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29: Breaking the Chain of Condemnation

Crossroads Connection / Pastor Andy George
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2022 4:00 pm

29: Breaking the Chain of Condemnation

Crossroads Connection / Pastor Andy George

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Alright, here we go.

Chainbreaker. We're going to talk about this in four weeks. Today we're going to talk about the chain of condemnation. Next we're going to talk about the chain of comparison.

And then we're going to talk about the crowd, the chain of the crowd. And the final week we're going to talk about what it's like to actually be chained to Christ. So to set up the whole series, I want to take us to Acts chapter 16. It's a very well-known passage of scripture where Paul and Silas have been imprisoned, they've been captured and taken in, and they've been put in prison. And the visual here of what's happening in Acts chapter 16. And then we're going to talk about the different chains of condemnation, how to actually get free from that. And my prayer for us this morning, whether it's condemnation or all that goes with that, that whatever is kind of holding you back from really being all that God has for you, that you will literally begin to feel those things leave you and those chains break off of you.

But here we go. Acts chapter 16, verse 22 to 26. It says that the crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordered the jailer to keep them safely.

Having received this order, he put them in the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. And then Paul and Silas were unfastened. Let me just set the context here because I think this is one of those passages that we read and just say, okay, they got thrown in jail. They started to pray. They worshiped.

There was an earthquake. God set them free. We know the story. But I want to set up the reality of what happened. If you look a little deeper into this passage, I want to paint the visual of what's going on. First, let's start with even just the simple things that it says that they tore their clothing. This is an act of violence, by the way.

This is not just, hey, go over here. And take off your shirt so we can beat you. They ripped them completely off. In other words, Paul and Silas were naked. They ripped their clothes off. They embarrassed them. They were doing it violently. That's setting the stage immediately of what was happening here. Then it turns to this next thing is that there was no trial.

So they gave them no trial whatsoever. They put them into the inner prison. In the Roman prison system, there's three prisons.

There's the outer that has air and light. Then there's kind of the first inner prison that was basically loosely guarded. And then there's what is known as the dungeon. And this is where they put Paul and Silas.

So Paul and Silas are mocked. They are stripped of their clothing. They are brought into the inner prison. And they are beaten.

And this terminology, beating with rods, it's a big bundle of sticks that are wrapped together. In other words, they would have been beaten until their flesh was ripped open. So it wasn't just a few whips of a stick and then put them in a prison. It was they beat them until their flesh is ripped and they're bleeding. They're naked.

They're embarrassed in front of people. They're beaten down. Then they're led down into the lower inner prison dungeon system. At that point, it then says that their feet were put in stocks.

I want to again paint the picture of the reality of what this is. These are wooden stocks that are cased in iron. And they're put in there and they can adjust them to be as uncomfortable and as torturous as possible. And so they would spread their feet apart. They would put them in different angles so they would be in severe pain. They would say they also had their hands in it and their neck was also in it. And so it wasn't that they were just sitting.

And I went and I looked at a lot of historian renditions of Paul and Silas just to see what artists would render. And it's usually them sitting there fully clothed with just a couple of chains around their feet and then a little angel over their shoulder kind of sitting there. And they're just sitting there singing. These guys were in the deepest part of the dungeon, bloodied, flesh torn open, feet in stocks, put at angles to make it as torturous as possible.

More than likely with their wrists and their neck as well so they couldn't really move. And this is where we find them praying and singing. And the reason why I set that up and I wanted to be kind of real with what it was is because they're chained up.

There's nowhere to go. At some point in the middle of the night, they begin to turn their focus to God. Chained up. I want to get the visual in your mind and your heart of what you are chained to. And so what is it in your life, quite honestly, if you're just very, very honest with yourself, what is it in your life and in your heart, in your spirit, in your mind that is chaining you down from being all that God really wants you to be?

Everything that he has. What are you chained to? What are we chained to? What are we exposed to? Where are the dark places that we've kind of hidden these leading towards, leading towards death and dying?

That are really holding us back. And I think that for a lot of people, there's something, there's something in life, there's something happening that is kind of holding you back. And today I want to talk about, specifically about condemnation. As a pastor, a lot of the conversations I have revolve around people that are dealing with things of the past. They're dealing with their past mistakes, their past issues, the things that they used to be that keep haunting them. Or in very real time, they're dealing with the things that they bring to God and they lay at his feet.

But then they pick back up and they take with them. And again, as your pastor, I want you to be able to live the life that you were meant to live in freedom, to be really free from all that. I think that one of the hardest things for people is to forgive yourself, move on, and be all that God wants you to be without the enemy whispering back in your ear, setting things up for failure, setting you up to be chained again to things of the past. What you've been chained to and held on to. But at the same time, I want you to think about your own life. What is it in your life that is keeping you from the joy that God has for you, keeping you from becoming everything that God wants from you, keeping you from being bold and walking in boldness in your faith out in public?

What is it that's kind of holding you back and doing that? And really, all month, we're going to pick kind of a different thing. And my hope and prayer is that this is not a message of condemnation, that you actually feel freedom and hope that there's something special that God has for you. With that in mind, I want us to turn over to Romans chapter 8 now.

So we kind of have the visual of what being chained looks like. And the answer we're going to get to at the end, and we have a special song, a reflection that is going to be a special moment this morning. But before we get there, I want to read Romans 8 verse 1 to 9. In Romans 8, 1 to 9, we begin to see the things that chain us to condemnation of the past, and it really comes down to our flesh versus our spirit.

In Romans chapter 8 verse 1 to 9, it says, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For what God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do, by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemns sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. For those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot.

For those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the spirit. As we begin to talk about condemnation and what that really does, it really comes down to the law of the spirit of life versus the law of sin and death.

And that there's this moment that God comes and he sends Jesus to do something that none of us could do in order to give us freedom from sin and from death. But there is a constant battle that is raging that Romans 8 speaks about. It's the battle that more than likely you and I face every single day and that is our flesh versus our spirit. It's kind of the verse that says that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak that Jesus himself speaks about. There's this constant battle between what my flesh desires, what culture wants from me, what my job wants from me, what's expected of me, versus the spirit of God that's in me that actually leads me to life and to hope. And there's this constant picture and this constant battle that's raging between the two. And there's condemnation in the flesh and there's life in the spirit.

So let's break it down real quick. Let's talk first about the condemnation of the flesh. And then we're going to talk about freedom in the spirit because that's where we're going to find freedom from all the things that are happening in our life. We talk about chains. We talk about things that chain us down. I'm going to call out about three things that chain us down to this condemnation. And I got a little bit of help so if you guys can come up here this morning with me. I want to show a little visual of what's happening here in our life.

And so there's this condemnation and so you guys can go over here. There's three areas that I want to identify. And I want you to think about your life and what's happening. The first one is, here you go.

Thank you. The first one is what the Bible calls death and hostility. That when I live according to the flesh, what it's saying is that I'm living in death and hostility towards God. That there's something towards God that is not allowing me to move beyond the hostility that I have.

And we see this happen, don't we, really in our culture playing out a lot. There's a lot of people that are hostile towards God. There's a lot of people hostile towards the lifestyle that we say is the way to live.

That what the Bible says how we should live our life. And so again you got people that claim to be Christians yet are living actually very hostile towards God's word. We talk about this regularly that there's this massive attack against the spiritual authority that God put in this Bible.

There's moral attacks, there's spiritual attacks, there's all these things that are raging out there. And we're caught in this middle of God, I know what you want me to do. But at the same time I'm kind of stuck to culture, I'm kind of stuck back here in hostility to God. And you walk out, you look at the news, you look at culture, you look at media, you look at the places where we work and play.

There's so much hostility towards faith, towards God, towards Christianity, towards the Bible and it's playing out every day. And unfortunately if we're not careful at times we get caught in that. Now what happens also is that we have a lot of room and so we kind of feel like okay well I'm living for God, I'm doing what I have to do. But there's still this holding us back.

It's all that God has for me is ahead of me and in the future and life and all these things in front of me that we're going to get to in the spirit and freedom. But we're constantly held back. The other one is this, the other one we talk about is guilt. And this is the second chain today in condemnation that is so nasty. It's this guilt feeling. And so not only are we chained to the culture and chained towards what's happening in life and hostility to God, but if we're not careful we also get chained to past guilts and past guilts. Feeling guilty of the sins of the past. We have regrets. Every one of us have a sinful life, a sinful past. Even though the Bible constantly says that who the Son sets free is free. And we can go down the list of verses that your new creation in Christ that the old is gone and the new is coming.

We're like yes. And then we're still chained to the guilts of the past. There's things in my life that still rage up 10, 20, even 30 years ago where you're just driving.

You're not even thinking about it. And all of a sudden there's this whisper in your ear going, you remember when you did that? Anybody else have that whisper sometimes?

Did you remember what you said? And you know you're free from it. You know you're free. You know that God has actually set you free from that guilt. And yet immediately just by a whisper and you're chained to it. So now I'm chained to hostility to God and culture.

And I'm chained to guilt to the past and all these guilt and then the third chain which is so nasty. It's shame. It's not the same as guilt. It's shame. Walking and living in shame.

Feeling as though in real time because here's the reality. The reality is probably every single day you and I have things that we got to repent for and say we're sorry for and turn away for. And shame will just cause us to just stop. See, guilt kind of comes and goes and we feel it. What shame does for us though, shame actually makes us just kind of give up. Why would God love somebody like me? So we feel guilty of sins of the past and the enemy whispers that.

But what shame does is shame makes me feel not worthy. I've been there before too. I'm sure you have.

Sometimes I live there too long. I know what God's word says, my Bible over here. I just I know what it says. I know that I'm not supposed to live. I know that God says that when he forgives us that he forgets it.

It's the east and from the west. He separates it. He doesn't remember it anymore. And I can list you all the verses that are so real. And yet out of nowhere, all of a sudden I feel so unworthy. Not in a good righteous sense, but in a shame sense. God, why would you love somebody like me? God, why would you send Jesus to die for me?

I keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again. And we start to feel shame. These three chains of condemnation keep us back from being everything that God wants us to be. And we can know all the verses. We can know all the verses. We can know what it says. We can come and we can sing songs and we can be part of small groups.

We can be part of ministry teams and leadership teams. And we can still be chained to all this stuff. And again, we have this little freedom so at times we feel like, hey, we're good and we can move around. But then as soon as we get to a certain point, it just stops. There's no more progress.

We can't move forward. And then we get a little bit of freedom here. We get a little bit. We have one moment where one of the chains kind of breaks free and so we feel a little bit better and we can feel a little bit stronger. But then just like the enemy, all of a sudden he speaks it back and he hands it back to us again. And we pick it back up and we're chained back again.

And it's like this constant dropping of one, picking up the other. And I'm just telling you that everything God has for me is that way. It's not in the past. It's not in shame and guilt. It's not in being hostile to God.

It's all this way. This is why so many people just stop their growth. They get to a certain point in their faith and they just kind of stop. They never grow further. They don't take those next steps.

They don't dive deeper into discipleship. Why? Well, because somewhere, somehow, they're still chained to something. I want to ask you a question before I go further. What are you still chained to? What is it in your past, in your life, maybe something that's fresh that's happened, maybe something years ago that the enemy just keeps whispering back to you that you are chained? Now, this would be a really bad sermon if we just end here. So we're going to talk now about how we actually get set free from this.

Thank you, guys. How we actually get set free from this first thing is this. We have to understand that there's a very real enemy and Satan has a very real role in this. And Satan's role in this, if we're going to be free, if we're going to believe what Romans 8 says, that there's no condemnation. Did you see how it says that? There's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Got it. No condemnation for those. I'm in Christ Jesus. No condemnation. No condemnation. Oh, I feel like I'm a terrible person. No condemnation.

I'm free. Jesus set us free. God gave us Jesus.

He's the perfect sacrifice. In Him is all the righteousness. I don't want to live according to the flesh because it's hostile to God. And yet I find myself engaging with the flesh instead of the spirit.

And then why does this happen? Well, it happens because there's a very real enemy that's accusing the saints. Let's not forget that just like Jesus has a role that He's playing in our life, there's a very real adversary that plays a role.

Revelation chapter 12 verse 10. It says, Just get that picture in your mind. That there's this very real enemy that is constantly just accusing the saints.

That is so good at whispering in the ear. That is so good at reminding us of all the past that God has already forgiven us of. That we for some reason can't forgive ourselves. We for some reason can't move beyond it. And the enemy just keeps pulling at that.

And then the one moment you feel good and then you do something. And the enemy's like, Oh, see, there it is. There's the old person.

At least I know in my life the enemy is so good at saying, Hey, I thought you were a new creation, Andy. I thought the old was gone and the new has come. So why are you doing that? Why are you thinking about that? Why did that happen?

Why does this happen? And then you start down this track and down this long dark road of all these mistakes that you've made. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort, it drains us. It's a reminder when it comes to the flesh and the spirit that my battle is actually spiritual first. If I can't win the spiritual battle first, I'm never going to win the flesh battle. And unfortunately, a lot of times what we try to do is against these chains, we try to fight it in our flesh, we try to fight it as best as we can, we try to do all that we can to battle it. We put up safeguards, we put accountability partners, we get part of groups and all these things, which is all great, but I'm just telling you, if you don't allow the Holy Spirit to make you new, you will never be free from the chains of the past. You never will.

You feel like it for a moment, but you never will be truly free. Ephesians 6-12 is a great reminder, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. We have a very real enemy that is a very real accuser that loves to whisper guilt and shame and hostility. And we've got to remember that I have to be a spiritual person first. So let's talk about how we are free from this. Number two, real quickly, living according to the Spirit.

Let's talk about that. In verse 9 of what we just read in Romans, it says, You, however, you are not of the flesh, but you are of the Spirit. So I would say that before we even jump into the takeaway that we've got to recognize that we are spiritual beings and that's where we have to live, in that spiritual realm, not in the fleshy realm. So here we go, living according to the Spirit means this, is that we have life and peace, not death and hostility.

So let's look at the opposite side of that. In Romans 8 it talks about those in the flesh are hostile to God and death to God. So the opposite of that, living in the Spirit means I have life and I have peace in Him. John 6-63, it is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh is no help at all. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and in life.

Did you hear that? The Spirit gives us life. It's not your job, it's not your spouse, it's not your kids, it's not your career, it's not your school, it's not sports, it's not your talent. That is not where we get our life from. We get our life from the Spirit.

But what happens if we live according to the flesh, then we highlight that and we minimize the other side in John 14-27. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you.

And I love what he says, he says, not as the world gives. Jesus does not give you peace the way the world offers you peace. Again, a good lie of the enemy and trick of the enemy is to say, hey, you can have peace by doing this.

You can have peace if you would just engage in the world this way, if you would just be like everybody else in your school and in your job, if you would just act like all the rest of your neighbors, you'll have peace because you'll get along with everybody. At the same time, we are dying spiritually every day because we're more concerned about that. But Jesus says, I give you life and peace. The next one is this, living according to the Spirit means I have freedom and I have purpose. And these are things that I know for me that I have to regularly remind myself that I am free from that and there's a purpose for my life. It doesn't matter how bad my past was, it doesn't matter how dark it may have been, when Jesus set us free and renewed us, he gave us purpose.

Amen, somebody? You've got purpose in your life. And if you're hanging on to the chains of all the past stuff, you will never step into the purpose God has for you.

See, that's where that shame comes in. That's where it comes in and you go, why can't it be used by God because of this? But he made you new, he set you free. Galatians 5, 1, he says, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm them and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. You are free. Look at somebody next to you and say, you are free.

Tell somebody that. You are free. So don't pick up that yoke of slavery anymore. Galatians 5, 13, for you were called to freedom. Come on, everybody say freedom. You've been called to freedom, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. See, our freedom doesn't mean I just get to do whatever I want to do. That's not real freedom. In fact, the final week we're going to talk about how do we actually live free by being chained to Christ.

That's where real freedom actually is. We've got to remind ourselves that we're free, we have a purpose in our life. And the last one is that there's joy. There's joy in our life. Instead of shame, there's joy. There's fruit that God has for us.

I don't have to live feeling guilty and shameful about my past. Instead, I can walk in the fruit of the Spirit. I love Galatians 5, 22. Most of you know it, but here is the product of living in the Spirit.

It says, but the fruit of the Spirit is love. It is joy. It is peace. It is patience. It is kindness, goodness, faithfulness. It is gentleness, self-control. These are the fruits that we have when we live according to the Spirit.

So there's the picture. Live according to the flesh, and you've got hostility towards God. You have death. You have sin. You have guilt, and you have shame.

The other side that Romans 8 speaks about is the other side, living according to the Spirit. You actually have life, and you have peace. You've got freedom. You have purpose. You have joy and all those other fruits that go alongside of that. So how do we actually get there? So it's one thing to know it. It's another thing to walk in it. My hope and prayer for you is that you don't just know the difference between the flesh and the Spirit, but you actually walk in all the things that the freedom of the Spirit has for you.

The answer is not very difficult, yet sometimes it's so hard to do. It's actually found back in what we just read in Acts 16. Go back to Acts 16, verse 25 to 26. See, there's freedom from condemnation, ultimately through two things, prayer and worship. Again, it brings it back to spiritual things, prayer and worship.

In Acts 16, 25 to 26, it says about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Mind you, they are bleeding. They are broken. They are in pain. They are in agony. They are in a dungeon where people are sent just to die, and this is where we find them praying, and we find them worshiping.

How can that happen? What happens because our heart and our mind are set on heaven, not on the chains. Paul and Silas, their focus wasn't on how do I get out of these chains. Their focus was on how do I worship God in this moment. If you and I want to be free from condemnation, whether it's hostility towards God, guilt, or shame, the answer is back to prayer and back to worship. When we pray, when we worship, a beautiful thing happens, and the beautiful thing happens is that we take what's in our hand, that shame, that guilt, that hostility, and we let it go. That's what prayer does. That's what worship does. It allows me to open my hands from the chains that are holding me down so that I can receive what God has for me. I can certainly pray, and I can certainly worship God in many different ways, but I'm just telling you that one of the greatest things that happen is that even though I might be chained to different things, at some point in my prayer and in my worship, I have to let go of these chains. That's what prayer and worship does for us.

We see that happen. In Paul and Silas' case, they were praying and they were worshiping. If you read into the original languaging of what was happening, they prayed, and as they prayed, their prayers, which I'm sure they were probably praying for their freedom and praying for different things, it shifted to actually singing their prayer and singing and focusing on God. As they did that, here's the beautiful thing that happened.

It says there was a great earthquake, the foundations of the prison were shaken, and it says that immediately the doors were open and everyone's bonds were set free. There was freedom found in prayer and in worship, and you will exhaust yourself in the flesh if you try to fix your marriage in the flesh. You will exhaust yourself in the flesh if you try to fix your soul by doing fleshly things.

You will exhaust yourself in the flesh if you try to find purpose in just working harder and just being a better person instead of allowing God to make you new in your heart. This is how we do this. It is through prayer. It is through worship. The end result of this is that not only was everybody free, but the jailer and his whole household became saved. What a great picture of what happens when you and I find freedom.

You saw it on the video. Part of what we want to do is see transformation happen in families and in life and in the world around us. Again, we can be used, but at some point we're going to be held back from really all that God has for us to be used in the way that God wants us to be used to see transformation happen in our families and our lives and in our world until we learn just to let it go and to pray and to worship. We're going to end this morning in a little different way, in a special way, and I'm going to have the team come out. We have a special song that the team is going to do. It's a beautiful song. And the song is not meant for you to sing. The song is meant to minister to you while you reflect. And here's what I want you to do as they come and as they get ready.

I want you to ask an honest question of your heart. What are the chains that are holding me back? Maybe it's hostility towards God. Maybe you're too in love with the culture and not enough with God. Maybe it's shame. Maybe it's guilt.

Maybe it's burdens of the past that you just don't feel free from. Can we allow this moment to do what Paul and Silas did, and that is to just give it to the Lord in prayer, give it to Him in worship. The song that they're going to sing is all about Jesus. It's all about what Jesus came to do because Jesus came, according to Romans 8, He came to set us free. He came to take all of our burdens and all of the bondage and all of the chains and all of the yoke of slavery. He came and took all of that on Him, not so that you and I would carry it. Just think about that. Jesus came to set us all free, and yet how many of us today are stuck in something and we're chained down to something? My prayer is that you will find freedom today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-12 07:58:43 / 2022-12-12 08:11:24 / 13

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