I remember some years ago sitting around a table with others studying the concept of ungodliness in Christians. As we worked through that study, there was a particular recurring question I didn’t know how to answer. The question was something like this: What is your bondage? What sin(s) do you struggle with? At the time, I honestly didn’t know how to answer that question because I didn’t have an addiction to a substance or a terribly bad habit I couldn’t quit. I didn’t think the questions really applied to me. I thought the study would help me understand Christians who do have those problems. But I thought I was doing pretty good in this thing called Christianity.
The truth is, my Christianity was a Christianity of someone without need… though I was of the neediest of the earth.
MY BLINDNESS, OUR BLINDNESS
My Christianity was a Christianity of someone without need, because my Christianity had no—I mean zero—comprehension of the cold, hard, fact of the slavery of mankind, of me. Nor did I have comprehension of the tragedy, travesty, and injustice of the fact.
We look at the world and we see unimaginable horror and tragedy. Yet we miss the greatest, deepest, wildest, grossest evil of all! We see tragedy happening to some people. We see horrors happening to some innocents. We see all-out wickedness and depravity performed by some people to some people in some areas of the world. Yet we don’t see the worst, the deepest, the grossest evil of all, which has happened and is happening to more people than all the horrors of the external world and their reach combined. Because the thing we’re missing, the thing we’re blinded to, the thing we’re asleep to is the crime that happened to all people of every generation of every location, which has never ever let up even a little since time began. It’s the greatest of all crimes, the most heinous of all horrors, the most spine-tinglingly disgusting affront to humanity, and the very root of every shadow of it we see upon planet earth.
FIGHTING THE SICKNESS, NOT ONLY THE SYMPTOMS
Yes we should be utterly broken—shattered—by the tragedy, horrors, and pure evil upon planet earth. Yes we should seek to quell their activity, their reach. Yes we should help every victim of every crime we possibly can. BUT OH! How we must become aware of the worst of them all, the source of them all… and hate it and fight it MORE than we hate and fight any other evil seen or known to mankind! Humanity has been deceived into fighting the shadows, the symptoms of the true crime against humanity, instead of seeing, really looking at, hating, and fighting the very tragic, heinous, ongoing cause for all the symptoms!! All the symptoms point to the sickness! Fight the sickness and the symptoms disappear.
I believe we’re living in such a day on planet earth that awakening is essential… and awakening is coming! It’s time to wake up from sleep! It’s time for revolution! It’s time for truth! It’s time for sight! It’s time for justice! It’s time for freedom! In the very TRUEST form of them!!
THE LIES WE BELIEVE
As stated, tor so long I was aware of the slavery and addiction of some people, but unaware of the slavery of all people… myself included. The worst of all the lies of the enemy is perhaps this very deception—you’re not a slave, you are free to do and think as you want, you are doing pretty good, you are doing better than ‘that guy’, you are pretty capable, you can live the good life, you can live the moral life, you can live the loving life, you can live the sacrificial life… you’re doing it! And we rest content and comfortable in this deception. Talk about turning a blind eye!
The primary thing God will work toward in a believer who is seeking Him with all her/his heart is to get this fact deep, deep…. deeply rooted into his/her heart. For apart from need there is no Christ-life. Apart from seeing—I mean really seeing—the slavery we’re all under, we feel no great, and especially no ongoing need for the Savior from our slavery.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:14-15
MY SLAVERY STORY
A few years after doing that study and being unable to answer the questions about my own personal bondage, I began to chase after Jesus and the life He wanted me to live with all my heart. I had been a person of faith for a long time. I had been a person interested in the Bible for a long time already. But something sparked a revival in my own heart, and I began to want to know Jesus in a deeper way, and I deeply wanted to live the life I saw described in the Bible. So I determined to live holy. It was at this time that the Lord brought to my attention a certain long-time sin of my heart. When I saw it, I was appalled by it, and I determined in my heart to stop committing it. But the crazy thing was that the more I tried to stop it, the more I did it. So I tried harder to stop. I did things that I thought would stop it—reading my Bible more, memorizing Scripture more, praying more, praising God more, and a slew of other things I thought might possibly make me quit this sin I not only now saw, but hated.
Never think that just because someone is sinning they like what they’re doing and want to be doing it. I hated what I was doing… what I was thinking. It literally felt like a living hell. But the longer I fought against this sin, the weaker I ended up feeling. I came to such a low point that I questioned my very sanity, and was on the verge of all-out giving in to it.
And that’s when I finally shouted out to God, “I HAVE NO HOPE!”
I meant it with every fiber in my being too! I was devastated.
Yet the moment I said it was the moment I realized the absurd lie in it.
The truth is that what happened in that moment is that I finally understood I had no ability to stop sinning. My words of no hope were really words of having no hope in myself.
Directly following that cry to the Lord, I heard one word ring clear in my heart: Jesus.
JESUS: OUR HOPE
At that moment, I knew He alone was my answer… not my striving, not my fighting, not my determination and will power, not my reading more, praying more, serving more, praising more, fasting more, etc… But He Himself was my answer. How? I did not yet know. But I understood somehow I’d find my solution in Him.
I’m weeping thinking of it. Oh how everything since that day has all been Him. Through that season what happened was that my bubble of self-sufficiency and self-ability burst. I became needy in a way I had never known before. Though I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I was coming to see my slavery under the authority of sin, and my need of someone else to on-going-ly rescue me from it.
The truth is, I had always been under the authority of sin, I had always needed someone to rescue me from it. This is how I was born. But I was always blind to it. I thought I was rich in works, when I was really poor. I thought I was seeing, when really I was blind. I thought I was full, when really I was hungry. I thought I had need for nothing, when I was the neediest of the earth. I thought I was happy and healthy when I was miserable and sick. I thought I was clothed when really I was naked.
THIS IS FOR ALL PEOPLE
If I had read what I am writing now even 5 years ago, I would have been tempted to dismiss this very idea as pertaining only to the addicted, those in obvious bondage. Those who had gone through something traumatic. I would think this little message didn’t apply to me. When all along it would have applied fully and perfectly.
And, friend, it applies to you too. Humanity is conceived in the womb as slaves under sin. If you’ve seen my video called “What We Don’t Know About Who We Are”, then I’m talking about the same concept I taught in that. The prince and princess had been tricked into buying what the dark lord sold them. This caused them to be brought into his dark castle to live the rest of their lives in slavery to him. Consequently, their children were born there. And their children after them. The generations following the prince and princess didn’t choose where they were born nor the conditions they were born into anymore than you or I choose the conditions we’re born in to. And the fact of the matter is that we were all born under the slavery of sin…. whether we really see it, and all its horror, or not. And we are all highly needy people. We’re not just needy until we believe in Jesus as our Savior. We’re severely needy every moment of every day spent on planet earth… even after initial faith.
A CO-DEPENDANT LIFE
The Christian life is not a life about outward behavior and practices… what one wears, what is done, what is said… That’s called Law, or Judaism. The Christian life is a life of inward co-dependency on a Person—a Rescuer—Christ Himself. He’s the One we’re united to and transferred to the moment we believe in Him. And He’s the only One….
…who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy… (Jude 24)
So the real Christian life is one of honesty and sight… seeing (really believing) our own slavery in the flesh (in Adam), and seeing we’re freed and powerful only when living according to the Spirit (in Christ). This is why John the Baptist came preaching a baptism of repentance. We must know that the original Greek word for “repentence” does not mean “change of actions”, but it means “change of mind” or “being persuaded after hearing truth”. The people in Israel in Jesus’ day would not be ready for Jesus’ arrival, for Jesus’ message, until they could change their mind about who they were, the state of slavery they were in. In those days, religiosity was at an all-time high. Self-sufficiency and self-ability to perform the Law was the way of the day. So God sent John the Baptist to them. The people needed to repent—be persuaded of the truth—of their slavery. In this way alone they would be prepared to receive rescue. They needed to need it in their hearts.
GIVING CHRIST ACCESS
And so it goes today. Until we’re awakened to our own slavery—and all the tragedy and horror it is (no matter how pretty our lives look externally—see Isaiah 64:6!)—we will not be primed for, nor live the true Christian life… the Christ-life. That is, Christ Himself will not be given access to us, to live in and work through. To fight for and take increasing victory in. To love intimately and lavishly in and through. See how Revelation 3:17-22 says it:
‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent [be persuaded of the truth]. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ “
A CHALLENGE: BE PERFECT
Here’s my challenge to you this week: Recognize your sin, try to stop sinning. Try to live perfectly. I don’t mean just “pretty good”… no, try to live absolutely perfectly. Not only in action and outward appearance, but in your inward man… in your thought life. In all your motives. No people-pleasing. No selfishness. No jealousy. No rivalry or competition. No judging. No arguing. No insecurity. No coveting. No condemning. No hating. No lying… to others or yourself. Try it. Seek to live the perfect life.
Take this challenge seriously.
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt. 5:48
Try this for as long as necessary. And try it with all your heart. Be sensitive to how often you fail to do it. See why you cannot do it. Awaken. See. Look on your slavery. Hate it. Loath it. Long to be free of it.
THE STUFF OF REVOLUTION
THIS is the stuff that makes for revival. That makes for world-wide revolution. World-wide healing. World-wide change. Sound upside down and backwards? Friends, if we can wake up to both the truth and horror of our slavery… if we can really see it as it is… then we’ll hate it and finally actually fight it. We won’t fight the root of evil—we’ll only fight its symptoms—until we see it first.
THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL
Be encouraged by this: The gospel is the power of God for salvation (deliverance) for all who are believing it (Rom. 1:16). The good news that Jesus died for your sins to bring the power of sin-slavery and its curse to death—annulling them both—and rose again, to bring you His new, eternal, divine, free life is the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). He not only did this for you, but the moment we believe in Him we’re placed in Him. So all that happened to His earthly body through death and resurrection is able to be operable in your earthly body before your physical death and entrance into Heaven. Oh that we would walk by faith in this. Counting on Him—His death to slavery and resurrection to Life and freedom—moment by moment. Oh that we would seek to understand all the wonder contained in this good news. Oh that we would seek the abiding-in-Christ life of John 15. For HE Himself is our freedom. You are not your own freedom. You are not your own good. He is your good. He is your power. He is your victory. And everything He’s ALREADY done and IS is all you’ll EVER need. Your place in Him is your answer for freedom from slavery. If you abide in Him, thus living from Him, you’ll live in victory, in joy, in love, and in influence… profoundly, powerfully impacting the world around you. Setting captives free. Fighting the cause of evil rather than only its terrible symptoms.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit,
apart from Me
you can do
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent [be persuaded], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’ “ (Matt. 3:1-4)
And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins [sin-slavery]. (Mark 1:5)