Set the Captives Free

by Eric Dunbar

Set the captives freeJesus is the freedom maker that will set the captives free. He came to earth bearing the good news of salvation and in the fullness of time He proclaimed His message publicly. Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and He stood up to read. The synagogue’s attendant handed Him the book of Isaiah. Jesus opened the book and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down (Luke 4:16-20).

The good news of salvation will set the captives free

The gospel is overflowing with good news of the Kingdom of God. The good news of the gospel could be summed up in one word: SALVATION. When we think of salvation we usually think of going to heaven when we die. But salvation is not just for the hereafter. It is for the here-and-now. Salvation is about “wholeness” and it is the will of God that we be made whole (complete) in every area of our life here on earth.

The scripture that Jesus read from the Book of Isaiah is translated in the Amplified Bible to say, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

So what does it mean to set the captives free? “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.’ As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:28-32).

The truth that will make you free

What is the truth that will make you free? First ask yourself what does freedom mean to you? Do you want to be financially free? Do you want to be politically free? Or do you just want to be free to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, however and wherever you want to do it? Now ask yourself what holds you captive? Is it cigarettes, alcohol, sex, drugs? I was once held captive to crack cocaine and I’m telling you from my own personal experience that God’s word is the truth that will set you free. I tried God for myself and I know the truth of God’s word will set the captives free. Here are six things that can captivate you to keep you from living a Christ-like life, and keep you from knowing the truth that will set the captives free.

Captive to error

The captivity of error is a very dangerous form of captivity for us and the most effective form of captivity for Satan. Erroneous religious teaching is the greatest form of captivity that we must be set free from. It is destructive in so many ways because it leads us away from God rather than to Him. The Bible says, “…many false prophets have gone out into the world” and they are on a mission. Their mission is to deceive anyone who will listen to them with untruths about God. For example, there are many people who believe there are many gods. But the Bible teaches that there is only one God (Malachi 2:10; Mark 12:32; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19). Throughout the Bible people have challenged the notion that there is only one God — people like Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar — but in the end they were proven wrong.

There are religions that assert that there are many paths to God. But Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This statement strikes anger at the very core of religion. That is because people think all religions are basically the same. They believe that all spiritual paths lead up the same pathway to a universal concept of a god.

The captivity of religion focuses on the morals of a leader who makes the assertion that “if you follow me I will show you how to find the truth. But Jesus boldly says, “I am the way to God; I am the truth about anything concerning God, because I was with Him in the beginning; I am the life that holds all life together” (John 14:6).

There are people who believe they are saved by their good works. They believe as long as they are morally good they will obtain favor from God. Subsequently, they spend their entire lives working trying to get God’s approval. You cannot be saved by your good works. The Bible says “we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed)” (Romans 5:1 [Amplified Bible]).

Captive to lying and deception

The captivity of lying begins to take root in our lives at a very early age. The devil knows that everyone likes to be liked, so Satan deceives us into thinking that we are not liked by others. We discover at a very young age that lying is one of the ways to get people to like us is to lie. People fear being rejected, so we lie about who we are, about what we can do and about what we have.

When you know the truth, the truth will set you free. If people could know the truth about God based on their intellect alone they would be able to free themselves from whatever has them captive. The devil deceives us with his lies to prevent us from knowing the truth about God.

Captive to emotional bondage

Emotional bondage is the most elusive form of captivity. If you’re the kind of person who gets emotionally upset about little things, you’re likely to be the kind of person that wears your feelings on your shoulders. There are people who, when things don’t go their way, get hysterical.

How do you know if you are captive to emotional bondage? If you wake up in the morning and you’re still upset about the way your feelings were hurt on yesterday, then you are held captive to emotional bondage. Don’t allow your feelings to set the course of your day, because how you react to your days will determine how you live your life. When things don’t go your way, don’t give in to your emotions. God says it’s okay to be angry, but He doesn’t want us to allow our anger to make us sin. Don’t make important decisions based on how you feel. If you do you will become a prisoner of yourself.

The danger of emotional bondage is this: If the devil can make you always respond to the way you feel about things, he knows you will never respond to God. You will say things like “I just don’t feel that it’s wrong for me to do that” and, “I don’t feel like I should apologize to her.” We should always respond to those things that are written in the Word of God and not the way we feel about what is written in the Word of God.

Captive to fear

Today, people live in fear of everything. There is a distinct difference between being afraid and having fear. To be afraid is to be frightened or apprehensive about something; to feel hesitation or regret about something. Fear is an unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or anticipation of danger; concern about something that threatens to bring bad news or bad results. To fear is to worry about something that may or may not happen.

Fear is a spirit of bondage that comes directly from the devil. The devil wants you to be fearful. He knows if he can hold you captive to your fears that you will be of no use to God, and you won’t accomplish none of the things that God has promised you. The Word of God says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear…” (Romans 8:15).

It is God’s desire that we live our lives free of fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The truth that the devil does not want you to know is that if you belong to Christ you are no longer captive to fear. Christ has given us authority over all the power of the enemy; therefore, we have no reason to fear.

Captive to false guilt

If you have ever felt feelings of guilt when you didn’t do anything wrong, then you know what it is to experience false guilt. False guilt is when you feel that you are not normal, that you are in some way flawed. It makes you feel as though everything bad that happens in your relationship is your fault.

The devil uses false guilt to box people in, that is, he takes advantage of your unstable emotions and uses your inadequate feelings of guilt to make you condemn yourself. False guilt is one of the things that Jesus came to set the captives free from. So if feelings of guilt keep resurfacing in your relationships, just know that you are no longer subject to the captivity of false guilt. When Jesus was crucified, He set you free from the bondage of false guilt, or any kind of guilt for that matter. That is why the Bible says “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

Captive to unforgiveness

You pray, you go to church, you give to the poor, and you try your best to live according to the Bible. But despite all of the good that you do, you just can’t bring yourself to forgive your father for something that happened ten years ago. Not being able to forgive someone is the worst form of captivity.

Unforgiveness is a form of self captivity and it hurts you more than it does the person you won’t forgive. God commands us to forgive, but we must choose to forgive. When we choose not to forgive we make ourselves captives of an unforgiving spirit.

God says, “…if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Jesus gave an illustration of unforgiveness in action in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The word “servant” refers to anyone under the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, there are a lot of unforgiving servants around today. There are people who go to the same church as you do who still harbor resentment toward you for something that happened years ago. They don’t realize that they are digging their own grave, so to speak; they are being held captive by unforgiveness.

Receive your freedom

There are so many different forms of captivity it would take several books of information to cover them all. Jesus came to set us free from every form of captivity imaginable, so why are we not free? In order to experience freedom from captivity we must receive the free gift that Jesus has given us.

The scriptures tell us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The key to experiencing freedom from captivity is to believe in the Son of God. That is why the scripture says, “…whoever believes in Him…” When we believe we receive. So today, believe in the Son of God and thank God for the gift of His Son. Jesus is the truth; He is the Word of God, and He came to set the captives free.

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