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What feelings do you experience when you hear words like:  failure, shame, hopelessness, stress, worry, depression, addiction, damaged, pain, regret?  Each one of those words represents a kind of chain, a kind of bondage, something to restrain you, to hold you down, hold you back, and hold you under the weight of sin.

You don’t even have to believe the words of the Bible to embrace that there are two realities.  There is good and there is evil.  Those of us who follow Jesus know that God is good, and Satan is evil.  Satan seeks to enslave us in chains of selfishness, self-doubt, and self-destruction.  But the good news of Easter is that Jesus, the great Liberator, has come to break EVERY chain in our lives.

What feelings do you experience when you hear words like:  freedom, relief, joy, peace, happiness, and love?  They don’t weigh us down like the other list of words I shared, do they?  They lift us up.  They give us strength.  They empower us.  They are what everyone that I know wants to experience.  They are what everyone I know needs to experience.  They are what everyone I know is trying to experience, but the way some people are going about seeking freedom, relief, joy, peace, happiness and love are chaining them to everything they are trying to avoid.

Jesus spent His earthly ministry proving that He had power over chains.  Physical chains, religious chains, emotional chains, demonic chains… They all fell off people as they allowed themselves to interact with and accept the power of Jesus into their lives.  The biggest chain we face is death, and Jesus has broken that chain.  He was raised from the dead that first Easter morning, and when He walked out of that tomb He proved that every chain in every heart, every chain in every life could be broken in His name and by His authority.

Let me walk you through a passage of Scripture in Romans chapter 8 to help unpack what I mean.

Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Do you feel like a failure this morning?  Do you feel like an embarrassment?  Are you living with regret?  Do you know you have been wrong about what real life truly is?  Do you know you have wronged God by the way you have lived?  Can you acknowledge that you have wronged other people by your actions and words?  Does the weight of that press on you and oppress you?  Do you look for ways for your mind to escape the weight of the feelings of condemnation and shame?  I have good news for you!  The chains of condemnation, guilt, and shame can fall off of you today.

Jesus has ALL authority which means He can torch the chains that bind you.  You can be set free from what you are feeling because of what you have done.

Are your chains condemnation, guilt, and shame? Why live with those chains when you could be free?  Jesus can remove the chains of condemnation, guilt, and shame, and you can go free this morning.

Romans 8:3-4:  “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a SIN OFFERING. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

Jesus was a sin offering.  That meant that He was the offering to God the Father for the sins of the world.  The Bible says that without the shedding of blood there is no freedom, no forgiveness of sin.  The price for sin is high because of the severe way that sin offends the holiness of God.  The condemnation that you and I should face before God was placed on Jesus.  Though He was perfect in every way, He was willingly chained by our sin.  Just like He had our condemnation, guilt, and shame heaped upon Him on the cross of Calvary, He also had our sin placed on Him.

Because of the presence of sin in our lives, we can’t keep the entire Law.  But Jesus who kept the law perfectly was able to pay the price in our place for our sin.  Just like we can be free from guilt, condemnation and shame, we can be free from the power and presence of sin in our lives.  It was all placed on Him.  When we place our trust in Him as Savior and Lord, the chains of sin fall off.  Are you gripped by the chains of sin that are keeping you from living the life God created you to live?  Why live with the chains of sin wrapped around you when you can go free?  Let Jesus put your past in the past FOREVER.  He can give you a brand new heart and write a brand new story with your life!  Let Jesus torch the chains of sin in your life.

Notice what verse four says on the screen, that when the requirements of the law are met through the blood of Jesus and we accept His sacrifice, we don’t have to live anymore according to the sinful nature, but we are free to live according to the Spirit of God.

What that means is that the chains of impulse, the chains of our fleshly desires, those desires that take us to a dead end street, the kind of desires that wind up destroying parts of our lives and wreaking havoc on our relationships, those chains can come off too.  The Spirit of God teaches us a new way to live.

We can learn to say “no” to the temptations of this world that aren’t good for us.  You know that thing that you do that has caused your marriage to suffer, that thing that you do that has cost you friends, that thing that you do that has ruined your finances, that thing that you do that has destroyed your reputation, that thing that you do that has caused other people not to trust you, that thing that you do that has hurt your physical body, that thing that you do that has pushed you to lie, cheat, and steal in order to cover it up, that thing, that ugly chain can be torched today in Jesus’ name!  You don’t have to obey the chain called desire in your life.  You are free to follow the Holy Spirit once you are in Christ, and what the Holy Spirit does is lead you to increasing freedom.  Greater freedom.  More and more and more freedom.  More and more and more power to resist temptation.  More and more clarity about what is really priority, and the power to live the way you WANT to rather than the way you have been trained and chained into thinking you have to live!

…which leads me to my next series of chains which Satan wants to wrap around your mind.  Look at verse 5 of Romans 8:  “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

This may be the greatest chain in the devil’s arsenal.  He knows if he can convince you that you’ve messed up too much for God or anyone else to ever love you, he can keep you chained to condemnation and sin.  He knows if he can convince you that you will never be free from your addiction because it is too powerful and you’ve done it for too long he can keep you chained to your desires.  He knows if he can keep you mad, if he can keep you playing the victim, if he can get you to focus on all that is negative about your life, he can deter you from engaging with the God who can set you free.  Often the chains have to fall off our minds before our flesh can be unbound.

There is God’s way of thinking about our lives which leads to freedom, and there is Satan’s way of thinking that leads to bondage.  Wrong thinking has led people to walk out of their marriages, to give up on their kids, to quit their jobs, to abandon their dreams and even to take their own lives.  It is Resurrection Sunday, and I am here to tell you that the chains wrapped around your mind can be abolished!  The chains on your mind where doubt, discouragement, depression, and distrust have distorted your thinking can be broken, and the truth of God’s Word can be applied to your mind as the Spirit of God starts a “Resurrection Process” the Bible calls the Renewal of the Mind.

Verse 6: “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”  Happy Easter!  Life and peace can be yours!

Let me skip to verse 11 of our text:  “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

We often joke that there are two things we cannot escape dealing with as human beings.  Death and taxes, right?  But this verse tells me I can escape death, and when I do, I will escape taxes and every other earthly hoop I have to jump through and debt I have to pay.  If the Spirit of Christ lives in you, you will live eternally in heaven with Christ and all who have professed Jesus as Savior and Lord who have gone on before you.

One of my favorite Scriptures sarcastically calls death out.  1 Corinthians 15:55 57:  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Death wants to chain me to hell for eternity, but Jesus has obliterated the chains of death in my life, and I will forever live and live with Him in the greatest euphoria, the most beautiful reality, the most blessed existence, the place where there is freedom and only freedom forever.  Why would you want to live with the chains of death wrapped around your life when Jesus has already defeated death on your behalf?  You can go free this morning.

Many people falsely think that a relationship with Jesus is about restriction, bondage, and rules that hold you back. Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and DO NOT LET yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Do not LET yourself be a slave.  Do not LET yourself be chained.  If you are chained to anything this morning it is because you have welcomed chains into your life.  I get it.  I understand how it could happen.  You are searching for contentment, love, and peace.  You are looking for a way to fill some longing in your heart, and instead of pursuing Jesus you have pursued something else that now has you trapped.  It looked like the answer.  It looked like the escape.  It looked like the solution, but you are now in the grips of something far different from the freedom and joy you thought you were pursuing.

If there is one thing the devil is good at it is making something harmful look like fun.  Lies, tricks and deception are the way he operates.  If you are here and you have fallen prey to the devil’s schemes and are chained to anything that is keeping you from knowing God and living your best possible life today is a day you can experience that every enemy you have, including death, is defeated in Jesus’ name.  And God’s Word is clear:  “Whoever Jesus sets free is FREE INDEED” John 8:36.

Are you tired of the chains?  Are you ready to live free?  There is power in the name of Jesus to live free today.

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