“THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to – bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound…”
“…to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound…” Christ came to set us all free, not only from eternal death, but also from spiritual and emotional imprisonment too.
Lately, I have come across people who are captives. They are bound in self-inflicted prisons. What do I mean by that? Let me give you some examples;
A woman comes to church and feels like she is invisible and no one talks to her. She feels like she is not valuable and that no one even cares if she lives or dies. In reality, she isolates herself from others emotionally and this creates a bubble around her. She comes to church with a chip on her shoulders thinking that people don’t care or that no one likes her. She doesn’t talk to people and just sits alone with her thoughts. It puts a barrier between people and her. People come up to her to say, “Hi” and ask, “How are you doing?” but she turns her head and looks away and replies, “I am fine.” They try to continue the conversation but she doesn’t respond. In her mind, the way that she is thinking, is truth. But she believes a lie. Her very own words to herself put her in a prison and she doesn’t even know it. The crazy thing is that her prison door is not locked, it is always open. She could walk out of this prison at any time if she would just look up and see there is way out.
A man comes to church and is on the Worship Team. There are younger people on the adult team. The Worship Leader allows youth on the team to help them learn and grow. Some of the youth have pride in their hearts. They feel they are well capable of being on the team and could even lead the worship if given the chance. But the man only sees the pride the youth have in their hearts. He gets angry and decides to leave the church service after the Worship Team finishes the praise and worship during the Sunday service. He is tormented by his own anger over the youth’s prideful heart. His anger, and lack of mercy and grace for others, cause him to miss out on a sermon about the very thing he was struggling with… anger.
Stories like these happen over and over again in our world. We can see things the wrong way or think people are thinking bad thoughts about us and this stifles or handicaps our relationships. We can’t afford to allow people to be our handicap. The truth is we could be set free from this captivity.
Steps to be set free from ourselves
There is hope to be set free from our captivity. We have to understand that the enemy is working overtime to defeat us. He never gives up. He will try anything and everything to bring us down and to take us out. We have to be wise to his schemes.
1. Remind yourself of who you are in Christ.
In the case of the woman thinking no one liked her, she forgot who she was in Christ. She was looking to people for acceptance and yet rejecting the very thing she was craving by pushing people away with her isolation bubble.
We can’t rely on people to make us feel accepted. People will come and go. They will disappoint us and let us down. The only one who will never reject us is Christ. He has His eye on you and loves you unconditionally. You never have to “perform” to win His love. You just have to be yourself; faults and all.
1 John 4:9 – 10 (Amplified Bible)
“In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.”
We are deeply loved by God. There is nothing we have done or nothing we will do that will stop His love for us. Also, we are fresh and new. Your past is gone.
2 Corinthians 4:17 (Amplified Bible)
“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”
Not only are we deeply loved and our past is forgiven and gone, but we are dearly prized and valuable.
John 3:16 (Amplified Bible)
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.”
We are loved and dearly prized, each one of us. God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to us. This is a gift from God. Jesus was given to us even before we were born, so that ultimately, if we believe in Christ, we will not perish, but be with God forever. This is love. This is God’s love for you!
We need to remind ourselves of these awesome facts.
2. Don’t listen to lies.
So many times people have come to me and share how they “think” about a given situation only to find out what they were thinking was not true. We have to recognize a lie in our mind. Anything that is contrary to the Word of God and what it says about us is a lie.
Thoughts will come into your mind that are contrary to what the Bible states, but cast down those imaginations and stand on God’s Word of who you are.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
I struggle with this from time to time too. We are human. It is natural to listen to your own thoughts. But we have to recognize a truth from a lie.
You can speak lies to yourself
We can tell ourselves the worst will happen and inevitably it will because of our negative attitude. We can lie to ourselves about how good we are and how bad our neighbor is. We can listen to ourselves instead of God’s Word and make bad choices for our lives. We can sabotage our future.
Jeremiah 17:9 (Amplified Bible)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?”
Mark 7:21 – 23 (Amplified Bible)
“For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; and evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride (the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed.”
Ephesians 4:22 – 25 (Amplified Bible)
“Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old un-renewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another.”
“…rejecting all falsity and being done now with it,” is what we have to do when we recognize a lie we believe about our self. If it does not line up with what the word of God says you are, reject it immediately, even when you’ve been in the habit of saying it to yourself over and over again. The only one who can stop lying to you about yourself is you!
It’s hard to know the difference between a lie about yourself and something that’s possibly true, that you can change. Yet, there’s a harshness the Devil uses that is usually direct and painful. Thoughts that bring doom and gloom, that bring no hope, are the key to knowing a lie.
When negative thoughts come into your mind, if you dwell on them for any length of time, they begin to take root in your heart. They start becoming your paradigm, or how you look at life. This is when it becomes unhealthy. As you dwell on how bad you are, you’ll begin to believe it and start to act or react out of that unhealthy outlook.
Be careful what you say out loud, or even to yourself. It is easy to say things you regret, or speak out negative words. Remember our words have power and listening to the lies you tell yourself will bring death. Choose life with your words and thoughts.
Why do we feel the way we feel? Perhaps it is because we talk the way we talk!
Proverbs 18:6 – 7 (CEV)
“Foolish talk will get you into a lot of trouble. Saying foolish things is like setting a trap to destroy yourself.”
The enemy will speak lies to you
Satan wants to destroy us all. What better way than to use ourselves against us? He will speak lies to you about yourself to get you to self-destruct. He will make you think thoughts that will self-inflict imprisonment upon you. He will speak lies to you about your future. He will speak lies about anything and everything concerning us. Here are a few verses that show his character.
John 8:44 (Amplified Bible)
“…he (the Devil) was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false.”
“…of all that is false.” That’s the Devil’s character. He constantly tells us falsehoods about ourselves. If we are not careful, we will listen to those lies and act upon them. The enemy will fill your mind with feelings of worthlessness about yourself to destroy you. He’ll fill your mind with negative thoughts about you, your family and friends, and everything else you come in contact with. Thoughts like, “No one cares about me!” “I am invisible.” Or, as in the case of the man with anger issues, the Devil will fill your mind with thoughts like, “How stupid to stay here on the Worship Team with someone on it who is prideful?” (That statement in itself is pride). “I might as well quit the team and the church as no one sees it but me.” “Everyone else comes and goes as they wish so why can’t I?”
Please, if this is you, STOP listening to false information. It’s not true. God has a hope and a future for you. Have some mercy and grace for yourself and for others. No one is perfect. No one, not even you!
3. Understand Who God is in your life!
Now that we have looked at how to get out of the self-inflicted prison, I encourage you to take the first step and stop looking at yourself and what you can or can’t do and start looking at God and what He can do and who He is in your life.
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
We sing worship songs about the character of God; “All together lovely,” “Strong Tower,” “Jesus, Lover of my soul,” “Blessed be Your name.” But do we really listen to what we are singing? Do we allow those words to sink in and know who God is? Do we believe what we sing?
Take the time to spend some alone time with God. this is how you get to know Him intimately. Listen to His heart beat. Fall in love with Him. Realize you are never alone and that your King is always with you. Run into His arms when you feel lonely or invisible. Tell Him how you are feeling when you become angry. Anger is not a sin, it is what we do with that anger that can become a sin. Commit your life daily to please the Lord in your thoughts and actions. Look beyond yourself and minister to others in spite of their weaknesses. And above all, have the strength and courage to walk out of your prison once and for all! Don’t be a victim of “Self-Inflicted imprisonment any longer!
Pastor Kris Belfils