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Strategies to Stay Free

January 22, 2017 | PB | From the series: Freedom in Christ

Strategies to Stay Free Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. This verse tells us something that we all understand. Even though we’ve been set free in Christ, we can be easily entangled in a yoke […]

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Strategies to Stay Free

Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

This verse tells us something that we all understand. Even though we’ve been set free in Christ, we can be easily entangled in a yoke of bondage again, as in, we can be not-so-free again. Certainly, this is the subtle but powerful plan of the enemy of our souls.

Ever play capture the flag? In the version I used to play, there was a jail for those from the opposing team who got caught trying to get to your flag.

If someone from that other team managed to sneak across the line and touch those captives, they would be free to run back to their side and remain free to play again. So, my cousins were my playmates as a kid and we used to play capture the flag in a big backyard with other friends too. Only one of my cousins became the jail warden. When someone came along and freed a captive in the jail, there was my cousin, who would tag them the moment they got out of jail and they would be captives again, along with the one who came to set them free. Super frustrating!  You would get released but as soon as possible you would be unable to play the game again because you’d be back in jail.

That is exactly what happens to Christians. You get free. Yippee!  And then something else happens and you’re not free any more. And you’re hindered in your life when you ought to be free.

Does God give us a strategy for staying out of jail? Absolutely.

We just read Galatians 5:1, “don’t be entangled with a yoke of bondage again.” The context of that verse is all about the prison of legalism. That we would think that God only relates to us on the basis of our ability to be holy. Maybe you’ve experienced God’s forgiveness and change in your life. But now you’re on your own and you’ve blown it. It’s all over or God is just ticked off with you.

So, here’s the first bit of strategy. Do not. There has to be a defensive determination based upon God’s command. And it involves an awareness that you can so be on guard.

Here’s the second bit of strategy, related to the first.

1 Peter 5:8-9

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

The second strategy for staying free is understand that we have an enemy and act accordingly. That may sound like an obvious to some of you, but the reality is that there really is a devil and he is seeking whom he may devour, like eat for lunch. Being “sober” means being self-controlled in a godly way and “vigilant” means to be watchful. It’s the stranger danger of the Christian. Keep your eyes open and stay in godly paths.

And here’s the third strategy.

 James 4:7-9

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

The third strategy is: get in the right position and speak.

The right position under God.

We first humble ourselves under God and submit to Him. We say, “Lord, I am unable to fight this without You, but under Your covering and with Your authority, I can.” “Cover me, Lord.” “I am repenting of all I know is wrong, every open door in my life, and I’m coming clean with You.” Unholy behaviors are open doors through which the enemy is able to get through to you.

The right position facing the devil.

We resist the enemy. That means we oppose him directly. We’re in opposition, anti-devil. And it implies that we speak. So, we become aware that he is attempting to put us in lockdown in some way. And being in right position with the Lord, we stand opposite him and in speech and action we oppose him. We speak the Scriptures to him, we speak the truth of God, and we speak with the power of God by the Holy Spirit behind and in us. And the devil flees. For the time being anyway. He is persistent.

So, let’s take a common example of a prison that the devil tries, often successfully, to get us in. It’s the prison of fear.

God spoke directly to Timothy through the Apostle Paul and said this:

2 Timothy 1:7-8

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God…

Fear is a prison, a limitation, to human behavior. You can see here that Timothy is just as potentially subject to this as we are. And if you look closely, you’ll see that fear has a twin linked to it. It’s “Control”. Paul says to Timothy, if you give in to fear, you will be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, being associated with me, Paul, and you won’t be able to tolerate difficulty and suffering, because you’ll be controlled by it.

Let’s take a common fear, the fear of rejection and abandonment. Everyone has experienced it to one degree or another in their lifetime. You get laughed at or you’re placed in the bottom rung of public school society or in the workplace. It’s unpleasant to life dominating. And logically so, you fear it happening again. So, you control yourself (like don’t speak up, don’t try that new thing, don’t whatever) or you control the environment around you in some way so that you don’t get rejected or abandoned. Some people become the class clown. Some people become bossy and overbearing. Some people become wallflowers and never say anything, especially hating controversy or conflict.

And then they say, well, that’s just me, after they have gotten used to the system, the way of living that fear has taught them. I’m comfortable being this way. You learn the jailhouse rules and you stick with them. Why?  Because you feared what would happen if you broke out.

So how can you break out of fear’s grip? Let’s go back to our Scriptural guide.

 

  • You realize that this is a prison you’re in, not a survival strategy. You take a defensive determination to the fear, realizing that maybe this isn’t so good for you, but is, instead, a lack of freedom.
  • See the devil at work in this to keep you under his thumb. It’s not people, including yourself, that put you there. It’s a force of darkness that is keeping you trapped. Pray and act accordingly!  If it’s primarily spiritual, then start seeing your fears as negatively spiritual in nature.
  • Get in the right position and speak. Submit yourself, humble in mind and heart, to God. Be repentant as far as what is unholy in your life. Stand opposite the devil and speak, opposing and resisting him. Ever see a boxing or wrestling match? How do the fighters position themselves? They stand face to face, not looking over the crowd or waving to Mom on the TV camera. So, to whatever fear is holding you back from the life God has called you to, face it down and speak to it, resist it. That means doing what your captor says you can’t or shouldn’t do.
  • Get some others to help you. You’re not in this alone. Other people, people who understand these same dynamics, can stand with you against an enemy that seems to big or familiar to you.

Remember capture the flag?  There is someone from your team looking to help you get free. And stay free.

Many people get more bound as life goes on. They’re caught in fears, in bitterness and unforgiveness, apathy, addictions, whatever. But you don’t have to be a captive. You can become more free as your life goes on, not less. Thanks to Him.