Christ's first priority is setting captives free from the bondage of eternal destruction (see 2 Pet. 3:9). But saved people, as I mentioned before, can still be in bondage (see Gal. 5:1).
FORMS OF BONDAGE What does this mean in real life? When I think of bondage, I most often imagine yokes that come from some area of childhood trauma or victimization because this is the kind of yoke I had to combat. However, I know from my relationships with other women that there are many different types of yokes.
I recently asked a group of women I teach to broaden my horizon in terms of areas of captivity believers face. Although they will remain unnamed, you know women just like them: bright, educated, Christian women who serve faithfully in their churches and come from all economic backgrounds.
I heard painful testimonies of bondage to lust and patterns of falling into sexual sin. I read about struggles with homosexuality and a fear of men because of childhood abuse.
Some spoke about an inability to love people fully, including their own husbands and children. One wrote me about the victory God had given her over a compulsion to steal. Another had been freed from habitual dishonesty. A friend surprised me by writing about gaining freedom from the bitterness she had developed as a result of the physical abuse she endured as a child.
My heart broke for one woman who described how deep insecurity had stolen friendships, church work and her marriage from her. I've heard from many who were held captive by a critical and judgmental heart toward people. Others wrestled terribly with anger toward God. Doubt. Discouragement. Loneliness. A chronic lack of satisfaction.
And these letters came only from those who had already found freedom in Christ. Imagine how many are still struggling! I firmly believe:
- Christ came to set the captives free—no matter what kind of yoke binds them.
- He came to bind up the brokenhearted—no matter what broke the heart.
- He came to open the eyes of the blind—no matter what veiled their vision.
OBSTACLES TO FREEDOM In Isaiah's glorious thesis on captives set free, the prophet describes the benefits of God in one unforgettable summation: "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him" (Is. 64:4). God wants to do in your life what your eyes have never seen, your ears have never heard, and your mind has never conceived.
But just as the Israelites were in bondage, a foreign yoke may be keeping you from realizing five primary benefits that God intends for His children to enjoy. The absence of any one benefit is a helpful indicator of captivity. According to the Book of Isaiah, God graciously extended the following benefits to His children:
- To know God and believe Him
- To glorify God
- To find satisfaction in God
- To experience God's peace
- To enjoy God's presence
Since many Christians today obviously are not experiencing the fullness of these benefits, there must be hindrances that keep us from the birthright God intends. Five obstacles block our access to the benefits God has for us:
- Unbelief, which hinders knowing God
- Pride, which prevents us from glorifying God
- Idolatry, which keeps us from being satisfied with God
- Prayerlessness, which blocks our experience of God's peace
- Legalism, which stops our enjoyment of God's presence
These five obstacles are so prohibitive that if they are not addressed and removed the personal visitation of our King will be greatly hindered, and we will never walk in true freedom.
Unbelief. Unbelief is choosing not to believe God. I'm not talking about believing in God; I'm talking about believing what He says. We can believe in Christ, accepting the truth that He is the Son of God, and we can believe on Christ, receiving eternal salvation, yet fail to stand firm in belief and choose to find Him trustworthy day to day.