today we’re talking about chains
so here is my classic,
stream of consciousness
exploring this concept
i want us to be aware of our chains
and on this,
we have a choice to make
for years, i have loved the song “break every chain”
because there IS power in the name of Jesus
and he HAS proclaimed liberty to the captive
today, reading Ephesians, i was reminded of Paul
he was a prisoner for Christ
yet despite his chains, he was BOLD and FAITHFUL
during his time as a prisoner:
♥ he seeks the Lord
♥ he prays without ceasing
♥ and his heart is for the Lord’s people
we see this in his letters in his prayers,
in his desire for Christ to be known.
he calls himself an ‘ambassador in chains’
[ the what ]
ephesians 4:1 :
he calls himself a ‘prisoner for the Lord’
[ the what ]
ephesians 3:1 and 2:11 :
he says he is a prisoner ‘on behalf of you Gentiles’
[ the why ]
ephesians 3:13 :
‘i ask for you not to lose heart over what i am suffering for you, which is your glory’
[ the why]
i wanted to spur some thought around this concept of being an ambassador in chains
particularly, as you may have picked up from my last posts,
[ i have forgotten + i have to believe ]
i want to wrestle
t o g e t h e r
with what it means to follow Jesus
i personally struggle with the application of faith:
♥ when looking at this world, and seeing how divorced it is from the kingdom,
♥ when looking at myself, and seeing the battle of desire,
♥ and when looking at the tensions, the divisions, and the misalignment with reality and theology,
i get overwhelmed,
or rather, underwhelmed,
and i get disheartened.
in these times,
i need to look to the Word
and i need to look to those who reflect the Word.
i can find myself wrapped up in the Story, listening and willing to hear,
but sometimes, i need to look at the characters God has placed in this Story.
i can read the psalms, the proverbs, the gospels, the old, the new,
i can listen to worship music and read christian resources,
there are saints and soldiers who have fought before me,
and i can learn from their faithfulness to God despite suffering.
i can turn to the apostles and early church,
and i can learn from their perseverance and passion,
their conviction and commitment to the body of Christ.
and i’m in a season where i need to do this,
i don’t feel like an ambassador in chains.
i feel like i am in chains,
but not for Christ.
i feel in bondage;
a lot of the time, to fear and anxiety
other times, to idols and addictions
the Word speaks to this;
for the language of slavery is not unfamiliar to those of faith.
Paul speaks to the Galations about enslavement,
referring to weak and worthless principles,
suggesting there are elementary forces in this world
in which we can become slaves;
and these are sinful, fleshly forces,
ones that ultimately lead to death.
[ Galations 4:3, 4:9 ] [ also see Romans 6:12 ]
‘if with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why,
as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to its regulations’
[ Colossions 2:10 ]
Paul also speaks to Titus about being slaves to desires;
and he states that our obedience will be known,
for our actions will reflect our choice of living / walking / following:
‘they profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.
they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.’
[ Titus 1:16] …
‘for we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures,
passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.’
[ Titus 3:3]
b u t
despite this ability for us to fall into the trap of sin,
to become slaves to our desires, to this world,
there are truths to take hold of:
‘for the GRACE OF GOD has appeared,
bringing salvation for all people,
training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
waiting for our BLESSED HOPE,
the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness
and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.’
[ Titus 2: 11-14 ]
there is HOPE
for the sinner,
for the disobedient,
for the doubting,
for the foolish,
for the lost and astray.
a n d,
we are trained by GRACE
to be ambassadors in chains
[ Romans 8: 1-17 ]
the following passage is long,
b u t
notice the emphasis on the Spirit and flesh,
the tension there,
in walking with by the Spirit or by the flesh,
and the correlation to life and death,
and notice in v.6,
that peace is thrown in there,
for those who walk by the Spirit.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (1). For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death (2). For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin(3). He thus condemned sin in the flesh, (4) so that the righteous standard of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit (5). The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace (6), because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so (7). Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God (8).
You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (9). But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness (10). And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you (11).
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it (12). For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (v.13). For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (v.14).
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”(15). The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (16).And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him (17).
there is strong language used in this passage,
to describe the choice we have in our way of living / walking / following:
♥ what we set our minds on correlates to our choice (v.5)
// our thought life will indicate how we are living / walking / following,
it will be clear whether we are ruled / controlled by the flesh or Spirit, based on whether we:
set our mind on the things of the flesh OR the things of the Spirit
♥ we are ‘controlled’ (v.8-9)
// either by the Spirit or flesh
♥ ‘we have an obligation’ (v.12)
// to live according to the Spirit
(those who belong to Christ, who has Christ in them, see v.9-10)
♥ we can, ‘by the Spirit’, ‘put to death the deeds of the body’ (v.13)
// we have an active role in obedience, because of freewill,
and we also have an active helper, in the Spirit,
who assists us in putting to death the deeds of the flesh.
♥ we are ‘led’ (v.14)
// either by the Spirit or flesh,
if by the Spirit, we are sons of God.
♥ and finally, we also receive (v.15)
// for those who choose to follow Christ,
receive ‘the Spirit of sonship’ not a spirit of fear.
this is a super powerful passage,
and i hope it spurs us to start by evaluating our thought life,
what we set our minds on.
i know this is where i am going to be starting and focussing on.
as i said in the beginning,
this is a very fragmented collection of thoughts and verses and concepts,
but it is time to be aware of our chains and wise in the choice we make.
i may not feel like an ambassador in chains,
but being an ambassador is not about me anyway.
G R A C E
is training me to live by the Spirit, not the flesh.
will you allow grace to do the same?
to finish, here are some musical resources for further reflection:
[ Break Every Chain – Will Reagan + United Pursuit ]
there is power in the name of Jesus
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain
[ No Longer Slaves – Bethel Music ] i’m no longer
a slave to fear
i am a child of God