I’m wearing?
Last Sunday my pastor Tom Gibbs said, “We tend to resist being a Christian!” He said, “We have no excuse for knowing the God that we try so hard to suppress. We practice the lies of idolatry by suppressing His truth. Our idolatry is our way of manipulating the world around us. We are committed to our idols when we feel threatened. In essence, we practice a lie; thus, suppressing God even more.”
Tom is right! Instead of looking inward to myself for help in breaking free from the chains; I should be looking to Christ–who has the answer of truth and grace to set me free.
The first step to breaking free from my chains is to resolve my personal and spiritual conflict by genuinely repenting, and then totally submitting myself to God. I should follow the KISS example: Keep It Short & Simple. I need to stop with my self-serving tendencies, and stop hiding behind my mask. I tend to want to masquerade that I’m obedient even when I’m not dependent on His Spirit.
I am thankful that we are taught about the kingdom of God; but, we also need to understand the kingdom of darkness. Satan‘s wickedness lies in Heavenly places. That’s why there is a need for discernment…to be able to know that some things are just lies. Lies that chain us down. Our battle is not against flesh and blood; but, the forces of Satan’s darkness.
We must understand that the battle is for our minds. The battle is whether or not we will believe the lies or will become transformed…made new with Christ. We must understand that God does not lie! God is truth and grace. Satan does lie! He is wicked and full of darkness.
In the Bible, Paul wrote that he was free from bondage. He expressed that he had confidence that his freedom was real. In Corinthians he said that, “I will not be enslaved by anything.” Paul said this following up to those who had been sanctified (saved by His grace) and justified in Christ (because of His death), but were continuing to be held in bondage by their old idols.
Being a good disciple, like Paul, means being a good counselor as well. The two are intermingled. Discipleship counseling is where two or more people meet in the presence of God. Together, they learn how God’s truth and Word can help break them free from the chains of idolatry; thus, being able to conform to the image of God as one begins to learn to walk by faith.
The other day a particular song came to mind by Wilson Phillips. The song was “Hold On”, and some of the lyrics are as follows:
“I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don’t ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind, mmm
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?…
You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don’t you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?
I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free, break from the chains…”
Tom said another thing that really stuck with me. He said, “We should be humble and faithful disciples of Christ. It’s a matter of the heart so that we are actively doing what God has called us to do.” He said, “Our performance vindicates our dependence on God.”
I realize that my support system does not always include Christ. I had, and have, not cast my anxiety and fears on Christ, and I am anything but dependent upon Him.
My chains have brought me nothing but darkness; but, in my darkness God has helped me to see His Light. I can’t, nor anybody else, set me free. Only Christ can set me. I can’t bind up my broken heart; but, God can. God is my “chain breaker”.
In order for me to break free, I must have a true knowledge that I am a child of God. Where am I going to learn that? From His Words in the Bible. If I really know God, then my behavior will change radically. My biggest deterrent mentally and spiritually is me not understanding His true freedom.
Tom mentioned about John Newton’s analogy… having a good “spectacle for the scripture”. I must delve into His words so that I can have a good relationship with Him. I must focus on Him. I need to begin to live more by faith and begin renewing my mind. Knowing God in terms of “heart matters” will be a sign of maturity; thus, it will help me become a step closer to the freedom in Christ without wearing chains.
Living and growing in Christ may mean I will encounter different and new chains to wear. But, I must remember that I have been made new. I have been called to do what He wants me to do, and that is not to be bound with the chains of fear from my past. Grace is not just about obedience; but learning to be dependent on His Spirit. This kind of obedience can only happen in and through His grace.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; ‘stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery’.”~ Galatians 5:1
This bondage breaking power that Paul talks about is available to me. I’m not really comfortable with the pain I cause for myself, or others. I am the one to blame most of the time. It’s time to make a change, and break free…break free from the chains.