The phrase "freedom isn't free" slips easily off our tongues. Its truth is borne in the countless numbers of lives lost in bloody wars, all to the cry of freedom. Waging the war to get free from sugar and food addictions feels like an even more taxing war than the possibility of losing our lives. We don't want to pay the huge price of giving up cheesecake, so instead of fighting, we give in to our addiction and stay bound.
"God will break the chains that bind His people" (Isaiah 9:4a, NLT) is one of my favorite verses. It sounds so easy, but I wonder, what is the cost of freedom?
Conditions of Freedom
What are the conditions for chain-breaking, for being set free? Not partially free, but wonderfully and completely free (Gal. 5:1)?
Notice Isaiah 9:4 says, "He will break the chains that bind his people." That means we have to be His.
This passage is talking about the coming of Christ, which would happen years after these words were written. Although those listening were thinking this would happen right away, God's promises still came true.
Jesus Is Our Freedom
Today, this promise has already come true for us. Christ came and paid a great price so we could be set free.
The verses which follow the Isaiah verse are very familiar to us, "For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. These will be his royal titles: 'Wonderful,' 'Counselor,' 'The Mighty God,' 'The Everlasting Father,' 'The Prince of Peace.'
"His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world. This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven's armies has dedicated himself to do it!" (Isa. 9:6-7, TLB).
The way out of our bondage, our addictions, our attraction to food, our aversion to exercise, our feeling of being paralyzed in our current state is—Jesus.
It's easy to say that the answer to all our problems is Jesus. But how does it really work when I'm caught in the Romans 7:19 conundrum of "I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway."
Then, down further in this chapter, Paul declares, "I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different" (Rom. 7:24-25, MSG).
This still didn't solve my problem. I'd say to myself or anyone else who would listen, "I know Jesus is the answer for salvation, but how is He the answer for my challenges of doing what I want instead of what Jesus wants? I know He wants to set me free. I know He can break my chains, so why do I still feel bound?"
I was free, but then I willingly put myself back in prison. I had the key to my freedom all along. It was simply following what I knew God had told me to do. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
"Let me clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free. We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past" (Gal. 5:1, TPT).
I can be pretty stubborn about many things. However, I wasn't stubborn enough about going back to my bondages. I could lose 100 pounds, but then I'd take a break, go off my diet, especially during the holidays, just try a bite of a dessert and then I'd end up gaining back 100 plus another 25-30 before going back on a diet again.
I was not seeing my cravings for certain foods as a sin. I saw it as just a part of me. I didn't see it as harmful to my health. I saw it as "I want." "I need that." "I deserve that." "I'm going to have that."
A Setup for Freedom
God set up circumstances to break my chains and set me free. It started with Him sharing with me that I was to stop eating sugar. That was in 1977. I knew it was Him, but I refused to be set free of the foods I loved, which all contained sugar.
Almost 30 years later when I finally understood that I was addicted to sugar and things that convert quickly to sugar in my body—mainly breads and starches, God had already broken my chains. He had already given me the answer I needed.
Surrender Breaks the Chains
When I finally stepped into the place of surrender, it was a last-ditch effort. I had tried everything known to man and nothing was working.
It was time to throw in the towel, stop trying and rest in the plans of God for my life. I rested in His grace.
Resting is not doing nothing. Resting is allowing God to show us the next move.
It's a matter of getting to the place where we allow Him to lead. It's realizing Jesus can and will set us free. We just have to follow Him. We have to take the actions He shows us.
Jesus paid the price for our freedom. He knows how to set us free. We follow what He leads us to do because it is the only way to watch our chains fall off one by one and stay off forever.
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, Christian weight-loss coach, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor, Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off with God's Help and Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation. Get a free chapter of all her books, plus many other free resources, on her blog at TeresaShieldsParker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest or In
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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