Levels of change

I recently started attending a Freedom class at my church. I believe everyone needs freedom, whether you’re a believer or not. A person may become a Christian, but that doesn’t stop the devil from trying to keep that person bound by struggles of this life. He never quits trying. But the good news is we serve an unrelenting God who willingly wants to help us through our times of struggle. This particular freedom class talked about five levels of change that we need to recognize before being set free.

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#1 Environment
We often times think if we change our job, vehicle, get more money, or change our relationships and family that we’ll experience freedom. I’m guilty of this thinking. Before relocating to Texas, I thought that moving away from the environment I was raised in would fix all of my problems. That I’d be able to experience freedom from the struggles I was facing. All relocating did was place me in a new environment with the same problems (and then some). I learned the only way to be set FREE of the problems is by bringing it to Jesus and believing I’m a FREE person through Christ. I don’t need to be enslaved to that bondage anymore.

#2 Behavior
As the speaker stated, this is the “outward expression of how you would describe the inner experience of being you”. Think about it for a moment. If you’re acting a certain way, it’s most likely the way you want others to know what it’s like being you. Do you like how you behave? Do your behaviors line up with what God’s Word says about you?
Thoughts give birth to feelings and in return, those feelings produce behaviors. I can so relate to this point. I’m an impulsive person that acts on my emotions. If I’m happy, my adrenaline is pumping and I could literally go jump out of an airplane and feel like I’m on top of the world. If I’m sad, I’m the person that wants to be left alone and not talk to anyone ever again. If I’m in a moment of excitement, I’ll do whatever my mood wants me to do. What kind of life is that to be tossed here and there by emotions? Proverbs 29:11 states that “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” A life driven by emotions is a life that doesn’t align with the plan God has for us.

#3 Capabilities
This is when we start to think “I will never…” or “I can’t…” thoughts. How often have you been hurt by someone close to you and you thought “I’ll never trust again”? Or maybe you asked someone out and were turned down and you made an inner vow with yourself that you’d never expose your heart like that again. I’ve been there, done that.  Living life with your guard up is another way of saying you live in bondage. If you’re too afraid to do something, you’re bound by fear.  If we live life through negative past experiences, we’re limiting our capabilities.

#4 Beliefs
There are a few ways we determine what we believe. A common way someone who doesn’t walk in freedom will determine their beliefs is through repeated experiences. This is when something seems true because it’s repeated. Have you ever known someone that was told they aren’t pretty enough or aren’t good enough numerous times? Typically, that person will start to live through the opinions of the people that talked down on him/her. This is an example of someone who isn’t free because of living through repeated negative words spoken over them in their life. This point speaks volumes to me. I was told many times growing up that my purpose in life was to please men. I believed it. Every choice I made was derived from that belief. I was a slave to that belief. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV) says “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” This is linked with what I said about behavior. What we believe will eventually come out and others will see what we believe through our actions.

#5 Identity
One topic I LOVE to discuss with people is identity. There are so many people of all ages that are searching for their identity. Often times it comes out subtly with a statement that rings along the lines of “I want to do more with my life” or “I don’t know what my purpose is”. You can usually look at a person that doesn’t know their identity and see their actions prove they are wandering. Usually they are the person that’s back and forth and unsure of what to do next in life. Identity can only be discovered through Jesus Christ. The creator (God) creates the design. If we don’t know Him, we won’t know what our blueprint is for our lives. We’ll suffer from identity loss. Freedom is our ability to become the person we were created and redeemed to be. Often times when people get saved, they think they have to try to please God by changing their behaviors. When we believe in Jesus Christ and give Him complete control of our lives, He doesn’t give us a new set of behaviors or expectations. He makes us a new creation, a completely new person! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) With that new creation, we are able to see our identity can only be found in Him.

Freedom is a process. I believe it’s a walk in life that everyone experiences. However, instead of allowing bondage to run our lives, we can have power over it and walk in the process of freedom. Freedom is the presence of God in our lives. When we make a conscious effort every day to take hold of what’s holding us back from freedom in Jesus, we are saying that God can take control of our lives. We’re ultimately inviting God’s presence in our lives to help lift the weight we’ve been carrying.

What’s something that has been holding you back from experiencing true freedom? A way to tell if you’re in bondage is to look at your relationship with Jesus. Is it thriving? Is there something that’s preventing you from growing in your walk with Christ? If so, I encourage you to grab your Bible and sit alone in a room. Spill your guts to Jesus. Tell Him what’s holding you back. Speak, then listen. Chances are that God’s been trying to get your attention, but you’ve been too busy focusing on the bondage in your life that you haven’t been listening to what He’s been telling you.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
– Romans 10:17 NKJV

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
– John 8:32 NIV

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