by Greg Neumayer
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
I always thought spiritual freedom and the victorious Christian life were mainly about the ability to choose the right thing in a pinch, to have a sense of relief from compulsion when tempted. It wasn’t until a discussion on the implications of Hebrew wording in Isaiah 53:4-5 that I began to wonder if I’d been seeing less than the full picture.
Hebrew word studies aside, I began to see that the work Jesus accomplished in His death and resurrection can lead to the repair of broken or crooked things in our lives (infirmities, iniquities), and the release from lawful bondage (sin, transgression) along with the ensuing condemnation and demonic torment. In thinking on these things it suddenly occurred to me that to live free had to do with the capacity and ability to act in freedom, more than just the authority that one could.
Rich Mullins said, “I cannot help but believe that [being human] means we are spiritual – that we are responsible and that we are free – that we are responsible to be free.” Hearing this made me wonder, does having the authority in Christ to be free of demonic oppression, fleshly compulsions, soul-ties, occult alliances, or generational bondage automatically mature us into folks who know how to live, speak, act, etc. as free people?
Or, perhaps is there some responsibility on our end to grow? Experience indicates that knowing our lives have been healed and that we are declared whole in Christ does not necessarily mean we know what strong, healthy lives feel like! Where can we find help? Jesus has set us free and that is extremely important. But how do demonstrate the reality of freedom by actually living in that freedom?
Only in the running with perseverance do we show that the hindrances and sin have been thrown off. Unfortunately, though free in authority, many of us are still living as if imprisoned, without the ability to walk in this freedom. There are all kinds of prisons we may find ourselves in:
- Feeling incapable of going to that place for fear of the choice we may make is a kind of prison.
- Avoiding this situation or that, because we don’t trust our ability to act like ourselves in a certain context is a kind of prison.
- Being unwilling to go somewhere that person may be is a kind of prison.
- Mentally freezing the moment their name is said and shutting down is a sort of prison.
- Blocking memories from one time or place or relationship because it’s overwhelming is a kind of prison.
Hear me well: trauma happens. It warps our soul and burdens our hearts when we are alone, when painful circumstances bigger than we can manage are upon us and there seems to be no way of escape.
God has designed us to navigate this world in such a way that we can survive unbelievable hardship – it’s amazing. He has also provided a Healer, a Savior, a Mighty Warrior in Jesus who has demonstrated both His authority and His ability to speak reality into motion, and whose final declaration* – tetelestai! (It is finished!) – announced an end to the reign of sin and death and the lawful reclaiming of His beloved creation for intimacy with Him. He really sets people free. He does this not by storming the guard or raiding the POW camp, but because when we bind ourselves to Him as our hope in life and death nothing else can remain attached. He unlocks the shackles and they fall away.
Jesus is not a “chain breaker.” Someone who has to break chains is doing their work unlawfully. If you are broken out of prison that makes you a fugitive, not a free person. When we see Jesus in Revelation, He says, “…I have the keys of Death and of Hades” (1:17). He has not subverted the moral order of the Universe – He created it. He worked within its structure to demonstrate that obedience to God Almighty, loving faithfulness to the point of an unlawful death, was of greater power than brute force which would have left Him indebted to that law with the rest of us.
Don’t let yourself be tricked by the enemy into waiting for Jesus to break you out of the prison you feel encaged by when He has unlocked the door and thrown it wide open so you can walk out with Him!
What are we supposed to do about it?
Like the blind man in Mark 8 whose healing progressed from being brought to Jesus by someone else, to being led out of the village, to receiving a touch that led to seeing people like walking trees, to receiving his perfect sight, to going home without going through the village by way of his own sight and no longer being led by another, we must let the rising light of His presence work its way across the topography of our lives, expecting it will reach some places quickly and other places less so. The blind man had to learn how to live with eyes that could see both by the light of the sun and by the Light of Christ. How do we learn to live as people free from the wounds of the past, the torment of the enemy, or the habits of the flesh?
- Spend every moment you can with Jesus. Knowing His voice, His Spirit, alive and ready, is the key to walking in freedom with Him. Do not read Scripture to figure out how to get things right. Read Scripture to know God well (cf. John 10:4-5).
- Use the Deeper Walk Counseling Referrals page to find someone who can lead you in a freedom appointment or listening prayer, intentionally looking for and taking back the ground surrendered to the enemy in the past and redeeming it for present/future testimony.
- Pay attention to others who show the fruit of walking with Jesus in the same life context as yours (aka maturity) and ask for their stories. Do not hide areas of weakness. Let them encourage you!
- Any time you experience a hindrance to “running the race marked out for you,” share with Jesus the sense that something needs to be seen in the light of His glory, and ask Him to speak to you about it. If it feels too big to handle alone please find a prayer minister who can help.
If we are going to run this life-race prepared for us, we need eyes that see what to throw off and that are trained to focus on our Pace-Setter so we can keep in step with Him. May it be so.
* John 19:30