In Truly Free best-selling author Robert Morris invites us into a glorious truth—that the promise of being set free from the slavery of sin is a promise to be set free completely.
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). As believers, we have Christ and never need to be afraid. Yet it’s also true that we are not immune to the effects of evil. Christ has conquered sin and death, but in his infinite wisdom—for reasons that are often difficult for us to understand—evil is still permitted to exist. Even if we’re saved and trust in Christ, we may still find areas in which we just can’t get victory. Maybe it’s a sin we’ve confessed again and again or a constant struggle with depression, anger, or lust. These long-imbedded patterns of shameful living continue to entangle us day after day, month after month, and even year after year.
Although evil is real and Christians can be oppressed by it, we have the promise that the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Jesus saves us, trains us to resist the power of evil, and delivers us from anything that holds us back. With Jesus, we can be truly free forever.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
ROBERT MORRIS is the founding senior pastor of Gateway Church, a multicampus church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. He is featured on the weekly television program The Blessed Life and is the bestselling author of twelve books, including The Blessed Life, From Dream to Destiny, The God I Never Knew, and The Blessed Church. Robert and his wife, Debbie, have been married thirty-five years and are blessed with one married daughter, two married sons, and six grandchildren. Follow Robert on Twitter @PsRobertMorris.
Read an Excerpt
Breaking the Snares That So Easily Entangle
By Robert Morris
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Robert Morris
All rights reserved.
GREATER IS HE
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but ... against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
My wife, Debbie, and I are building a house right now. It's on some land we recently purchased in the country. The construction workers have been really good about welcoming us to the site whenever we come by to check on progress, and it's been exciting to watch a dream take shape from the ground up.
On one visit to the site, however, we had a little incident involving an animal. Now, I'm a big fan of animals. Dogs, cats, horses, giraffes, zebras, chimpanzees. I loved going to the zoo when I was a kid, and I appreciate a good household pet as a grownup. But there are some animals that give me a hard time. Out in the wild—fine. Live and let live. But inside my house or anywhere near the people I love—then watch out.
Usually anywhere within the city limits of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex where we currently live, you're fine. But drive anywhere outside town, and you'll soon see that Texas is the land of fire ants, tarantulas, and—you guessed it—rattlesnakes.
So the other day Debbie and I were out visiting the construction site. The foundation was poured, the floors were roughed in, and the framing was finished, but that was it. Our house was wide-open to the wilds. As we were walking around the work site, Debbie suddenly stopped.
"Robert!" she said. "Quick—look over there!"
Sure enough, not far from where my wife stood, a rattlesnake lay coiled on the floor of my future home. It was easy to see why he had come inside. A workman had left part of his lunch lying around—a hard-boiled egg—and the rattlesnake had slid up with a smile on his face to take a bite.
What would you do in that situation?
Now, remember: I'm an animal lover. Live and let live. But I'm also a Texas boy at heart. If I find a tarantula lurking in my bathroom sink, I don't try to make friends with him. The same goes for rattlesnakes. I have young grandchildren, and I don't want a brood of venomous serpents anywhere near my house.
A rattlesnake is actually a pit viper, not a kind snake. He's introverted and likes to be left alone, and usually he'll only strike when threatened. But if a rattler does strike—and he will strike if given the right opportunity—he has enough venom in his fanged bite to inflict serious harm, even kill a person.
What did I do?
I grabbed the nearest two-by-four, walked over, and bashed that snake in the head.
Guess what? This same kind of problem confronts a lot of people. Unwelcome snakes of the spiritual sort can slither into our houses, particularly when doors and windows are left wide-open. Those spiritual snakes are dangerous. They're not to be treated as friends. They need to be shown the door out.
Even though this is the subject we want to deal with in this book, I realize the idea of spiritual snakes can make some people uncomfortable. So I want to begin this entire discussion with a scripture I pray you'll drill into your mind and never let go of. It's found in 1 John 4:4: "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
God is greater!
That's what this book is ultimately about. God is always greater. Thanks to God, we have nothing to fear.
Why am I so confident of that? It's because I believe a simple, straightforward truth.
A while back a friend of mine traveled to Haiti. It's a country of deep poverty and widespread occult practices. The missionary with whom my friend stayed told him how he and others had started a new church in one of the villages. The only land they could find to purchase for the church building was right next door to a witch doctor.
"Wow," the friend said. "Weren't you afraid?"
The missionary casually examined the back of his fingernails. He looked almost bored. "Nah," he said. "We have Christ."
That's the straightforward truth. As believers, we have Christ! We never need to be afraid. Yet it's also true that believers are not immune to the effects of evil. That's uncomfortable to think about, I know. But we will never achieve the levels of peace, joy, and effectiveness to which we are called if we're being influenced by evil in certain compartments of our lives. And if we're leaders in the church, then it's very difficult to lead God's people in freedom if we're not modeling a lifestyle of liberty ourselves.
Do you have any area of your life where you simply can't get victory? Is there a sin that you've confessed over and over and over again? You've told God, "I'll never do that again," but you keep doing it. Do you consistently struggle with depression, anger, lust, discontentment, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, or despair?
The influence of spiritual evil is more common than we think. Spiritual snakes can slither into the open doors and windows of our lives. They need to be dealt with. We need to grapple with this idea that spiritual oppression can happen to anyone.
Even you and me.
We Have Christ
The Bible shows that the devil is real, and Ephesians 6:10–13 exhorts us:
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Notice that we are called to "wrestle ... against spiritual hosts of wickedness." That's a key concept. Spiritual attacks are real, and they can wreak havoc on people's lives today. But we don't need to lose these spiritual wrestling matches because Christ is our wrestling coach. Jesus saves us. Jesus frees us. He trains us to resist the power of evil and delivers us from anything that can hold us back.
All power and authority has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18), and He wants to release us from spiritual oppression. That's good news. Freedom is available for us today. But we will never get free if we don't know we're in bondage in the first place. We need to know that the problem of evil spiritual influence is very real.
In light of that, there's a word we need to talk about. I realize even the word can make people shudder, but it's a biblical word, so let's not shy away from it. The word is demons.
Sometimes people talk about demons in a metaphoric sense. They'll speak of a famous singer who has "conquered his demons"—usually some kind of bad habit—and now is back on top of the charts. Or you hear a person say, "Yeah, I've got to get this demon off my back," meaning he needs to conquer some sort of problem.
This is not how the Bible uses the term demon. In Mark 5, an example is given of a literal unclean spirit who had taken up residence inside a person's body. Jesus and His disciples were traveling by boat on the Sea of Galilee. They came to the south side of the lake, pulled their boat onshore in "the country of the Gadarenes" (v. 1), and were immediately confronted by a naked man running around a cemetery. Not a pretty picture, but that's how the Bible describes him.
The disciples asked around and discovered that the man had actually been living among the tombs. Imagine it—those dark places were where the man slept at night and ate his meals. Day and night he cried out and cut himself with stones. He exhibited dangerous behavior and even supernatural strength. The people of the region had tried to bind him with shackles and chains, yet he had pulled apart the chains and broken the shackles.
When this man saw Jesus from afar, he ran straight toward Jesus, bowed down to Him, and cried out in a loud voice, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me" (v. 7).
Clearly the demon was speaking through the man. (Jesus wouldn't torment a man.) And Jesus answered simply, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit" (v. 8).
They talked some more, and the demon revealed his name—Legion, a Roman term that referred to a group of 6,826 soldiers. In other words, more than one demon was afflicting the man. The demons begged not to be sent away. They wanted to stay where they already had established a stronghold. So Jesus gave the demons permission to enter a herd of pigs feeding nearby. The demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, which ran violently down a hill into the sea, where they drowned.
When the people of the region heard about the incident, they hurried to the cemetery and saw Jesus standing with the same man who had once lived among the tombs. By then the man was clothed and in his right mind. He had been set free!
Now, here's the application of that biblical passage. You and I may not be running naked in our town's cemetery, but we can still be influenced by demons. If we have a specific difficulty in our lives, if we have a continued weakness, if we have an area of sin we can't get control over, then we may well be under spiritual attack.
Maybe it's a sin that we've confessed again and again, but we keep falling into it, over and over. Maybe it's an area of life over which we feel powerless. We grit our teeth and resolve not to mess up, but we can't gain the victory, no matter how hard we try.
Maybe there's one dark area in our lives—a past wound or a past dabbling in something illicit. It's something we've kept hidden for years, but it still affects us negatively. We just can't seem to get free of this one dark area. Most likely the problem is spiritual oppression. It's not simply a weakness in our lives, not if we've struggled with it for any amount of time.
Take heart—there's hope ahead. I've been in ministry for more than thirty years, and the only people I've ever seen who can't get free from spiritual oppression are those who won't admit they can be spiritually oppressed.
Let's look at two important biblical facts together.
Fact #1: Demons Really Do Exist
I'd never thought much about the reality of demons until I realized I had spiritual oppression in my life. I was a Christian. I loved the Lord. I'd even started ministering. But I was still very much tied to lust and immorality. I will address this specific area of sin later in this book. But I want to tell you about it right up front in this book to help remove the stigma, shame, and fear associated with being spiritually oppressed. As believers we need to be transparent and accountable to each other about our struggles and weaknesses.
Yes, I was responsible for my own sin. But there were other factors in play that were trapping me in my sin.
I'd be standing in front of a church, preaching God's Word. I'd notice a beautiful woman sitting in the second row, and I would try to use willpower to resist lustful thoughts. I tried everything I could think of to block the thoughts.
I did pray about the problem. I would flip through my Bible, hoping an answer would suddenly become clear. I even read a self-help book or two. But try as I might, I couldn't conquer my problem.
Maybe you have a similar problem you can't get rid of. Maybe you, too, are under the power of lust—or your issue may be unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, gluttony, or despair. You want to break free, but no matter what you try, you can't seem to do it.
If this is your experience, your problem could be the result of spiritual oppression.
One of Satan's greatest strategies is to fool people into thinking he doesn't exist. It's also popular to think of Satan and his horde as a bunch of cartoonish images. Satan is only the little red imp with a forked tail and a pitchfork in his hand, sitting on someone's shoulder. He's laughable, surely not anyone to take seriously—if he even exists.
But Scripture teaches that Satan and his demons are very real. Nothing is comical about them, and we need to take their existence seriously.
In Matthew 12:24, Satan is referred to as "the ruler of the demons"—he leads the pack. The word demon appears eighty-two times in the New King James Version of the Bible—eighty in some other versions of Scripture. The count is different simply because the word is translated a little differently.
In the Gospels alone the word demon is mentioned sixty-one times. Think about that. Sixty-one times Jesus either dealt directly with demons or talked about demons. The word occurs in the Old Testament and throughout the rest of the New Testament, too, but it shows up more often in the Gospels because it was during this time that Jesus lived on earth, and He came "to set the oppressed free" (Luke 4:18 NIV). He preached the gospel, healed the sick, and cast out demons (Matthew 11:2–5; Mark 1:34–39), which is exactly what He sent His disciples out to do (Matthew 10:5–8).
Scripture indicates that demons are fallen angels. They're disembodied spirits. Before the dawn of time, a mighty battle took place between good and evil. One-third of the angels sided with Satan and fell along with him (Revelation 12:3–9). That's bad news. But the good news relates to simple math. If one-third fell, then two-thirds didn't fall. We're on the winning team, friends.
The really good news is that, ultimately, math isn't the important factor. Scripture is clear that Jesus is greater than Satan and all the hosts of demons combined. Remember that verse I encouraged you to hold fast to? "He [Jesus] who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
Demons were real in Jesus' day, and they're real for us today too. If we don't believe in demons, then we need to cut out a lot of the Bible and a lot of Jesus' ministry. Some so-called scholars try to do just that. They claim Jesus only pretended to cast demons out of people because the culture of that day believed in demons. According to this school of thought, naturally occurring physical and mental problems were blamed on demon possession. The common treatment for such problems in the premodern superstitions of the first-century Middle East was to cast out the demons. So Jesus went along with that practice out of respect for that particular culture.
That line of thought is a desecration of Scripture. Don't ever get caught up in heresy like that. In centuries past the medical procedure of bloodletting was commonly used in hopes of curing various sicknesses. We know today that bloodletting is extremely harmful, not helpful. If Jesus had come to earth during the Middle Ages, would He have purposely bled people just so He could fit in? Of course not.
Ephesians 6:11–12 and other passages make it clear that a whole host of literal fallen spirits exist and are present "in latter times" (1 Timothy 4:1). And why would passages in the Gospels differentiate between sicknesses and demon possession if demonic oppression wasn't real? Matthew 9:32–33, for instance, relates the story of a man who was both "mute and demon-possessed."
In his preface to The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis wrote,
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.
My good friend Pastor Jack Hayford, paraphrasing Lewis, says it this way: "There are two groups of people that Satan absolutely loves and gets excited over: the skeptics and the superstitious."
The skeptics are the people who believe demons don't exist or only existed in Jesus' time. Satan loves these people because if he supposedly doesn't exist, then he's not considered much of a threat, right? If you don't believe in Satan, then there's no reason to heed 1 Peter 5:8 and "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
The superstitious, on the other hand, tend to see Satan behind every bush. They believe every problem, every sickness, every malady, every sin is caused by a demon. That's also a deception. The Bible is clear that some problems are just that—problems. They weren't caused by a demon but occur within the normal course of life. After Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for forty days and nights, He was hungry (Luke 4:1–2). His hunger wasn't caused by a demon. It was simply the result of going without food.
Excerpted from Truly Free by Robert Morris. Copyright © 2015 Robert Morris. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: Free at Last, xi,
Chapter One: Greater Is He, 1,
Chapter Two: Three Big Warning Signs, 21,
Chapter Three: Beware the Chaldeans, 41,
Chapter Four: Breaking the Snare of Pride, 63,
Chapter Five: Breaking the Snare of Bitterness, 85,
Chapter Six: Breaking the Snare of Greed, 105,
Chapter Seven: Breaking the Snare of Lust, 127,
Chapter Eight: Breaking the Snares in Your Mind, 149,
Chapter Nine: Breaking the Snares of Past Wounds, 169,
Chapter Ten: A Prayer for Freedom, 189,
Appendix: Resources for You to Use, 209,
Making Sure You're Born Again, 211,
Frequently Asked Questions About Deliverance, 213,
Ministry of Deliverance and Corresponding Infilling of the Holy Spirit, 220,
Further Reading for Maintaining Your Victory, 221,
About the Author, 231,