What keeps us from living the abundant victorious life that is ours in Christ? Satan? Well yes, but how does he do it? What is his weapon that is so powerful? Of course it is the lie, but how many of us realize that and do anything about it as we falter, fumble and fail in life as I’ve spent too much of my life doing. Why is the lie so effective? Because it is the most powerful weapon in the world next to the truth. Wars have been fought and millions have died as Hitler and Stalin got the populace to believe their lies. If Satan can get us to believe a lie about our self, God and life then he can control our life and make us miserable. And he does this very effectively with most Christians. No, this is not in the least an exaggeration. What percentage of Christians do you know that are living free in joy, peace and victory? I know some, but not that many.
So what do we need to live free and in victory? The truth? Well, yes but not in the way most of us think. It is not having knowledge of the Scripture and being familiar with what the Bible says. It is not memorizing scripture, meditating on it, praying it, quoting it (in times of temptation), listening to it, reading it, thinking it, speaking it (aloud), etc. You can take my word for it. I was a seminary graduate, former pastor, an avid student of the Scriptures. I memorized chapters of the Bible, in fact the two best chapters in the Bible on freedom and victory (Rom. 6 and Col. 3). While all this was going on I struggled with alcoholism for eight long, miserable nightmarish years.
I found my freedom a little over 25 years ago when I learned the simple truth of Gal. 2:20, that the old self that I was had been crucified with Christ and I no longer lived, but Christ was living my life and I lived by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. I had been a Christian 18 years at that point and all of the truth I knew had little effect on my experiencing the freedom in Christ that had been given to me. Yes I needed to know the truth that I was dead to sin and freed from it. But what I needed the most was to know the reason I was dead to sin and freed from it (Rom. 6:6, 7) was because Christ was now my life (Col. 3:4) and was my life. I needed to know the truth, but what I really needed to know was the TRUTH and that the TRUTH lived in me and was my life. Yes, I needed to know that the living embodiment of the TRUTH, Jesus Himself was living in me.
When I understood and believed that it changed everything. Yes I still had my struggles and my ups and downs, but my struggles with addiction were over. Truthfully I didn’t know that much 25 years ago, but it was enough to get me off the road to destruction, save my life and my marriage and give me a recovery ministry. The message of my ministry has been and still is Christ is our life, our identity and we are dead to sin and freed from it. I have co-authored five books on freedom from addiction and that has been the core message in each of them. This message of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is the only thing that I’ve seen that has helped anyone find any freedom. There are lots of ways to cope with addiction and the 12 Steps are the best way the world has found to deal with it. But the only people I have ever seen who found real, true and lasting freedom from addiction were those who understood, knew and believed that Christ was their life.
Two months before I found my freedom I heard a message by Anabel Gillham on John 14:20 when Jesus said On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you that greatly Impacted me, but I didn’t understand it. God revealed the truth to me when I realized Christ was my life. In the past 25 years I believed I have grown in my understanding Christ as life in me, but it is still the basic core message. If we pause and think about it then “if I no longer live but Christ lives in me” what else could I possibly need? Over the 44 years that I have been a Christian and the 35 years I have been in full-time ministry I have known many Christians who were very knowledgeable about the Bible, but few who really understood Christ as life and were really living free. As I was listening to a praise song this morning, there was a phrase that said, “His presence silences every lie”. I had heard it before, but this morning I really heard it. THAT’S IT! We can hear truth, listen to it, read it, memorize it, quote it, say it aloud, BUT when we know and believe and have a consciousness of His presence in us and know He is our life, it will stop, shatter, and obliterate the lies that we hear every day.
Yes truth really does set us free, but understand that the Word of God is not written words in the Bible, but Jesus. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). It is not the words of scripture that set us free, but the WORD who has come to live in us. Thee is no “what” that can set us free. Paul didn’t say “What will set me free”, but WHO. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 7:25). Jesus said, I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE (John 14:6). Since I found my freedom I have ministered primarily to those struggling with addictive behavior. Most are looking for a way to overcome their addiction. Therein lies a major part of the problem as they are looking for what they can do. But there is nothing for them to do as it has already been done. Many of them turn to the Scriptures as I did and study them assiduously. They all want a better life, but the only real LIFE is found in Christ and when Christians find Christ in them as their life, they find freedom.
It really is so simple and I think that’s one of the reasons so few find freedom. After all I’m a seminary graduate and an ordained minister. I can figure it out and make it happen. I gave it my best shot for 18 years delving into the Scriptures for the key to set me free and ended up a falling down drunk. But the key – He was in me. It is simple, but not easy of course as everything in this life tells us that Christ is not our life and it is up to us. When Jesus was on is way to Jairus’, the synagogue ruler’s house to heal his daughter who was at the point of death, some people came from Jairus’ house and told him, “Don’t bother the teacher any more, your daughter is dead (Mark 5:35). Ignoring what they said, Jesus told him, Don’t be afraid, just believe (Mark 5:36). And He raised her from the dead (Mark 5:41, 42). DON’T BE AFRAID, JUST BELIEVE!!!