“The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
I remember years ago being in an AA meeting as a young man wrestling in the flesh, trying to free MYSELF from Drugs & Alcohol. It had reached a point, I was no longer doing them, they were doing me. As successful as I was, it had become clear I was unable to use it successfully. And more than anything, I hated being confined by that idea. Didn’t matter that my father died in his sleep from alcoholism at the age of 42. I saw no demonic curse or generational consequence to the fact that everyone on my father’s side of the family was bound by the bottle and intoxicated as far back as I can remember. Nor, could I escape the fact that I rarely saw them but when I did, they barely remembered me. All of which left me feeling pretty anonymous. Still, I very much felt out of place heading into this Wednesday night’s AA meeting. I’ll never forget walking down several flights of stairs to the basement of this old Catholic Church feeling anything but free.
In fact, I felt like I was somehow turning myself into these anonymous, unknown authorities. Many of them were obviously still bound themselves as they took turns sharing their stories in the midst of one profanity-laced chain-smoking tirade to another. And all I could think is I’ve been sentenced to life without drinking anymore. Clearly traumatized by the wreckage of my past and present abuse of drugs and alcohol, I STILL wasn’t ready for change. But change was ready for me. Then I heard an old-timer speak. His message was simple and he never offered a curse word. In fact, he began by uttering these three words. Freedom Ain’t Free.
What he said, while sharing his experience, strength and hope changed my life. Changed it so much to the extent that I am using those same three words as the title for this personal case study AND bearing witness to the effective trauma-informed care of the Holy Spirit that Almighty God has the power to free us from WHATEVER family systems have us bound – in my case a stronghold spirit of rejection that opened the door for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. More than a case study, though, what follows is my testimony of deliverance and the revelation knowledge that has come with it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 encourages us that He will provide the way of escape from whatever we are prisoners to. No demon in hell can rightfully take ownership of HIS possession.
Once we got sealed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we put the enemy on notice our soul is no longer for sale. And he’s been robbing, stealing, and killing ever since. What is he after? He wants to chain us to the so-called gains in this world in order to forfeit our souls from the next one. Our bodies are merely vehicles. He wants to capture souls. But needs embodied vessels. This is what the Bible means by setting the captives free. We are held captive to this flesh.
Indeed, the Bible speaks volumes and goes to great lengths to capture the notions of slavery and freedom. About what it means to be taken captive, and about what it means to be set at liberty. One might effectively argue the Bible itself is not a mashup of historical stories but rather is a narrative and riveting novel about a people’s ongoing quest for freedom. Twelve Tribes Called Quest if you will. Indeed, the cast of characters we are presented within the Bible were all on the run (or hiding) one way or another, since Adam & Eve discovered Freedom wasn’t Free in the Garden.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, ” You are FREE to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must
not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
What is God saying kills us. Knowledge. What leads us into it. Temptation. The word says my people perish due to a lack of knowledge. I submit that what God is really talking about in this verse is not about OUR LACK of knowledge itself because we have access to more information than we know what to do with but it is OUR DESIRE to acquire knowledge of what we perceive we are lacking that does us in. And lets temptation in. Ever so subtle. The Bible says the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field. Tells you something again right there about the beast system. His system of rebellion is based on divide and conquer.
So, he rolls up on Eve, not Adam. The Serpent then tempts her desire for knowledge of good and evil, suggesting God is holding them back from knowing right from wrong that would make them like Gods. She then looked at the tree differently. And it looked beautiful, so she was enticed to “see for herself” so she tried it. Note to my younger self, the most dangerous things that will burn us never appear that way.at first glance. In other words, our hands perish because we are TEMPTED by a need to know if the stove is really hot. Something says, I know I was told not to but surely my hands won’t burn if I touch this eye on the stove. PLUS, it doesn’t look like it’s hot..on the surface.
Life gets sucked out of marriages because we are tempted by a desire to know what is going on beneath the surface of a delightful-looking summer dress or muscle shirt bulging with biceps and pecs. Knowing it’s dead wrong. Record numbers of people are dying from drug overdoses or taking their own lives by taking something that once provided a way to escape, cope or feel good. Our finances are on governmental life support because we lack what the Joneses got. Or can’t help the temptation to shop til we drop. Why? Because this is the fallen nature of Man? Yes, but more importantly it is the fallen nature of this world. Satan’s world. The same world Christ overcame. But He can’t do it for us. He was our D.I.Y. kit.
What is Satan’s response to this? We know Satan is musically inclined and possibly led worship in Heaven so it is no accident he uses music, artists, and the entertainment industry in large part to do his bidding so I will use a musical reference. This is deep so catch this. Not only does he use songs but he uses one specific portion of a song in particular to enslave our minds. What portion is that? The chorus. What do you mean enslaved by it? What is it that is typically playing in your head after constantly hearing it PROGRAMMED on the radio and every format OVER AND OVER AND OVER these days so much that you can’t escape it? The chorus. Let me give you an example.
As a kid, I can fondly remember the chorus of one particular song that illustrates this well. Satan uses
the chorus to initiate a ritual of rebellion in our subconscious minds.
In this case, it was “Do It, Do It, Do It Til Your Satisfied…Whatever it is…Go on and do it.”
Those lyrics are about as counter to the essence of God and far removed from His precepts as you will find. But there we were singing it, repeating it and dancing to it while our parents were doing whatever it is they wanted to it.
And of course, what do we say about it as Satan would have it, “it’s only a song.” The impact of a song may seem innocent or nebulous at best until you aggregate it over time, and genres, and languages and commercialize it, and repeat it across all five senses and eventually, foolishness will take rule over our basic cognitive ability to discern right from wrong. In the heat of the moment, of immediate gratification. Case and point.
Let’s take the lyrics from another popular song that once took up residence in my cognitive domain.
“My mind’s telling me no but my body is telling me yes…”
So what does Satan whisper in your AIRWAVES.
“I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump in grind.”
And this is not at all to beat up on Brother R. Kelly because we love him, and pray for him and everyone that was hurt or adversely impacted in that situation. Besides, we can all relate to what he was saying, at one point or another, obviously. That particular song was a hit by all standard measures in the bedroom and delivery room. My point though is that R. Kelly is describing the exact same dilemma of being torn between the flesh & spirit that Paul is breaking down in Romans 7. While struggling to get free from addiction, this passage of scripture was essential reading for me. In fact, in the NIV version, the chapter is titled Released From The Law, Bound To Christ. I call it the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
“We know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I
do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Have you ever hated the things you did that you really didn’t want to do? Paul continues…
“And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me..” Where is sin living, and imprisoning us??? In our CELLS.
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, my sinful nature.” Verse 19 and the reason we came here. “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
This is the prisoner’s dilemma. What do you do when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak? How do you get up from under the weight of the law and penalty of sin? Paul gives us the answer to the prisoner’s dilemma in Galatians 2:20. “For through the law, I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”
So we go from the dilemma Paul presents in Romans 7 with sin living in me to the solution in Galatians 2:20 which is crucifying the old me and my sinful nature as the spirit of the crucified Christ and resurrection power of the Holy Spirit is now living in me. And walking with me past the people, places, and things that used to tempt me. And because Christ abides in me, I am bound to Him. I am bound by the Holy Spirit. I am no longer bound to Sin. I am no longer bound, held down or held hostage by the spirit of rebellion. Rebellion against God is the glue that holds Satan’s kingdom together. Rebellion against God is the glue that holds Satan’s kingdom together.
And Man is what Satan uses to BOND it all together. Bond is the operative term between individual freedom and imprisonment for a reason. Always has, always will be. Knowing we were already set at liberty on Calvary, Satan needs us to remain slaves to his system UNKNOWINGLY. As such, the beast system is a system of slavery that we WILLINGLY and SUBLIMINALLY bond ourselves to. Over time. Even after the shackles fall off. As good slaves do. To be a slave is to be a bondservant…A bondservant is the translation of the Greek word doulos, which means “one who is subservient to, and entirely at the disposal of, his master.”
In Roman times, the term bondservant could refer to someone who voluntarily served others. This explains to us why Paul opens the very Book of Romans with the words, Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ. And he goes on from there to detail the things that the people were held captive by…Sexual impurity, shameful lusts, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, arrogance, etc. So God gave them over to their depraved mind.
More so than voluntarily serving others, a bond servant usually referred to one who was held in a PERMANENT position of servitude. Under Roman law, a bondservant was considered the owner’s personal property. In effect, by rejecting God, they became slaves to sin. By walking in rebellion, they changed masters. They became bond servants of Satan permanently. That is the danger of what a reprobate mind does. It permanently transfers the deed of ownership.
Here we draw our first distinction in our quest for Freedom. Ultimately, servitude becomes the ties that either binds us together with Christ or with Satan. Over time.
Don’t take mine, let’s take the living word’s word for it.
Matthew 6:24, Christ speaking. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
1 Corinthians 10:21 for a second witness.
“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils”
This is what Freedom Ain’t Free boils down to Beloved. We must pay the price of sacrifice. And suffering is the currency in EXCHANGE. That’s good. We could really end this message right there, if you take nothing else away from this teaching, make this one grow on. We must pay the price of sacrifice. And suffering is the currency in EXCHANGE. Why does he honor this as kingdom currency?
Because we come to know HIM by partaking in the fellowship of His suffering. In other words, Freedom Ain’t Free. We must give it up for Him. We must let go of the old things in our past to grab hold of the new thing He’s trying to do. As Romans 12:1 says, we must present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. We must give it up for Him. Whatever or whoever that is in your life. Only you know what “it” is.
And you’ve always known what “it” is and this is how “it” has to be. This is your cross. This is what surrender to win means. As the Bible says, to live is Christ and to die is gain. That means I sacrifice my ways, my habits, my desires my pleasures, and my flesh in EXCHANGE for His Spirit and Eternal Life. Exchange is the operative word because it denotes salvation as a two-way operation.
Counter to what the word says about to live is Christ and to die is gain, we want to live our life AND have a watered-down version of Christ that fits neatly into our theology and accommodates our lifestyle in 2022. The Bible says he is the same today, yesterday, and forevermore. We’re trying to bring God down to the level of our culture instead of raising the culture up to the standards of God.
Ever been in a conversation with a drunkard, the kind the Bible is talking about, and they say to you: “Jesus drank wine too!” I know have. My response to that is, beyond not being Biblically correct, try turning that wine back into the living water in EXCHANGE and watch how your life flows better. The moral of the story, we cannot have it both ways.
And if rebellion doesn’t do it, shame or guilt will step in to convict us that we’re not worthy of his love or lie to us saying he has abandoned us or convince us not to even think about coming to Christ until you can come totally clean and absolutely correct.
So, in the meantime, let’s have another drink.
The only way to get free is to separate ourselves from the ties that bind us to Satan and his kingdom. And the things we love to do. We can no longer have our cake and eat it too.
We can’t turn up all week and play church on Sunday and expect God to show up. We have to choose. God gives us the freedom to choose and honors it either way. That’s what it means to be a fair and righteous judge. But what do we do, we blame him for giving us over to a reprobate mind based on the choices and decisions WE made with our own free will.
Choose ye this day who you will serve. As for me and my house. Look at your life? Take a look around your house. Who are you serving and what are you honoring today?
Being God’s bond servant is an honorable one in His kingdom that comes with the job description of setting the captives free. Once we find freedom, and overcome, our job as saints then becomes to free someone else. Hence, my assignment here.
“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.”