The devil did not care if humanity ate the fruit of the tree. He did not care if they knew the difference between good and evil. Satan wants control; his motive at the tree was to enslave Adam and Eve. He does not care what sin you commit, whether it is gossip or murder, as long as it makes you subject to Him.

God warned Cain about the danger of letting sin in the door. He said sin crouches, ready to jump into your life. This sin, however, does not just come in and gnaw on you a little; it takes you hostage. Satan’s snare has trapped much of the world, who “are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:26). So many things that look like they will bring freedom and happiness will actually leave us in bondage. We see that happen with Jacob’s family.

Why do God’s people stay in the world?

Since Joseph was vice regent of the land of Egypt, the king invited him to bring his family down. Because Jacob’s clan were shepherds, Pharaoh offered them Goshen, a land with plenty of pasture. God supplies His people with a sacred place even in the enemy’s camp. You can attend secular college and have a place of refuge in God’s grace even though so many seem to hate your faith.

Yet we can become too comfortable in foreign territory. After the famine ended five years later, Jacob’s descendants probably should have moved out of Egypt and headed back to their home in Canaan. Instead, they stayed too long and suffered many problems. You can attend college for five years in a God-less environment, yet the world does not have to become your home, so to speak.

We must always distinguish ourselves from those who do not serve God. We are not “better than” them, but we are distinct from them. You may have to work in a hostile workplace where you must retain your distinctive beliefs without merging with the thought patterns and world spirit around you.

How do people come under bondage?

After the death of Joseph, a Pharaoh came to power who did not know Joseph or the story about him. He saw the Hebrews (Jacob’s descendants) as a threat to his nation. They lived in the middle of his country, but they had their own language, culture, and beliefs. Perhaps he though it was too cruel to exterminate them in an act of genocide, but the king had no problem with killing them with hard work. He set slave drivers over the people to beat them into action and exhaust them everyday (Exodus 1:6-14).

Imagine a young man growing up in this system. He has seen his grandfather die in the mud pits, making bricks his whole life. One day he determines to have a better life. He squares back his shoulders, tells his mom and dad, “I am not going to let anyone run my life; I am going to do something worthwhile. I am going to get free of this bondage!”

Yet when he walks out the door, a slave master sees him and says, “Where are you going?”

The young man replies, “I am going to make something of myself. I am going to get an education!”

“I’ll give you an education.” The taskmaster cracks his whip across the man’s back, and says, “The education you need is called ‘Brick Making 101.’ Get down to the pits!”

Bondage rules you like that. You have desires, you know what is right, and you crave a better life. Yet a bondage thinks for you. It dictates your actions.

Think of alcohol for example. This bondage has enslaved people of every race and culture. A person grows up watching grandpa kill himself with booze. He watches his dad get sloshed on the weekends, fight, cuss, and scream. He vows, “I will never do that.” Somehow, this same bondage takes over in his life eventually. He begins drinking to escape or to have a good time with his friends. Soon it owns him as much as it has anyone before. Alcohol begins to think for him. He controls his friendships. It spends his money for him. It owns his free time. And no matter how badly he wants to be free, he cannot find a way of escape.

Why does God leave people in bondage?

God knew His chosen people were trapped in Egypt. Yet He did not lift a finger to help them. He left them there getting beat up, year after year, being ruled by wicked men. This same God knows the plight of humanity. Why does God not step into the bar and turn all the beer to Koolaid? Why does He let evil people, spirits, and products continue to enslave others?

While it is easy to say that God should do something, we must realize that we chose our existence. Through Adam and Eve, we chose to enslave ourselves to the enemy. As individuals we still choose to eat of the forbidden fruit. When we open the door, sin takes over our lives. What started as a choice, like a swig of beer, becomes a bondage to haunt us forever, unless we find a way out.

Why can I not escape my bondage?

Those Hebrews slaves must have developed some chiseled bodies. They could have held heavyweight-wrestling titles. Their slave drivers, however, probably did not have much muscle mass. Sitting on a horse cracking a whip does not demand much strength, and so we can surmise that any one of those slaves could have beat up a taskmaster and walked off the job. Instead they stayed in slavery for about 400 years.

A 24 pack of beer can enslave a 240-pound man. He could stand up and crush each 12 oz. can, if he wanted. Those little cans, however, continue to dictate his life, week-by-week. He lets alcohol rule, because bondage is a spiritual force. Bondage can be something as little as a cigarette, a credit card, a website, or a person. A spirit of bondage manipulates, intimidates, and threatens you into submission.

What is bondage?

Many more things than alcohol can “own” our lives. An addiction is a bondage: cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. Not all bondages are addictions, however.

  • Guilt can twist a person’s life, keeping one from advancement or from having self-worth. God does not want us to live under guilt bondage for past wrongs; He frees us with His forgiveness.
  • A spirit of lying can enslave you. This awful condition makes a person have to invent an identity, always try to remember an alibi, and never relax when communicating with others.
  • Illness can enslave a person by keeping them from being the individual God designed them to be. God wants us free of health bondages.
  • A spirit of pride can trap you. Arrogance will keep you from enjoying your friends because you will feel you always have to top them.
  • Bitterness will tie you down to your past. Rather than pursuing the identity God wants for you, stains from the past continually color your present.
  • Laziness is not freedom. It is an immobilizing bondage that keeps a person from finding the motivation and desire to be God’s laborer.
  • Depression shuts a person into a closed box of purposelessness. God never intended for His people to live in gloom and doom.

How do I head out of here?

God did nothing for His people. One day, everything changed. Egypt had just experienced the upset of a king dying when God’s people got desperate about their situation. In fact, for the past 40 years, they were not only slaves to Egypt, but the Pharaoh had been trying to kill off their sons. They finally came to a point of Discovery. They realized that their lives stunk and there had to be something better.

You begin to escape bondage when you wake up. You will begin to find freedom the day you realize you are victim to spiritual captivity. Most people come to this point in their lives when they say, “I have got to do something different.” Yet sin still enslaves them. They need to take the next step.

So, where is the exit?

Scripture says they began to scream and cry out to God for help. When God heard them, He took notice, remembering His promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 2:23-25). The next record in God’s Word tells us that God lit a burning bush on fire, so He could tell Moses to go and get the people out.

Crying out to God begins the process to freedom. For as long as a person chooses to endure their condition, God will not bother them. But when a person gets a gut-wrenching desire to escape the clutches of Hell, God comes to their assistance (Romans 7:18-8:2; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Who will deliver me?

God sent the people a savior named Moses. He had been ready to help free the people from Egypt’s tyranny for four decades. They were ready now, so Moses came from the backside of the desert to lead them. Our rescuer, Jesus Christ, has been ready to get us free forever, but He only steps into our lives when we come to the point of desperation and dependence on Him.

Deliverance did not come the moment the people cried out. The process began for their freedom, though, and if they kept on the right track they would get out. Too often people do cry out to God for help, yet by the time His help arrives, they have already given up and gone back to the ways of sin. One night of weeping and brokenness will not bring permanent freedom. A person must have a mind for freedom and pursue it no matter what.

Who is God?

You will consume a lifetime pursuing the answer to God’s identity, and we should. Moses asked a simple question, “Who do I say sent me?” God told him, “I am who I am.” While you might think God was dodging the answer, His answer finally gave Him a name. Taking the Hebrew Eyeh meaning ‘I am,’ His followers called Him Yahweh meaning ‘He is.’ Thousands of years later people lost the pronunciation of God’s name as they came to only call Him “Lord.” The complex writing of Hebrew left people confused about how to say God’s name over the centuries, so they settled on “Jehovah.” This mistaken name never existed in antiquity; the Hebrew language does not even have a letter “J.” God’s official name used throughout the Hebrew Bible was Yahweh (pronounced “YAH-way”). Mispronunciations and misspellings aside, God never lost track of who He was.

Will just crying get me freedom?

Moses worked many miracles by God’s power, to get Pharaoh to believe in God’s mandate to let the Hebrews leave Egypt. Instead of granting the people immediate freedom, Pharaoh made their jobs harder. Instead of just making bricks with the supplied materials, the people had to find their own materials, make the bricks, and not slack off on production.

When you try to get free, the devil will fight harder to keep you under his thumb. The temptations may be greater, the oppression might be heavier, and your fight may intensify. You have got to desire freedom at any cost.

The Passover became the last miraculous demonstration Moses promised Pharaoh. The angel of the Lord passed through the streets that night killing the firstborn child in every home without the blood of a lamb over the door. When Pharaoh awoke and found his son dead, he ordered the Hebrews to leave.

Will my bondage give up easily?

Israel left Egypt, but soon Pharaoh changed his mind and pursed them with his army. Yahweh opened the water of the Red Sea so His people could escape. Pharaoh’s army chased the Hebrews into the water path, but God sent the waves crashing down to destroy them.

On the other side of the Red Sea, the Israelites were free from bondage. Pharaoh could not get to them. They totally broke with their bondage. This biblical concept differs from secular twelve-step programs that tell people they will always be slaves to their weaknesses. We can stand on the opposite shore from what once held us prisoner. God wants us to be free in Him.

The amazing journey to freedom begins with desperation.

Next time…

Learn the next step in getting free from bondage.