Very few people on earth live unconstrained, free, prosperous and fulfilled lives. It is one of the most fundamental promises that Christianity makes to those that we approach to adopt our faith, yet some Christians are not free. It is a fascinating situation where we sometimes believe that our earthly constraints hold us back. Oddly enough, when we talk about God setting us free, we “see” this picture:

Acts 12:7-10 (AMP) – Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared [beside him] and a light shone in the cell. The angel struck Peter’s side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off his hands. The angel said to him, “Prepare yourself and strap on your sandals [to get ready for whatever may happen].” And he did so. Then the angel told him, “Put on your robe and follow me.” And Peter went out following the angel. He did not realize that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city. Of its own accord it swung open for them; and they went out and went along one street, and at once the angel left him.

Undoubtedly God has the power to physically set us free from our physical and earthly “prisons”. However, I cannot believe that Jesus came to earth to set prisoners free, to ensure that Christians are wealthy, that Christians live in overabundance of love and joy, as well as escape suffering the human condition.

When Jesus says the following – what does He mean?

Luke 4:18 (AMP) – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),

Spiritual prisons are constructs of the mind and situation. We allow this world to enter into our lives and we allow it to shape our thoughts and feelings. So what are we talking about?

Mark 7:21-23 (AMP) – For from within, [that is] out the heart of men, come base and malevolent thoughts and schemes, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness and foolishness (poor judgment). All these evil things [schemes and desires] come from within and defile and dishonor the man.”

It is the easiest thing to blame Satan, the world, our circumstances, parents, friends, work, the media, social media, and anything and anybody but ourselves. (I’m including myself here.) However, the root of this is clearly stated within the text from Mark above – For from within, out the heart of men. That’s fantastic, now we can blame God, creation, our sinful selves…


Jesus was sent to this earth to give us a choice, an alternative to simply accepting life.

When are we in spiritual prisons? Here are a few questions that may help:

Are you growing spiritually? Can you see and feel God’s hand in your life increasing?
Are you gaining more insight into yourself, others and situations? Are you able to be more understanding and tolerant towards yourself and others?
Is your faith moving through trust, to gratitude? Are you becoming more satisfied with yourself, and your life?
Is your ability to share your gifts with the world increasing? Can you share God’s word with more people through life and example?
Does it feel like you are capable of doing more? Are you doing more? Is there a movement towards attaining your God-given potential?
Are your relationships becoming better, stronger and deeper? Are you interacting with more and more people in a positive way?
Do you need less and less to be happy? Is your dependence on material things shrinking?
Do you communicate with God more and more? Is the communication developing into a conversation rather than begging, pleading and asking?
Are you able to worship more freely? Can you truly sing to God (even if it is in your head)? Can you praise God without restraint?

If you don’t experience any or all of these in your life right now, your spiritual growth may be experiencing a static point. You may be stuck, halted or imprisoned.

What are some of the symptoms whereby we can pinpoint and identify the walls of our self-constructed prisons?

Not Forgiving – This two-edged sword cripples an enormous amount of people. We need to forgive those that have wronged us, those situations that have deprived us of something, and most of all we have to forgive ourselves. In many ways, anger and pain can also be classified within this group.

Not Authentic – Our drive for social and inter-personal acceptance is a fundamental biological and survival based instinct. We cannot underestimate the power this can yield in someone’s life. The absence of acceptance is shame which is the first negative emotion experienced by Adam and Eve. This is deeply entrenched and we will do anything to avoid exposure in a shameful way.

Emotional Unavailability – Withholding emotional exposure or remaining within a toxic or negative relationship is something we all do. “Better the devil you know” is probably the biggest excuse we use to describe this state. Emotional apathy is something that grows like a disease and systematically isolates the practitioner, and I use the word practitioner because this is a choice actively made by a person who then ends up feeling trapped by it.

Unworthy – Not asking for what you want is the surest way of not getting it. If done enough times, you may end up feeling that you deserve less. As Christians, we are also asked to be content with what we have and not strive for more. If done on an unhealthy level, the motivation is not humility but depravity, and self-deprecation. This is not what God intended when He carefully chose you before you were born.

Fear – Fear of failure, fear of unseen effects, fear of the unknown, fear of the future. All these fears are manufactured or inherited from someone else’s manufacture. Fear (different to danger) is not real. It is a mind-numbing drug designed to protect us during extraordinary circumstances, urging us to be careful and alert while doing something dangerous. It is s survival instinct that can be pushed too far.

Situation or State – I’m too old, too short, too female, too male, too fat, too [really insert anything here]. This belief is medication to allow one to remain within a specific comfort zone. It absolves us from stepping up, stepping forward or stepping out. Actively driven by our decisions it is also an explanation of why we are currently here and not over there where we belong.

Addiction – Not necessarily to chemical substances, but to entrenched beliefs and behavior patterns. We all know hardened drinkers that are not alcoholics, and likewise, we can be clinging on to something with white knuckles and bared teeth because we believe it is too deeply entrenched to overcome. These can be any of the behavior listed in the passage from Mark above.

There may be much more self-limiting, God-limiting or imposed crippling beliefs that we as people bring on ourselves. We are exposed to millions of images within the media every day telling us we are not fit enough, strong enough, clever enough, rich enough, or whatever is riding you today.

Accepting that Jesus died for your sins allows you to obtain salvation. Staying there and simply living your life as if nothing has happened is not God’s plan for you.

John 10:10 (AMP) – The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

John 8:36 (AMP) – So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Oh, that just terrific – You tell me that I am suffering (which is something I know by the way) and then you tell me that Jesus came to relieve me from this burden. That does not help me at all… I want to know how do I overcome this. That would help…

Healing through God is a process. It can be instantaneous or it could take years. However, it does require a few steps:

Recognition – If you need to be healed you have to first identify the area affected. You may not know or understand why this is affecting you, but just like when you go to the doctor with fever without understanding the cause, you can approach God with the symptoms. He will know the cause and repair it permanently if it is within His plan.

Ask – Through Jesus Christ our Savior we have the ability to approach God with our requests. We can ask for our heart’s desire, and if it is within His will for our lives, we will receive what we ask and more – so much more.

Faith – I know God can heal me, I know God will heal me, I know God has healed me – is the condensed version. God Almighty the creator of all made our bodies in a way that it is self-repairing. To deduce from that, that He wants is to be healthy is not difficult. It is also not such a stretch to believe that this applies to our mind and mental state as well. So God can heal us, and we know that He wants to heal us, now we simply have to trust that he will heal us within the time-frame that falls within His will.

Do – Don’t just sit there. Do what you need to do to overcome this from your side. If you are obese, stop eating and start exercising; if you are anxious, identify the source and study God’s word about overcoming fear. You are not a tree – move…

Accept – Accept every small incremental healing step as a blessing. Actively seek it within your life. Acknowledge that your healing is a gift and blessing and start seeing God’s hand moving in your life.

Thank – Thank God for the progress you make. Acknowledge that it is by His grace that you are breathing and through His patience that you are allowed to overcome.

Share – If God is working in your life, don’t be shy. Share it with someone. For all you know they are struggling with something very similar and is waiting with an abated breath for someone to encourage them.

Give – Upon receiving healing, give the message of God’s plan to others. Don’t give them a fish – teach them how to fish. Show them by example how to truly love and obey and cherish God.

Mark 16:15 – 18 (AMP) – And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who has not believed will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.”

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Author's Bio: 

Anton van den Berg is a normal person. I have no specialized theological training but I have led a life of hard and tough lessons. Like silver, I had to be taken to the furnace to get rid of a lot of impurities. In that process, I have learned to let certain things go, and to attach to other values. These posts represent some of the pivotal growth-moments in that journey. I hope that it would assist you on your journey in some way. May God Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit be with you.