|This article is authored by Dick Leggatt, President of Derek Prince Ministries – USA and comprises his August 8, 2013 Newsletter.|
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Are you as far along in your Christian life as you would like to be? Have you reached a level of freedom in Jesus that you had hoped to achieve by now, or do you feel like you still have a ways to go? Do you battle occasional lapses into old habit patterns?
How free do you feel today in your walk with the Lord? Hopefully, this letter will help you step into increasing freedom in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
A Proclamation of Freedom
This topic of freedom came to mind recently as I was listening to a radio series on the American Civil War. One of the program segments was a narrative by an African American grandmother who had taken her two grandchildren to view the Emancipation Proclamation in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
As they gazed together at the handwritten pages of the actual document, her six-year-old grandson asked, “Grandma, what does it say?” As soon as she started the first paragraph of the Emancipation, her voice suddenly choked with emotion as she read the words that would change the lives of the four million people then held in slavery in America: “On the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves… shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
These words particularly impacted me: “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” What were the ramifications of those five simple words from five faded pages for all those trapped in the bonds of slavery? Certainly they spoke of a process that was about to begin. Were those persons completely free when the words were penned? No — it was an order to take effect a few months later. Were they totally free on January 1, 1863? Technically, yes; but actually, that was simply the start date of a process that would continue for months, years — even decades after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.
The pursuit of complete freedom continues for them and for all of us, with the ultimate goal expressed in those last two words: “forever free.” That’s what the Lord desires for each of us. Indeed, it is a process.
What Do We Mean by Freedom?
“Then, thenceforward, and forever free”! Moving beyond the historical and theoretical, let’s get practical. What does forever freedom look like for each of us? What would be an example of coming into the kind of liberty Jesus has bought for us? The following example is one taken from real life — probably a more extreme case than most, but I’m sure you’ll see the point it makes.
A young man known to some of us at DPM is in this process of “freedom.” We first encountered him after he had hit rock bottom in a life filled with drug use and crimes to support his habit — obviously, a case of bondage where freedom was desperately needed. Just after his release from prison, he had received salvation at a prayer meeting, then deliverance from addictions he was battling — a first taste of freedom through God’s grace.
His initial steps in that freedom went fairly well. Soon, however, he fell prey to the temptation to return to his old ways, sliding back into drug usage, stealing a vehicle to escape from the police, and ending up in jail again. After his second release, he came for prayer again — repentant and hungry for a fresh start.
Today, that young man is moving forward again as the lay-pastor of a ministry bringing others out of broken lives and drug use into initial freedom in Jesus Christ. If you were to ask him, he would say that he is still “on the way” to greater stability in the Lord, taking daily steps toward being “forever free.” And so it is, at various levels, with each of us.
Our Emancipation Proclamation
“Then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Experiencing greater life and freedom in Jesus Christ is clearly a step-by-step process, isn’t it?
Scripture makes it clear that Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate “emancipation proclamation” for every person. Our complete release from slavery to sin was secured for us once and for all by the work of Jesus on the cross. But how do we enter more fully into that freedom?
Jesus says in John 8:36: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (nas). Galatians 5:1 is an exhortation to stand firm: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (nas). Paul reminds us in Romans 7:24 that staying free can be a struggle: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (nas).
Paul’s exclamation confirms that total freedom comes by a process. Similar to January 1, 1863, our “emancipation proclamation” began at Calvary — our official declaration that we were “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” It’s up to us, however, to appropriate that freedom with His help and strength, taking practical steps into greater and deeper levels of freedom in our walk with Jesus Christ.
Derek Prince often described this step-by-step process of moving into “forever freedom” with terms such as “sonship” and “maturity.” We see this in the following excerpt, taken from Derek’s message, “The Cross Nullifies Witchcraft, part 1.”
The third result of being delivered from the Law is freedom to be led by the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at Romans 8:14, 15:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery again to fear, [What would that have been? Going back under the law. You didn’t go back under that spirit.] but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.””
Not the spirit of slavery, but the Spirit of sonship. God does not want to produce slaves — He wants to produce sons. What is the mark of sons of God? It is stated very clearly: “As many as are regularly led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God.”
You see, most of us have heard sermons on how to be born again and how to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. That’s tremendous. The new birth makes you a child of God. The baptism in the Holy Spirit equips you to serve God with supernatural power. But the only way you can become a mature son of God is by being led by the Holy Spirit….
We major on one-time experiences and we don’t realize the importance of the ongoing life in the Spirit. The words in this verse are in the continuing present. “As many as are being regularly led by the Spirit of God, they [and only they] are sons of God.” You have to put that together with Galatians 5:18 to see the full effect:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
If you want to be led by the Spirit, you cannot be under the Law. And if you’re not led by the Spirit, you cannot become a mature son of God. Deliverance from the Law means release to become a mature son of God — and the word “son” includes both sexes. (I’m sure you understand that.) You become a mature son or daughter of God through being led by the Holy Spirit.
Freedom Just Ahead
Are you discouraged that you’re not making the kind of progress toward total freedom you had hoped for? Don’t despair. Like most of what the Lord does in our lives, this is a process. Jesus is in charge of our progress, and growth comes as we cooperate with Him in that process.
Why not tell Him now that you want to move forward into greater freedom? You can do so by joining me in the prayer that follows . Are you ready?
Dear Lord, I want to be forever free. I want to step completely into every provision You have for me, every task You have appointed for me, and the total liberty I need to walk in You.
Please help me to throw off any shackles that still bind me, and the “sin that so easily entangles me.” I’m depending upon Your grace and strength to make me “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
I recognize that You are in charge of this process in my life. Thank You for bringing me — in Your time and in Your way — into total liberty in You. I open my heart to the process of freedom. Amen.
Release for the Captive
Do you sense prison doors opening up inside you right now? We trust you will see an increasing measure of freedom and liberty coming to you in the days ahead. Please keep us informed about what the Lord is doing in your life. It is His work — but we sincerely want to be a part of it.
One of the ways we can join with you in your freedom process is by providing excellent teaching materials to support the steps you take — such as the prayer you just prayed. As a sign of our commitment to stand with you, we offer you the complete message, “The Cross Nullifies Witchcraft, part 1” from which Derek’s excerpt was taken. It’s our joy to provide this downloadable message to you free of charge when you click here.
You have stood with us in the work we are doing through Derek Prince Ministries. Now it’s our turn to stand with you by sending you helpful materials. It is one small way of thanking you for your prayers for us and your financial gifts to sustain this ministry. We simply can’t thank you enough for your love and support. Please stay in contact with us from now on as you move forward in Christ.
Total freedom is our destiny in Him — and the step-by-step process of appropriating it takes place in fellowship with brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. You have committed yourself to that process today, and you can be sure it has begun. Together, thanks to the cross of Jesus, we are “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
– by Dick Leggatt
Materials used by kind permission of Derek Prince Ministries.
P.S. Thank you again for your love, your prayers and your financial support. Please take us up on our free offer for the downloadable MP3 message by Derek: “The Cross Nullifies Witchcraft, part 1.” We know it will encourage you in your pursuit of absolute freedom in Him.