Spiritual freedom is purchased for us on the cross and is eternal. We live in it by discipline, replacing wrong words with the Word and renewing our minds.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)
What an incredibly powerful statement and once every believer learns early on in their walk with Christ. Yet the tragic reality is that so many don’t seem able to live it. We know it true – it’s in the Bible, and so it must be – but it never practically translates into reality in our lives. I’ve used ‘we’ rather than ‘them’ here because it’s a fine line between the two. Often, strong, mature Christians will suddenly find themselves struggling, even though their faith and knowledge of the word is strong. Spiritual freedom is a powerful truth. But like all things included in the salvation package, it needs to be ‘worked out’ in our lives. Deliverance is promised and it is a sovereign act of power. But we still need to keep hold of it and move on. That’s the area of weakness that plagues so many Christians.
Understanding deliverance and spiritual freedom.
We have acquired a very limited understanding of ‘deliverance’ and spiritual freedom. No doubt aided by Hollywood, it’s coloured with images of ‘narky’ things possessing us against our will. The other extreme to is, of course, that Christians don’t need deliverance – it was all done on the cross and we’re ‘immune.’ The reality lies somewhere in the middle. Outright ‘possession’ is not possible for a believer who is saved and filled with the Spirit. Possession means ownership. Jesus states clearly that of those the Father has given Him, none will be snatched from His hand. Spiritual oppression, on the other hand, is very real. Those areas of our lives which are not surrendered to Christ are an open field to enemy. It is absolutely possible for demonic presence in these unyielded areas.
The easiest example is that of us as a house. We yield it to Christ and allow Him to take occupation, but some rooms are locked against Him. We only allow Him access to certain areas of our lives. The locked rooms usually have a long history, and they are where the demonic with operate in us. There is no shame in Christians needing deliverance. It can be a messy and uncomfortable business, but spring cleaning always is. It’s also absolutely necessary. Who wants to go through life with narky tenants lurking in locked rooms? But Jesus will never burst in like SWAT team. He’ll continue to knock on those locked doors. We have to yield them for the sovereign work of deliverance He purchased and empowered through the cross to take effect. Spiritual freedom in Christ already exists. It’s a fact. But it needs to be applied.
Receiving spiritual freedom.
This is crux of receiving our promised spiritual freedom – we must yield. The first issue, of course, is that we must acknowledge that we need it. Unfortunately, the misconceptions and the hype that often surrounds this part of Christ’s ministry get in the way. Too much emphasis is placed on the ‘signs and wonders’ aspect of this ministry. It’s become something of a ‘crowd puller’ to showcase spiritual power and gifting. Little wonder that few believers want to allow themselves to become a spectacle for the entertainment of others. Between the deliverance ‘circus’ and the insistence that Christians don’t need deliverance, many believers simply choose to pretend it doesn’t exist. For Jesus, it was simply part of His normal day-to-day ministry. He moved sovereignly to deliver those who yielded. No flash, no hype, and no exaggeration. Just simple, powerful freedom.
Deliverance is part of the salvation ‘package’ so the same conditions apply. Believe, confess, repent, and receive. God then does the rest. If we look at many of the instances of deliverance in the Bible, it’s clear that some of these were related to the matter of sin. To receive spiritual freedom, we must also acknowledge that sin may be the cause of it. It could be our personal sin or generational sin, but effective deliverance often depends on confession and repentance before we can be set free. Whether sin caused the initial oppression, it’s critical that we acknowledge that sin is usually what empowers its continuing hold over us. The devil cannot operate where he has no legal ground. Sin opens the door wide for the devil and keeps feeding the oppressor.
Spiritual freedom must be held onto and lived.
This is the area where most believers struggle – and where many often lose their spiritual freedom. I personally believe that it’s because the church has made deliverance a matter of showmanship and hype. The focus is on receiving it rather than keeping it. Once the hype is gone, believers are left to founder along on their own. Most simply continue in the same old sins, habits, and patterns, and it’s a slow slide back into their original condition. Old sins and old habits and patterns are powerful and can steal our spiritual freedom if we’re not aware. Any believer who has received deliverance should also be taught how to hold onto it. We cannot live in what we do not have. To remain free in Christ, we need to learn to deal with self first, and then the devil. If we don’t, we’re still fair game for spiritual oppression.
Romans 12:2 reminds us to ‘be transformed by the renewing of your minds.’ Then, in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, we find a critical truth: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… Unless we take hold of the truth in these two verses and apply it, we run the risk of losing our deliverance. This is part of what it means to ‘work out our salvation.’ The act of deliverance is sovereign, but the keeping of it requires our active participation. We may be given a fabulous gift by a king, but if we don’t take care of it and lose it, that’s on us.
Spiritual freedom self-discipline and training.
Sin is relatively easy to identify and deal with because it’s essentially ‘visible.’ Our habits and patterns of thinking, however, are less definable but immensely powerful. As a simple example, Satan is also called the Father of Lies. A lie always involves words in some form or another. Where do words operate? In our speech and thoughts. Usually, our speech is the verbal articulation of our thoughts. These two areas, working together, are fertile fields for the lies of Satan to reach and undermine our spiritual freedom. Our thought patterns are usually ingrained and have been established over time, right from birth. Without realising it, we often renew spiritual curses over ourselves or deny our deliverance by reverting to habitual thoughts and speech. ‘This always happens to me,’ or ‘I can never do anything right’ are mild examples that come immediately to mind.
We have to learn to recognise the thoughts and words that raise themselves up as strongholds in our lives. They essentially deny the power of God and what He has done. The problem is that we have trained ourselves to respond in certain ways to certain triggers. This is usually instinctual, so ingrained that we’re often not even aware of it. But like little drops of water they will slowly erode our spiritual freedom. What we speak is powerful. This is the biblical truth that the so-called ‘positive thinking’ gurus tap into. They, of course, lack the power of God in their teaching. But the principle is that we can undo what God has done simply by continually speaking the opposite. It doesn’t mean we weren’t delivered. What it means is that we have put ourselves back in bondage by not dealing with our weaknesses.
Spiritual freedom is an eternal promise.
Our deliverance and freedom in Christ were purchased on the cross. We receive them through the grace of God and He will never take them away. Even if we fall, we can turn back and retake the ground we have lost through repentance. But we must actively participate to ensure that the eternal promise of spiritual freedom in Christ operates in our lives. We must identify the thought patterns and expressions and responses that deny the power of God and replace them with His Word. We’re told that it is the truth that sets us free, and this is powerful. All stronghold responses must be replaced by the Word of God. This requires discipline to study and learn the Word, but also to apply it in our moments of weakness. The promise itself is eternal. Whether we live in it or not is our choice.
Thank You, Lord, that You purchased our deliverance on the cross. Forgive us for the sins, habits, and behaviours that have caused us to lose this precious gift through our own ignorance. Alert us through the power of Your Spirit. Show us the strongholds that raise themselves up in us against You, and give us the grace to tear these down with Your Word and the truth that sets us free. Empower us, Lord, to live ‘free indeed’ as You have promised.