“Crowds listened intently to what Philip had to say because of the miracles He did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed.” (Acts 8:6-7)
Most Christians realize that the Lord wants them to share the Gospel with and be involved in ministry to others. However, many Christians do not realize they need to do so in the power of the Holy Spirit. We learn time and again in the Bible that it is the Spirit of God which enables us to share the Good News of Jesus and to make a difference in the lives of people. This was even the case with Jesus, who quote Isaiah when He said “The Spirit of the Lord has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4:18) Even though Jesus said this about Himself, He gave this same power to those who followed Him. Luke writes, “Jesus called together His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. Then He sent them out to tell everyone about the coming of the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2) It’s important for us to remember that Jesus didn’t simply mean this empowering for His disciples, but for us today. The Apostle John records Jesus saying “Anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…” (John 14:12)
When we are empowered by the Spirit, we assist in freeing others from their strongholds. Many people, including Christians, are in bondage to sin and to Satan. Although they may have surrendered themselves to the Lord, they are often still held captive by strongholds in their lives. The Apostle Paul writes, “Many have been held captive by the devil to do whatever he wants.” (2 Timothy 2:26) But Jesus stated that He came to proclaim liberty to the captives and to set at liberty those who were oppressed. (Luke 4:18) The Lord has called us to do what He did. We also should bring salvation, consolation, emancipation, illumination, and liberation to others. We help people experience freedom in their lives by praying for and with them, by encouraging with our words and actions, and by discipling them to be more like Jesus.
Followup Activity - Reflect on others you know who are struggling with strongholds or addictions. Pray for them and then consider how you might show them Christ’s love and help them find freedom from their stronghold. Ask the Lord to show you what Scriptures, Christian resources, support groups, or counselors might be beneficial for them. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, have a discussion about how God wants us to help others be free from sin, then encourage each family member to pray for and encourage those they know who might be in spiritual bondage.
Prayer for Today - Lord, I know that You want me to assist in freeing those who are being held captive to sinful strongholds. When these opportunities arise, may Your Spirit empower me all the more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.