“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” II Corinthians 3:17
One of the last things a lost sinner would ever consider a Christian to be, is a person who has a great deal of liberty. To a heathen, being a Christian means bondage to rules; it means that they can’t do any of the things they love. Think about it: How can anyone that loves sin understand that it is bondage? They don’t understand that once a person becomes born again, their desires change. Some things they used to like to do, they will hate; some things they used to hate, they will love to do. This is the work of the Spirit, and this work, which is called sanctification, will continue in the believer’s life.
Only the believer in Jesus Christ can ever understand how a person can turn from living for their own ways and desires, surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and walk around totally liberated. A woman, who loves God, will experience much more liberty than any of the top leading ladies in the woman’s “liberation” movement. This world will never understand that in the Lord, surrender means freedom, and self-promotion means bondage. What can be awfully frustrating is when Christians don’t understand it either. The reason they don’t get it is because they don’t experience the liberty in serving Christ. The more we hang onto our carnal life, the more in bondage we are to it. The more we lay down our lives, the greater the liberty we will walk in.
Just like living in sin is not true liberty, religious rules are a source of bondage. Men have an attraction to rules. Liberty in the Spirit is what is missing in a lot of religious organizations. Some of these organizations started in the Spirit, but have since turned to the flesh. Paul rebuked the Galatians for the same thing; “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).
One thing is certain. According to II Corinthians 3:17, if the Spirit is present in our midst, there will be a liberty that frees us from being bound to manmade religious rules. I want to tell you a true story of an encounter I had with a group that had religious rules. This experience, though it had a form of godliness, was the worst demonic experience I have ever encountered.
Some years ago, a young man from my church, named Tim, and myself, were planning to go to Alabama for a camp meeting. Some men we knew here in Wisconsin, invited us to stop by their revival meetings they were having in Ohio the same week we would be making our way down to Alabama. They said if we would attend they would put us up for the night. We decided to head out the day before our meeting started so we could stop at their meeting. After the meeting we greeted a few of the men we had previously met back in Wisconsin, and we were greeted by others that were in attendance. We were then introduced to the family with whom we would be spending the night. We followed them to their house, which was quite a ways out in the country.
After we arrived we had a meal with them. There was some fellowship at the table, but not the real koinonia that Tim and I were accustomed to. Not long after we ate, we were shown the bedrooms where we would be sleeping. In order for Tim and me to have our own rooms, they had their two children share a room. Before I got comfortable I went into the room where the two children were, and I was talking and joking with them. Then I went back to my room. I was wearing a long sleeve dress shirt and a pair of dress pants. I took off my shirt and had a white T shirt underneath. I grabbed my tooth brush and tooth paste and headed to the bathroom, only to find it was occupied. So in dress pants and a T shirt, I went back to visit the two children. Upon entering their room their eyes got really wide. I said something like, “are you afraid of me now?” Then I went back to my room to wait until I could get in the bathroom.
While I was standing there in my room, the man of the house (notice I have not called him brother?) approached me with a very mean spirit and dropped this bomb on me. He said, “Listen, we don’t show our arms around this house. If my children see your arms they will be offended.” I was devastated when he said that to me. It was too late; they already saw my arms. I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “I can appreciate that.” I don’t know why I said that because I did not appreciate it at all. Why didn’t someone tell me they had this rule, which I never found in the bible? I could have either submitted to their rule or turned down the offer to stay at their house, but it was too late. I felt terrible. Every part of me felt like I violated their household.
Let me tell you, it was hard to fall asleep that night. Tim and I were up early the next morning and left without any breakfast. We headed out to the camp meeting in Alabama. Throughout the day, I was haunted by this event that took place. I felt a very heavy condemnation hanging over me. When I got to the meeting in Alabama that evening, I shared my experience with some other ministers that were there. However, condemnation was still hanging over me. Nothing changed by the next morning. After breakfast I called an evangelist friend and told him what happened. He told me that it was the spirit of heaviness that the bible talks about. “..the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;..”(Isaiah 61:3)
I immediately understood that this whole experience was demonic. It was as if demons had followed Tim and I out of that house in Ohio and traveled with us in my car. I went back into the church, had a few ministers pray for me, and the condemnation immediately left.
The devil is very protective of one of his greatest deceptions: RELIGION. He gets awfully angry if you don’t obey his rules. I learned two things that day: the difference between conviction and condemnation, and that the demonic forces are very protective over their religion.
Saint of God, understand this, God convicts, the devil condemns. Religion is demonic bondage, but the Spirit is liberty. Not liberty to sin, but liberty to not have to obey sin. If the devil can’t trap you in sin, he will try to trap you with religious rules. Your deliverance is in the presence of the Spirit of God; “..where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)