(This blog is taken from a 7-minute sermon I wrote a few years ago. I was drawn back to it this evening; and impressed to share it in a blog. I needed this timely reminder of what, as a Christian, I am called to do….perhaps it will help someone else also.) ❤
Several months ago I had to report for jury duty, and for the first time I was selected to sit on a jury. It was an experience that I will always remember. This wasn’t a murder case nor did it involve some infamous drug lord who had been trafficking on our local streets. (Trust me; it wasn’t anything like Matlock or Law & Order!) It was about a mother being sued by her daughter. The bitterness, anger, animosity and vindictiveness displayed by these two women and other members of this family were an overwhelming tragedy. One day while standing in the hall, waiting to return to the courtroom, I had to move out of the way to allow some deputies to escort several prisoners from a courtroom adjacent to ours. As these men shuffled past me, bound & shackled at their wrists and ankles, a phrase from a song by Mary, Mary popped into my thoughts. “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance…I just wanna praise Him, I just wanna praise Him!” Over the course of the five days of my jury service, I saw different varieties of chains. There were the obvious heavy steel manacles and chains that bound the prisoners, restricting their physical movements. The family involved in my court case were also bound, but by fetters unseen to the naked eye. Their hatred, malice and bitterness bound them just as tightly as any steel forged by man. In observing the countenances of the countless people I encountered in the hallways that week, feeling the weight of hopelessness and despair, I realized that many chains are not obvious to us.
Tonight I want to talk about two different kinds of chains. There are the heavy, thick shackles and chains traditionally fashioned from chrome, steel and nickel plating. Their very presence is obvious both to the captive and the observer. A less obvious, but even stronger chain puts me in mind of spider silk. Spider web silk is 10 times stronger than a steel strand of the same weight. The silk from a Nephelia spider is used to make fishnets and tote bags. When the spider’s prey is caught in its web, the silk stretches but doesn’t break. Even though the thin strand of the spider web is visible, its incredible strength is not obvious to anyone but its prey.
When a sinner comes to Jesus, His saving grace sets that captive soul free from the bondage of sin and death. Nahum 1:13 says,
“So now, I will break his yoke bar from upon you, and I will tear off your shackles.”
All of the chains that the enemy has bound us with fall away. But Satan does not give up so easily. He lures the new believer with thoughts of the so-called “joys” of our past—drugs, alcohol—whatever it was that previously kept us in bondage. And the believer may once again find him or herself in chains. These chains are more visible to the observer.
Then there are the chains that are less visible, but perhaps stronger and more detrimental. These are the “whispers” from our past, the silken spider strands that hold us fast and keep us from being who God has called us to be. When we stand and worship in church, Satan may whisper, “Who do you think you are? If these people only knew…”. When an elder asks you to help with the offering, serve communion or even do a 7-minute sermon, the enemy of your soul reminds you of what you’ve done and from where you came. And he whispers, “If they only knew the real you…”. The silken strands wrap themselves even tighter around you. These are the chains that cannot be spotted with the naked eye, but have the potential to be even deadlier to the Christian than the first.
Good news!! We know that the believer has the power, through the blood of Jesus Christ, to fight these attacks and whispers of Satan. With prayer and standing on the Scriptures, he can be free of these chains. Rev. 12: 11-12 states, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.” The Encarta dictionary defines “testimony” as proof, something that supports a fact or a claim. It’s evidence given in court, written or oral, detailing what the witness has seen or knows personally.
We are to fight this battle daily for ourselves and our own salvation. But we are also to use the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony to fight for others. You do not know what your brothers and sisters around you tonight are going through. When God speaks to you through a Scripture verse, share it with someone else. If the Holy Spirit reminds you of a particular battle that you won with God’s divine intervention, share that with someone.
If you have ever been entrapped by alcohol or drugs, or any manner of sin, God has given you the key to loose those chains and rebuke the devil when he seeks to remind you of your past. James 4:6-8, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” If you have ever been the victim of abuse, or even the perpetrator, and the enemy seeks to remind you of who you were, you need to remind him of who you are—you are not a survivor, but you are an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.
If none of that applies to your life, God has still given each and every one of us the key to loosen someone else’s chains so that He can set them free. It is important to walk up to someone else, hug them and tell them how special they are. But it is too easy for them to think, “Yeah, if you only knew….” That’s why you need to give them a Scripture to stand on, because the enemy can’t argue with that.
Immerse yourself in God’s Word, and in worship; because the Holy Spirit uses both of those to fight the enemy. Just a word of personal testimony of how the enemy can use those spider strands, those whispers from the past—I have been a Christian for a long time. I know beyond a shadow of any doubt that I am saved, that God’s Word is true, and He has worked many miracles in my life. But a few months ago, just as I was drifting off to sleep, the enemy slipped in with an unecpected attack. All of a sudden, I heard the words, “There is no hope, there is no hope!” Instantly, I was overwhelmed with the sense of utter despair & darkness I had experienced as a child and I felt like my soul was being sucked into a black abyss. I literally had to struggle out of that, and say “that’s not true. God says I have hope. That’s not true!” Then I fell asleep. As I awoke in the morning, before I was fully conscious, the words from a worship song from the previous week were going through my mind. “There’s still hope for me today, for the God of heaven loves me!” And I awoke with a sense of peace and comfort.