Breaking the Chains: Gushing or Dynamite?

by Beebe Kauffman

Visual effects. That’s what I liked best in high school chemistry class. The experiments that made a little puff of smoke, the ones that turned the smoke purple, or the ones that temporarily went awry and exploded into a little ball of fire. (The teacher always had a miniature fire extinguisher on his desk. He knew how adventurous our class members were.)

A demonstration concerning displacement involved a measuring cup, water, and a fist. Plunge your fist into a measuring cup full of water, and what happens? The water gushes out. Two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time. It was a simple demonstration, but the principle stayed with me.

Our hearts and minds can be filled with what isn’t good for them—fear, anxiety, selfishness, greed, and so forth—and get caught in the seemingly fixed ruts of wrong thinking and bad habits. But when we take in God’s word and commit ourselves to follow Scripture’s instructions and practice its wisdom, some of what is bad for us gets displaced with what is good, with what builds our spiritual health and well-being. “Displacement.” Faith in the truth and faithfulness to God’s ways are indispensable to it.

Faith in God’s power to set us free displaces a victim mentality—I can’t escape this bondage. Faith in God to understand and to offer loving wisdom for our struggles displaces helplessness. Faith in God to stay with us through the process of gaining freedom, and to forgive us for missteps, displaces a fear of failure and its repercussions.

Faithfulness to God’s ways involves putting off wrong thoughts and practices, and filling that “cup” in our lives with healthy thoughts and practices. Two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time. So when we are filling our hearts and minds with Scripture, the principles of worldliness come gushing out. The wrong thoughts and practices that strengthen spiritual bondage are displaced by good thoughts and practices that strengthen freedom.

Sometimes good practices displace bad ones quietly, like the water gushing out of the cup. Other times, breaking the chains of spiritual bondage takes something more powerful.

Another demonstration involved a chemical compound that acted like miniature dynamite. The teacher used a clear glass test tube that was packed in the middle with fire-retardant “gunk.” He positioned it horizontally and secured it on the lab desk. Close to the right end of the tube, a trash can was lying on its side, as if it were waiting to receive something. Then the teacher inserted a chemical mixture into the left end of the test tube, on the edge of the obstruction.

Of course all of us students were holding our breath, waiting for something amazing to happen. When nothing happened immediately, some of us looked away, wondering if the experiment was a dud. But then it happened. A little puff of smoke on the left edge of the obstruction in the tube, and most of the gunk shot out to the right, smack dab into the trash can. The chemical reaction acted on the gunk like miniature dynamite, dislodging it, and clearing out the test tube.

Sometimes our spiritual bondage seems wedged, jammed, immovable. We can’t get the wrong thinking or behavior out of our lives. Our good intentions to overcome bad habits fail again. We hear inappropriate words spewing forth from our own lips, despite our earnest efforts to forsake them. Darkened patterns of thinking weaken us with fear, anxiety, pain, hopelessness, or indifference. We have lived so long with these detriments that we come to see them as a part of who we are, and they may very well be how others see us.

Then we feel remorse, regret, and frustration when we say or do, what we have pledged never again to repeat. We can feel them so often that they also seem to be a part of who we are. That’s when we need spiritual dynamite—faith and faithfulness joined with two more powerful elements, a persistent pursuit of freedom and dependence on God.

A persistent pursuit of freedom is driven by dreading the costs of giving up and relishing the rewards of staying with it. We hear them from Scripture, from our pastors and Bible teachers, and from our family and friends. We hear them from our heavenly Father in quiet times and prayer. Persistence is part of the “dynamite” catalyst that helps to send the gunk that is lodged within our hearts and minds, smack dab into the trash can. It helps us to be rid of spiritual obstructions such as anger, pride, hypocrisy, prejudice, compromise, apathy, envy, and others; and clears the way for us to possess relief, soundness, untainted wisdom and understanding, peace, and joy, among others.

The fourth powerful ingredient is dependence on God. When we can’t break free from spiritual bondage, our job is to keep doing what we know to do, and to look to God to effect freedom. Sometimes He uses a particular experience to help us see what we haven’t understood before or what hasn’t registered in our minds. Sometimes He orchestrates one situation in life to give us new insight or encouragement. God works in our desires, motivations, understanding, and experiences. He builds on our faith, faithfulness, persistence, and dependence on Him, until at last the chains of spiritual bondage are broken. Then we will find that freedom is worth every bit of the investment that it takes.

“Now to Him who is able to do
exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask
or think, according to the power that works in us,
to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV


*This post is an excerpt from Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2019).


Beebe Kauffman is a Bible teacher, the chief editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. She has written two award-winning Bible studies, Isaiah: Setting Things Right, and A Whole Lot of Wonderful--Application of the New Testament for Today. She is also a co-director of the Enrich Conference for Bible study writers, teachers, and speakers that is held in northern Georgia. Check out her webpage on our website. 


Katy here. This post continues our series of Sustaining Life’s Victories. What does it take to walk in victory once God has helped us to overcome a spiritual battle?

Today’s post, written by my mom Beebe Kauffman, focused on four essential resources—faith in God, faithfulness to God’s ways, persistence in pursuing freedom, and dependence on God. Which one would help you the most right now? Thanks for reading, and please leave us a comment to talk about sustaining life’s victories.


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victory, struggles, Breaking the Chains: Gushing or Dynamite?, Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage, Beebe Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Comments (2)

  • anon

    Indeed Ms. Katy; sometimes the blockage to our blessings and learning has to come shooting out of us. It's usually easier for me if I allow God's grace to gently "soak" it out than the Holy Spirit have to forcefully "dislodge" it through a trial. With either way, the goal is the same, to grown in our faith through the continual process of sanctification. Great post ma'am.

    Aug 14, 2019
  • anon

    Thank you for sharing that, J.D.! I am grateful for when God works gently in my heart, and that seems to be the way He works the most in my life. But some blasting has helped me once in a while. 
    Of all things, I forgot to put the "by line" on this post. My mom wrote it! I put her bio at the bottom, but I'm sorry for forgetting that line. Thanks for commenting!

    Aug 14, 2019

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Winning the Victory: A Blog by Katy Kauffman

Award-Winning Author, Editor, Bible Teacher

As co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies, Katy is a Bible study author and editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine. Follow Katy's blog to receive posts sharing practical strategies for winning life's spiritual battles. 


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