I hear you calling, but I’m all bound up.

John 11 gives us the details of the remarkable story of Lazarus’ resurrection. Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, is dead. He’s been dead so long that the odor of rotting flesh was prevalent, as the decay of death ravaged the body of Lazarus. “Surely he stinks!” cried his sisters as they tried to come to terms with Jesus’ seemingly undeniable delay.

Yes, Jesus could’ve gotten there sooner. The truth is, sometimes things have to die in order to live. Truly live. The Gospel is understandably; the death, burial, and the resurrection of Christ. However, that’s only half of the Gospel. That’s what Jesus did for us. We MUST respond to that by dying ourselves (repentance), being buried with Him (baptism in His name), and by being resurrected to newness of life (Holy Spirit). Thank God for that resurrection power.

What makes the life of Lazarus, and the story of his resurrection so remarkable is that it really depicts our lives, and yet is rarely ever discussed. For too long Christians have held the notion that once we are raised to life that suddenly everything is better, life is grand, the issues and the sin is gone. Let’s look at what actually happened…

As Jesus makes His way to the edge of that tomb, the Bible says he “called” for Lazarus to come forth. (There is an undeniable call from God reverberating through our world.)
As His voice ripped through the crevices of that cavern, life (resurrection power) entered into Lazarus’ body as Lazarus responded to the call from God. That’s incredible!

Here’s the problem with this story, even after Lazarus responded to the call, and even after life and purpose came into his soul…Lazarus was still bound! The Bible says Lazarus was bound in three areas (John 11:44): “And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.”

▪️His hands were bound
▪️His feet were bound
▪️His face was bound

This seems to be the reality of many “Christians”. We have been resurrected from our past life of death, but we have yet to escape the grave clothes of our past. Lazarus hands and feet were bound. He was alive but could not go anywhere or do anything. Lazarus’ head was also bound. He couldn’t hear, see, or speak. In like fashion, many Believers are bound up. They are spiritually alive, but so bound up that they can’t go anywhere or do anything for God. They are so bound up that they can’t hear the voice of Jesus, see spiritual things, or speak or share the Word of God.

How do we escape the bondage of our grave clothes? We MUST exchange our GRAVE clothes for GRACE clothes!

Paul explained how in Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV: “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Three things:
(1) PUT OFF – Remove or take off like an old dirty coat
(2) PUT ON – Put on it’s place a new self identity, created after the likeness of God.
(3) RENEW your mind

Freeing yourself from bondage requires these three elements. You have to RETRAIN yourself; REFRAIN yourself; and RENEW yourself.

(1) RETRAIN – You have to create new habits. You have to change how you act, what you listen to, and watch you entertain.
(2) REFRAIN – You have to resist the urge to fall back into familiar, comfortable habits. You have to say no to your flesh.
(3) RENEW – Change your MIND!

The battle of bondage isn’t fought in the flesh, it’s fought in the mind. You can’t think like the old man, and live like the new man. Change your MIND, and you will change your ATTITUDE. Change your ATTITUDE, and you will CHANGE your BEHAVIOR. Change your BEHAVIOR, and you will change your FEELINGS.

You hear His voice, but for too long you’ve been bound in your grave clothes. Be set free from that bondage and exchange those grave clothes for grace clothes. Become a NEW CREATURE, and enjoy a life of freedom.

Published by Joshua McElhaney

Joshua McElhaney has served over 15 years in ministry, serving as both an Assistant Pastor for over a decade, and as lead Pastor. During his time in leadership, Joshua learned many valuable lessons about leading. Using his own experiences and the troves of Biblical treasures, McElhaney has created resources that will enlighten, empower, and enable leaders across the spectrum to lead the way God has called them to lead. Joshua married Karena, his college sweetheart, in June of 2007. Together they have three beautiful children; Mayli, Jaxson, and Asher.

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