Saturday, May 22, 2010

Overcoming Bondage to Sin


There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled and there was none to help. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart. (Psalm 107:10-14)

Our churches are not well versed in explaining why people find themselves in bondage to sin, nor are they well versed in providing mechanisms to enable people to overcome and break free from habitual sin. In most cases it seems that they'd rather shoot the sinner than bind the wounds. They're quick to condemn, reject and ostracize those who break their rules.

So, have you been shot down because of your sin, have you been condemned? If God does not condemn you of your sin, you who are in Christ, then why do so-called Christians condemn you? Actually, why do you condemn yourself?

What is Bondage to Sin?

Being in bondage to sin means this: you are repeatedly involved in a sin such that the involvement presents itself more as a habit, rather than an occasional failure or deviation. Alcoholism is bondage. Repeated involvement in pornography or sex outside of marriage is bondage. The need to always be right, or always needing to be approved of can be a bondage. Refusing to forgive is bondage.

Bondage is the state of being in which we find ourselves under the control of an abstract influence, force or power. If you can imagine an ox in a yoke, then you can begin to understand the abstract nature of being in bondage to sin.

How to Be free

First things first. Until you're ready to admit two things you will remain in bondage. First you must admit that you have a problem; that you're in bondage. Secondly, you must admit that it is your choice to be in bondage, just as it is your choice to be free.

British author Douglas Adams was correct when he said, "when you blame others, you give up your power to change." Until you're ready to take responsibility for who and what you are, and where you are in relationship to your habit, addiction or bondage, you will never be free. It is your right and responsibility to condemn the evil and wrong in your life. But until you are willing to call your addiction a sin, you will remain in bondage. Until you are willing to call your participation in your guilty pleasure a sin, then it will remain in bondage to your guilty pleasure.

Reject the Lie, Believe the Truth

The primary cause of bondage is an improper belief system which enables you to act upon a lie. Some people believe that pornography and strip clubs will make them feel better, so they participate in those things. Others believe the approval of people will make them feel better, so they make themselves dependent upon how others feel towards them and will do whatever is necessary to be liked or approved of (co-dependency). Others think that alcohol or drugs will dull their senses and help them feel better about their circumstances, so they drink or take pills until they're drunk or high.

I could go on and on. But the root of what I'm talking about is an improper belief system. There was a saying when I was in school: you are what you eat. The truth is, you are what you believe. If you believe you're just a sinner saved by grace, then you'll act just like a sinner. If you believe looking a pornography will make you feel better, then you'll look at pornography.

Choose you this day, whom you will serve: yourself, your feelings and your desires fueled through your improper belief systems, or choose to believe God.

What are the root causes of Bondage?

Jesus said, "you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32)

Now, ask yourself this question: are you free from bondage or addictions? If you are not free, then according to Jesus, do you know and act upon the truth? No, you do not. Some where, some how, you have chosen to believe a lie. And the Bible is clear, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he: you are what you believe. (Proverbs 23:7)

"There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High." (Psalm 107:10)

The scriptures are clear: those in bondage to sin are in bondage because of rebellion against the word and counsel of God.

There is a good reason we are to "pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it." (Hebrews 2:1) Bondage to sin and addictions are never the result of believing the truth, they are always the result of believing a lie. And once you have believed a thing, you act upon it. Does sanctification result from believing truth, or believing a lie? Jesus prayed for us saying, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." (John 17:17) What then does God use to sanctify His people? Truth or lies?

If believing (and acting upon) truth results in sanctification, what exactly do you think believing a lie results in?

Why do people refuse the grace of salvation? Because they have believed a lie. Why do people refuse to allow others to pray over them for healing? Because they have believed a lie. Why do people reject the notion that the laying on of hands and/or the anointing with oil is not necessary for healing? Because they do not believe the scriptures. I specifically prayed for healing in a person who, eventually, was not healed. Later they told me this: 'in the midst of the pain and suffering I asked the Lord why I was not healed when he laid hands on me and prayed for me, and the Lord responded, "because you did not believe."'

Where Does Freedom Begin?

It will start with faith.

You must understand several things about faith. Faith is defined as trusting and believing.  Therefore, it is the substance and assurance of things not seen, of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). When you chose to believe God and His word, you will grow in your assurance of that which is hoped for. In the process of maturing your faith, God will take you from hope and assurance into knowledge and experience.

For, what happens when the thing hoped for shows up? You know longer hope for it, because it has arrived. You no longer have assurance that it will come, because it is here. Well placed faith always results in an experience with God and an intimate knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:2-11). That is the Law regarding faith: when faith is provided as a gift from God, it will always result in experience and knowledge of the thing hoped for.

We are released from bondage to sin and addictions when we reject the lies they are based upon, and delivered into freedom when we choose to believe the truth of Gods word, and act upon those truths. Therefore, in regards to your freedom beginning with faith, consider this:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

The process begins with you going to Christ and yoking yourself to Him, and learning His ways.

It Continues into Warfare

We are exhorted to "put on the full armor of God, so that we will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil", since our "adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." And while the devil is seeking to destroy you, you must remember that your "struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:11, 12; 1 Peter 5:8)

In the processing of rejecting the lies and renewing your mind through the word of God, you will be hammered by your adversary. He knows that as soon as you believe and act upon the truth, he will lose the battle. Confusion may set in - that's a sure sign of an attack from the enemy. You might not know which way to go. When that happens, stay in the word. Memorize the scripture God will give you. And continue to pray for His protection.

God wants you to be free, but He is not going to smack you with a Holy stick as if he were the good witch of the north. There are other people He wants you to touch, to lead out of darkness, and you can't do that unless you understand the process and have participated in the process. We need to learn, first hand, that is it God "who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:4) And until we walk this path, we can't lead others in this path.

We must believe we are free from the Power of Sin

As Christians, we are made free from the power of sin through the work of Jesus Christ. Consider, however, that unless you believe in the work Christ (that it has the power to set you free) and actively choose to apply it to your life, then you will never receive the benefit of His work.

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-19)

Although I've said this before, it bears repeating: if you believe you're just a sinner saved by grace, then you'll just act like a sinner. There is a vast and wonderful difference between living like a sinner saved by grace and living like a saint. In the first case, you believe you can never do anything right, that you're always going to mess up and thank the Lord, He will always forgive you of just continually being a screw up. In the later case, you believe correctly that you're a saint, that through Him you can and will do things right. But you're not deceived, you know that you will occasionally sin, but that doesn't slow you down. Why? Because "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ... Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." (Romans 8:1, 33-34) If Jesus does not condemn you (for how can one who lives to make intersession for you also condemn you), then why do you condemn yourself? Why do you allow others to condemn you? Take the yoke of Christ, let Him carry your burden and be free from your bondage.

The Steps to Freedom
Psalm 119:57-64

Psalm 119:57 - The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.

When you find yourself in bondage to sin, acknowledge two things: you have made something else your portion, your allotment, your nourishment, and secondly, that you have failed in your promise to keep His words.

Make God your portion in life, not things, not relationships, not pleasure. To keep His words means to guard the matters of which they speak. If God says not to covet the things of your neighbor, then to keep His words means to covet or want only the things you have.

All of us at one time or another have promised to keep Gods word: we’ve determined not to sin; we’ve determined to say the right thing; we’ve all said in our heart, "I will do the right thing in this or that circumstance." What you are effectively saying is that ‘you promise to keep Gods’ word’.

When you come to the realization that you have sinned, you are in effect saying, "I did promise to keep your words, but in this one thing I have errored and broken my promise."

Psalm 119:58 - I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word.

How do you seek God's favor? By confessing your sin to God, and repenting (turning away from) your sin. You must do both. It is possible to confess your sin but not repent of it. It is even possible to somewhat turn away from what you did but never admit that you did it. You must do both.

It is the mercy of God that forgives us, and the Grace of God that changes us and saves us. But the word ‘gracious’ implies, within current context, the totality of God’s mercies and grace. God has promised to be gracious to those that seek his face

My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Psalm 119:59 - I considered my ways And turned my feet to Your testimonies.

Note that after he has confessed his sins and sought the graciousness of God, he then again considered his ways. After careful consideration of his ways, he ‘turned his feet to Gods’ testimonies. This is the action of repentance. You consider what you have done or are doing, and turn away from those things towards the word of God. Did you notice that the pslamist turned towards the testimonies of God? In effect, he turned from the lies causing his bad behavior (his ways) and turned towards the truth of Gods word which will change his heart and his actions.

Psalms 119:60 I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

There’s not much to say about that; don’t be slothful; seek God with immediacy and all diligence. Be Steadfast in your dedication to God and learn to Praise and Worship God

Psalm 119:61 - The cords of the wicked have encircled me, But I have not forgotten Your law.

Satan will try to keep you in bondage. Evil will do everything it can to keep you away from the grace and mercy of God. In the midsts of the attacks, do not forget the testimony and the word of God. Seek him, reject evil. Focus on God, not on your circumstances.

Psalm 119:62 At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances.

Continually give thanks and praises to God. Do not fail to make time to give thanks to God; go out of your way and cause yourself to give God thanksgiving, honor and glory. The psalmist even thanked the Lord when he woke up at night.

Psalm 119:63 - I am a companion of all those who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.

Seek out and surround yourself with Godly friendship. Godly friends and counsel are required in our lives. This does not mean that we cannot spend time with our unbelieving friends for the purpose of serving them through the power of the Holy Spirit. But it does mean that our core companionships must be Godly people. There may be people and relationships that you must remove from your life. Seek the Lord and His counsel regarding your friends, and be willing to make the adjustments. Don't put yourself in a position wherein God has to make the changes for you.

Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Psalm 119:64 (a) The earth is full of Your loving-kindness, O LORD;

You must believe, proclaim and acknowledge the loving-kindness of God. Those who cannot see God’s loving-kindness are deceiving themselves of the most precious truth there is to know about God: how He chooses and desires to relate to us. Your relationship with God goes beyond doctrine and belief - it must go into knowledge of His divine nature. (2 Peter 1:2-4)

Psalm 119:64 (b) Teach me Your statutes.

Learn the word of God and believe His word. You must base the foundation your life in the truth of God, not in your desires, not in your fears, not in your self protection. You must believe God's word. You must ask for and seek Gods wisdom.

It Takes Discipline

Discipline your mind against your sinful actions and thoughts, and discipline it to rest in God. In all cases of recurring sin, the mind has won the battle against the spirit:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ... (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life. (Proverbs 6:20-23)

While you are in the process of disciplining your mind and rejecting sin, your spirit is in the process of gaining strength. However, you must remember that discipline can take you only so far: it is the act of living by the Spirit that is the victor over sin and which provides true freedom.

Conclusion

Bondage and addictions have their root in mis-information, in believing a lie. When we confront the lies, reject them and replace them with the truth of God's word, then we begin the process of winning victory over our addictions. It is God's truth that provides the process of sanctification in our lives. When we do not know His truth, then we believe something else. And what we believe defines who we are and how we behave. In order to begin the process of winning the battles over addictions and bondages, we must discover and reject the lies we hold on to. We must choose to begin the process of finding our worth and comfort in God and in Him alone.

3 comments:

Marc Schooley said...

Hey David,

Some really good stuff here. Very edifying. I'm encouraging you to carry on.

MS

David Means said...

Thanks, Marc. I'll keep it up! :-)

MarcSchooley said...

I very much enjoyed the posts on forgiveness. It's a fundamental of the Christian faith not preached as much as it ought to be. Very convicting.

This line from the current post is where the rubber meets the road: "Choose you this day, whom you will serve: yourself, your feelings and your desires fueled through your improper belief systems, or choose to believe God."

Amen.

MS

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