Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living in a Self-Imposed Prison?

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has 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

Jesus came to announce publicly, freedom from restraint to those made prisoner. He came to open the places of confinement to those who were restrained.

Are you in a place of confinement? Are you under restraint? What are you captive to? Is your captivity self-imposed? Are you held captive by sin or by your own unwillingness to forsake sin? Are you waiting for Jesus to set you free when it's you who has placed yourself behind bars?

Real prisoners behind real bars are subjected to all kinds of restrictions and restraints and many (most, actually) of their freedoms are taken away. They cannot venture outside to enjoy a balmy breeze on a warm summer night. They aren't able to get in their car and ride on down to the nearest creemee stand for an ice cream whenever they feel like it. They can't go to the movies to see the latest blockbuster on a Saturday night. They are not free to come and go as they please.

They are told when to get up, when to go to bed, when to exercise and when and what to eat each meal. They have no say in who their roommate is. In most prisons, they can't even decide what to wear each day. These and other life choices are taken away from them because of previous bad choices they made.

What about you? What freedoms do you willingly "give up" each day without even realizing it? What self-imposed prison are you living in today? What sin or habit has you bound because you refuse to give it up? What "bad choices" have you made, either in your past or right now, in the present?

Are you living behind the bars of "fear of man"? Are you captive to "what people think"? Are you a prisoner to "standards and values of this world"? Do you live each day eating from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"?

These are some of the questions I've been asking myself lately as I seem to struggle with the same bad habits and attitudes of my own.  Do I just unrealistically expect God to wave His "magic wand" to set me free or do I need to make some adjustments of my own so I will more closely align with His Word? The answer to that question is all too obvious.

Many of our prisons are self-imposed because we allow ourselves to believe lies instead of the truth of God's Word. We are held captive by our own "stinkin' thinkin'"!

"And you shall know the truth, and he truth shall make you free."  John 8:32

We, we who have allowed ourselves to be bound, we have the means within us, if we know the Lord, to set ourselves free. It's as simple as believing the Word of God when He says we have been forgiven. It's as simple as believing God's Word when He says that we are no longer living under the law, bound by the appetites of the flesh. It's as simple as accepting God's great love, believing He delights in us and calls us by name. 

It's simple, but not easy. Just as real prisoners some times stage a revolt and try to break out of their confinement, we, too, need to stage a "spiritual revolt." We need to fight for our freedom.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1 KJV or as the NIV says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,"

We need to fight to walk the path to freedom. We need to fight for the joy found when we are set free from our own self-imposed prisons; the joy that Jesus shares with us when He sees His sacrifice on the cross was not in vain.

Fight the good fight!
Finish your course!
Keep the faith!

Lord Jesus, give me the strength to fight when I feel exhausted. Give me the courage to face my self-imposed prisons and the willingness to do something about them, with Your help. May I put my trust in You and Your provision for my freedom. May I never negate your sacrifice on the cross, by neglecting to believe Your Word. In Jesus' Name.

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