So sorry I haven't posted in a while for those of you that are following along with the Bible study! I've had sick kiddos! Here's a recap of last week's lesson (week 3)!
In Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free” Bible Study, she talks about the benefits we should be able to enjoy as followers of Christ:
• To know and believe God
• To glorify God (experience and reflect his amazing characteristics in our lives and to those around us)
• To find and experience a deep satisfaction in God
• To experience God’s peace
• To enjoy God’s presence
If you aren’t enjoying these benefits, it’s likely due to spiritual captivity. This past week of homework (week 3) discusses sins that can prevent us from living the abundant life Jesus desires to give us:
I’m going to take some time today to share an area of captivity that I struggled with last week. From start to finish, the whole thing lasted half a day. That is one thing you will start to notice when you begin to apply God’s Truth and prayer to an area of captivity that rears its ugly head… it will take less and less time to work through it and find freedom through Christ. Had I run into this issue 5 years ago, it could have affected me the whole week or month or longer.
Last week, after leading my ladies’ Bible Study, I got into this funk and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I started getting grumpy, and irritated and super insecure about really little things. Things that my husband said that I would normally find funny, all of a sudden offended me and made me insecure. My insecurities then led to me becoming critical about issues that normally wouldn’t bother me. Often times, insecure people, are also critical people. And then it hit me. Last week in Bible study, we learned that a dissatisfied soul that seeks its fulfillment in something other than Christ, will manifest itself in physical side effects like irritability, a lack of peace, insecurities, a critical spirit, etc.
As soon as I recognized that I was exhibiting the characteristics and side effects of captivity, I stopped and prayed. I just said, “God show me where I’m not seeking my satisfaction in you, search me and see what unholy way there is in me and lead me to the way of everlasting.”
Literally as I was praying, it hit me. During Bible study the week prior, I had asked for help from the ladies in my Bible Study group. I asked for a few women to step up who were willing to be prayer warriors for the group. Not one person stepped up. I think, deep down, I was hurt because, in my own sinful mind, I had somehow associated their unwillingness with being a failure as a Bible Study leader. Beth Moore pointed out that when Satan can combine your experience with his lies, he immediately has you right where he wants you…in captivity. Experience (your version of truth) + Satan’s lies = Captivity. I started believing lies like:
• You aren’t a good enough leader
• They don’t feel called to help because they ultimately don’t like the Bible Study
• You aren’t really making a difference
I’m not sharing this to get sympathy or affirmation, please know that. I’m telling you this because we all will have areas of captivity where we will need to go through the steps to get free. I’m sharing my own experience here so you can start to become familiar with how this ‘freedom in Christ’ thing works. The most well-meaning Christians can be held captive. Freedom is a choice that you make… it’s a decision to go to the Prince of Peace and the Author of Freedom so that he can turn your ashes into beauty, your sadness into praise and your discontent into joy.
Remember, peace from God only comes when we give God complete and total authority over our lives.
As soon as you can identify your area of captivity and the lies and sin surrounding it through the help of the Holy Spirit, God is able to begin setting you free.
Those lies I was believing about the unresponsiveness I received after I asked for prayer warriors to step up, were rooted in a sin that God convicted me of. I was seeking the approval of man instead of the approval of God. My idol in that circumstance was the approval of the women in my Bible Study. If I wanted to drill it down even more, my desire for approval and affirmation was a form of self-worship. God was the one who made this Bible Study happen in the first place but I wanted a little glory too… that was evident because of my negative reaction when I didn’t get that affirmation! It can be so easy to turn God’s blessings into areas of captivity… and that’s what I had done. I somehow had taken authority over the Bible Study that was rightfully God’s and it had resulted in other areas of my life being physically and emotionally affected. I started seeking affirmation from my husband and being disappointed and irritated that I wasn’t getting it and then I became critical and discontent.
I want you to know that freedom is not a one and done deal and you’ve got to keep your guard up because once you are free of the big things, the enemy will try and distort God’s very own blessings into forms of captivity by pouring lies all over God’s blessings. So to break free of my hot spot of captivity I encountered Monday:
• First, I identified the side effects: the discontentment, dissatisfaction, unrest and irritability.
• Then, I went to God in prayer and asked him for wisdom to identify the lies and sins that were at the root of my captivity that day. (My sin was self-worship by way of seeking the approval of man instead of seeking the approval of God.)
• Once I identified the lies and sin surrounding my captivity, I had to destroy the lies with truth. Beth Moore calls it “loading her shotgun.” God’s Word is Truth and you can’t have freedom without it.
In Beth Moore’s audio for week 3, she talks about people that say their version of a “quiet time” involves talking to God while taking a leisurely stroll. The problem is, if you don’t pair time in prayer with time in God’s Word, you really aren’t “loading your shotgun” with Truth, you are loading it with ‘long, leisurely walks.’ Long walks with God aren’t the kind of ammunition you want when you are up against the enemy. It’s like going into a gun fight with a popsicle stick. There is a huge difference between our version of ‘truth’ and God’s Truth. God’s Truth is the only thing that leads to freedom. Our version of truth can be based on perception, experiences, environment and opinion. Our version of ‘truth’ isn’t always accurate and can’t always trusted. Have you ever reflected on a memory from your childhood with a friend or sibling and you both have two very different recollections of how an event went down? You see, our version of truth is not always reliable and if you pair it with satan’s lies, it equals captivity. The only way to fight lies is with the one and only Truth …which is why getting in God’s Word every day is VITAL if you want to live in freedom. In the book of James it says, “But the one who looks intently into the perfect law that gives FREEDOM, and continues to do so — not being a forgetful hearer, but an effective doer — he WILL BE BLESSED in what he does” (James 1:25)
In my situation last Monday, the way I destroyed my lies with Truth was by looking up verses in Google on my area of sin/captivity: ‘the approval of man.’
The first verse I read and loaded my shotgun with was this one in John 5:44: “How can you believe if you seek glory from one another and don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God.”
When I read that verse, it dawned on me that not only was I dealing with the sin of idolatry (self-worship and the approval of others), I was also dealing with the sin of unbelief. Deep down, I wasn’t really believing that God’s approval was the only thing that really mattered. So I was dealing with to big whoppers, idolatry and unbelief.
Then, I read Isaiah 2:22, “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he.”
So… I love my Bible Study girls and desperately want to see them all walking in truth and freedom… but, at the end of the day, they are not mine, they are God’s. I shouldn’t place so much weight in what they think and how they respond because my main and only focus needs to be on pleasing and glorifying God. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to move each and every one of them and to change their hearts however he sees fit, it’s NOT my job. When I identified that, it was like I recognized yet another sin, I was trying to take the authority that was rightfully God’s. I was pridefully assuming that I play a bigger role in what God does in and through the hearts of those ladies through this Bible Study than what I actually do. Remember in week 2, how we identified that the way to peace is giving God the authority? I was not at peace about what happened on Monday, because I was still holding onto control. I was claiming ownership over something that wasn’t mine.
So in this whole situation, I was dealing with areas of pride, unbelief AND idolatry. Why just go with one sin when I can knock them all out in one fell swoop right!? Ha!
So to recap:
• I first identified the side effects of my sin (discontentment, a critical spirit, an unrest or lack of peace, insecurities that bred irritability, etc.)
• Once I identified my sin’s side effects, I sought God for wisdom on what lies I was believing that was perpetuating my sin.
• Once I identified the lies I was believing, I tore down the lies with God’s Truth so I could identify the sins behind the lies.
• Once I identified my sins, I repented of them. I prayed:
"God, forgive me for pridefully assuming the authority over this Bible study that is rightfully and only yours. Forgive me for seeking the approval of these ladies over seeking your approval. Help me believe and know that you are the only thing that matters. These women are yours and you will work in their hearts and lives how you see fit, regardless of what I say or do. God I give you complete authority. I give you all the glory that is rightfully yours. Stir in their hearts how YOU would choose to use them for your Kingdom. Thank you for choosing to use me in a small way. Forgive me for letting it get to my head. Humble my heart so I don’t think of myself more highly than I ought to. Let your character and glory be fully evident in my life, not for my sake but for yours. Amen."
And just like that, that bastard, Satan, got a bullet between his eyeballs! Immediately, the freedom, the peace, and the ability to live an abundant life of purpose returned. The side-effects of a captive soul seeking satisfaction in something other than God, vanished. I stopped feeling insecure about Bible study and other areas of my life and I stopped being grumpy, insecure and critical.
You’ll notice that none of this freedom could be accomplished without God’s Word and prayer. Beth Moore addresses prayerlessness as one of our biggest hurdles to breaking free from captivity. Every step of this road to freedom is paved with prayer.
In the account in the Bible of Jesus coming into the temple where everyone was selling things instead of worshiping and praying to God, Jesus had a righteous anger that came over him. He overthrew tables, made a whip and scattered and destroyed all their wares. He was righteously pissed (pardon my language). The people in the temple had replaced prayer and worship to God with a worship of self, money, materialism, idols, etc. What Jesus said as he was overturning tables in a righteous rage is very profound and very telling. He said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:17) Jesus didn’t refer to the temple as a “house of worship” or a “house of service to God,” or a “house of sacrifice.” He called it a “house of prayer.” Jesus was directly quoting a verse in Isaiah where God also referred to his temple as one thing…. “a house of prayer.” If God spoke that way of the physical temple, the same should be true of our earthly temples. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” If our earthly temples aren’t houses of prayer, they become a den of robbers where the enemy is free to, “Steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Prayerlessness opens your life up to captivity. “The path to freedom is paved with knee prints.” –Beth Moore.
I share what happened to me last Monday because it’s a real world example of captivity and how I was able to break free by the power of prayer, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. You see, as Christians, when we first pray the prayer of salvation, we immediately find freedom from the punishment of sin… but our walk with God doesn’t end there. We have to constantly live a life surrendered to God in order to stay free. We live in a fallen world where “Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). If we aren’t allowing God into all the locked doors in our hearts and minds, then we leave the door open to allowing Satan in. There is no, ‘getting a handle’ on sin. Sin always has a snowballing effect. So we have to allow God to remove it. Isaiah 57:14 talks about removing EVERY obstacle, but we can’t do that if we don’t let God in. Not allowing God into all the areas of your life is a sin… it’s called pride. Pride is a form of detachment or disillusionment as Beth Moore puts it. Pride leads to captivity. God’s Word says, “don’t just listen to God’s Word and so deceive yourselves… DO WHAT IT SAYS.” Any place where you don’t let him in to assume authority will result in an area of captivity where you will experience all those side effects like I did (a lack of peace, a lack of satisfaction and purpose, a critical, insecure spirit, and an inability to experience his presence and joy, etc.)
Beth Moore explains it this way on page 63 of the Breaking Free study book, “God wants to…
• Get to our hearts. Pride covers the heart.
• God wants to free us from hindrances in our past. Pride refuses to look back.
• God wants to treat us with His Word. Pride doesn’t like to be told what to do.
• God wants to set us completely free. Pride says secrets are nobody’s business.
• God wants to help us with constraining problems. Pride denies there is a problem.
• God wants to make us strong in Him. Pride won’t admit to weakness.
If you can relate to any of these areas of pride, you are not living in freedom. On the bottom of page 63 Beth references a bunch of verses that outline the repercussions of pride. Proverbs 8:13 describes pride as a form of evil. Proverbs 11:2 describes it as disgrace. Proverbs 13:10, as strife. Proverbs 16:18, as destruction. Obadiah 1:3, as deception. So pride is at the root of evil, disgrace, strife, destruction, deception. I don’t know about you, but I want to stay as far away from it as possible if that’s what it entails!
The opposite of pride is humility and it is the key to freedom. But humility is a prayerful choice. Beth says, “humility is not something we have until humility is something we do. This step necessitates action before possession.”
Here’s the kicker… If we don’t choose to humble our hearts and let God in to all our locked doors, God will have to do the humbling. I promise you.. it’s much better to choose to do the humbling before God yourself than for God to have to do the humbling for you! Beth says “I’d rather humble myself than force God to humble me.”
So I encourage you, If you see any of those side-effects of pride, idolatry, prayerlessness, unbelief, etc., take the steps to get free now so God doesn’t have to do it for you! In the book of Daniel, it tells the story of King Nebuchanezzar who’s heart became so prideful and evil and he refused to humble himself before the Lord until God had to take matters into his own hands… for his own good. Daniel 5:21 says, “ He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.”
A modern day example of pride leading to destruction would be a woman or man who is dissatisfied with their spouse… they decide to pridefully take matters into their own hands instead of taking it to God. They begin an extramarital relationship with someone. Numbers 3:23 says, “your sin will always find you out.” In the case of physical or emotional idolatry and pride, once that sin is revealed, it can lead to a broken family and generations of divorce and broken hearts… simply because one person chose not to humble their heart before the Lord.
Ya’ll LET GOD IN NOW so he doesn’t have to force his way in later!
So to recap, the way we can work towards freedom is:
#1: Identify the side effects of captivity: areas of discontent, unrest, dissatisfaction, irritability, selfish ambitions, anger, resentment, envy, impure thoughts, eruptions of lust, an insatiable need for something (wine, food, shopping, etc.)
#2: Humble your heart and ask God to reveal the lies you are believing surrounding the side-effects you are experiencing.
Examples of lies that lead to captivity:
• I need food to be happy
• I need to be skinny to be liked/loved
• I need that glass of wine to feel at peace or to cope
• I need my husband’s praise and affection to feel loved
• I need my kid’s respect to feel like a good mom
• I need facebook likes to feel important
• I need my mother’s approval to feel worthy
• I need that car, dress, purse, job title, in order to matter
#3: Ask God to show you the sin that is at the root of your lie (Pride, idolatry, prayerlessness, unbelief)
#4: Find Bible verses that destroy the lies surrounding your areas of captivity and sin (Google verses on pride, the approval of man, anxiety, etc.)
#5: Repent and ask God’s forgiveness for your sin and ask for him to heal you.
#6: Never stop praying God’s Truth over your life in that area and be alert! Once you are free, Satan will try to trap you in another area of your life.
My prayer for anyone reading this is that you withhold NOTHING from God so that you can truly experience his freedom and abundant life!
Stephanie Parker has three main loves: God, her husband, Brett and her kids! When Stephanie created the Zipadee-Zip in an effort to solve her daughter, Charlotte's, sleep issues, she never imagined that it would become a business. She is incredibly grateful to God for how Sleepingbaby.com has grown and how it has enabled other families to get the restful sleep they need. Stephanie's husband, Brett Parker assumed the role of CEO which has allowed Stephanie to focus on what she loves which is the creative side of the company, like product and print development. After the Zipadee-Zip was featured on Shark Tank, Stephanie went on to create the book Shepherd's Treasure, a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf. In her free time, Stephanie loves to spend time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include acting, singing, painting, learning and speaking foreign languages and going on adventures with her family! You will find her all summer waterskiing, fishing and laughing with her family on the weekends.