LIBERTY WITHOUT FREEDOM
Dr. D. K. Olukoya
In John 11, we see one of the most interesting stories in the Bible. The friend of Jesus had been sick. They called Jesus but He did not show up until four days after the man had died. John 11: 38-44 says, “Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? (If you refuse to believe, you will see the glory of satan). Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. (He had to be specific because if He said, “come forth,” without being specific, all the dead there would come out). And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”
Lazarus was raised from the dead by the power of God. Likewise all that believe in Christ have been given a new life. They have been lifted out of the graveyard of sin and sorrow. Jesus said, “Loose him and let him go.” It means that he could not go unless they loosed him. He could not go because he was bound. Although Lazarus was raised from dead, he was still bound. He experienced liberty but not freedom. Captivity was over but he was still bound. The grip of death upon his life had been broken but he was still bound. It is a double tragedy that many believers are still walking around with grave clothes on.
There are children of God who speak in tongues but are still bound. They have their grave clothes on like Lazarus. Jesus has set them free but they are still in their grave clothes. This is the sad condition of many people today. A lot of Christians are still bound by their past failures, past sins, guilt and materialism.
Many believers are bound by traditions, that is why you see Christians going for chieftancy titles and they allow evil people access to their heads which are the symbols of their destiny.
Many believers are still bound by bad habits. Lazarus was alive but constrained; he could see, but through a veil; he could hear but not clearly. Why? He was still in grave clothes. So, perhaps you have been born again for years and you still cannot see, it means that something is blinding your spiritual eyes. You have to pray for the grave clothes to be pulled off. Remember when Saul preached in a particular place and the people fought and argued that he was speaking lies, he said, “I have one last thing to tell you before I leave. Remember that what is happening to you is what was written by the prophets that behold, you wander and you perish, for it is written I will send my words unto them, but hearing they will hear but they will not understand, they will behold but cannot see. Their heart is already hardened so that my hands cannot deliver them, so that they can perish.” With that Paul concluded the sermon. If you have read through the whole of the Bible and decided to continue to be evil, a popular passage in the book of Revelation says, “Continue,” and if you want to continue to do good, it says, “You may continue. But behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me, and my reward can be bad or good, to give to every man according to the works of his hands.”
EVIDENCE OF GRAVE CLOTHES
Many people go to churches where they do not understand the language which their leaders speak. After the meetings, they come out, bring out their cigarettes and begin to smoke. As far they are concerned, they are serving the Lord. That is bondage. Also, sex outside marriage is evidence that a person is bound in grave clothes. A believer who is working with a fake certificate is bound in grave clothes. Obtaining sick leave papers when you are not sick is an indication that you are in grave clothes. Sleeping and pretending to be praying is a sign of being in grave clothes. If you are the worst of human beings when you are angry, you are in grave clothes. Masturbation, chronic impatience, and constant fear are evidence that there are grave clothes on. That is why Jesus said, “Loose him and let him go.” The Lord said the same thing to Pharaoh. Unforgiving spirit, sexual sins and failure to break all connections with the devil are evidence of grave clothes. You claim to be born again but still keep complimentary cards of your former boy friends, it means that the grave clothes are still on. If not, why are you keeping them? Failure to confess every sin, envy, backbiting, and not yielding every area of your life to God are evidence of grave clothes.
If God is your lover and you believe the Bible, which says that your Maker is your husband, you will not be in a hurry to get out from His presence. So, rushing out of the service without sharing the grace is evidence of grave clothes. Not having on the whole armour of God means there are grave clothes on.
The truth is that the percentage of those who are ready for the rapture is very little. Many people who have seen visions of the rapture but did not go up discovered that it was as a result of grave clothes on them. Grave clothes can be in the form of hair and other body attachments.
A certain man was in very big trouble. He was sacked from five jobs. When he could not feed his family again, his wife ran away, leaving him with three daughters. To worsen his sorrow, his first daughter became pregnant while in form three. When he tried to beat her, she said, “Daddy, all the time I did not ask you for bus fare to school. Where do you think the money I was using came from?” The man was very sad, so he cried unto the Lord in prayers. He really cried to God and you know God never rejects the cry from the heart. The Lord Jesus appeared to him while he was praying. The man was very happy. He wanted the Lord Jesus to sympathize with him. He wanted the Lord to promote him and give him deliverance from all his troubles. He wanted comfort, fairness and divine justice. But to his amazement, the Lord pointed at him and said, “Your problem is rooted in you and not in the enemy.” The Lord told him that that was the hardest part of his Christian life. “You have not even agreed that you are your own problem. You are only deceiving yourself by blaming the devil. I am the Almighty. I am not struggling with the devil. I desire that your flesh must submit to me. I want to dethrone you from the centre of your life and be your Lord, but you have not allowed me to do so. You must contend with this power of your flesh, which is hindering my work and preventing me from doing what I want to do in your life,” the Lord said. The man was surprised but for the first time he got the blunt truth, which they say, is sometimes very bitter. You see, the devil is not really the issue as much as the power of the flesh. It is the flesh that is hanging grave clothes onto the body.
Galatians 5: 17 : “For the flesh lust against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” The flesh is fighting against the spirit and the spirit is fighting against the flesh. Two of them are contrary so that you cannot do the things you are supposed to do. Here lies the secret of victory against any form of satanic attack. Here lies the victory for you to make heaven without anybody pulling you down. If a dry fast is declared for seven days in the church, what do you think will happen? Some people will protest loudly. Some would say, “Do you not know that we would go to work?” Some would say, “They want to kill people in this place.” Others would say, “I have been telling you about that church. You see, now they want seven days dry fast.” That is the power of flesh. They forget that there is something called the bread of heaven. Once you eat that one, you lose the desire to eat the one that is here on earth. If for example you go on three days dry fast, you find out that by the third day even if someone is abusing you, you are not able to talk too much. The secret of that is that Mr. flesh has been weakened. That is the value of fasting. It does not change God, it is you that has to change, because the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit too lusts against the flesh. The two of them are always fighting. When you begin to starve one, say the flesh, your spirit man now becomes stronger. That is the value of fasting. You can pray with more concentration, with more fire, and then you get result.
God has issued a death sentence on Mr. Flesh: “Dust thou art and unto the dust thou shall return.” It is the spirit man inside you that will return back to God. The flesh knows that it is not going to depart from the dust and it wants to pull you along if you allow it.
The devil comes in when we open the door to him through our uncrucified flesh. So our toughest battle is not with the devil, it is with the flesh. The devil is continually looking for open doors through which he can enter to attack us.
John 14: 30 says, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” There was no place in the flesh of Jesus that the devil could have access to. Jesus was dead to Himself. He was dead to His own desires and His own agenda.
The power of darkness operates the most powerful scanning machines. As you are now, they can see you clearly in and out. They know whether any part of them is in you. They know how strong you are; they know those who are spiritual and those who are not. They know those who pray in the morning before going out, they know those who do not pray. They know those who do their quiet time and those who do not. They know those who are merely warming the benches in the church, who are not really serious with the Lord. They know those who are in the church to look for good, obedient, submissive wives, and they know those who are looking for very brilliant and rich husbands. They can detect the smallest compromise. They know the cleverly concealed sin. They know the evil habits you are covering. That is why the day of judgment would be very interesting. There are many things we do not know now, but on that day everything will be made manifest.
Jesus made one statement: “That which was done under the bed shall be proclaimed on housetops.” The person will be shouting it; he will have a megaphone and will be shouting it and everybody will know what he has covered. Those things inside your heart which the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit is saying, “Son this is not good, daughter this is bad,” and you ignore His voice, those are the grave clothes. You have liberty but not freedom. How can a believer go and buy clothes on credit. And then she puts on the dress and would not pass the front of the shop of the person who sold the dress to her for fear of the person saying, “You see the dress that woman is wearing, she has not paid for it.” It is the grave clothes. Why don’t you wash the ones you have, keep them clean and wear them? The devil defeats Christians who live with uncrucified flesh. The devil defeats Christians who leave the doors of their lives open to him. He is looking for houses to dwell in. He is looking for landing spaces and any area of a person’s life can be his landing space if you submit to him.
Mr. Flesh can completely paralyze the destiny of somebody if he submits any part of his life to him. If you submit your hair, he will grab it, If you submit your head, he will grab it, if you submit your thought he will grab it. If you submit your marriage he will grab it. If you submit your sex life, he will grab it. If you submit even ordinary fingernail, he will grab it. There are some people now who have stopped cutting their fingernails and they are as long those of the vultures and they have them painted up. Some buy and put on extra nails and paint them with mermaid colours. Then they start writing to us that they need deliverance from spirit husbands. May be you don’t know, just like physical men find some women very attractive, there are spirits that find some women very attractive. Those are the spirits who go about at night violating women and sexually harassing them. We should not make their job easy. Immediately you are dressing to make their job easy they will visit you.
The church is a house of God, a holy place, not a place you come wearing transparent dresses; or you are a man, you open your shirt and show the chain you put on for all to see. If you come before God you submit and humble yourself.
If you submit your lips to the enemy he will grab it. The number of men of God who hear from God clearly is reducing because of polluted ears. If you submit your ears to the enemy, he will grab them. If you submit your mouth to the enemy, he will grab it. If you submit your job to him he will grab it. If your kind of job requires that you tell lies every time, you better look for another job before you will end up in hell fire. Pray to God to provide you another job where you will not be telling lies. If you submit your eyes to the enemy, he will use it. If you give him your ambition, he will use it. If you give him your certificate, he will use it. If you give him your voice, he will use it. Most of those singing worldly songs that would send people to hell fire were trained by the church, but they are now used by the devil.
Galatians 5: 24 says, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affection and lusts.” So, if you find that the enemy is strengthening himself against you, the area to check is your flesh. The thief in you must die. The hypocrisy in you must die, and the iniquity in you must die, so that the Spirit of God can use your life as He wants.
They that belong to Christ must crucify the flesh with the affection and lust. That is, if you don’t belong to Christ, you can live your life the way you want. But at he end of the day, you will arrive at the gate of life and the gate-keeper will say, “We don’t have your name here. You are our enemy. Get out, you worker of iniquity.” You may say, “Well, I will be doing it little by little.” The danger with little by little is that you don’t know the day the Lord will say, “Son, it is enough. Come home.” What we are saying is that Mr. death does not give you advance notice.
Somebody brought money to Peter and said, “Take this money, and give me this gift so that whoever I pray for will receive the Holy Spirit and will be speaking in tongues.” Peter looked at him and said, “Your money perish with you.” That is, there was nothing in Peter that would respond to that sensation and temptation for money.
Peter allowed God to crucify that area in his life. But this is the only area where the flesh is on the throne in many lives. The Bible says that we came to the world with nothing and that we will go away with nothing. You came to the world fasting and you will go back with an empty stomach. Why should you glue yourself to this sinking world, because you do not want to crucify the flesh.
The flesh is anything that is not energized by the Holy Spirit and is always fighting you. You want to read your Bible, it says, “sleep.” You want to pray and that would be when somebody will annoy you and you spend two hours fighting. You want to pray and it is that time they bring a vampire movie and you begin to watch. Many Christians engage in activities not ordained by the Holy Spirit. To get rid of our grave clothes, the bottom-line is that God should rule our flesh. Do not deceive yourself. Do not think that the flesh will improve, it cannot improve. It is rotten to the core. Many of the problems we have as individuals are caused by Mr. Flesh. For example, inability to take the right decisions, plain disobedience to God, looseness with the opposite sex, emotional problems, bad thinking, boiling anger, etc. we must take responsibilities for our own lives. When you say, “Mr. Flesh, die,” heavens will rejoice, and they will come to your aid. If you have not pointed your finger to yourself and say: “It is you that annoyed me. You made me to say this, you made me to say that,” you are not serious yet. But the day you point accusing finger to yourself, heaven will rejoice and will come to your aid.
Our most difficult problem is facing ourselves. In 1979, one brother prayed and said that one sister was his wife. The pastor invited him and the sister and said to the sister: “This brother has prayed and he says you are his God’s chosen wife.” The lady looked at the pastor and looked at the brother from head to toe and said, “Sorry, pastor, this one that is sitting down beside you cannot carry my load.” The pastor said, “Which load are you carrying that this person cannot help you to offload.” She said, “Pastor, that is my decision. That is what I want to do and that is it.” This is year 2012, and that sister is still looking for somebody to help her carry that load.
Philippians 3:3 says, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” There should be no confidence in the flesh, for the flesh is dangerous and has no mercy. The flesh is harder to deal with than the devil. You cannot bind your own flesh. So the flesh is the harder problem, it needs to be crucified. Self-centredness, lack of discipline, boasting and stubbornness are nothing more than the flesh refusing to submit to the Holy Spirit. Many churchgoers are very stubborn. A stubborn person will say, “I will do it in my own way.” But the Bible says, “Woe unto those that at ease in Zion.” It also says, “If you walk with footmen and you are weary, what will you do when you are asked to walk with the horsemen?” It is the foot men that are around now but eventually they will go and the horse riders will come in, and things will get worse because that is what the Bible says. Evil men shall wax stronger and stronger and peace will disappear, unless we welcome the Prince of peace and the Lord of lords.
Everyday, we come across people who are trying to train Mr. Flesh more and more. They want to train Mr. Flesh not to overeat. They want to train their minds to think right but they cannot train the flesh, because the Bible says, “Those that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, they that are after the spirit do mind the things of the spirit.” The flesh cannot please God. It cannot because it is in enmity with God. It is in contention with the Spirit of God and cannot fight the spiritual battle which we do everyday.
HOW DO WE OVERCOME THE FLESH?
- We are to leave no place for the flesh. Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lust thereof.” Do not make provision for the flesh. When you plan to buy extra clothes that you do not need, when you plan to buy extra food you will not eat, when you plan to watch a video film that you know will bring lust into your life, when you are meditating on what to say to hurt another person, then you are making provision for the flesh. Make life hard for it. When next it says, “Don’t greet so and so,” go and buy a gift, look for the person, greet the person and give him the gift. When you do that, you are killing Mr. Flesh. You are not giving it provision to operate. When you, a single girl follow a man you do not know to somewhere; when you, a woman ask for lift from an unknown man, you are making provision to cause trouble for yourself. You know that you used to be a palmwine drinker. Now you are born again, do not accompany anybody to the place again so that the smell would not enter into your spirit. If you go there it means you are making provision to commit sin again. That is what Romans 13:14 says.
- Bring the flesh under subjection. We are to make the flesh a slave to God. 1 Corinthians 9: 27 says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” The Bible says that no man can serve two masters. You cannot walk down two roads at the same time. You cannot walk in the way of holiness and in the way of sin. You have to put the flesh under subjection. What does it mean to bring it under subjection? To ignore its advice and suggestions, tell it all the time that you are the chairman, so it has to take your own instructions. When it says, “Go and do this,” you disobey and do the opposite when it says, “Can’t you notice that when this one is passing she does not greet anybody, so any time she is coming just carry your face away,” you should now do the opposite. You greet the person very well.
- Take off the old man and put on the new man. Ephesians 4: 22 says, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Put off the coat of the old man and put on the coat of the new man. You cannot put on two coats at the same time. So, the old man must go and the new man must come in. If your Christianity has not got to the level where somebody says, “Ah, he has changed,” you are still a joker.
- We are to deny the flesh. Jesus said if any person would come after Him, let the person deny himself and take his cross and follow Him. Matthew 16:14 says, “If any man or woman will be my disciple let him first deny himself and then follow me.” This means that you have to put Mr. Flesh on the shelf. Whatever you have, put it aside. Put your pride aside. If Mr. Flesh says, “They have insulted you, charge at them,” you should say, “No, I will not. I have been nailed to the cross.”
- You kill the members of the flesh. Colossians 3: 1-5 says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ, sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members, which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” If you do not mortify the members of your flesh you are an idol worshipper. You have to focus on what God has already done for us on the cross.
- We are to regard the flesh crucified and remind it everyday that we are already dead. Galatians 5:24 –25 says, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit.” Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless yet I live but I live now the life of Jesus, Son of God who died for me.” The old Paul had been dead many years ago, the new Paul was walking along the street then. It was the old Paul that a serpent could bite and he would die but the crucified one could not die like that.
- The people the devil fears most are those who have crucified the flesh. He knows he cannot find any entrance in them.
- We are to live an exchanged life. You should put one life down and take another. According Galatians 2: 20, the new life is to replace the old one. You cannot be doing two things at a time.
When you are moving close to solution and you see your sad condition, you have started making progress. The day a mad man begins to ask questions like “Why am I wearing these clothes? What am I doing here? Why are you all starring at me?” his solution has started. But when the mad man has dirty clothes on and says, “Give me iron, I want to iron them,” then solution is not insight yet.
You should now prayer like John Knox. The same God who answered his prayer and made it impossible for demons and host of hell to paralyze his destiny, is still alive.
1. Oh God, break me, in the name of Jesus.
2. Oh God, kill the iniquity in my life, in the name of Jesus.
3. Every hindrance to open doors in my life, give way by fire, in the name of Jesus.
4. Spiritual blindness, clear out of my life, in the name of Jesus.
5. Where others are failing, I shall succeed by fire, in the name of Jesus.
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