I used to attend a church where every Sunday morning a man would come forward for prayer in response to the invitation. It could be an invitation for salvation, rededication, or any other commonly given invitation. It really didn’t matter. He was always there.
This may seem like strange behavior, but this is an example of a pattern I have noticed among people who profess to have been set free from the power of sin and death by the blood of Jesus, yet struggle in their Christian walk.
It is probably safe to say that in the majority of churches in America there are a host of believers who are bound by pornography, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes… Need I go on? Week after week these children of the most high God come to the alters beseeching Him to deliver them from these demons, and week after week they go back to the strongholds that have kept them bound. We see them in church, fellowship with them, maybe we even are them. These are often “secret sins” and yet they are strongholds which keep God’s people from being effective in their walk with Him. Why is this? Did not Jesus say, “Who the Son sets free is free indeed?” (John 8:36)
Then why do we continue to struggle with sin? Paul paints a vivid picture in Romans 7:21-25. “…Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Why is it that we as believers profess victory in Jesus, but then struggle so much in our personal lives? We all understand that we are spiritual beings trapped in this body of corrupt flesh, but then where is the freedom Jesus promised?
I believe the answer is in our understanding of what it means to be set free. Let me share two passages of scripture with you.
Ephesians 4:22-24; “That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:8-10; “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,”
Did you catch those two decisive phrases in each passage? Paul says YOU “put off” and YOU “put on.” We as believers have become so enamored with “feeling” the presence of God, that we expect God to do it all. We have been bombarded with teaching regarding our spiritual birthright, ranging from prosperity to divine health, to the point where we have forgotten that God has given us certain commands and instructions which constitute our part of the deal.
We struggle with strongholds in our lives and can’t ever seem to get the victory, knowing that we have been instructed to “put off” the sin that so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1).
Is there really freedom in Christ? You bet there is. It starts the moment we believe and then we grow into it… or not. The key to tearing down strongholds can be found in two key verses – Romans 12:1,2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
God says YOU present your bodies. God says YOU renew your mind. God says YOU get serious about your relationship and YOU determine that YOU will change your actions and your attitudes.
Please understand, I am not saying it is up to us to do it all. Obviously, we can never be good enough. What I am saying is, God wants to set us free from the strongholds in our lives and it begins when we accept that they actually do exist, and in our minds we say, “ENOUGH!”
God will give you the deliverance you seek, but it will not come by responding to an invitation to prayer week after week. It will come because you have determined to change your attitude and to renew your mind away from those things which have kept you bound.
Don’t be conformed to this world.
Transform your mind – change your attitude.
Resist the devil and he will flee.
Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.
It’s a process and with each new day, our freedom in Christ becomes more and more real, and that thing which had us bound no longer controls us because we have determined that, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, we will think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
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Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry