One of the things that most of us are pretty good at is disqualifying ourselves from doing things for God. We accept His grace for our sins, but have a hard time letting go of the chains that once held us. We think, “God can’t use me because I did…” Or we let our sickness or disability disqualify us. I want to remind you that it was for your freedom that Christ set you free. Put down the chains. They’ve been broken. You have been freed from them. Don’t let them hold you back any longer. You have been given a robe of righteousness to wear instead of your guilt. You’ve been given a crown instead of shackles, joy for mourning, peace for despair and beauty for ashes. You have been freed. Walk in your freedom and share your story to help others who are captive to find their freedom.
Here are some Bible verses on God freeing you.
1. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”
Luke 13:12 ESV
2. For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation.
Romans 10:10 AMP
3. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Romans 8:2 NLT
4. Listen to my testimony: I cried to God in my distress and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears!
Psalms 34:4 TPT
5. Lord, because I am your loving servant, you have broken open my life and freed me from my chains.
My friend and I were discussing shame last week and all the effects it has on believers. It’s a mental prison that incarcerates too many people. So many of us remember our past vividly, even though we’ve been forgiven of it and set free from it. Our enemy uses the shame of what we’ve done to tell us that we’re not qualified or worthy to be a Christian or to do any ministry. He tells us, “If they knew what you’ve done, they wouldn’t be so nice to you.” When those mental attacks come, many of us go running back to what we’ve been set free from or we run into the prison of shame. This is not God’s plan for you.
The book of Exodus chronicles the children of Israel leaving Egypt. God set them free from their slavery and off they went marching through the Red Sea. They were making great progress until they experienced the mental attacks in the desert. Over and over they were held captive by their past because they romanticized their prison. Numbers 14:4 says, “So they said to one another, ‘Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt!’” (GNT) Even though that had been set free, they were willing to give up the promises God had given them and return to slavery. That’s exactly what shame does. It makes us turn from God, the one who can help us, and desire the thing He’s set us free from.
Galatians 5:1 says, “At last we have freedom, for Christ has set us free! We must always cherish this truth and firmly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past” (TPT). You have been set free and forgiven from your past. It is your testimony, not your shame. We overcome by the word of our testimony. Don’t let the enemy keep you quiet, cause you to be ineffective or have you return to it. The truth is that if others knew what you’ve been set free from, their faith in God would grow, others who are fighting that battle would have courage to trust God and you will possess the promised land. You have been miraculously set free! Walk in your freedom and refuse to return to the prison of your past.
For years I carried a hidden wound inside of me. I pretended that it never happened. Every time that a memory would pop up, i would tell myself, “That never happened. It was just a dream.” I buried it deep to the point that today I struggle remembering if some things really happened. I didn’t know it, but even though I had buried it, it was still affecting my life, my thoughts and my actions. Beneath all the layers I had covered it in, this pain was festering and affecting my relationships, my job and my walk with God. Every once in a while someone would say something or be in a situation that would touch that nerve deep inside me, and it would send me on an emotional roller coaster.
One Sunday we had a man named Dave Roever preach at our church. His face and hands were disfigured from a phosphorus grenade that went off as he was trying to throw it in the Vietnam War. One of the things he said was, “Some of you look like me on the inside.” I was pretty sure he was talking to me. Then a little later he said, “Don’t be afraid to show your scars for in them others will find their healing.” Immediately I knew what I had to do. I felt God ask, “Are you ready to deal with the problem?” So I began uncovering this deep wound layer by layer, exposing it, dealing with it, seeking forgiveness and allowing God to heal it. My life began to change for the better.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us” (TPT). What wound do you need to let go of?whats hidden deep inside of you that is affecting your life? It’s not easy, but it needs to be opened up, dealt with and healed. Only then can you truly run your race well. God wants to set you free and to heal it, but you have to remove the layers you’ve put over it. Once it’s healed, the scar will remain, but it won’t be as painful. Then, as you share your scar with others, they will find their healing too.
When I was in high school, I ran track. One of the races I ran was a relay race. We would constantly practice handing off the baton. In the race, you could look back while you were standing still, but when the person handing you the baton said, “Run,” you took off and waited to hear, “Hand!” At that point, you opened your hand behind you and they would smack it on your hand to ensure you got it. The rule was you never looked back. If you looked back, you were likely to slow down, trip or even fault by stepping out of your lane. The person receiving the baton was blind to the exchange and had to trust the one handing it off. Their job was to keep their eyes ahead and run like crazy once they got the baton.
Paul used a similar story in Philippians 3:12-14. He wrote, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (NLT). One of the hardest things for us to do is to forget the past and to look forward. When we’re constantly looking backwards, we can’t give our full attention to what lies ahead. We’re likely to go slower, trip again or step out of our lane.
Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Where are you looking? Are you being sidetracked by your past? Remember that the things that happened in your past often qualify you for the future work God wants to do through you. If we’re wallowing in pity or shame, it’s hard to focus on handing the baton of freedom to others. God has ordered your steps, but it’s up to you to walk in them. Quit looking backwards and look straight ahead. There are some amazing things yet to be done, but you can’t accomplish them by looking backwards. Learn from your past, find freedom in Christ and run like crazy toward the goals and freedom God sets in front of you.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
When we were in Nazareth, Israel, a tour guide reminded us, “It was here that Jesus began His ministry. It was in the synagogue of Nazareth that Jesus stood up and read the first several verses of Isaiah 61.” It says, “The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me To bring good news to the poor, To heal the broken-hearted, To announce release to captives And freedom to those in prison. He has sent me to proclaim That the time has come When the Lord will save his people And defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, To give to those who mourn in Zion Joy and gladness instead of grief, A song of praise instead of sorrow” (GNT).
What Jesus said next angered them, but will prove to be powerful to you and me. In Luke 4:21, Jesus said, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (NLT) What should have been an exciting moment in history ended with them trying to throw Jesus off a cliff. He wasn’t just telling them He was the Messiah, He was telling them He was bringing healing and restoration. Think about what Jesus was saying would be fulfilled. He would be bringing good news to the poor, healing the broken-hearted, freeing us from our prisons, saving us from sin and enemies, comforting those who mourn and bringing joy to those who grieve.
Jesus said that starting that day He began fulfilling that Scripture. He wasn’t just going to do those things for a short while. He came to do it long term. That’s great news for you and me. When we find ourselves in need of healing or restoration, there’s no need to wait for a future date. He’s willing and able today! We don’t have to stay in the prisons of our own devices. He’s here to liberate us. We don’t have to live a life of grief. He gave us the Comforter and plants joy deep in our heart. I believe today is the day you can enjoy that promise and experience all that God has for you.
On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It legally changed the status of slaves in ten southern states from slaves to free. Even though it was a legal document, many southern states refused to accept it. There was also the fact that news moved slowly. In fact, it was June 19, 1865 before slaves in Texas received word of the Emancipation Proclamation. To this day, June Teenth is a holiday in Texas that celebrates the day of freedom of slaves even though they had technically been free for over two years.
I tell you that story because it applies to many Christians today. We are no longer slaves to sin when we accept Christ into our lives. Yet many of us go on living as though we are still in bondage. As the scripture tells us, it was for freedom that Christ set jus free. Jesus broke the chains of sin in our lives and made us free from the law of sin and death. We are to leave the life we were living and to become new creations.
II Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom)” (AMPC). The emancipation that Jesus brings is not just from the bondage of sin. It’s to set you free from any bondage you may be in. He came that you could be set free from the bondage of fear, self destruction, pornography, drugs, sickness, and any other bondage you may find yourself in. As a Christian, you are free and it’s time to quit living as a slave.
Romans 6 has a lot to say about leaving a life of bondage to a life of freedom. Verse 11 says, “Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.” In the next verse, in a different version, it tells us not to give sin a vote in how we live. Our mindset has to change along with our salvation. We have to accept the freedom Jesus brought us, then change our mindset from slaves to free people in order to begin walking in that freedom.
If you find yourself having accepted the freedom Jesus brings, but still living with a slave mentality, pray that God would renew your mind and to give you the mind of Christ. Ask that God would help you to accept your freedom and to begin living in it. God has issued His own Emancipation Proclamation for your life. He has set you free because His Spirit now resides in you. Don’t spend years living in bondage after you’ve been set free. Begin walking in your freedom today.
I believe that there are several habits we as Christians can adopt in our lives to become the type of believer we truly aspire to be. While Hebrews 11 has compiled a list of heroes of the faith for us, there have been many people who have lived since that time whom we can learn from as well. If I were to ask you to think of a person, past or present, who exemplified a life of faith as a believer, you could probably think of a name quickly. Whether they were written about in the Bible, history, or have just touched your life in some way, they have habits in their life that you and I can adopt into our own lives to become that type of Christian.
One of the hardest habits for us to adopt is the habit of forgiveness. When we’ve been wronged, we feel justified in holding anger and resentment against the one who wronged us. I’ve learned in my own life that anger, resentment and being hurt are all that’s needed to become bitter. That bitterness then becomes a prison that holds your thoughts captive and stops any progress in your life. It has the power to consume you and that kind of bitterness causes you to spread that poison to others.
God wants us to let go of the wrongs that have been done to us because He knows that’s where our freedom lies. You cannot be a productive Christian if you’re holding anger, resentment, or bitterness towards someone else. God’s desire is that we turn the other cheek, not so we can get hurt again, but so we can lead with our un-bruised side. He knows that we will be better witnesses for Him when we don’t lead with our hurts and bruises out front. He knows that we can be healed in time when we first learn the habit of forgiveness.
In Matthew 6, we find the Lord’s Prayer. I’m sure you’ve memorized it at one point in your life. What you may not have memorized are verses 14-15 which come immediately after it. Jesus followed up His prayer with, “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in Heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father in Heaven will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (GNT). Your forgiveness from God is dependent on your ability to forgive others.
I like how the Amplified Bible describes what forgiving “wrongs” is and looks like. It says, “Their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up your resentment.” All of this is put on you, not the other person or God. Your own forgiveness starts with your ability to let go of what someone else has willfully done to wrong you. The life God has for you will be bright and fresh again once you choose to adopt the habit of forgiveness.
A while back, I used to have the opportunity to listen to the radio during the day. On a few occasions I tuned into the Dave Ramsey show. If you’re unfamiliar with him, he helps people get out of debt using Biblical principles. Every so often he would have people call in who had gotten rid of their debt. They would say how much they paid off, how long it took them and then scream, “I’m debt free!” You could hear the excitement in each of their voices as they declared their freedom from the slavery of debt.
It reminds me of how we should live as Christians: free from the debt of sin. When you accept Jesus as your savior, you automatically become debt free. You become set free from the chains that held you down. Romans 6:22 says, “But now you have been set free from sin… Your gain is a life fully dedicated to Him, and the result is eternal life.” If you’ve been set free, quit living like you are still enslaved to your old life. God has set you free, so you should set yourself free too.
Imagine if a person was in prison and then were found innocent of the charges. The warden comes, walks them to the gates of the prison, opens the doors and says, “You’re free to go.” What would you think of that person said, “Thanks, but I’ve done wrong things in my life and I’m going to stay here”? We would think there’s something wrong with them. They have their freedom yet they choose to stay bound up. Yet, so many of us do the same thing. Jesus set us free, declared us innocent of our past and we stay in a self imposed prison of guilt.
If you’ve been forgiven by God, walk in your freedom. Don’t stay in that cell. Bust through those gates and declare to the world, “I’m debt free!” We should each have that excitement in our voices when we talk of what God has done for us. There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t been bound in a prison of sin. Many choose not to accept Jesus paying the price for them and they stay there. But for those who have been set free by His blood, it’s time we started living like it.
Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, which He gave us in large measure.” If God has given you grace, then give yourself some too. Accept the freedom He gives you and don’t hold yourself down. You are debt free, it’s time to live like it. Let go of the thoughts that hold you captive to your past. Let go of the guilt that keeps you from being happy. Trust the freedom God has given you and live debt free.