From Bondage To Freedom
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. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law (Galatians 5:1-3 NIV).
We find ourselves in bondage in two ways; to sin and then to mental conditioning. We see this tendency of mental conditioning in those who have spent time in prison. Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have experienced the negative consequences for that behavior. This term is used when referring to repeat offenders or former prisoners that are rearrested. Today, I want us to see how it applies to our mental conditioning of repeating behavior even thought we do not like the outcome or results of that behavior.
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Even after they were set free, many wanted to go back into bondage because that seemed easier than going toward the promise of total freedom (Numbers 14:1-4). It is not uncommon for those that get out of prison to find themselves back in the same places because they have not changed the thinking that got them there in the first place. Many want to be free, but if they don’t change the mental conditioning that leads to prison, they find themselves back again, mainly because this thinking has become the one they are accustomed to and have not yet learned how to think differently.
It is wonderful to know that God has the answer to both of these conditions. When we accept Jesus as our savior, we can be released from the bondage of sin. However, for many we do not realize our need for God to release us from the confining bondage that keeps us in those chicken-like conditions. This bondage keeps us from soaring and being who God desires us to be. I want you to hear me clearly. We can be free from sin (saved) and still find ourselves in bondage to mental conditioning, which eventually leads us to limiting the freedom God makes available to us. Many believe all is done when they get saved and there is nothing else that needs to be changed. While this is the most important step for all of us to take, it is not the end of our transformation, but the beginning. We need God to help us with that prison (chicken) mentality.
Let me give you this example. Have you seen those movies where all the prison doors are opened and all the prisoners are waiting to move out? I saw this as an example of our release for sin. Jesus set all the captives free, all the prison doors have been opened. Yet, some refuse to come out of the prison doors. They continue to stand inside of the prison doors, locked in cells that are really open. What keeps us locked in is our minds still have a prisoner’s mentality. We need God to change our minds (transform our thinking so that our hearts and minds work together).
We will not see the type of life changing transformation we desire until we allow the working of God’s power to have access to our entire self. When we do, we will see total freedom. We don’t associate our thinking often to what we do. We tend to only think about our hearts being changed when it comes to salvation, Christ and our relationship with God. We believe if our hearts are changed then everything will work out well. This is partly correct. We do need to have a changed heart, yet that change can be hindered if our thinking does not line up with the right kinds of thoughts. It is similar to the prisoner that desires in their heart to be free, yet their thinking is contrary, which eventually results in repeat imprisonment.
In other words, if you keep thinking like a chicken, you will keep acting like a chicken! There is a saying that affirms this, “where the head goes, the heart will follow.” Another saying is something I often hear my pastor say, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” When we begin to think like an eagle, we will begin to exhibit those characteristics that show we were meant to soar. God showed me something that I thought was quite powerful. In my thinking (my mind) I determine what actions I will act upon, therefore my thinking is the steering wheel and my actions follow the direction of my thinking. If my mind thinks on negative things, my actions will soon follow even if in my heart I believe differently. This is the area where much battle goes on in our lives, lining our thinking up with our hearts. When we finally get that we must transform our minds to think on what we believe, then our actions will follow. We must line the heart and the mind up, when we do we become invincible.
The scripture in Galatians reminds us we have been set free from the bondage of sin and the limitations of the chicken-like living. The question then is why do we accept those things that will limit us and keep us in bondage? Paul was speaking to the people about the controversy of circumcision. There were those that were making the working of Christ alone of no effect because they were trusting in the traditions of man’s adherence to works. Paul warns that this freedom is in Christ alone and not in man’s working of the law.
How does this relate to this thought of the chicken and the eagle? The chicken was held in the coop with no ability to free itself. No amount of wanting or trying would release the chicken from the coop. We are not able to change our bondage condition in our own power and ability. When we begin to rely on our abilities to accomplish this work, we will find ourselves struggling to employ our useless chicken wings to fly, yet never leaving the ground.
If we realize that the ability for freedom and wholeness comes through our relationship with God, we will learn how to wait on the moving of the wind (Holy Spirit) like the eagle does. It is in our relationship with Christ that we are given the power to transform our minds to have Christ-like thinking. This transformation allows us to become all that God desires for us to become. Again, it is not in our wishing it or wanting it, because without the help of the Holy Spirit we are unable to come out of those old ways of doing and thinking.
The eagle is completely aware that it must wait on the current of the wind to soar. The eagle will perch for days before it will take off if the wind conditions aren’t right. To do otherwise would be ineffectual because the massive wings of the eagle are of no use without the right wind. Eagle thinking is able to adapt to conditions no matter what they are.
Paul’s encouragement to the people of God was “you are free”. Do not allow others to put you in bondage (in the coop). Christ is sufficient for you. Like Paul learned, God is able to help you learn how to be content no matter what situation you find yourself in (Philippians 4:11). When you find that total contentment in Christ, you will learn how to be perched on the branch of the Word so that you are always ready to soar when the wind of the Spirit bids you move. God is calling humanity from the bondage of sin as well as the bondage of the coop and chicken-like thinking. Are you ready to be free?