First Assembly of God Church, Port Jervis, New York
Let us begin tonight with a reading from Malachi 2:13-15:
Many people are bound by addiction. The reality is that all of us deal with addiction in one form or another. Yet I am speaking this morning on the power to break those addictions, not by any strength of our own but by the grace of God. A dear friend of mine from Israel said something last week that impressed me. He said,
What you just saw in the Hoving Home [recovery center] video about each of these women who were once bound in addiction is that God was there over the years, calling to each of them, “Come out, the door is open.” But, sadly, when we are bound by addiction, we do not see that the door is open. We cannot imagine that there is a way out until God opens our eyes. Why am I living in prison when Jesus died to break open the prison gates? Why am I bound when He has called me to be free? Why am I self-destructive when He allowed Himself to be abused to rescue me from abuse?
Addiction may be to lust, to anger, to alcohol, to drugs, to smoking, to pornography, to jealousy, to envy, unforgiveness, fearfulness, or a multitude of other slaveries. What is an addict? I thought of a simple definition this week:
No one volunteers for addiction. It starts with a “little something.”
Anybody here like Winnie the Pooh? “Time for a little something.” In his case, the little something was honey. But in our case, a little something is a temptation behind which stands a devil who wants to lock us in prison and in bondage. A little something, a little sin, a little thought, a little unforgiveness, a little resentment against your husband or your wife or your child or your boss, or whoever it may be. And you end up with a habit of anger, resentment, jealousy, fighting… addictions which you cannot easily break!
In many ancient cultures, someone who owed money to another was bound for life to that person. As great as the shame of bankruptcy may be in our culture, bankruptcy is a Judeo-Christian development. It speaks of forgiveness when you can no longer pay your debts, and you are then allowed to go free by a judge. You may lose a great deal but, in ancient cultures, you would spend the rest of your life in prison! It has always struck me as ironic that, when they lock you up in a debtor’s prison, how can you work to pay back the debts? And yet multitudes of people have died in such prisons.
Who can pay the debt? My own grandfather left his home in Denmark to come to the United States. He was the youngest of ten children, so there was no inheritance or title left for him. He became a successful contractor and builder in Hartford, Connecticut. Yet he owed a small amount of money to someone he did business with and was late on the payment. In those days, if you were late in paying, the person to whom you owed money could take everything you had. For a small debt, they took everything, much more than he owed, and he was crushed. When I met him as a little boy, he was a broken man, and I did not know why until my mother explained it years later.
That is the way temptation works! The devil says to you, “Oh, it is only a little of this, a little of that…,” but the Bible says of the evil one, he is the one who “would not let his captives go home….” (Isaiah 14:17, NIV) As I have said before, I was suicidal as a child because I was caught in bondages that I did not know how to escape. In fact, Jesus spoke to exactly this point in John 8: 34-36:
Many of us are hiding our bondages. We are trying to fix it by ourselves. “I yielded to that. I can break its power. I can make myself better!” How many of these young women in the video we just watched went from prison to prison thinking they could make themselves better? The devil is a liar, he tempts you, and then he traps you by that temptation and you are no longer free. But there is one who sets us free, and that is Jesus.
That leads to a question I have for you this morning. Why, if Jesus paid our debt, are we still living in bondage? I know that there are some of you here this morning, or listening to this message over the internet, who are still living in bondage. My question to you is, why? The price of your forgiveness has already been paid! The price of an entirely new life has already been covered! Why are you still letting yourself be bound? And that leads to another question, which is going to sound like an extreme statement, but it is critical:
Many go to church and put up a good front, but they are bound. Many are religious, but they are not free. Look at Jesus’s own day. Who are among the most frequent visitors to the temple? The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the teachers of the law, and when Jesus said to them that they were bound by sin, they were enraged. I am glad to admit my bondage because, when you admit your bondage, that is the beginning of freedom. But when you cover your tracks, there is no forgiveness, no release. As Proverbs 28:13 states, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (NIV)
So that is the question today! Are you a visitor to God’s house, hearing the Word but still bound, or are you a son or a daughter of the most High God? There is a huge difference between these two types of people!
And that is extraordinary! In fact, this is such a big thing that many of us do not believe it, including me! God had to confront me again and again about the bondages in my life, until I believed it, and faced it, and confessed it, and received freedom. Why should I still be living in a prison of addiction?
I have a third question for you this morning. Who is your communion with? Who are you thinking about? Who are you living for, not just on Sunday mornings but every day of the week? Who are you walking with in your thoughts and actions everywhere you go? Who are you having communion with? I say this because, years ago, I was sitting in front of my computer as a young man and I was somewhere on that computer that I should not have been, and the Lord spoke to me, “You are having communion with demons.” That scared me! When you let your mind dwell on pornography, or on unforgiveness, or anger, or resentment, or jealousy, or complaining or gossip, you are having communion with demons. That is not from the Holy Spirit; it comes from the enemy!
Listen to what 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says:
“For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” If I belong to Jesus, what am I doing thinking that thought? What am I doing refusing to forgive that person? What am I doing refusing to acknowledge my sin publicly when Jesus died publicly so that I could be forgiven?
“What communion has light with darkness?” I wish I could say I learned this lesson in a day, but I still have to stop myself at times and say, “What am I doing here? Why am I allowing that? Why am I living in bondage when Christ has died to set me free?”
And that is what I am saying to you this morning, because a verse that changed my life is 2 Corinthians 13:14. This is the better way! “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” This is huge! It is an easy verse to pass over and forget and not understand. Why did Jesus leave and then send the Holy Spirit? So that the Spirit would be with us, every day, every hour, every moment, in our thoughts, in our hopes, in our sicknesses, in our health, in every aspect of the new life that we have received through Jesus’ death on the cross.
If I have been filled with the Spirit, why would I make room for demons? Why would I make room for the enemy? Who are you having communion with? If you are allowing your mind to be filled with wrong thoughts and feelings, you are having communion with demons. As I have learned the hard way, life is much more spiritual than we think. There is God, and there is a devil. There are angels, and there are demons, and, if it is wrong, it does not come from God. Sometimes you just have to stop yourself and ask, “Where am I? What am I doing here?”
Sometimes my wife and I get frustrated with our wonderful sons, and I can give way to anger and almost come to the point of saying, “Lord, why did you give us these sons?” And I have to stop and say, “What am I doing here?” I had a godly dad who could have given up on me, but he never stopped praying because he realized that his children were a gift from the Lord. Those who can be the hardest people for you to deal with are often gifts from the Lord: your children, your husband, your wife, your parents. Jesus never said that life would be easy, but He said that He would be with you and His Spirit would be with you. So, when you find yourself where you are not supposed to be, looking at something, thinking about something, stop and say, “Lord, where am I? And where did I go wrong? Where did I go off the track?”
I do not know how many of you have heard of Jesse Penn-Lewis’s book, War on the Saints. It came out of the Welsh revival, one of the most powerful revivals of the 20th Century which laid the foundation for many other revivals around the world. Mrs. Penn-Lewis pointed out in this and in several of her other writings that every thought, every imagination, every vision that enters our minds comes from one of only three sources, God, ourselves, or the evil one.
I am not talking about what you see on a billboard or what someone says to you. If you are sitting there thinking and a thought pops into your mind out of nowhere, if it is good, it is likely from God. But if it is evil, then there is only one place left for it to have come from. If it did not come from you, it came from the evil one! That helped me immensely because, as a child who was a victim of witchcraft, I did not have control over my own mind.
The devil tempts you to sin and then he hits you with the baseball bat of condemnation, and that was what was happening to these young women whose stories you heard before they entered the Hoving Home. Who tempted them to give up? Who tempted them to be depressed? Who tempted them to use drugs? The evil one! And then, when you give in to him, what does he do? He pounds on you and he pounds on you. Some of you are being pounded on by the evil one right now, and yet the Scripture says in Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” I am free because He has set me free!
Another verse that helped me immensely is,
There is freedom, so why am I in bondage? You have every right to say, “I will not be bound anymore because Christ has set me free.”
If you are still living in bondage to anything, it is not because God wants you to live that way!
How many of you here are parents? What do you want for your children? The best!! What does our heavenly Father want for every one of us in this place, and everyone listening online? Freedom!! Not bondage, which comes from the evil one. The Lord wants you to be free so that you can be everything He has called you to be. God has called us to liberty, not to bondage. So why am I still bound to anything? You can say, “No more, no more because I am free in Christ!”
In fact, this is God’s command from Romans 6:12-14:
Why does it say, “do not let”? Because everyone of us has a choice to make! If you belong to Jesus, you are no longer bound to sin. If you do not know Him, then yes you are bound, but this morning you can be free. If you belong to Jesus, do not let sin reign in you. Do not be a gossip, do not get jealous, do not give place to envy. Be satisfied with what God has given you because He is your life. My life is not my house, or my car, or my salary, or my job. My life is Jesus and with Jesus I have enough.
Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead,
How often do I have to do that? Every day and every moment. Sometimes I have to take my members that are going the wrong way and say, “You belong to Jesus now. No more, no more are you going to go that way,” and you present yourself to Him
and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Have you ever thought of that? Your hands, your feet, your mouth, your mind, they are all instruments that belong to the Lord. And He wants to use every one of us in this room. He wants you to be free so that you can be a messenger of liberty to others. He wants to show His power in your life, so that others who are without hope can know, “I can be free.”
These Pakistanis that we have been preaching to recently over the internet have nothing. They have never heard the Gospel. They cannot afford a mask, let alone a Bible, but when we preach to them, they flock to the Lord because they have never known what it is to be free. When you have never known what it is to be free, you appreciate freedom. Do not take liberty for granted! Jesus died to set you free.
As I approach the end of my talk this morning, there is a commandment in Galatians 5:1:
“Stand fast!” Anybody here been in the military? I have not, but I know enough about military history to know that sometimes the only thing a soldier can do is to stand fast. Some men have received the Medal of Honor because they stood fast, including a young soldier on Iwo Jima. Suddenly, he and others with him were surrounded by Japanese troops. They just had to be quiet! They could not escape, they could not go back, they could not go forward, but they quietly broke that Japanese assault. Though greatly outnumbered, they stood fast. Why? For the sake of their fellow soldiers who were behind them.
Why do you need to be free? Because there are people behind you who will die if you do not stand fast. Stand fast for the sake of your spouses and children and friends and your boss, and even your enemies. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free
and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
That is what addiction is. It is a yoke of bondage! Why should I allow a yoke of bondage in my life when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has set me free? Today, today, I am free!
I want to leave you with a passage that I still do not fully understand, but I love it! If Christ has called me into what Romans 8:21 calls “the glorious liberty of the children of God,” why should I allow any bondage or slavery to sin in my life. Listen to these words from Romans 8:19-22:
What does that mean? The ground you walk on, the stars above, the sun and the sky, the moon, the trees are waiting for your liberty. Do you know that the Bible says that one day the mountains and the hills will sing the praises of our God, that even the trees will clap their hands? One day the stars themselves will sing the praises of our God. This universe was made for us. It was not made for angels; it was made for man. Why? Because God made a universe in hope of those who will become His sons and His daughters forever. And one day the bondage of sin and death will be ripped off this universe and Jesus is going to reign. There will be no more war, or death, or suffering or pain, but I do not have to wait until then. Today, I am called to be a son, a child of God,
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
God subjected His beautiful universe to death and sin for a season in hope,
because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Who wants to live in that glorious liberty today? Jesus died to set me free!
And that is where I will give an invitation. I do not have to know the details, but God knows where anyone in this room, or listening to this broadcast, is still living in bondage. This morning is a morning of freedom, and I am giving an invitation right now just to stand where you are if you want that freedom, that freedom of the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God… Jesus wants to break your bondage today! Jesus wants you to be free! He wants you to dance with His joy! He wants you to shout His praises! I have plenty to be ashamed of about myself, but nothing to be ashamed of about Jesus because He sets me free! Will you receive this morning the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God, the liberty that the Holy Spirit brings? Let us pray!
Lord, here I am, with all my failures, with all my hidden bondage, standing in a prison when You opened the door. Lord, I come! I am coming out of that prison into liberty. I confess my sins, my failures. I confess where I have allowed addiction and the evil one to run me over, and I will not let that happen anymore.
Here I am, I present myself, all I am and all I have to You. Destroy the works of the enemy in me so that my life may be a living testimony and a sweet fragrance of who Jesus is to those who are still bound. Thank you, Lord, that You forgive all my sins and that You set me free. Lord, show your glory in my life and make me all you want me to be in Jesus name. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Christopher N. White.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™