Monday, February 13, 2012

Keys to Freedom

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3For though we walk in the flesh, 
we do not war after the flesh:

4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, 
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

 5Casting 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 suppose the point of getting set free is not so I can simply spend my freedom on myself but so that I can in turn, come along side others and help them to become free. John 834 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

I find myself walking in greater and increasing freedom, but it has been a journey to become free. There was a time many years ago, when I was first learning about deliverance, at least in the circle that I was in at that time. In that circle, deliverance was about commanding things to come out or off of people. Those who were considered to have the gift of discerning of spirits would be pray and come up with some spirit to call out. That thing would be called out and the person would start manifesting. That might include anything from their eyes becoming glazed and hateful looking, to screaming, or writhing on the floor, to throwing up. In my opinion it became a big 3 ring circus that was used to promote the and draw attention to those ministries. The manifestations made it all the more exciting and made those ministering feel that they were somehow of great or unusual spiritual power.   It seemed to me that often those involved in deliverance ministry became off balanced. I think in some respects that the focus shifted from Jesus to the enticement of the power and the show of this kind of ministry.

While I see that there is a need to help people get and stay free, some where along the line I began to question the necessity of the show of it all. I continue to minister deliverance to people but most don't even realize it is happening. I discovered that it does not really take great discernment to figure out the demonic strongholds. They generally boil down to the same things and demons simply stay as long as they have legal right to remain. If you can remove the legal right by finding the entry point, generally a point of trauma, sin or un-forgiveness. It is a place or place that the person has held on to the guilt or shame of some thing that they have not repented of or a place of deep wounding where they have refused to forgive.  Matthew 12: 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.
30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

What can I learn from Jesus and the Holy Spirit, about getting free and setting people free became an on going quest. Since that time I have tried to impart the keys of freedom that I have discovered to other people. Here is the big secret key..... Deal with the areas of un-repentance and un-forgiveness and bitterness. Help the person become filled up and stay filled up in the word, and by the Holy Spirit.  I realized that in much the same way as we are called to make disciples, we have in America become skilled only at making converts. We have big meetings and get people to make some confession of faith. Then the show moves on and the person is left to figure out what just happened to them. The same has been true of most deliverance ministry I have seen, the big show comes and then moves on and the person who has been delivered has to figure out what's next. Sadly whats next is often that the enemy over powers them and they are in worse state than they were before. Luke 11:26 24 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”  In light of the preceding verse, it became important to me to help give keys to freedom, to teach people about the weapons that are available to them. It is part of making disciples. Teaching them the things that Christ has taught you. Jesus has taught me a lot about the process of getting free. I won't be part of the show that finds prisoners and lets them out and cares not weather the enemy follows in their wake and re-captures those set free. I would much prefer to walk in relationship with people and help them to learn how to become free and to stay free.

Luke 10:17-20
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 

Jesus took the time in relationship to set free, and train and renew the minds of his disciples then he sends them out to do similarly.  While there is much more that I could write on this subject. Let me give you some principle keys to getting and staying free. 

• You need Jesus in your life, you need to be spending time with him daily. 
• You need to be filling your mind and heart with the truths of His Word - it is your food and if you want become strong you must eat food that is nutrient rich.  There is lots of junk food out there to fill your mind and heart with. Turn off the tv, step away from the computer games and from the endless hours spent on entertainment and things to numb and distract you from your pain. At some point you must face the fear of those broken places with Jesus. He would see you set free but he waits patiently for us to become stronger in him. 
• He waits for us to realize our desperate condition and to turn to him rather than to continue to try and solve or mask our issues by own feeble means. 
• He waits for us to be ready to repent of those things we have done to damage others. 
• He waits for us to be willing to forgive those who have damaged and wronged us. 
• The Power of the Word: Often it is in the light of his word that we begin to see that there are things that need to change. Our mind needs transformed and renewed. In that respect one of the greatest weapons or tools at your disposal is the Word of God. It does you no good sitting on your bed side table, it only works if you open it and spend time filling your mind with the truths it contains. It does you no good if you do not become a doer of those words. You must begin to put them into practice in your life. 
• The Power of the Holy Spirit: You also have at your disposal the Holy Spirit whom Jesus said he would send to comfort and to lead us into all truth.  
• There is the power of your testimony - talk about how Jesus has set you free, tell others how they too can become free. 
• There is the blood of Jesus and that need not be some mystical thing but a deep understanding that it is only through the shed blood of Jesus that you can stand before a holy and righteous God. It is not upon your own merit - you on your own will never get to a point of being cleaned up or set free enough. Accept what has been purchased on your behalf through the shedding of the blood of Jesus. There in lies the power of the blood of Jesus for those who will believe.
• There is also the Name of Jesus - at his name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD. That name works for those in relationship with Jesus.
There were a bunch of folks that saw what Paul and the apostles were doing in driving out demons and in working signs and wonders and miracles. They though they could toss around the name of Jesus and do the same thing. Acts 19 11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

• Accept the Authority Given You. Luke 10: 19-20 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Matthew 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

He has given us the authority in Him to make disciples, and to over come the power of the enemy. I'm not sure what we are waiting for. I think many have been lulled and entertained in to a spiritual stupor. It is easier to gripe about your captivity than it is to embrace the change and the unknown future of the road to freedom.  I like to share a story about a dog on a lash who is ferocious and who loudly barks at the nasty mean cat as if to say if it were not for this leash "I would wup you cat." Then the leash snaps and the dog rather than wupping the cat turns around and begs to be put back on the leash. Many people talk big about wanting to get free but it is easier to live in bondage and captivity, where you have familiar things that define and control you. Its time to take the hand of Christ and walk un shackled into the unknown. I guess I would encourage you to search your heart because being a Christ follower is not for sissy's. It takes courage to leave the old dead life behind and to trust that He truly has good plans and intentions for you.  I have found that His good plan has been a more difficult journey than I ever expected as a new believer. I will tell you that from 30 some years of walking with Jesus - that following him has been and continues to be the best decision I have ever made. 

I leave you today with the parable of the unmerciful servant from Matthew 18: 21-35. I believe it is filled with valuable lessons for those who desire freedom.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

In conclusion, it all comes down to repenting of sin and forgiving others who sin against you. 1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Dear Lord,
I pray for courage to face the broken places and courage to face the unknown of what a life free in you can look like. I pray for courage to trust you, to believe and walk out and be doers of the word and not just hearer giving it lip service while we rattle our chains but really have no true desire to change. I pray that you Lord would help those in captivity to truly desire and turn to you to trust you to know the road to freedom for their situation. I pray that you would cause a hunger for you word to grow and that we would be thirsty and want you, the source of living water. Lord I pray for those who are in need of help that you would send them those who would disciple and walk along side of them as they make choices to overcome those things that have kept them in bondage for so long. I thank you Lord that you are working and that your timing is perfect. May you be glorified in every part of our lives, in Jesus precious and holy name. 

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