Physical freedom implies that one has been held in physical bondage. Spiritual freedom implies release from spiritual or psychological (non-physical) bondage or captivity. How do we get to real spiritual freedom? ♦
I was speaking to a group of men this past weekend on the topic of spiritual restoration. That is, how do we as humans achieve peaceful restoration of our souls and lives to God? And yes, it is related to God. Call it a “Higher Power” or a spiritual force of nature, or whatever gets you over any prohibitive hurdle and into a consideration of the spiritual side of life, we all deep within us seek spiritual fulfillment and its corresponding sense of full freedom.
I started with the words of Jesus spoken when teaching in His hometown of Nazareth shortly after launching what would be a 3-year ministry. He cited the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” – Isaiah 61:1
Understand that Jesus never physically released any prisoners from any prison or jail. So these references here of liberty and freedom from prison are purely metaphorical. Jesus is speaking of His anointing as the vehicle by which we are all set spiritually free and fully restored.
I maintain that this restoration is to our full faith and relationship with God, our family, community, and fellow man around us, as well as to full recognition and alignment with our purpose and mission in life. That is real spiritual freedom.
And how do we get that?
4 Steps to Freedom
I then laid down 4 necessary progressive steps that lead us to our goal. Here they are with a brief explanation and personal experiences I shared:
1) Captive – How have we been held captive? Regardless of our religious or non-religious upbringing, as was my case, we are born into a fallen nature that plays out in selfish sin and ambition. We and our parents are all each spiritual separated from God as part of our human heritage as descendants of Adam. We are broken and damaged spiritually from birth in need of restoration back to God. Apart from God we seek worldly pleasure and treasure to survive and even thrive. Left in this plight we remain lost and ultimately unfulfilled spiritually, while becoming captive to worldly chains and binds, habits and addictions.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… – Romans 3:23
At the tender age of 10 I found my father’s box of old Playboy magazines tucked away in the cellar of our house. This became a source of captivity for me. I was ashamed to talk to my father about this and I couldn’t possibly tell my mother or my two sisters. I tried to prevent my younger brother from ever going into that cellar and finding this spiritually corrupting stash. It took many years to work free of this captivity.
When we consider our lives and patterns of behavior, all of us can recognize ways and means by which we have been held captive.
2) Forgiven – Have we forgiven others and been forgiven by God? Regardless of our past sin, pain, and wounding, we all can come to God the Father for forgiveness and a clean heart. This is what the death of Christ, the perfect Lamb/Son of God, was all about – the atonement or reparation of our sins, once and for all. Jesus, as God in the form of man, came to die a sacrificial death for all of mankind. By acceptance of this act of redemption, we each can be forgiven and redeemed.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. – Romans 3:22
At the age of 14 I heard this message in a youth gathering at a local church and grabbed it without hesitation. No matter our past or present sin, shame, or guilt, we can be forgiven. Many people have trouble with believing that God could really, truly forgive their past. One man once told me, “Mike, you don’t know what I have done…” The thing is, God knows and has allowed for a way back to restoration with Himself. And as God loves and forgives us, we must forgive others that have harmed us as well.
3) Surrendered – Have we fully surrendered all of our life to God? Many of us get to a belief point of faith where we “accept Jesus” as our savior and figure we are settled. Now we are free to live our lives at will and, of course, ask God for ongoing forgiveness when we stray. Actually, we are to be newly born, renewed people under new management and authority, that of God. We can still operate in our uniqueness as designed, but we are under new leadership.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. – Romans 12:1
In my case, I lived entrenched at this step for 30 years. I was living life at 80% in terms of my surrender level and commitment to God. Now 80% is pretty good – way above average – however there is nothing in Scripture that speaks of God wanting anything less than 100% of our heart, mind, soul, and will. This is a very insidious dynamic leading to a life of delusion and deception. We think we’re free, but in truth we are not. We actually may be living lives that are still somewhat captive, but wrapped in Christian/religious clothing.
4) Free – Are we fully set free? Moving in a fully surrendered life plays out with an “all in” attitude toward God in all aspects of life: family, work, finances, prayer, relationships, hobbies, talents, community, etc. The relinquishing of control to our Heavenly Father is a risky but better life. Risky in that it’s like rolling the dice as to what and where God is leading. The good news is that the dice are loaded toward God’s will and ways, which is a good thing. Why would we want to be anywhere outside of God’s will for our life and that of our family?
…So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God… – Colossians 1:10
Several years ago I met some fellow Christian men who challenged me to a deeper prayer life which ushered me into a fully surrendered life. I was like a bird released to fly now in full freedom. There’s no turning back in a life that finally finds the fueling source of peace, love, and joy. Abiding in Jesus the Vine (see John 15), yields unmeasured fruit, even in the midst of worldly challenges. It is a life like one set free from chains or prison, unfettered and alive, now living in the ever-loving arms of a good and forgiving Heavenly Father.
Are you living a full life of real spiritual freedom?
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. – John 15:8