Freedom for the Prisoners
There are many things in our lives that can hold us captive or make us feel like we are in a prison. These include things such as guilt, fear, worry, grief, discouragement, disappointment, depression, lust, anger, bitterness, jealousy, bad habits and addictions. These are common bondages and once they take a hold in our lives it can be a real struggle to break free.
The good news is that Jesus came to set us free from everything that would hold us down or hold us back from everything God has for us in our life. Jesus' first sermon, as recorded by Luke, declared that the Spirit had anointed him to bring 'freedom to the prisoners' (see Lk.4:14-21). Jesus came to help people make a 'prison break' - out of captivity to everything the enemy was holding them in bondage to.
Freedom has always been God's heart for his people. Jesus' first sermon was based on a prophecy given by the prophet Isaiah many years earlier (see Isaiah 61). In fact, this concept of freedom goes way back to God's deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. When God's people were in bondage to Pharoah, he heard their cry, he saw their suffering, he was concerned about their situation, he determined to rescue them, and he sent Moses to be their deliverer (see Ex.3:7-10).
Freedom is the inheritance of every child of God (see also John 8:31-32, 36; 2 Cor.3:17; Gal.5:1)!The Process of Freedom
Freedom sometimes occurs instantly, but more often than not it is a process that takes time. It is also a partnership between God and us. We 'work out' our salvation as God 'works in' us through his mighty power (see Phil.2:12-13).
God's power at work through Moses, delivered Israel out of Egypt but it was a struggle. Pharaoh (a type of Satan) did not want to let them go. It took time and Israel had to co-operate with God's work - by following the instructions of the Passover.
Later on, Joshua led God's people into the promised land. God promised to give them every place that they placed their feet - but they had to seize their inheritance and drive out the inhabitants, including a number of giants.
For those of us who are Christians, we have three aspects to God's work in our life: (1) Justification, (2) Sanctification, and (3) Glorification. Justification is God's work of providing us with salvation. It simply requires our faith and repentance in response to the convicting work of the Spirit in our lives. Glorification is the work God will do when Jesus returns and sin, along with its effects, is totally eradicated from our lives and this world. Sanctification is
the process of change where we enter into the freedom God has promised us and become like Jesus in every area of our life.
Life itself works through process – we see this in agriculture (sowing then reaping at a later time), human reproduction (9 months from conception to birth of a child), changing habits (it takes 21 days to establish a new habit) and the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
This process can be frustrating and even discouraging at times. We prefer quick solutions and instant change. However, God is more interested in our character development than our comfort. God has a purpose in the process. It is often in the very experience of change that we grow and mature the most.Freedom Principles
Sample Discussion Questions
- Move from denial to confession. Admitting that we need freedom in a particular area is the first step towards break through. We need to move out of denial and into reality. Confession is good for the soul as it places us humbly before a merciful God.
- Move from excuses to responsibility. We have a natural tendency to want to blame others for the issues on our lives. Yes, other people and circumstances beyond our control do have an influence on our lives, however, we are personally responsible for the decisions we make and what we do in response to what life brings our way.
- Move from independency to community. We live in a ‘self help’ world, but the truth is that often we need help from other people to change. That's why God places us in community. People around us can provide the support, honest feedback, encouragement, counsel, and accountability that we usually need to really change (see James 5:16).
- Move from complacency to desperation. We have to ask ourselves whether we really want to be free. Sometimes we can find comfort and security in the things that hold us captive. Over the years, a prison can become like as home to us. Freedom can require a lot of change and adjustment in our lives. Not everyone is willing to pay the price for that.
- Move from lethargy to vigilance. There is a continual battle for our freedom. Each one of are only one decision away from causing great damage in our lives. Be continually on guard and keep your freedom.
- Read Luke 4:14-21. What does this tell us about Jesus and his ministry?
- Read Exodus 3:7-10. What does this tell us about God's heart for us as his people?
- Ask people to share an area of freedom that God has helped them experience. Describe the area and how the change came about (whether instantaneous or over a period of time). [You as the leader may want to go first, just as Mark shared about his personal battle with insecurity at the beginning of this message]
- Ask people to share an area that they would really like to experience freedom in (highlight James 5:16). Make this a catalyst for prayer. Let's believe over these next few weeks for a real time of God's favour and that the Holy Spirit's power will be really evident in our lives as we seek to break free from whatever may be holding us in a prison.
- Pray for any unsaved friends or loved ones. The ultimate freedom is freedom from guilt, sin and hell itself. Ask people to think about who they could invite to church during this current 'Prison Break' sermon series. Let's believe for God to do many awesome things.