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April 5, 2013

“Because the Lord has anointed Me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives . . . .” Isaiah 61:1


         And from what have you been freed?  The Jews declared, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.” (Jn. 8:33)  Just a slight oversight there:  What about Babylon and Persia and Greece and then Rome?  We really don’t like to think about our bondages.  Pride does so bind.

Early on, action bound Peter—“Do something—whatever!”  The Law bound Paul—and he tried to bind everyone else he could.  Power and the admiration of the crowds held Simon the Sorcerer.  When he saw the real thing, he thought he had to have it.  Ananias and Sapphira wanted the admiration of the church.  They lied to the Holy Spirit to get it.  The Sadducees served the Romans.  The scribes and Pharisees loved the praise of the people—and the power and the riches and the prestige.  Zacchaeus understood the enslaving power of being a captive agent of Rome’s taxing machine.  He wanted out.

What captivates you?  Is it freedom?  Paul allowed that his freedom allowed him even to give it up if exercising it hurt anyone. (I Cor. 8:13; 9:19)  Is it service?  Jesus taught, urged, and modeled it.  But in some settings, service has no value. (I Cor. 13:1ff.)  Serving may be the worst of masters when He is forgotten who gives it meaning.  Is it knowledge?  Knowledge puffs up.  Is it doctrinal exactness?  It can chase away love.  Is it Biblical mastery?  First, it won’t happen.  Second, it’s not what you know, but what you do with it that makes a difference.

Or, have you captured yourself?  Does this life, this world, the fantasies of now, hold you?  Do you live for the thrills—even the little ones—a taste of freedom?  Maybe you call it (or maybe you don’t name it) masking pain or dreariness or meaninglessness or hurts of years gone by.  But it’s all for you, and you just haven’t named it, yet—Captivity.

Beware of counterfeit freedoms.  Jesus makes you free. (Jn. 8:36)  Yield yourself to Him—to Him, not just to what you think you like about Him—and He will free you for the freedom that is free indeed.

Larry A. Shelley

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