Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Truth about True Freedom

On the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people thereof shall then be in rebellion against the United Sates, shall be then, thence forward and forever [free]." Those words are part of the great document issued by President Abraham Lincoln known as the Emancipation Proclamation. It freed all slaves in the U.S. forever, and guaranteed that slavery would never again taint America's states. In a similar way, God declared our spiritual emancipation proclamation through the death, burial, and resurrect in of our Lord Jesus Christ. The moment Jesus rose from the dead, Satan tasted utter defeat and lost the legal right of mastery and control over the life of any believer. Satan possesses no legal, spiritual, or actual right to run our lives! However, though the enemy has no legal right, many Christians experience his intrusion into their lives due to unresolved issues of unconfessed and unrepented sin. This is why Paul commands us to "not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). Clients come to counseling looking for the spiritual guidance that will lead them to freedom from sin and growth in Christ. True biblical counseling seeks to equip an army for warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil by helping them put on the spiritual armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-12). The result of such guidance is true freedom in our inner person-a freedom to serve God and love those around us, a joy while sharing our faith, and even a smile or two. That's what Riley found out. A pastor friend referred Riley to me, saying that Riley was hearing voices in his head. Riley had told the pastor that the voices had been speaking for the past twenty years, telling Riley he was no good, he was stupid, and he should curse God and Christ. When Riley arrived, I had an opportunity to get acquainted with him and his wife. I asked him to explain his situation, and he said, "When I got out of the navy, I was diagnosed as being schizophrenic. I have voices that scream in my mind. With enough medication they now have them down so that it's more like a conversation in the back of my head." It has been my experience with schizophrenics that medication sometimes takes away the voices. However, there are times when the voices are not speaking because of a biochemical problem, but rather there is an enemy behind them. I could tell that Riley had a heart that loved God and he was sincerely seeking help, so I asked him an important question. When did the voices start?" "When I was in the navy," he said, "I became involved in some homosexual activity. That was the beginning of hearing voices." I asked if he had ever asked God to forgive him for those wrongs and asked God to take back the ground he had given to Satan. To his best recollection he had not. We prayed together, I asked God to grant him repentance, and he asked the Lord to stop Satan's influence in his life. Afterward he looked at me with the most surprised look on his face and said, "This is absolutely amazing; the voices just stopped." I praised God, and Riley asked, "What do I do now?" I said, "Why don't you take a walk. Maybe enjoy life, enjoy the Lord. Come back in a half an hour and we will evaluate." He took a half-hour walk and came back. When we sat down in my office again, he said, "The voices are still silent. I can't believe it." We began to meet together on a weekly basis, and it was astonishing what would happen from week to week. After the first week he reported that his psychiatrist had said his schizophrenia had gone into total remission. He would no longer need medication. After the second week he said that for the first time in twenty years he was able to work. The third week he said for the first time in twenty years he was able to truly read the Bible, concentrating and praying on it as he went. The fourth week he shared with me that his love for his wife was growing by leaps and bounds. They now had an emotional connectedness that they had not had since the time he had met her. It has been several years since then. Recently I received a phone call from a man who goes to Riley's church. he said, "Ken, let me give you my perspective on Riley. He works a full-time job, he is out for calling every Thursday night, he plays on the church baseball team, and he teaches a Sunday school class. But none of that is the most amazing thing. The most amazing thing is that he grins all the time. I could only laugh for joy at this transformation that happened as a result of a little prayer of confession and the receipt of forgiveness. My friend said, "If I had gone through what Riley had gone through, I believe I would grin all the time, too." Most of us will not hear voices, but many of us still need to claim our freedom in Christ. Such freedom prepares a person to go forward in truth and to stand with Jesus Christ against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Often that all begins with a single prayer of repentance. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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