through His Word
by Katy Kauffman
Have you ever felt the relief of freedom? I have. More than once. Whether I had struggled with something for days or years, breaking out of a detrimental habit or way of thinking brought with it a wonderful conglomeration of relief, joy, and peace. Freedom can also bring restoration, renewed relationships, right values, and clear thinking.
So why do we sometimes go back? Just like the Israelites were tempted to go back to Egypt, we may be tempted to pack up and leave freedom for what has grown familiar—bondage, struggle, and defeat. That decision was made by the Israelites when they were worried about having enough food (Exodus 16:2-3). They didn’t trust God to provide for them. They wanted to be slaves again rather than to trust God and flourish in the freedom He had provided.
Freedom takes work. God hasn’t called us to bondage, but to be bondservants of Christ (Colossians 4:1, 12 NKJV). Jesus died to free us from sin’s enslaving power, and although He has provided this reality for all who have faith in Him, we still struggle with temptation, our sinful natures, and what’s “easy.” It’s easy to give into bondage again. It’s easy to give into sin instead of fighting it and saying no. It takes work to stay free in our daily walk with God, to live as He intends for us to live—in the relief of freedom.
I once told a friend that I wondered if some struggles would stay with us all of our lives. Was there a way to break free and stay free? My friend sure hoped so. About a year or two later, I discovered the answer for myself. Yes, it is possible. And yes, it certainly takes the right focus, the power of God, daily studying His Word, fervent prayers, and two letters: no.
No, I don’t want to go back to what will destroy me from the inside out.
No, I don’t want to hurt my family and those I care about.
No, I don’t want to miss out on God’s best for my life.
No, I don’t believe it’s worth it to go back.
And it takes three letters: yes.
Yes, Lord, I want Your way above my own.
Yes, I care about what builds up my life and the people around me.
Yes, You’re worth it. Every single time. You’re worth it.
Yes, Lord, I will do whatever it takes to follow You and live free as You intended for me to live.
Walking along the beach one autumn day, I was thinking about a struggle that had plagued me for years. I decided in that beautiful place that although I could choose the right thing because I didn’t want the bad consequences, I wanted the right thing because I wanted God the most. I whispered to Him, “I choose You for You.” Not for just what He could give me. But for Him. To show Him I love Him, to do what I knew He wanted me to do, to please Him and honor Him.
What will you choose? … The relief of freedom? Sustained freedom? Then choose God for God. Because you love Him and want a close relationship with Him. Because you want to share life with Him. Because you’ve seen what … what any of us can do in life on our own, and it’s just not enough. Life doesn’t work right without God. In vain we struggle for freedom if we don’t depend on Him to break chains. We desperately need God for eternal life and for daily life. We need Him so that we can be free from sin’s power and its eternal consequences. And we need Him so we can live victorious over sin’s daily enticements and bondage.
… Decide for yourself:
No, I don’t want to go back.
And yes, I will depend on God’s grace—on His ability in me—to choose the right thing.
There will be times when we have relapses. There will be stumbles or headlong falls. But our loving Father picks us up, brushes us off, and gently says, “Do you want to try again? Hold my hand, and don’t fear. I’ve got this, and I’ve got you. Trust Me, and walk with Me.”
Don’t get overwhelmed thinking that you have to get your act together right now for the rest of your life. Choose God in this moment. Obedience is taking the next step with God. And the next and the next. It’s deciding at the fork in the road that you can either do things your way or God’s way, and you choose His way.
A consistent yes to God forms a habit, and a habit becomes a way of life. Let your yes’s be more numerous than your no’s, and you will find it easier to say no to the wrong things. Eventually, the temptation will find you again, and you will respond with, “You’ve got to be kidding! I’m not going back. See what I have when I do life God’s way?”
We get Him—closeness to Him—and a mission to help others. He calls us into a partnership with Himself in which we cooperate with His work in us, and then we use the principles He has taught us and we share them with others. Freedom shouldn’t just stay with us. With God leading us, we can help others find freedom. See? Another reason not to go back.
If you’re tempted to go back to a particular bondage, ... search Scripture for strategies and motivations to say no. Keep saying yes to God’s will for you, and depend on Him to implement His battle plan. He wants freedom for you even more than you do, and His love and power are strong enough to sustain freedom if you cooperate with His work in your life. Freedom is possible. Live the dream.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty
by which Christ has made us free,
and do not be entangled again
with a yoke of bondage.”
Galatians 5:1 NKJV
*This excerpt is taken from Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2017), pages 149-152.
Have you seen God steer you away from returning to an old way of thinking or living that was harmful in some way? It could have been to fear or self-reliance, to anger or anxiety. How did He help you to walk in victory over that struggle? Share in the comments below, and let’s encourage each other to continue walking with God in freedom and the relief it brings.
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victory, spiritual battles, freedom, Breaking the Chains, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies