Moving Through Suffering – Hebrews 2:10-18
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (14-15)
When we look at humanity we see so many radically different groups and we wonder if harmony will ever be possible on earth. We see the ancients and the moderns, the communists and the capitalists, the Hindus and the Muslims, the young and the old, the devout and the debauched and a hundred other breakdowns. I wonder though, in light of verse 15, if there really isn’t just two categories of men; those who are free and those who are slaves. We know Jesus came to set captives free and we know Satan has come to prolong our slavery with the fear of death. Let’s explore just how he is pulling this off.
Let’s review. We know the devil is the spiritual father of all lies. His lies are disseminated in the form of myths, errors and distortions. His power rests in deception. His mission is to persuade men that God does not exist or to distort God’s actual nature.
What do you believe are Satan’s greatest lies? I am proposing it those particular lies which are causing the most suffering to the most people over the longest period of time. And, I am proposing that the greatest lies are those keeping Christians enslaved – lies keeping the light of the world glowing at low wattage. Satan’s worst nightmare is that the children of God discover the fullness of life in Christ, who is in them. Liberated children of light, free from the fear of death, are big trouble for Satan. Fearless citizens of God’s kingdom will wreck the kingdom of darkness because truth sets captives free! What are the greatest lies being told on earth? I believe they are the myths, errors and distortions currently entertained by the Body of Christ of which we are members.
That might be hard to swallow. Let me restate my point by asking another question; What is the greatest evil that could be perpetuated on a community infected with Ebola? Simple; it would be to withhold from it an available Ebola vaccine. Without the vaccine, the virus will systematically ravage and kill everyone. Similarly, our world is infected with a fatal spiritual virus which is destroying us. Jesus Christ is this earthly community’s only cure. The Body of Jesus Christ is this infected and dying community’s only hope. We are Christ’s Body and we are this earth’s long awaited vaccine.
Yet, slavery within the Church is not a popular topic. How can a pastor speak to his congregation who is free in Christ (at least in bible-theory) and insinuate that lies being entertained in their hearts is causing the most suffering to the most people over the longest period of time? If these lies exist, as I have proposed, what would they look like? First of all, they will not be obvious to us because they will have become our normal. Promoting lies until they becomes norms is how the enemy enslaves men. Let’s look to Jesus for help.
Jesus was tempted just as we are. He understands the temptation to sell out to the devil better than we do. He was assaulted with lies in the wilderness. Recall, these temptations each began with, “If you are the son of God, then you will……..”. There is a satanic bullseye painted on our identities. How we see ourselves is one of Satan’s primary targets – where he doth seek to work us woe. We have not yet prevailed over our enemy as Jesus has. Over our lifetimes, we have allowed myths errors and distortions about God and ourselves to take precedence over God’s words. These thoughts are our enslaving norms.
Slave-thoughts can become so engrained in our identities, questions about our legitimacy and God’s goodness can become normal. I have been shocked in my personal journey out of slavery into freedom, how frequently, even as a Christian, I have lived in agreement with the father of lies. This is why Psalm 139: 23-24 is such a pivotal prayer to me …
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful (enslaving) way in me, and lead me in the everlasting (liberated) way.
When we break into freedom, and we shall, because he is bringing many sons to glory, light will be released through the Church, not just through better programs and sermons but through the lives of those who are being transformed into the image of Jesus. God is seeing to it that his children are spreading out strategically into all the earth. Like a positive virus, the Church is being poised to infect the world with Jesus Christ. We have each been relationally positioned to infect others with the love of God – which is our ultimate cure.
Father, through your suffering, you have removed the basis of our fear of death. Let us give ourselves unreservedly to your life. Go after the enslaving half-truths and blatant lies the enemy has sold us. Liberate us into the freedom of the sons of God which we and all creation are longing to experience. Amen.