On Monday nights the room is noisy, filled with women talking, laughing, crying, sharing stories. Everybody has one – a story that is. These stories are full of pain, heartbreak, adversity, perseverance, despair, hope, courage, defeat, victory – yet a common thread weaves all of our stories together. That common thread is our experience as captives. We are all captives – hostages fighting for our freedom. Some are newly released from incarceration, some from addiction, some from homelessness, joblessness, fear, depression, anxiety – these are some of the many captors which we battle on a daily basis.
There are all kinds of captivity. Physical incarceration is the most obvious but mental, emotional and spiritual captivity are just as confining and perhaps even more crushing. God created humankind to be free. And we were free in the garden, until we chose our way over our Creator’s way, and became slaves to our own sin. However, God sent us a Redeemer, a liberator. He sent us His Son to set us free.
“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.” (Galatians 5:1)
“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ ” (John 8:34-36)
From birth to death, life seems to be a constant battle between captivity and freedom. There are so many things that can hold me hostage. I realize I have to be constantly vigilant lest I find that I have been taken captive by something or someone. Interesting that we often say something has “captured” our heart or “captivated” us in some way. Good thing Jesus came to set captives like me free.
“the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – the Lord, who remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:6-8)
Jesus read these words from Isaiah prophesying about Himself – “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Freedom for the prisoners – that’s what I want but I am so easily taken captive. There is no shortage of things that can capture me and hold me hostage indefinitely. Too often, I am in a prison of my own making. Addictions to alcohol or drugs hold us physically hostage while fear can hold us just as tightly in its grip, paralyzing us into inaction and withdrawal, leaving us isolated and alone. Love of money can be a cruel captor, a constant taskmaster, enslaving us completely as we pursue money to the exclusion of everything else. Pursuit of pleasure can take over a life before we even realize it is controlling our lives.
There are less obvious prisons. When we harbor unforgiveness it controls us so completely in every aspect that we become slaves to this emotion, losing all our freedom to its destructive power. Anger, envy, hatred, pride – all are cruel taskmasters that take control of our lives if we invite them in – rendering us prisoners of these emotions. Often we escape one prison only to end up in another one, one that is equally or more confining than the first one. Mental, emotional and spiritual prisons are much harder to escape than any physical prison built by man. Colossians 2:8 has this sober warning for us all –
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
So there is another thing that can enslave me, “hollow and deceptive philosophy” – the wisdom of the world which keeps people captive, rather than the wisdom of God that sets people free. But God has made His wisdom available to me and to you. In James I read,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
Jesus told us this – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Jesus really did come to set all of us captives free – literally, physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Those intangible prisons that hold us captive prove to be the strongholds in our lives that we cannot escape in our own strength. You and I need a Savior, a Redeemer, a Divine Rescuer – someone who can do this –
“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:2-3)
I don’t have to remain in any of my self-made prisons. My Heavenly Father breaks down gates of doubt, deceit, depression, despair, fear and anxiety. He cuts through bars of unforgiveness, envy, rebellion, disobedience, pride, selfishness – all things that can keep me captive. Nothing is too hard for Him who created the universe. God created me to be free. He alone can set me free.
“through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. . . . For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:2 & 15-16)
As God’s children we have freedom in Christ, we have been set free from our captivity. And we can look forward to a time when –
” . . . the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)
We know that our Deliverer has come and is coming again. At that time, He will set all the captives free and all things will be made new.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
sincerely, Grace Day
2 thoughts on “from freedom to captivity and back again”
You hit the nail on the head that it doesn’t have to be iron bars that hold us in Order for us to be held captive, but all kinds of emotions and circumstances can hold us captive. Thank God that Jesus came to set the captives free. We are free indeed!!
Where the Spirit of theLord is, there is freedom! What a promise to claim and proclaim as together we pray, “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.” 🌟🙌