So, there I was Sunday morning singing: “My chains are gone. I’ve been set free. My God my Savior has ransomed me…” You all know the song and chances are you are singing along by now. I must confess though, I’m a little tired of it. It’s been around for years now and at one convention when it was the new and upcoming worship song, I bet my husband and I sat through five renditions of it…no joke. Sometimes you can only take so much of a good thing. On this particular Sunday though, I was sitting by my oldest who usual attends college in another area. He was harmonizing so beautifully and it really made me hear it again in a fresh way. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that my chains really were gone. I knew without a doubt that I was free in Christ! I knew that He paid the price for my chains to be gone completely and I felt as light as a bird. I was free!
But, did you see me Sunday night? Did you see me skulking in the corner putting my chains back on? Throughout the day I must have decided that I liked the heaviness of them. Somehow, I must have come to the conclusion that my fetters had not chafed my skin enough. Between the two Sunday services, I re-shackled myself! I snuck away and decided to put the chains of unforgiveness back on; they were as heavy and cumbersome as ever. I guess I decided I liked the weight. I also fastened back the grip of arrogance. You know, sitting and deciding what others should be doing. Oh, and did you see that I took that old habit of complaining and decided to wear it like a cloak once again? The heaviness of it almost broke me, but it was familiar. I must really like the familiar.
What in the world?! Am I free, or not? Are my chains really gone, or was it a delusion? Where is the sustaining power of freedom? Where are these shackles coming from? The apostle Paul proclaims in I Corinthians 10:1, “Am I not free?!” and I find myself asking the same.
The Word tells us in Galatians 5:1, “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” This verse tells me that I’m not the only one who has put their chains back on after finding freedom. The people of Galatia apparently had the same issue. Once again though, I must ask myself the question, “How do I stop?” Scripture tells me that Christ wants me to be free, so there must be a way. In John 8:32, I am reminded that the “truth will make you free.” So, what is the truth about freedom?
Leviticus 26:13 says, “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, so that you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to live in freedom.” I love where it says that God “enabled us to live in freedom.” The truth is that living in freedom is possible through the enabling of Christ. After all, “all things are possible through Him”, right? So, we discover God enables us to live in freedom. It’s so encouraging to know He understands we cannot do this without Him!
Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;” This Scripture is talking about Jesus. It says clearly that Jesus came to “proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners.” The truth is that Christ did not come to shackle us with expectations and burdens. He came to set us free from those expectations and burdens. Why do we keep forgetting what Jesus says in Matthew, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light”? Jesus came for freedom, not burdens!
Jeremiah 34:17 says, “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed Me by proclaiming freedom, each man for his brother and for his neighbor. I hereby proclaim freedom for you”—⌊this is⌋ the LORD’s declaration—“to the sword, to plague, and to famine…” Wow! This Scripture tells us that the Lord Himself proclaims freedom over us because we wouldn’t do it for ourselves. He has given us freedom over the sword, plague and the famine. I don’t know about you, but I need freedom from a famine right now. I have been in a desert for some time simply going from “strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7). I need the chains of my famine to be gone and I see that in the book of Jeremiah the truth is the Lord has already proclaimed it!
I now know that God has given me freedom and declared liberty over every part of my life, but how do I enjoy that freedom? What must happen?
II Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” So, the truth is we must be where His Spirit is to enjoy freedom. When we have trusted Christ as Savior, His Spirit is inside of us already, so we must be ever-listening, ever-conscious and ever-submitting to His presence. That’s true freedom. No worries about others; He has it handled. No concerns over daily strife; He has that as well. No frustrations, because He is not surprised. That’s peace. That’s freedom. Life in general often causes us to forget this, but we can rest assured that when we are where we are supposed to be, (in God’s presence), there is freedom. The truth is, if we are not free, we are not in the right place.
We also need to be aware that Galatians 2:4 gives us a clear warning. It says, “This issue arose because of false brothers smuggled in, who came in secretly to spy on the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us.” The truth is I have an enemy who wants my freedom. He hates that I am free. He will use whatever means necessary (including other people) to steal my freedom. So, I must remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). The truth is I need to be so focused on Christ that others around me do not steal my freedom.
II Peter 2:19 is another great reminder. It says, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” I must remember the truth that I am only enslaved to whatever defeats me. Nothing is worth that. Nothing is worth re-shackling myself in those chains, no matter how familiar it may feel. If I am being defeated, I am not free.
So, now it’s our choice. We now know that our freedom depends on allowing God to enable us to live in the liberty that He has given to us. We know that we are indeed free in Christ because God Himself has proclaimed it and we also know that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” May we truly live in that freedom. May we also remember that our enemy is after our freedom and when we are defeated by anything we are chained to it, just like a prisoner. And, the next time we sing “My chains are gone, I’ve been made free…” may it be a reminder of what God has already done in our lives. May it remind us of what used to be and not what still needs to happen. May the freedom of Christ encompass our lives in such a way that the weight and scars of old chains are long forgotten.
The truth is God has proclaimed our freedom. Let’s live it!