She stood in front of the mirror disgusted by the image reflecting back at her. She felt trapped inside a cage that had become her home—a home she remained in for the sake of familiarity and because of the lies she believed. To leave this cage required a careless abandon of her image; it required her to disengage from the pursuit of beauty, which would leave her impoverished with no identity or self-worth. She hated herself, but perhaps if she changed some of the outward flaws, then she’d be worthy of love. The lies rooted themselves deep into her soul; to walk away required her to redefine everything she believed about worth and beauty. Fear crippled her and kept her inside that cage. For seven years she restricted herself to strict dieting and exercising. If she “forgot” to work out one day, she’d wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, get out of bed, and yield as a slave to beauty.
Yes, this girl was me. And yes, I was a Christian. If Jesus really freed us from sin, then why are so many of us still enslaved by sin? Whether that sin is idolatry, hatred, debt, drunkenness, lust, or greed, we often yield to Jesus in every other part of our life, but for countless reasons, we remain yielded to a sin in our life that enslaves us to the lies of the enemy.
Tears flood my eyes as I think back to those difficult, lonely, and desperate years of addiction and disordered eating, a disorder defined by any obsessive behavior regarding diet. If I shared with you all of the demonic thoughts and lies I believed, you wouldn’t believe that I loved Jesus. But I did. I just remained yielded to my fleshly desires and it crippled me. I remember one of the countless nights that I got up at 2am because I fell asleep early without working out. As I began my routine of 500 crunches, I tiptoed out of bed while praying my husband wouldn’t wake up. I also prayed to God that night that He would intervene because as much as I hated it, I was too enslaved by it to let go. I knew that it not only destroyed me, but it would soon destroy my marriage. I didn’t know how to deny every lie that I believed and abided in daily, I just knew I couldn’t do it on my own.
It’s been almost three years since I prayed that initial prayer. Honestly, I don’t know how God got me out of that cage and brought me from there to here, but somehow, by His grace, He did…He did. Yes, I chose to yield to Him and to take my thoughts captive, but He freed me. My heart is burdened by how many of us live our lives as prisoners to sin that no longer has the authority to enslave us. Jesus came to set us free. And if we surrender to Him, He faithfully frees us.
I don’t know how God will get you from where you are to where you need to be in order to live as He purposed you to live, but I know that transformation is solely the Spirit’s work. Yes, it requires abandoning fears and even things you love. It requires letting go of those things you want to control and trusting in the sovereignty of God. It requires accountability, persistent prayer—even if it is just a consistent cry for help!—and obedience to His word. But as you surrender, He faithfully transforms and frees you from the enslavement of sin. Praise Jesus, for you are free, indeed!
“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But…God sent forth His Son…to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons…Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. When you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 4:3-9, 5:1
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2