Have you ever had a big emotional experience that you never forgot? You were so happy, you were on cloud nine and thought you’d never come down from it? I’m not talking about a temporary drug high or even the high you get from endorphins when you exercise, like jogging or cycling. I’m not talking about graduating or getting a job promotion, traveling or anything like that. I’m talking about an EXPERIENCE that changed your life forever in a good way. I wonder how many people have these kinds of life-changing experiences? I’ve heard parents say they felt that high when they first held their new-born baby. Some couples feel this when they first get married and especially if they have been chaste (no sex before marriage). The title of this chapter is about freedom, and it’s that kind of life-changing experience I’m going to talk about, the kind that sets you free.
Did you know that the source of your pain, depression and anxiety has to do with how free you are right now? Think about that for a moment. Many times we don't realize that we're not really free. We might live in a “free” country and have all kinds of freedoms that those living under oppressive regimes don’t have. Some people aren’t free to work where they want, worship where they please and who they please, are not free to marry a person of their choice, and so on. Years ago, there were lords, also called masters, and they had slaves. The Children of Israel around the time of Moses were slaves to the Egyptians, who treated them cruelly and had no mercy on them. Truly a slave was not free and recognized their bondage to their cruel masters. So what do I mean when I say we may not be free, when we live in a free country and are not a slave to any demanding master?
I’d like to answer that with a personal story. When I was about 18, I was suffering with the full effects of a nervous breakdown. I had hit bottom from all the drugs I had done and the ungodly life I was living. I had moved away from home and was lonely, had no boundaries, got into a cult, and hung out with the wrong crowd from college. A romantic relationship had failed and everything caught up with me. I ended up going to a full gospel Bible School in Saskatchewan, thanks to the support of my parents and my uncle. It was here that I was introduced to Jesus, the Healer of all broken hearts and sick bodies, bruised emotions and mixed-up minds. It was here that, for the first time ever, I recognized that I was not truly free. In fact, it wasn’t until AFTER the Lord Jesus touched my heart and life and made all things new, that I looked back at the horror of my life and realized how much a slave I was to the life I had been living.
If you have ever been addicted to something, then you know you are a slave to that habit, whatever it might be (alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, etc.). I was addicted to drugs. I couldn’t go for one day without getting high, because it was the only time I wasn’t sad and depressed. But the high was very short-lived and of course I had to keep up with the habit in order to continue to get the high. Then after I got supernaturally freed from this addiction, other addictions cropped up. I was once told through a very wise and godly counselor, that I was addicted to people. I had to have the comfort of people around me at all times and I couldn’t go without being in a relationship, especially with boyfriends. I was also supernaturally freed from this addiction. For each addiction, I had to be delivered supernaturally by prayer. This is no big thing to do, although the addiction seems overpowering. Praying is easy and it’s nothing for God to deliver us in an instant. Sometimes it takes a little longer, depending on what God wants to do in your life. The main thing is to hand it over to Him and then do what He tells you to do if it is not instantly taken from you. There is no magic formula to prayer, all you need to do is believe and receive.
About the same time the Lord took away my desire and need to do drugs, He also took away my intense like and addiction to the ungodly rock music I was listening to. The two went hand-in-hand, the drugs and the rock and roll music. He gave me alternative contemporary Christian music that soothed me and helped speed the healing of my emotions and physical ailments. It seemed that as one by one He took away the things that were harmful to me and that I was addicted to, that my emotions and thoughts changed dramatically. I was also on a routine schedule as a student of the Bible School, and I was eating properly for a diabetic diet (no sugar or white breads). I was getting proper sleep and exercise. I was feeding my mind the nutritious food of the Word of God, and His Word was changing my thoughts, my heart, and my very life. In fact, I remember one day I felt so good I didn’t know what to do with myself.
But there was more to come. The Lord realized that I needed a rite of passage; I needed to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was truly free, so He allowed me to experience the full effects of being set free! One night, with the full audience and support of the student body, staff and ministers at the church at the Bible School, the Lord touched my life and literally took away all my sins and with it my regretful past that had been weighing me down for so many years. I felt the heaviness in my heart lift. I don’t know how He does this, but He cleaned up my heart and then made me a new creature in Christ. I knew I was born again and His child. I realized that all of the old rotten life I had been a slave to was gone and truly I was free. It was much more than a feeling — I knew with every fibre of my being that I was truly free. This is something to celebrate! I let everyone know and to this day, I celebrate that life-changing experience by sharing my story with others in hopes they will reach out to Jesus and receive their own life-changing experience of freedom. Now who wouldn’t want that? But if you don’t know you are a slave, you will not see a need for freedom.
But is everything perfect after we have such an incredible mountain-top experience? No, for trials begin almost immediately since we need to grow in our new-found faith. It took me many years to uncover what lay at the heart of my depression and sadness, that would appear time and again throughout my life. I have had to learn and re-learn that the only thing that makes me a slave and tries to keep me a slave is sin and the devil who initiated the act of sinning against God in the first place. The first insight I am offering you as a way to freedom in your thinking and in your life, is to reveal the source of all that is negative and restricting in our lives, whether we are a professing Christian or not. At the heart of all sadness and sorrow is SIN and the devil who will try everything in his power to keep you a slave to it. As long as you are not free, then you are a slave to sin in some form. The devil, who is the author of everything evil and negative in your life, has deceived you by your own permission or because you have rejected Jesus Christ, or neglected His Word, which is the Truth.
That’s a pretty big pill to swallow and I want you to re-read the underlined words again. Remember in the Book of Genesis when the serpent tempted Eve and caused her to question God’s Word? (see Genesis 3). The serpent mesmerized Eve with a poison lie that caused her to sin and then doomed us, since through her womb, we would all be born slaves to sin. Satan’s game plan was to seize control of our soul (mind, emotions and will), so that God would lose, so he cleverly tempted us with a knowledge that didn’t come from God. Like Eve, who was temporarily dazed into obeying Satan’s suggestion, we too walk around in a daze, unhappy and depressed, not even realizing that we’ve been duped by the greatest deceiver that ever walked this earth. We become slaves to negative thinking and become trapped in a maze of poisonous lies, thinking there is no escape and that our situation is hopeless.
God promised Adam and Eve that a Deliverer would come and set us free from the power of sin and loose us from the control and usurped powers of wicked Satan. Two thousand years later, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son came and lived on this earth and then died for all our sins, past, present and future. He set us free from the power of sin so we would no longer be slaves to it any longer. We can’t hope to know true freedom without first acquainting ourselves with the Lord, the only One who can truly set us free from sin, sickness, addictions, and anything that causes us pain or duress.
What Jesus, our Messiah, did is described in the following:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;Isaiah 61:1
Notice the last part that is underlined. Only Jesus could, can and will open the prison doors to them that are bound, and that includes each and every one of us.
In the New Testament, the following verse describes in a nutshell what happened and what happens when we reach for any other freedom than what Jesus Christ offers:
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 2 Peter 2:19
In this verse, we can again picture a slave/master relationship. Anything that overcomes us will become our master and we will be a slave to it. Sin does that. We become slaves to sin and live under its tyranny. Only Jesus can free us from sin.
Do you see that there is a definite connection in regards to sin and freedom from sin to how we think, whether positive or negative? You may be a Christian and are thinking, What about my non-Christian friends that are positive and happy? If they are slaves to sin, why aren’t they depressed or sad? The Bible says that the pleasure of sin is only for a season (see Hebrews 11:25). Also, without a knowledge of our sin, we can think we are happy and free, but the Bible is very clear about this — the wages of sin is death (see Romans 6:23). So even though our non-Christian friends seem to be enjoying their life now, unless they come to terms with their sin, sadly, they will spend eternity without God. We need to pray for them that they see their need of a Savior before it’s too late for them.
We are born with the desire to be free. Before we come to Jesus and start our life over, we search for peace and happiness. We may strive to have lots of money so we can buy anything we want, we may travel the world over, or we may surround ourselves with people and go to every party going. Yet, still, we come home to an empty feeling. Freedom and happiness eludes us, so we go from one thrill or pleasure to the next. We see Hollywood movie stars and famous people living empty lives, going from one partner to the next, or hiding in their multi-million dollar homes, afraid to be seen in public. We think of Princess Diana, hounded by the paparazzi, contributing to her early death. Even the rich and famous live in their own form of prisons, perhaps much worse than any of us would ever know. So we know that fame and fortune do not give us the happiness we all need and seek. True freedom from our sin will give us a peaceful heart and a mind free of the clutter and cares of the world. We will feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit with us no matter what happens or what kind of day we are having. Nothing in this world can give us what only Jesus can give us. If you don’t know Jesus personally, the One true freedom-giver, please turn to page 83 and follow the prayer guide offered, so that by faith in Him, you can begin your journey of freedom today.