How To Walk In Freedom

by Eric Love
Notes for teaching on July 26, 2009
Podcast available

Walking Out Your Freedom

For 18 years I have worked with youth. For 15 years I have worked with teens. I have learned a great deal about walking in freedom during that time: both from counseling, mentoring and walking with others as well as from my own successes and failures in seeking it. Here is some of what I’ve learned:

Living in bondage isn’t always obvious on the outside. We see a junkie - we know they are in bondage. But many of us live day to day with everything on the outside appearing to be in good shape while we secretly struggle with things internally that we feel very little hope in getting free from. Often times, we don’t even realize there is something there to be free from (if you lived with it your whole life, it’s hard to know life without it exists... or sometimes we justify something like a critical spirit and actually believe our justification to the point that we can’t see the deception and bondage is actually within us - not someone else)

Background:

We can walk in levels of freedom. We gain ground by experiencing Jesus in the difficult or challenging times of life and responding in the right way. As we gain ground, we gain more and more freedom. It is possible to be free of something in one area and not so free of the same thing in another area. (for example, growing up I was free from insecurity when it came to peer pressure, but it was crippling to me among my closest friends... this often leads us to being cynical about the freedom we DO have - we don’t trust it.)

We can experience bondage in various levels as well. What begins as a loose knot around our throats becomes a noose that tightens slowly over time until we are strangling from it and didn’t even realize it was there. (I remember learning in high school that if you put a frog in room temperature water and slowly raised the temp of the water to boiling, the frog would never recognize the danger, would not try to escape and would ultimately boil to death when a simply hop would mean its freedom.)

Let’s look at God’s idea of freedom: first let’s establish this: GOD WANTS US TO BE FREE (many times more than we want it)!!!
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free... so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ ” John 8:32, 36
Truth will ultimately lead to our freedom, but truth is known only when we are true disciples of the Lord, which means we WALK in Him, HOLDING to His teaching (the phrase “hold to my teaching” actually means to “live and abide in His word”). But the freedom that results is TRUE freedom.

Truth requires honesty. We must learn to be honest with ourselves. As long as we make excuses, we will not be free.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1,2
Why does Christ set us free? So we will be free. But to live free, we have to STAND FIRM in Him, in His Word, against the real possibility of falling again into the same yoke of slavery.

We need to understand that we cannot walk in freedom unless we walk in real relationship with the Lord, unless we are committed to His Word, unless we practice obedience and STAND FIRM.

We also need to understand that freedom is not cheep, and it is not easy. It comes at a price, but you get what you pay for. And that’s the good news: we CAN be free and its worth it.

Still have doubts about whether or not you “can” be free? Then ask yourself this question: Would God design me to live in bondage? Is God’s heart for me to be a slave? The answer is NO.

But freedom doesn’t happen by accident. (Israel didn’t accidentally become liberated from slavery in Egypt.) It is often a brutal fight, and the struggle can last for years. But freedom is worth it.

“And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain...” 2 Corinthians 6:1
The truth is, God’s grace empowers us to walk in freedom, or to “become the righteousness of God in [Christ]” (prev. verse).  Don’t receive God’s grace without effect or success - if you do, it’s because you dishonor that grace by ignoring or refusing it.

God’s grace is not enough to make us free. Truth cannot set us free alone. Moms, dads, husbands, wives, pastors, teachers, mentors... none of these people can set us free. Jesus Himself can’t just make us free... He will not simply set us free: we have to CHOOSE to be free and CHOOSE AGAIN day after day, moment after moment, to walk that freedom out in the grace and truth and love of Jesus. (He has already provided everything we need in order to be totally free but we have to choose to walk in it.)

The Progress of Bondage in a Christian

Look again at Israel: they became enslaved in Egypt (truthfully, we aren’t given any specific fault on their part for this slavery; for the one time in the entire O.T. they may actually have been victimized). God raised a deliverer - Moses - to set them free (because they asked for it). He began to make some waves and Israel’s first response was to reject him. (Everyone who signed the Declaration of Independence did so with the understand that their signature meant their life: Israel was upset a tthe first sign of Egyptian retaliation.) Finally, through some intense supernatural maneuvering on God’s part, Moses led Israel into their much anticipated freedom, and their first response was to complain that they were better off in Egypt as slaves (apparently, miraculous food and water every day and blazing angels guiding them and an angry sea swallowing their enemy wasn’t enough). At one point, they actually turned to full blown idolatry (they melted gold and “hand-made” a god, and worshipped it!.. while Moses was on a burning mountain meeting with God on their behalf!!!); they got lost in their doubt, became intensely disobedient - even aggressively and verbally defiant against God’s chosen leader and God’s own plan -  and wandered 40 years in a desert as a result. Truthfully, due to their attitude in the wilderness, they NEVER recovered from it throughout the O.T.

How is this possible?
When you make a move to leave your bondage and walk in freedom, you are assaulting the enemy. If you think you can do that without making him mad, you’re crazy. So to assume you can be free without a fight is not smart. You HAVE TO FIGHT.

Let’s say the enemy found better real estate somewhere else and moved on, you still have to battle the habits and dependencies in your own mind, body and soul.

When you don’t take the cost and risks involved in this seriously, the same thing happens to you that happened to Israel: you become disenchanted with the concept of freedom (because it’s hard and you have to fight) and suddenly you prefer bondage. You assume freedom isn’t possible. You excuse yourself with phrases like “I can’t help it” or “This is just who I am” - which is to say you accept a lie as a reason why you “can’t” be free - you use that as an excuse to not FIGHT for freedom.

You become angry and bitter with God because freedom hurts you and costs you. So you lash out at Him, and since God doesn’t have a “face” you often lash out at the people who stand in positions of spiritual authority in your life. That’s why so many people who jump from church to church remain in long-term bondage because they constantly blame the pastor or the pastor’s wife or the sunday school superintendent for their own inability to make a decision and follow through with it and pay the price.

You begin to respond a certain way to certain stimuli. This creates a reaction from others. Their reaction warrants a particular response form you as well. Before you know it, layer after layer of offense and hurt are being piled on top of the original source of bondage. It begins to mold and grow nasty stuff on it like  constant disapproval, dissatisfaction and disappointment... it becomes infected with bitterness and unforgiveness... it begins to run and ooze with puss and poison like gossip or disunity... and it begins to spread to those you have influence over.

That’s what happened with Israel: they wanted God to set them free from slavery but let them keep the luxuries and riches of Egypt. When it didn’t happen that way, they didn’t want it anymore. They abandoned God. They blamed Moses. And they NEVER changed.

I read once how Eskimos catch a wolf: they freeze blood in layers onto the blade of a razor-sharp knife and then bury the hilt in the snow. A wolf smells the blood and begins licking the knife. It’s cold and it freezes their tongue, so their tongues are numb, but after a while the blood warms up and begins tasting good and fresh - because they’ve actually began slicing their tongues on the blade - and ultimately they bleed to death drinking their own blood, all the while believing they are enjoying the experience, possibly even experiencing a moment of euphoria right before the end. That’s how these things get us: at first we bite out of instinct, but soon we are numb and don’t realize we are killing ourselves slowly.

To recapitulate:
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.
You have to FIGHT for it.
You CAN be free - there no exceptions to this.
Freedom is WORTH IT.
Freedom comes from WALKING WITH CHRIST in TRUTH.

ELEMENTS of our bondage: (this is clearly a simplification)

spiritual: can come from ancestral things, personal experiences, ongoing attitude (think a certain way long enough, it can lead to a spiritual reality), curses, exposure to demonic things, tragedy/wounding (these can only be broken through the Spirit, repentance and truth are key parts of this - even if the source of our bondage is NOT our fault, remaining in bondage is no one else's BUT our own fault alone)
mental/emotional: habits form both mentally and physically, our minds store information like a computer’s hard-drive - those experiences that lead to our bondage become little movies that play back in real time in our minds (we can taste, smell, hear, feel and see these things as though they were happening in real time all over again), this leads to a constant bombardment of mental cues that deepen our bondage, like mental and emotional watermarks embedded in our memories and stamped on our subconscious (our minds tell us when we smell or taste or feel something, so it is conceivable that our minds can tell us we are smelling, tasting or feeling something all over again from just a memory)
physical: our bodies learn a pattern and become dependent on us doing certain things, reacting in a certain way (things we do physically release certain chemicals and hormones in our brain: it is possible to actually become physically dependent - or addicted - to these chemicals; very common with anger and sex)

This kind of memory imprint on our brains, bodies and memories can only be undone by repetition and deliberate action. This is what we will focus on now: the fight to regain control of our minds and bodies and walk in freedom.

Going from Bondage to Freedom: getting from Here to There

How do we do it? First of all, we need to deal with spiritual element of our bondage: repent, repent, repent... accept God’s forgiveness and healing. Allow the time it will take for the change to become permanent. In the meantime, practice being totally honest with yourself. Repent and walk out repentance daily. Trust God. Believe in your freedom. Then, take it one step at a time:

Determine: Where are you now?

Take a good HONEST look at yourself. Freedom requires honesty. No more excuses. No more lies.

You will not be free so long as you make excuses for your slavery.

What incentive do you have to be free?

You will not ever be free so long as you prefer your slavery. Choose.

Use what you got, but hopefully you will develop over time a desire for freedom because of its positive rather than simply because of bondage’s negative. But start with what you have.

Parents discipline children so they will associate pain with wrong behavior and thus change the behavior. But the long-term goal is that the child will make good decisions, not because of negative consequences, but because the right choice is more fulfilling.

Still, spare the rod spoil the child. Start with whatever motivation you have.

What got you here?

Not: who got you here... “what” got you here. Specifically, what did YOU do to get yourself here. If you were victimized, what response on your behalf led you to this place?

I do not mean to sound insensitive, but too many of us have lived in hell because we couldn’t get past being wounded. Wounding is real and it doesn’t heal on its own.

Being hurt is unfortunate, but it is likely in life. It cannot serve as a justification for not being free.

Also: what good choices have you made that have kept you from going off the deep end? Practice these more.

What is linking you to this bondage? What is keeping you here?

This list is as varied as we are: we may not be able to even imagine freedom because we’ve lived in bondage for so long. This is where we MUST trust God’s heart for us.

Often, it is fear of freedom - believe it or not. We don’t trust God to actually satisfy us, so we choose to remain in bondage where at least we know we can count on the illusion of satisfaction.

Maybe we just aren’t willing to pay the price of relationship - it’s expensive.

Maybe we find our identity in our bondage: in our insecurity or depression. (You develop a defense by identifying yourself a certain way.)

We acquire a taste for bondage. We become comfortable in bondage. Or, we simply prefer the perks of our bondage over freedom - the temptations are too tempting. (Casual sex is easier than intimacy in marriage - because you can simply walk away from it.)

Ask yourself: What can I change?

You can’t change certain aspects of yourself. You can’t change the fact that you are man or woman. You can’t change thew color of your skin. You can’t change the circumstances under which you were born. You can’t change society. You can’t change change any one else. You can’t change what’s been done to you or what you’ve done.

But your attitudes are always changeable. Beliefs can be changed. Feelings can be changed. Behaviors can be changed.

Determine what you can change and what you can’t.

Commit to change. Be consistent.

If you are only committed a portion of the time, you aren’t committed all of the time. Consistency is key. Every time you give in to slavery, you move backwards. It is easier to fall than to fly. Backward progress is always faster than forward progress.

Realize: sometimes you will make mistakes, but don’t make excuses for them. Don’t feel hopeless and give up when you do; don’t resign yourself to stay there.

Never let your guard down. FIGHT for God’s sake!

Take responsibility.

Again: no excuses. If you stay a slave, it’s your own fault. You cannot change what has been done to you or even what you have done, but you CAN change what you DO next.

You are ALWAYS responsible for your actions. ALWAYS. No exceptions.

Receive instruction. Hold yourself accountable.

To think you can change alone is asinine. Think about it: if you could have done that, wouldn’t you have done that by now? You need help. (We all need help!) You need accountability. (We all need accountability!) You MUST have it. (We are all members of the same body, after all.)

Accountability is always voluntary: no one can force you to be accountable. True accountability is ALWAYS relational.

One more thing: don’t confuse confessing sin as accountability. Being able to admit something is nothing more than bragging if you don’t do something about it.

Make goals you can reach.

You eat in bites. You run in steps. Do the same here. Set a goal; reach the goal; master the goal: move incrementally. That’s the only way you keep the ground you’ve taken.

Don’t become disenchanted if you fail. Get up. Try again. (If Jesus said to Peter: “Don’t just forgive seven times; forgive seventy times seven times!” - how much more will He forgive? He will wait for us as long as it takes. He is patient.)

Endure.

“...he who stands firm (endures) to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 (words of Jesus)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Don’t quit. Don’t give up.

Eric Love, 7/26/2009