How many times have you been around that mountain? You know the one – mental, emotional, or physical bondage, resulting in various addictions, hopelessness, self-hate, distraction, doubt, etc. You might step into freedom for a short time only to find yourself struggling and eventually returning to the mountain again; like the proverbial dog returning to his vomit.
1 Peter 2:9 declares, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
Though we are called OUT of darkness and INTO the light, sometimes we might only find ourselves halfway through the process and get stuck in the middle ground.
Let’s talk about the middle ground; what it is, how we might get stuck there and what it means to occupy freedom, so you don’t become meat in the middle.
Freedom is the Central Mission of the Gospel
Galatians 5:1 says, “it was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing FIRM and do not be bound again to the yoke of slavery”.
It is of utmost importance for us to understand this truth: God’s will for us is to be FREE! The transitive verb “To be” means to occupy the position of, so “To be free” means no more back and forth, up and down, in and out of cycles, we are called to occupy the position of freedom and live free.
The challenge we face is that many people who claim to follow Christ are stuck in the continued cycles of bondage, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally, etc. because they’re trying to live in the NEW while still hanging onto the OLD ways.
What does freedom look like?
“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.” – Galatians 5:22 (TPT)
Freedom is something we experience from the inside-out. It is walking by the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit produced in our lives through obedience to Christ. It’s being able to sleep in the boat during a storm or to stand in perfect peace even when chaos is breaking out around you.
TO BE CLEAR: Freedom is not a life without challenges; experiencing challenges doesn’t mean you’re in bondage! Freedom is how you respond to the circumstances – both positive and negative.
Freedom is not the absence of challenges, but the presence of power applied to those challenges.
Getting Stuck in the Middle
What in the world is the “middle ground”? – Simply put, the middle ground is where we DIE!
Romans 8:13 “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
The middle ground is a place that the believer will visit often throughout his/her life. This is the place where we are called to let go of the old, to surrender to the new and to accept truth above all else. To love God with ALL of our being. It’s the process of saying YES to God and good-bye to the flesh. – ITS WHERE WE GO TO DIE!
“The greatest misconception of freedom is that you can have your life, and so can God; You’re trying to serve two masters – God and self.“
“If you read the Old Testament, you realize the long running temptation for the people of God is not “God or” but “God and…” – it’s less to atheism and more to idolatry.” – John Mark Comer
This is the bondage of the middle ground, “God and ____”
God and: Your ideals – Addictions – Unforgiveness – Gossip – Anxieties – Self-Indulgences – Misconduct.
God and: other occult practices and mediums – Kabballah, Psychics, Chakra stones, dream catchers, Eastern meditation techniques etc.
“God and” is a sort of DIY faith; a faith that allows you to decide your truth, your identity and your comfort levels with God. This kind of living is a tangled web of dabbling in many things without commitment to anything. The scriptures warn us of the dangers of this belief structure…
“Those who escape the corrupting forces of this world system through the experience of knowing about our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah, then go back into entanglement with them and are defeated by them, becoming worse off than they were to start with. It would have been much better for them never to have experienced the way of righteousness than to know it and then turn away from the sacred obligation that was given to them.” – 2 Peter 2:20-21
The middle ground is the devil’s playground. A person who has seen the light of truth, yet continues to hang onto the ways of darkness, is most susceptible to torment and affliction; if you get stuck in this middle ground the devil will undoubtedly grind you to meat.
How do you identify if you’re stuck in the middle ground? – Cycles
Imagine being on a road trip and having a specific destination you are headed, yet you continue making wrong turns, taking wrong exits and finding yourself passing the same detours and landmarks over and over again. The wrong turns are your personal indulgences and responses to challenges through your attitudes, mindsets and behaviors.
Freedom is occupied through opportunity. – We understand that God does not tempt us, but He does allow us the opportunity to succeed in discipline and surrender.
Dealing with an issue is not necessarily indicative that you’re stuck, because we all have to confront issues, it’s when you recognize that you’re circling the same issue at the same level and making the same choices over again that you know you are not occupying freedom.
James 4:4 “You have become spiritual adulterers who are having an affair, an unholy relationship with the world. Don’t you know that flirting with the world’s values places you at odds with God? Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy!”
Let’s break these cycles!!!
“We must be free, not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. – William Faulkner
Freedom was purchased on the cross for you and I, and freedom is a daily practice of every believer. We have a choice every single day as to whether we will allow our feelings and circumstances to determine truth or if we will respond in truth to our circumstances and feelings. It’s putting away the motivations of the flesh, so that the impulses of Christ can live through us.
“To be” is a transitive VERB meaning occupy the position of ____
Occupy = VERB = to hold or dwell – “to seize possession of & maintain control over, forcibly”
Freedom is not a one and done situation, it is an intentional, every day, every moment choice that you make to say YES to pursuing Christ and NO to the pursuit of self-benefits, even when you aren’t feeling it! >>> Maturity is a work of obedience.
Tools to Apply:
1. Read the book of John to learn the nature of Christ – to know Him is to know freedom!
2. Read the book of Galatians to learn your identity in Christ
3. As the Holy Spirit where you might be stuck in a middle ground and surrender the highlighted areas such as: “Lord I acknowledge and accept that I am not the Savior of my story or these situations: ___________. I choose to trust you and surrender this area to you.”
For the full conversation on the Occupy Freedom podcast, click on the link: