So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NIV)
Lately, I have been wrestling with really knowing that I am already free. It seems like a simple thing to understand, because the Bible tells us that since Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins, we have been set free. No strings attached and unconditionally.
So, why do many of us still live as slaves to bondage instead as the redeemed and free?
I was recently reminded of the story of a chained circus elephant. A fully-grown 3 ton (or heavier) elephant can be held in place by a chain around one leg attached to a small stake in the ground. It perplexing considering a fully-grown elephant could easily tear the stake from the ground and crush the chain it is attached but it does not; it remains where it is chained.
The reason the elephant does not simply break free is because it has been chained like this since it was a baby, when it was still too small and unable to break free. The baby elephant initially tries many times to escape, but quickly realizes it is not possible and gives up. From then on, he is well aware when he is chained to small stake, there is no point trying to break free.
So, though a full grown elephant could easily break free from the stake and chain, he does not, because he does not believe that he can. His mind has been trained that when he is chained he is unable to get away.
Mind you, the elephant is an exceptionally smart creature and has the largest brain among land animals. They are no dummies. And just as it is with the human mind and our limiting beliefs we unknowingly chain ourselves to imaginary “stakes” (though to us they seem so real) and act and live as though we can never break away from them and be free.
How do we accept true freedom in our lives?
By surrendering and submitting to God.
This may seem like the opposite of freedom to most, but when it comes to submission to God, it leads us to true and unabashed freedom.
We must choose to trade our wills for His, our plans for His plans, and our thoughts for His thoughts. We must let go of our white-knuckled grip on our lives and how we expected it to be. We must relinquish control, not just to anyone but to the very One who loves us most and created us.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26 NIV)
Surrendering means getting out of “your” way and getting behind Jesus. It is a tunnel vision that is completely focused on God, pushing out any other distractions that come and try to woo us away from our first love: God.
We must set our faces, “like flint” (Isaiah 50:7 NIV) on Jesus. That means we are determined, no matter what is going on around us, to be fixed on Jesus, undeterred and unwavering.
We lock ourselves in chains when we resolve to do things on our own. Frustration surfaces in our lives because we are relying on our own power and, in turn, expect unrealistic results.
Many of us have been conditioned for most of our lives by the bondages we were enslaved by prior to coming to Jesus, so the thought of true freedom seems like a mirage and something that is unattainable.
I am here to tell you that when you accepted Jesus you became a new creation, the old has gone (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).
Freedom surfaces when you continually commit to God.
It is a daily commitment to let go of the reigns in your life and instead, allow God to have that power and leadership in your life. Being in the Word allows you be grounded in the truth.
According to 1 Timothy 6:5-7 it says that there is, “constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”
If we believe in Jesus, we are already free, no “if’s, “and’s” or “but’s.”
If we feel as though we lack freedom, just like the chained elephant, we must break the chains in our minds in the name of Jesus before we can fully grasp the freedom He offers as reality.