Teen Track #1: Four Evidences of Spiritual Freedom

Oct. 10, 2014 Dannah Gresh

Session Transcript

Dannah Gresh: I want you to open your Bibles and open your True Woman booklet. Toward the back there are pages for notes, and I want you to take some notes today. I don't have PowerPoint slides for you because I was awake till two in the morning changing my speech up. So you're just going to have to follow me closely. And it will keep you awake anyway writing down things. Right?

But I believe God wants to set some of you free today. Sometimes when we struggle with negative emotions-not always-it's evidence that we're in bondage. And God says that we can take our thoughts captive.

Turn with me, if you will, to 2 Corinthians 10:5. I want you to turn there because I want you to see these words with your eyes. In fact, some of you maybe underline these because you need them so desperately. This is a key Scripture for freedom.

It says in 2 Corinthians 10:5: "We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

I want to ask you this question. Do you take your thoughts captive or are they taking you captive? You know how you can just like lay there at night and all the negative thoughts, Nobody likes me. Nobody wants to be my friend. I'm all alone. I don't have anyone to sit with tomorrow. Like they can just overwhelm you at night? Everybody is like this. "No, I don't know. I've never had that happen to me before."

Or you look in the mirror and you don't notice the good things about your face but you notice every tiny flaw. Or you're trying clothes on at Target or T.J. Maxx, my especially favorite place to shop, and you're never the right size. That's your thoughts taking you captive. Or "Everybody else has a boyfriend but you never will." That's your thoughts taking you captive. Fear, anxiety, stress, shame, self-loathing? That's your thoughts taking you captive. And God does not want your thoughts to take you captive. He wants you to take them captive. You are in control of your thoughts if you want to be.

Now, negative emotions can be normal. Did you know there's actually a name for positive stress? You know that feeling that you just don't know if you're ready for this test? That feeling that if you don't get an 80 percent on this test you aren't going to push that grade up past a D+. I mean, has anybody been there? That is a good stress. They actually call it "eustress." And eustress is the chemicals that run through your brain in the proper balance that make you stay up late at night, do a little bit of caffeine hits and study hard so that next day you can get that 80 or that 85, or that 90 or that 95 or that 100 percent and push that grade up. That's eustress.

What's negative is when every single test you take you believe that you will not pass. That's when stress becomes out of balance, out of alignment. God gave us even our negative emotions for positive purposes.

If you're walking through an alley behind the convention center tonight at midnight and you feel a little fearful, that's a good thing. It will get you out of the dark and into the light very quickly. So negative emotions can be positive. But it's when they stay. It's when they take up residence. It's when they are your all-consuming thought that they don't belong that they are probably evidence of a bondage in your life.

I want you to take just thirty seconds, and I want you to write down the name of your negative emotion that you would like to ask Jesus to set you free from today. Just write it right down in your notes. Maybe depression. Maybe stress. Maybe shame. Maybe fear, self-loathing, bitterness, unforgiveness. Maybe some of you have frenemies or BFF's gone bad and that is all-consuming thought-what you could say to her, what you would say to her.

Maybe it's unforgiveness toward a guy because of how he's treated you. Maybe it's unforgiveness toward your parents. Maybe you're in a constant state of anger toward one of your parents or both of your parents or a sibling. What is your recurring negative emotion? Write that down.

And I want to say today that it's time that you begin to take your thoughts captive regarding that emotion rather than letting it take you captive. And we're going to do that by studying Isaiah 61 today. We're going to take kind of an academic approach in this first session. You're going to write down a lot of things, because I think as we go on through the day they'll be useful to you and they'll give you something to hang the hard work of your heart on.

Isaiah 61 contains some clear and instructive truth for you and I when it comes to taking our thoughts captive. Now the hard thing is that it is hidden in Hebrew poetry. So sometimes we don't quite understand the power of it. But it's very specific to three categories where God wants you to have freedom. And I believe that almost all of you have written down an emotion that fits into one of those three categories, and you're going to be able to see how you can take that first step toward freedom today.

I want to read to you Isaiah 61:1-3. Would you open your Bibles to that passage? Now this whole entire chapter has just become alive to me as I've studied it in the last few months. But we're going to take just the first three verses today, and I hope that will encourage you to continue your study as I continue mine.

I'm going to read Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion-
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Now, if it feels to you like I just read Shakespeare, it's okay. Because we're going to unpack this and we're going to understand it deeply as we dive in today. I want to share with you four truths that God has revealed to me through this passage, through this Scripture. The very first one that I want you to write down is this:

 

You become aware of your bondage. One of the evidences that you are progressing in your freedom is that you become aware of your bondage. It's very difficult to know when you're believing a lie about yourself, about God, about your relationships. But when God's Spirit begins to set you free, it starts with an awareness that you're not.

Isaiah 61 is written with Egyptian slavery fresh in their minds. I'm going to need five volunteers. I'm just going to pick. One, two, three, four, five. You guys come on up here. You're going to help us kind of set the stage for the context with which this particular passage is happening. Come on up here.

All right, so I just need you to line up in a nice row. We'll move these back a little bit. Can you move Steph's chair back? Aren't our little chairs pink? Well, they're pink, right? But aren't they cute? Aren't our pink chairs cute? I don't know how my sentences work out today.

Okay. So I need you, my sweet Natalie. Stand right here. And what's your name, baby? Chloe. Stand right here. And you guys kind of back behind there me.

Isaiah is written in two pieces actually. We have Isaiah 1 to I think it's 39, and that was written in a period of time. And there was a separate period of time that Isaiah came back years later. We're not exactly sure how many, and he wrote the second phase of the chapter of Isaiah. That's what we're reading from today.

Now, what you have to understand is that they understood bondage in a way that you and I really don't. Because we live in this free nation. We live in this nation where although we are losing many of our Christian rights in the area of free speech, we still can say those things. We just know it's going to hurt. So we don't really get it. So I want us to kind of set this up and have the context that they understood that all of Isaiah 61 is wrapped in the context of slavery and captivity, which are two very different things.

Egyptian slavery was the first thing. So I'm going to shackle you up, my dear Monica. She's going to represent Egypt. So Egypt happened many, many years before Isaiah wrote this. Excuse me while I take off her Nike flip-flops.

So way over here in the time frame, you might want to just write a timeline out on your piece of paper. So way over here on your timeline is Egyptian slavery. We've all seen, what's that movie called? You know, where they sing…Yes. Prince of Egypt. Okay. Got it. Egypt, right here.

But what is closer in their minds in terms of bondage, this was slavery. They were slaves. They had no rights. They had no property. They were breaking their backs, sometimes dying, because they were being worked to death.

Then it's probably important to know that just as all families have dysfunction, the family of Israel had a little squabble. So now we have in the timeline of history, we have two families of God. It is Israel and the nation of Judah. Very good. These girls know their Bibles. And so, Israel, not Judah, has just experienced Assyrian captivity. So this is very fresh in their minds. This is right up against the timeline of when Isaiah was written.

Now this is a captivity, not a slavery. They were not being forced into labor. Rather they were being forced into captivity much like what we're seeing with the Christians in Mosul right now over in the Middle East where they are running for their lives.

While slavery is more of an everyday weariness, this is absolute fear, because they don't know from one day to another whether they will live, whether their children will live, whether they will be separated from their children in prisons. This is fresh in their minds.

Now, Isaiah goes on to write about this captivity. And while he's writing about the captivity of Israel, and Judah, brother Judah's feeling rather proud, he says, "Don't be too proud." This is Judah right here. Because on the other side of this book, Judah is going to experience Babylonian captivity. The same kind of thing that Israel has experienced right before the book is written. The prophet Isaiah said, "You, Judah, will experience it very soon."

So the whole context of this is this enslavement and this captivity. And that's very important to know as we study these three little verses. So weren't my lovely models fantastic? [applause] Yes. So you can take these off. I want you to remember these three chains, because we're going to come back to those three areas of bondage that I said God wants to set you free from in this particular passage.

So that's the context and I wonder though, bringing it a little closer to home, if you know what it's like to live in bondage-not the kind of bondage that Egypt knew, not the kind of bondage that Judah knew, but the kind of bondage that we know as new millennium women. I know that kind of bondage, because when I was fifteen I took a pair of shackles and I put them on. And I put them on by entering into a dating relationship.

I want you to know that at the age of fifteen I loved the Lord so much. I was a missionary for Child Evangelism Fellowship where I spent my summers, every summer, out in neighborhoods winning little hearts for Christ, and it was the greatest joy of my life. I taught the second and third grade Sunday school class in my church. I was active in my youth group. I attended a Christian high school. But I was also consumed with the thought that my value was somehow tied up in having a guy. And I know that some of you are, too.

Many of you who have never had a boyfriend or may be years away from having a boyfriend are already jumping on the boy-crazy train, and you're believing a lie. When Nancy and I did Lies Young Women Believe, Erin went around the nation and did focus groups. And the number one lie that young women believed-and it didn't matter whether they went to a public school, whether they went to a Christian school, or whether they went to a home school-was that their value depended on whether they one day had a guy. And I believed that one.

And so I entered into this Christian dating relationship and found myself at the age of fifteen giving away the gift that God meant for me to give to my husband on my wedding night. And when that happened, I began to hold tightly to my chains, and I began to believe lies.

I resigned from my positions of serving the Lord. The big lie I believed was that God could not use me anymore. And I want you to know that when we sin, there is a time of sitting on the sidelines and healing and being in accountability-being mentored and discipled back up into a position of strength. But it is a lie from Satan if you believe that your sin ever disqualifies you from God, because that would mean we would all have to be Jesus to be used.

I believed the lie that nobody needed to know about my sin. I can't even tell you the words that Satan threw in my head for me because they're vulgar-the labels that he put on me. I was in bondage. Do you know what it's like to be in bondage?

Well, here's the cool thing. Because the second thing I want you to know is that becoming aware of the bondage is the first step of freedom. But the second step of freedom is that you recognize His voice.

This particular passage, Isaiah 61:1-3, it says, "the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me." But Isaiah's not talking about himself. He has in the Hebrew language changed tense and voice. And we know that he's talking about Jesus because, as Nancy so beautifully recited this passage of Scripture last night, she explained that what happened in Luke 4:16-21 is that Jesus is in the temple and He picks up the scroll and He opens the scroll and He reads Isaiah 61:1-3. It says, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me." And then He sits down and He says, "This has been fulfilled. I am the 'me.'"

When you start to move toward freedom, you are going to begin to recognize God's voice. And His voice is going to sound louder than the voices in your head that are lying to you. And here is the exciting thing about the fact that Jesus shows up in Isaiah 61 in this book about bondage, in this book where slavery is fresh in their mind, where captivity is fresh in their mind, where they're still holding tightly to their chains. In a book on bondage they meet their Deliverer. In a book on bondage they meet their Deliverer. Do you know what that means for you? That in your bondage you will meet your Deliverer.

So many times we believe that because of this sin in my life, because of that sin in my life, because of how this person sinned against me or wounded my heart, I can't know the freedom of the Lord. But that's such the antithesis of truth. The truth is that in the bondage we meet the Deliverer. That's where He comes. His job description is very clear.

And here is the exciting thing that happens next. Point number three. When you begin to hear His voice, and His voice simply says this. Some of you are hearing it today for the first time. You're beginning to hear that you don't have to live in anxiety. You don't have to live in the stress. You don't have to live in the shame. You're beginning to believe that your sin does not exempt you from being used by God.

And maybe, just maybe by virtue of the fact that almost all of you bowed down as we sang that last worship song confessing that you're in bondage, maybe, just maybe some of you don't feel so alone, because you're not.

Point number three: You begin to experience intimacy with God. You begin to experience intimacy with God. Now here's the ironic thing about that. Knowing God intimately starts with not knowing Him. Again, it starts with an awareness that we're wearing these chains and His voice is saying, "You don't have to. I am your Deliverer. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me." Why? His job description is very clear. "I'm going to bring you good news. I'm going to bind up your broken heart. I'm going to give you liberty. I'm going to open the prison doors."

My life is devoted to calling Christians to live lives of purity. That's what most of my books are about-And the Bride Wore White being the first one. And it's not because I lived a life of purity, but it's because I know the pain of not living that life. And I know the victory of being set free.

And I want to share with you kind of the neatest thing that God's taught to me along the way. When I first wrote And the Bride Wore White, you have to know that I'm an extreme introvert. The first few times I shared my testimony publicly, the most terrifying thing I've ever done in my life. Days before and days after I had to quote the Scripture verse, "God did not give me a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7). Because I was terrified of audiences like you.

And so, I was flying in a plane and I said, "Lord. I'm on my way to Atlanta to speak, and are You kidding me? I don't want to. I'm scared. And so if You want me to talk about this gift of purity, this biblical concept of Your sexual theology, would You just reveal to me Your truth in Your Word? Blow me away."

And that particular year I had covenanted on January 1 . . . I was twenty-six years old and I had decided, "I've never read this book cover to cover. This year I'm going to read it cover to cover. I want to understand it piece by piece all in context." And so I started on January 1 reading Genesis 1. So here I am on an airplane in April, and I had made my way valiantly all the way to Genesis 4.

And Genesis 4:1 says this: "Adam lay with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth." And I thought to myself as I was flying through the sky, Dude so was not just laying here. Like this is a very bad translation. It was not a passive moment in Adam's life. The Hebrew language must contain secrets that are much too steamy for our English words .

And so as soon as I got off the plane, I got into my hotel and I looked up in the Hebrew language and it actually said, "Adam yada his wife, Eve." As in yada, yada, yada. Yada, yada, yada.

Now, it is so funny because this word the culture has . . . I mean you kind of think when you hear the words "yada, yada, yada," you think, Blah, blah, blah. Boring, boring, boring. Right? Not so boring after all! [laughter]

And write this down, because the word yada, which is the correct Hebrew pronunciation, means "to know, to be deeply known and deeply respected." Adam knew his wife. He was known by her, and there was deep respect. You know what? That blew my mind, because in my sexual sin that is not what I had experienced.

This word, yada, its counterfeit in the Hebrew language, which you find also in the Old Testament, is the word shakab. And when sexual sin, sex outside of marriage, sex that does not honor God, horrific sometimes sexual sin, is occurring in the Old Testament, the word that is often used is the word shakab. And it's a euphemism for sex often paired with the word sikbah. which means bodily emission. And so what it means is to exchange body fluids. Blah!

Contrast these two with me for a moment. God has created something so high and so holy to be experienced in the context of marriage-one man, one woman-that it transcends the physical, and the definition speaks of the emotional and perhaps spiritual knowing. And Satan has crafted a counterfeit that is limited to the physical that will never be enough, that will always lead to addictions, that will always make us want more, crave more. Why? Because it's not the real thing. It's a cheap counterfeit.

Now, here is the thing, though. The Lord didn't reveal to me, until months later, the power of the word yada. Because I was studying one day and I came to learn that the word yada is used over 900 times in the Old Testament. That's a lot of yada.

So I began to look up every single one and circle it. And you know, it's like only a handful or two times where it's used to talk about a husband and wife. In more cases than not, it's used in verses like this one from Psalm 46: "Be still, and know [yada] that I am God" (v. 10).

Because, you see, the word yada is not first and foremost used to talk about the knowing between a husband and wife-the respect between a husband and wife. But it's used to talk about the deep knowing, the intimacy that you and I can have with God.

Then I have to just ask this question, that if that's true, how motivated do you think Satan is to see that picture destroyed in your life? To create such a violent craving in your life that you will do as I did and rob yourself of a gift that God wants so desperately to give you?

Is there a counterfeit to the knowing we can experience with God? Absolutely. Turn in your Bibles to James 2:19. You're going to find that the demons can know Him but not in the same kind of intimacy. Not in the same kind of respect. James 2:19 says, "You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe and shudder." And the word "believe" there is the Greek form of the word yada-ginosko. It means that yes, you know right here in your head. The demons know that He is God, but they don't have the intimacy. They don't have the respect.

You know what? Many people go to church that don't know God. Many people call themselves Christians, but they haven't entered into a relationship, a saving relationship with Christ. It takes more than using religious words and going to church and even serving Him. Some of you are serving Him and still you don't know Him, you don't recognize His voice.

How do I know that? Because it says in His Word, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord did we not prophecy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you'" (Matt. 7:21-23).

Do you know Him? Or are you just going through the motions? Do you resent that your parents take you to church every Sunday and you wonder why you're there? Do you have no hunger to open the Word of God on your own? The only time that you feast on this delicious spiritual food is when someone's hand is feeding you?

I've got to ask you, do you know Him? Do you know Him? It's just this crisis that we find in the book of Isaiah. And this is good news for some of you who are saying, "Maybe I don't." Because if we know anything about the nation Israel we know this-that they were His treasured possession. They were His people.

And some of you are His girls. And yet do not know Him. And leading up to this passage in Isaiah 61, we find the word yada used all the way throughout Isaiah. It's used sixty-four times. Sixty-four of the 900 occurrences of the yada happen in the book of Isaiah in this context: "You do not know me."

The God of the universe takes His people into His presence, and He holds them up close with the prophet Isaiah as His mouthpiece, and He says, "You are my treasured possession, but you are far from me." For thirty-nine chapters.

He says things like this, Isaiah 1:2-3 (not messing around, getting right to the point in the first three verses): "Israel does not know, my people do not understand [yada]." Isaiah 6:8-9: "They do not understand. They do not perceive [yada]." Isaiah 12:3-6 is a hopeful promise. He's starting to say, "You can know me." You can know Him. You will say, I am yours. You will make known [yada]. Let it be made known [yada]. And in Isaiah 19 it even says, "Because you will draw near to me and you will one day know me, even your enemies will know me."

If you don't know Him, if His voice isn't familiar to you, if you can't hear it, if you're not hungry for the Word, the good news is this-in this book of bondage, we meet the Deliverer. And in this book of bondage where they are in bondage because they are not familiar with who God is, He says, "But you can be." And you can be.

It does not matter what addiction you walked in here with. It does not matter what you've been looking at on the Internet. It does not matter what lies or gossip has been enslaving you. It does not matter what anger or bitterness you came in with. God is saying here today, "In your bondage, meet me. And you can leave here knowing me, knowing my voice."

The fourth thing I want to share with you today is that as you are aware of your bondage, as you hear His voice, as you move toward intimacy with God-away from the counterfeit, country club Christianity that so many walk through. You know what? Let me ask you this. Who would ever want to be a Christian when they walked into many of our churches? Because we struggle with the same addictions, the same depression, the same loneliness that everybody without Him struggles with because we are settling for the counterfeit of going through the motions and not knowing Him.

And let me be very clear about this. Because the Lord just… The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Christ. Do you know that you live in the church age, the day and age when the Spirit of God is alive and well? You do not live in the day and age when Israel had to wait for those fleeting momentary glimpses of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in you if you have accepted Christ as your Savior. He walks with you. The Spirit of the living God is not just on Christ, He's on you if you just open yourself to the Spirit of God.

And some of you are afraid even of the word "Spirit." Why? It's all through the New Testament. Why would you be afraid of God as He manifests to us in the church age as the Holy Spirit? Stop putting Him in a box. When you stop putting the Holy Spirit in a box you are going to begin to progress toward freedom.

And I want to share with you specifically the three areas of bondage that I think God wants to set you free from you today. Steph, can you come on up here?

Isaiah 61. I'm going to read it to you one more time. Erin, can you go ask them to be quiet. Isaiah 61. I want this to get into the marrow of your spirit-the deepest place of your spirit. So close your eyes, and let me read this over you.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to [you] the captives,
and the opening of the prison to [you] those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor . . .

Next year is going to be a good year. Say it to your spirit right now. Next year's going to be better. Next year's going to be different, because I was here today.

. . . and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion-
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes.

Do you know some verses say, "that He may display His beauty in you instead of ashes." I believe the Lord wants to display His beauty in you no matter what lies you've believed about what you see when you look in the mirror. But you've got to trade in your ashes. That's what this verse says. You've got to trade in your ashes.

And there are three kinds of ashes in the Old Testament. And I believe many of you wrote down lies or emotional bondage at the beginning that are reflective of one of these three areas of ashes.

 

The first reason that people in the Old Testament put on ash is because they were experiencing sexual pain . You may recall the story of Tamar, David's daughter, and how she was raped by her brother. She put on her ash and as far as we know, she never took it off.

And some of you, even some of the youngest ones in here, you have sexual pain in your life. You've seen pictures, you've read words that crush your spirit, that pull you away from the deep intimacy of knowing God.

Some of you have given away gifts as I did. Some of you struggle with your sexual identity, and you don't know who you are or whose you are. You need to take off the ash today.

 

The second reason that people in the Old Testament put on ash is because they were terrified of the future. And some of you are consumed in fear and anxiety about your future. You're afraid no one will ever love you. Oh, it will be the end of the world if you don't make that sports team again next year, and you know there's a chance you might not. You're beating your body at the expense of your spirit for hobbies that don't have any eternal value. Or you're consumed with your grades and perfectionism.

The fear of the future is just all over you. That's what happened in the book of Esther. Mordecai put on ash because he was terrified of the future. But Esther chose the different path, and she put on the royal garments instead. And you have the right to do that and believe that God has a hope and a future for you.

 

The third reason that people in the Old Testament put on ash was because they were in deep grief. We see this when David lost his son born by Bathsheba. But grief doesn't always have to be associated with death. It can be associated with the loss of a relationship. It can be associated with the divorce of your parents. It can be associated with being moved across the country and ripped up from everything you knew that was familiar.

I want to ask you this morning if you're wearing the ash of grief, the ash of fear of the future, or the ash of sexual pain. And we're just going to take some time and respond to God, because He says that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, on Steph, on Erin, and on so many of you in here because Jesus Christ lives in us.

How many of you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and you know He's in you? You know it. Then the Spirit is in you. The Spirit, the Holy Spirit of the living God is on you because He's on Christ. And He says that when the Spirit is present, there is freedom. When the Spirit is present, there is freedom, and there is freedom to take off these ashes and to move into beauty.

And some of you need to do that today by writing a letter to the Lord. I want you to just take a page in your notebook, a page in your journal. And I want you to just write to the Lord, "Lord this is the emotion I came with today. I believe You want to set me free from this emotion today. And I ask You, Lord, to take this ash from my life. And when I leave here today, could You, Father, just put on a beautiful headdress on my head? Would You help me to believe that I'm beautiful, that I'm free?"

I want you to take some time and respond to Him in writing. And then as this progresses, Steph's going to invite you to worship. If you need prayer at all during this time, Erin and I are just going to be up here. We're going to just be up here to pray with you and to encourage you that you don't have to wear that ash. You can be beautiful.