I spent the majority of high school and half of college hopelessly depressed.
Seriously. It wasn’t pretty.
I cried my way through classes… I cried at work. I got sent to counselors, who didn’t know what to do with me so they sent me to more counselors… Nothing really helped.
I developed an eating disorder. I prayed that God would just kill me, because I was just done. (Obviously, He didn’t)
I knew I was depressed, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t know where to turn or how to get better. So I was just kind of “stuck”… for a long time.
Now, before we go any further, let me just state that I am NOT a mental health professional–I’m a Christian blogger. And if you feel now the way that I did then, please talk to someone way more qualified than me. There are tons of free, anonymous resources out there for you if you just Google it.
Today, I just want to talk about the spiritual side of things. And not just depression, but anything you’re dealing with right now that has you feeling “stuck.”
Because this week, while we’re celebrating our nation’s freedom and independence, how many of us still desperately need freedom from the baggage we’ve been carrying around? Baggage we can’t seem to get rid of no matter how hard we try?
Maybe it’s persistent anger, unforgiveness or bitterness. Maybe it’s a sin or bad habit you just can’t seem to shake. Maybe you’re struggling with worry, sexual sin, comparison or a judgmental attitude. Maybe you’re hurt, scared or insecure and it’s causing you to behave in ways you know you shouldn’t.
What’s holding YOU back from freedom in Christ?
- Pause and reflect: What sins, bad habits, or negative thought patterns have you been dealing with for a while now that you can’t seem to shake?
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What the Bible Says About Freedom in Christ
The Scriptures are abundantly clear. In Christ, we are set FREE from sin and shame. We are a new creation–the old has gone, the new has come!
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” –Romans 1:1-2
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” — John 8:36
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” –Galatians 5:1
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” — John 8:32
So, if we’re so free… why aren’t we walking in it? Why are we still dealing with the old sins, habits, hurts and hang-ups? Why aren’t we living the full and abundant life Jesus promises us in John 10:10??
We have already been set free. The chains are gone. The prison doors are open. God has done what He has promised. Now it’s time to walk in it. To get up, and step OUT of the prison cell and experience the TRUE freedom God is calling us to.
Here’s how to get started:
How to Find Freedom From Spiritual Strongholds
1. Acknowledge the Situation
Sometimes when we’re in a situation for so long, it becomes our new “normal” and we don’t really realize how bad it’s gotten, how serious it is or how it’s affecting those around us.
Even something as small as stress eating can have serious negative affects if it’s causing us to be irritable with our families or robbing our energy so we can’t be as present or productive as we’d like to be.
That’s why the first thing you want to do is get very serious with yourself about what is going on, how it’s affecting you, and how it’s affecting others.
- Action step: Spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal to you how your hurts, sins or bad habits are affecting you and those you love. Bonus points if you ask loved ones for honest feedback.
2. Know God’s Truth
Even once we know what’s going on, however, we often have a tendency to dismiss things away, saying “It’s not so bad,” “Everyone does it,” or “God would understand.” The problem with this, however, is that if God says something is serious, we need to believe it’s serious too.
If not, it’s time to find out.
One resource that’s SUPER helpful for this is Grace Goals. It walks you step-by-step through the process of finding the key Bible verses for your issue and then using them to develop a specific action plan you can use to overcome whatever issue you’re currently struggling with.
- Action step: Look up Bible verses on whatever topic you’re facing currently. Write them down somewhere where you can reflect on them often. Check out Grace Goals to see if it might help.
3. Confess and Repent
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” — Acts 3:19
Once we know that what we’re doing is wrong, we can’t just continue to keep on doing wrong. We have to confess and repent. To confess basically means to tell God what we’ve done, and to repent simply means to do a 180 and turn the other way.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be heartfelt. For example, you could pray something like:
Dear God, I am so sorry for [insert sin, bad habit or negative thought pattern here]. Your Word says [quick summary of what you learned in the verses you looked up above], and you deserve no less than my best. I confess that I have sinned. Please forgive me and please give me the grace I need to make the right choice going forward. I love you, and I really do desire to show that through my actions. Please help me to do so. Amen.
4. Walk in the Truth
“If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.” –John 2:4
The Bible is clear: If we call ourselves Christians, we are expected to act like it. It isn’t enough to just believe God is real or that Jesus is the son of God (even demons believe that), we have to actually act like it too.
Sure, we’re never going to be perfect. We’ll always make mistakes and slip and stumble. But the Bible is full of SO many promises we can use to help us lean in and grow more and more each day. Verses like:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” — 1 Corinthians 10:13
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” — Romans 8:37
You CAN stop worrying. You CAN choose to forgive. You CAN take every thought captive to Christ. You can do all of these things and more. You simply need to choose to do them, and then find great Biblical resources that will help.
Grace Goals is the one I’d definitely recommend for most situations and circumstances.
A very hands-on, Bible-based, and truly helpful resource, it will walk you step-by-step through the process of finding the verses that are relevant to you, and then creating a real, doable plan that you can do to help you in your unique situation.
Plus, there are different levels depending on the amount of help that you need.
You can learn more about Grace Goals here.
5. Seek Out Accountability and Support
Lastly, I’ll just tell you honestly. Overcoming past sin and shame is NOT always easy.
For me, it took several years, a ton of support from my youth pastor, a TON of unconditional love and support from my husband, and this workbook right here.
Turns out, after being embarrassed by a friend, I had made a promise to myself that I would NEVER think too much of myself again… And… well… read the first few paragraphs of this post if you’ve already forgotten how that turned out. Vows are incredibly powerful things, even the vows we make to ourselves.
The good news is, having a supportive community of Christian friends and family that love us can be a very powerful thing too.
Need more Christian friends in your life? Friends who will speak truth to you and challenge you to weed out the bad parts that may be hiding deep in side? Check out this post on where to find more Christian friends or just hop on over to join our email community if you haven’t already!
Every week, I send out the best in Christian encouragement, great resources, freebies and all sorts of other greatness you won’t want to miss. Check it out!
What’s holding you back spiritually right now? What steps do you need to take TODAY to find freedom in Christ? Let me know in the comments below!