Captivity & Freedom
To Turn Around – Lesson 12 of the “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study
The word captivity insinuates that someone or something has control over you. It could be from a battle lost and you are now hostage or the act of slavery. The majority of time, whatever it is that holds you captive could care less about your well-being. You jump when it says jump. You go when it says go. Shackled and in chains. Learn more about obtaining freedom in this lesson of the “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study series.
Throughout this post, I will be using some old testament, churchy sounding words; sin, sacrifice, confession, repentance and glory. I will attempt to describe them in such a way that the essence of them is illustrated and clear up some of the fog that may be surrounding them. Understanding these words is crucial for grasping a hold of the concept of being a slave to sin or walking in the freedom of Christ. I honestly believe that if we can get this down, it will be a turning point in our lives, both presently and eternally.
I have humbly accepted the realization that there is nothing I can say or do that will affect what someone believes, unless I act like a madman and then they may believe I am all sixes and sevens. Which thankfully for you and me, trying to change what another person believes is not my job. My job is to illustrate, as clearly as I can from my own point of view what I myself believe, and to reflect that in my outer words and actions, although I do fail often.
At some point in each of our walks, beliefs move from a point of struggle to fact. From my own experience, whatever seems to be the loudest in my life, gets all of my attention and without thinking about it, I soon start shifting my beliefs. Ignoring or acting like the following three facts are not true does not make them any less factual, the same way that gravity does not require your belief.
- We all sin. We almost always err to the side of our humanness. Humans are notorious for sinful behavior. Sin essentially means you are actively choosing to go against what God has said. Sin is rooted within the self of each of us. Sin does not consider the cost or weigh the outcome. Put simply, it means chasing your desires regardless of the damage it will create.
- Sin will always lead to suffering. That suffering may take form of spiritual, physical, mental or emotional slavery and separation from a Holy God, from family members and from friends. Sin hurts, sin is deadly and the debt it incurs has to be covered somehow, just like in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve first sinned. When they sinned, they recognized they were naked and God sacrificed an animal to cover their nakedness, their sin.
- We, ourselves, cannot heal the sin and suffering in any lasting way. The best we can hope for is to find a distraction. In other words, we cannot reach success when attempting to work our way into freedom. When we attempt to do this, we are trying to justify ourselves based on the law. The law is not meant to save, but rather to judge. The law is meant to condemn the accused.
These three facts are the basis for understanding the severity of our situation. As Romans 3 says “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Once we begin to reach a level of awareness and maturity, these facts lead to two actions: confession and repentance.
Confession of one’s sins is when we take responsibility for what we have done. We do not hide the sin any longer. We go to God and acknowledge our wrong doings, our trespasses, and ask His forgiveness. We do this because He is a just God, full of mercy, as scripture says, “He is faithful to forgive.”
Repentance is a Greek military term that means to turn around. Imagine a squadron is marching due east when the captain bellows “Halt.” The procession comes to a screeching stop. The captain then yells out “Repent” and the entire squadron spins on their heels and begins marching to the west. In our spiritual lives, repentance means that we will stop going in the direction that is rebellious to God’s command and walk in the opposite direction.
If you are free…
Right now, if I were to ask you, are your thoughts, beliefs or actions were most influential, what would your answer be? I am convinced one of these are the most powerful for each of us. If something gains control over you, it can affect how you handle situations, react to bad news, even what you would choose to kill for or die for. One of these keeps you in slavery or releases you into freedom. One of these will most commonly make your decisions. One of these will be your yoke.
For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1
Now, suppose I asked you what freedom meant to you, could you answer it? As a teenager, what did it feel like when you got a little taste of freedom from your parents and their rules, even if for an hour? We sowed our wild oats and learned about the real world, stuff you can’t learn under your parent’s roof. We get our first speeding ticket, for example, and hopefully learn not to speed again. Notice at the end of the verse above, Paul says “…and do not submit again…” Again. But for whatever reason, we enjoyed the thrill of it. Went back to school and relived the entire moment over for our friends. However though, there is a cost associated with this example, our insurance premium has now risen, which means we will now have to figure out how to cover the cost.
This is a fairly harmless example, but within it exists a core concept. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.” Jesus has established this freedom for us. Our responsibility is to not submit again. Resist. If the desires of your heart are constantly leaving you to pick up the check, if our thoughtless habits are dictating our very existence day to day, or if the belief that God is angry and distant, we have to wipe the sleep from our eyes and realize we are bound in slavery to something other than God’s truth and plan.
“Overcome” – Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study
Application – what are you doing with your freedom?
At any given moment during the day I am submitting, the only variable is whom I am serving. Am I serving myself; my desires, my selfish pursuits, my fame or fortune? Or am I serving a loving God that has supplied me with talents and gifts to build His kingdom, something that is everlasting and not temporal? I feel that too many times, we prescribe to the thought that the Christian walk is something that is devoid of freedom or joy. God did not set out to make little replicas of the exact same person. No, He shows His creativity and handiwork because of our differences. We each are unique, with our own personalities and special gifts. This leads us to our concluding thought, it’s not so much the question of what we do, but why we do it. The following two verses illustrate this concept, the first verse addressing the what, and the second facilitates the why:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.Deuteronomy 6:5
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:17
When we are in slavery, we are unable to truly love God with all of our heart, soul and might. Choosing to be a slave to sin impedes our decision to walk in freedom. We may want to be free, but our actions say otherwise. Consistent choices dictate what we really believe. The second verse is where we find our freedom, in whatever we do in the name of Jesus. If you are a single mother, a factory worker, a school bus driver, a struggling artist; do it with the intention of bringing glory to God alone. This is the why behind why you do what you do. So, I ask you, if you are free, what are you doing with your freedom? Are you going back to patterns that encourage a lifestyle of slavery to sin or are you walking out your freedom through a relationship with Jesus Christ? Can you say about every decision and thought, whatever it is, that it will be done in the name of Jesus for God’s glory? If you knew you were free, what would you be doing right now that shows that you have accepted and honored that freedom?
The “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study series.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book