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The Church Today

Biblical churches in America have done a great job of preaching the gospel from their pulpits, and many people have been saved. In other words, evangelism has been strong. But discipleship, by and large, has been failing as many of God’s people struggle to move on spiritually. Church leaders long to see their people grow up and mature in Christ but too often it’s just not happening. What’s the problem? There is an overlooked link, a missing ingredient…a bypassed bridge…between salvation in Christ and maturity in Christ. And that is experiencing the freedom that Jesus alone can give. Without discovering the truth that sets us free, we cannot grow to full maturity in Christ.

Most of God’s people are spiritually stuck, running in place – expending a lot of energy but getting nowhere fast. Some are painfully aware of their struggles and yearn to be free from the guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, abuse and addictions that are suffocating their souls. Others are largely clueless … even complacent about their struggles … having accepted as normal a subnormal life in Christ, where faith is lived out on Sunday mornings but is largely irrelevant the rest of the week. [1]

Believers need help to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles” them so that they can run with endurance the race set before them, with their eyes firmly fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1,2). Spiritual freedom is necessary for believers in Christ to become growing, fruitful disciples, but is the “missing ingredient” in most Christians’ lives. Jesus Christ has come to bind up broken hearts and set captives free (Isaiah 61:1) to become growing, fruitful disciples. Followers of Christ desperately need to understand who they are in Christ; make that “Abba! Father!” connection with God as Father; and win the spiritual battles for their minds. [2]

Distribution of Adults [in the United States] along the Transformational Journey [3]

Stop 1: Unaware of sin [1%]

Stop 2: Indifferent to sin [16%]

Stop 3: Worried about sin [39%]

[Total unsaved: 56%]

Stop 4: Forgiven for sin [9%]

Stop 5: Forgiven and active [24%] [majority of Christians]

Stop 6: Holy discontent [6%]

Stop 7: Broken by God [3%]

Stop 8: Surrender and submission [1%]

Stop 9: Profound love of God [0.5%]

Stop 10: Profound love of people [0.5%]

[Total born again: 44%]

Free of Satan's Bondage [4]

1 John 1:5
God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all

Nobody loses control to Satan overnight; it's a gradual process of deception and yielding to his subtle influence. It is my observation that no more than 15 percent of the evangelical Christian community is completely free of Satan's bondage. These people consistently live a Spirit-filled life and bear fruit. The other 85 percent [majority of Christians] are struggling along fruitlessly at one of at least three levels of spiritual conflict.

First, a believer may lead a fairly normal Christian life on the outside while wrestling with a steady barrage of sinful thoughts on the inside: lust, envy, greed, hatred, apathy, etc. These people have virtually no devotional life. Prayer is a frustrating experience for them, and they usually struggle with interpersonal relationships and a problem-filled thought life. Most Christians in this condition have no idea that they are in the middle of a spiritual conflict. Approximately 65 percent of all Christians live at this level of spiritual conflict.

The second level of conflict is characterized by those who are plagued by condemning evil thoughts and strange "voices" which seem to overpower them. They wonder if they are mentally ill. Yet the majority of Christians at this stage still fail to see their struggle as a spiritual conflict. Approximately 15 percent of all Christians fall into this category. Most of these people are depressed, anxious, paranoid, bitter, or angry, and they may have fallen victim to drinking, drugs, eating disorders, etc.

At the third level of conflict, the individual has lost control and hears voices inside his mind which tell him what to think, say and do. These people stay at home, wander the streets talking to imaginary people, or occupy beds in mental institutions or rehab units. Sadly, about 5 percent of the Christian community falls victim to this level of deception and control.

I don't say these things to frighten you but to encourage you to walk daily in the light. As you walk in the light, you need not fear the darkness at any level. Every child of God can and should be free in Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I choose to walk in the light today and set aside the sinful thoughts and deeds that so easily entangle me.

Some Major Ongoing Problems Christians Struggle With

Most Christians have never done a thorough spiritual house cleaning at the beginning of their Christian walk - most first century Christians did so prior to baptism. Few do it anytime during their Christian walk. Fruitfulness is closely related to spiritual freedom.

  • Approximately 50% of Christian men have unresolved pornography issues [5], [6]
  • Approximately 50% of all Christians have unresolved bitterness & unforgiveness issues [7]
  • Many western Christians harbor covetousness (materialism), which is idolatry, in their hearts

Most Christians

  • Are deceived and believe lies about their position and standing with God in Christ
    • Some even hear voices in their heads [4]
  • Don’t understand that they bring their own personal plans for living their lives apart from God into their Christian walk. Their Plan B rather than God’s Plan A. God's Plan A only replaces our Plan B through the renewing of our minds - a process that takes time and purposeful, consistent effort.
  • Don’t know completely, according to scripture, who they truly are in Christ
  • Don’t believe they are truly accepted, significant and secure in Christ
  • Don’t properly understand that to be a true Christian they must become lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ - a lifelong ongoing process of
    • Working out their salvation with fear and trembling
    • Maturing and growing in Christ - sanctification
    • Abiding in Christ through regular personalized prayer with Jesus and Father God
  • Don’t truly believe that their fight is primarily a spiritual battle for their mind and
    • That demons are real and can and do create spiritual and physical bondages in Christians
    • That our fight is not against flesh and blood but against rulers (principalities) and authorities (powers) in heavenly places
  • Believe they are sinners rather than how God sees them - as saints who are overcomers in Christ and who should be sinning less and less because of the fruits of the indwelling Holy Spirit
  • Wear masks
    • Speak and act like everything is okay inside when it is not

Many Christians

  • Addictions
    • Drugs & Alcohol & Smoking
    • Sexual / Pornography
    • Eating Disorders
    • Shopping
    • Gambling

Resolving Personal and Spiritual Conflicts [8]

Since we are all born dead (spiritually) in our trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1), we had neither the presence of God in our lives nor the knowledge of His ways. Consequently, we all learned to live independently of God. When we became new creations in Christ our minds were not instantly renewed. That is why Paul wrote, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — His good, pleasing, and perfect will" (Romans 12:2 N I V ) . That is why new Christians struggle with many of the same old thoughts and habits. Their minds have been previously programmed to live independently of God and that is the chief characteristic of our flesh. As new creations in Christ we have the mind of Christ, and the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.

To experience our freedom in Christ, and grow in the grace of God, requires repentance, which literally means a change of mind. God will enable that process as we submit to Him and resist the devil (James 4:7). The Steps to Freedom in Christ (The Steps) are designed to help you do that. Submitting to God is the critical issue. He is the wonderful counselor and the One who grants repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25). The Steps cover seven critical issues that affect our relationship with God. We will not experience our freedom in Christ if we seek false guidance, believe lies, fail to forgive others as we have been forgiven, live in rebellion, respond in pride, fail to acknowledge our sin, and continue in the sins of our ancestors. "He who conceals transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes [renounces] them will find compassion" (Proverbs 28:13). "Therefore since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we renounced things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth" (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Even though Satan is defeated, he still rules this world through a hierarchy of demons who tempt, accuse, and deceive those who fail to put on the armor of God, stand firm in their faith, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Our sanctuary is our identity and position in Christ and we have all the protection we need to live a victorious life, but if we fail to assume our responsibility and give ground to Satan, we will suffer the consequences of our sinful attitudes and actions. The good news is, we can repent and reclaim all that we have in Christ, and that is what The Steps will enable you to do.

More About The Steps to Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ

Freedom Appointment

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Footnotes

[1] Freedom in Christ Ministries, "About Us: The Present Problem", https://ficm.org/about-us/

[2] Freedom in Christ Ministries, "About Us: God's Solution", https://ficm.org/about-us/

[3] George Barna, Maximum Faith - Live Like Jesus. (Austin, Tx: Fedd and Company, Inc, 2011), 25. www.georgebarna.com/products/maximum-faith

[4] Dr. Neil Anderson, Daily in Christ a Devotional. (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, Inc., 1993), March 7

[5] Barna Research, "The Porn Phenomenon", https://www.barna.com/the-porn-phenomenon/

[6] Meredith Somers, "More than half of Christian men admit to watching pornography", The Washington Times, August 24, 2014, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/24/more-than-half-of-christian-men-admit-to-watching-/

[7] TimeToLetGo.com, "The Survey", http://timetoletgo.com/the-survey/

[8] Neil T. Anderson, The Steps to Freedom in Christ. (Bloomington, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 2017), 2.