Slavery begins in the mind. Slavery, captivity, and bondage are the fallen status quo of mankind. It is not just those who are held captive by other humans, but those who are captive to time, nature, technology, superstition, religion, or our own thinking.
Freedom is not tied to the earth; in fact, it is living free from earthly shackles. Freedom is the nature of the Kingdom of God, for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). Paul wrote in Galatians 5 that “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
We know that Jesus came to set the captives free. The problem is that we often live like we are bound because we do not understand true freedom. It is as if the handcuffs have been removed and we are still walking around with our hands joined behind our backs. The shackles are gone. We are free, but we live bound.
Believing the truth
In some situations we believe lies that keep us bound. The truth is we are not bound, but the lie becomes its own chain. We believe the limitation, and are thereby limited. This is where the renewing of our minds comes into play. It is imperative that we believe the truth even when circumstances seem to look contrary to the truth. To repent we recognize the lie, denounce it, and practice intentionally believing the truth.
Some lies have become part of our culture. They have greater power because the groups of people we relate to all think the same way. These lies become heavily reinforced by the culture, and are seldom questioned. One may read a book and realize a faulty way of thinking, but because everyone else we connect with thinks that way, we retain the lie without much thought of overcoming it. To practice the truth, we have to set ourselves apart and often receive the rebuke of the group.
Paying the price of freedom
Truth has a price. Sometimes we judge that price too high, and the lie to be less costly. We know we cannot earn salvation as Jesus has paid that price. But that does not mean it won’t cost us everything. The truth that sets you free will cost you everything that keeps you bound. For example, in many cultures in this world, following Jesus means being ostracized from your children, siblings, parents, friends, or entire community. Some even face imprisonment or death. It is a high cost to pay.
As believers, we continue to pay the price of freedom. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy. The cost of staying captive robs us of the reality of the Kingdom of God being present in our lives. When we choose our captivity, or choose not to pay the cost of freedom we in essence choose the shackles Jesus removed. We live lives that make His sacrifice in vain. Sure, as believers we still go to heaven when we die, but salvation is for today. We delay all that He did for another day, and rob everyone around us from seeing heaven demonstrated today. Instead of dying to self, we remain selfish. We keep the reality of the Kingdom of God hidden until we can enjoy it after we die. We guard the key so we don’t have to pay the price in this life.
It’s difficult to look at it this way. Truly there is no guilt trip being put forth here. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is the truth. A guilt trip is just another chain of captivity. Picking up guilt will only reinforce the bondage. To break free, we need to lay hold of the truth that we are free. If we come away with the idea we are bound, we have missed the point entirely.
The Kingdom life is good. It is satisfying. To experience it, we need to believe we are free. We can make the choices in our life that we know are good and right. We choose to pay the cost to keep righteousness, peace, and joy in our lives. We are not bound by sin, money, toil, or even people. There is nothing that prevents us from following God in every area of our life.
There are no victims in the Kingdom. Freedom is the habitat of believers. The only way to extend the freedom of heaven to the earth is to live free ourselves. We cannot reproduce that which we do not believe we possess. To be free we must believe Jesus set us free and then live accordingly.