The Prison of the Past

Daily Devotional. with Dr. Charles Stanley

Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Read | Luke 4:16-21

The Temptation of Jesus
1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness  2for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.  3And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  4And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.'”  5And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  6And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  7“Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”  8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'”  9And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 
10for it is written,
12And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'”  13When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.
Jesus’ Public Ministry
 14And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.  15And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.  16And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.  17And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 
 20And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  21And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”  23And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'”  24And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.
  25“But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land;  26and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  27“And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  28And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things;  29and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.  30But passing through their midst, He went His way.  31And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath;  32and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.  33In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice,  34“Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!”  35But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm.  36And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.”  37And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district.
Many Are Healed
 38Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her.  39And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them.  40While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them.  41Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.  42When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.  43But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”  44So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of [a]Judea.

Imagine a man named Dan who, after serving his full sentence of 20 years, has just received his prison release papers. Now, after two decades behind bars, he’s going to taste freedom again! Before leaving, he makes a strange request: “Please take this cell door off its hinges and strap it to my back.” The jailers comply, and the freed man spends the rest of his life in this condition.

Dan’s story sounds ridiculous. Yet many of us carry around guilt like a prison door strapped to our back. Jesus Christ liberated us, but we have trouble leaving the old jail completely behind. The problem is that we don’t believe God has really forgiven. I’ve often counseled Christians who say, “I pray every day for the Lord to forgive me!” When I point out that God has already covered their sin, I hear, “Yes, but . . . ”

There is no “but.” Either God forgives or He doesn’t. If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are free of sin (Col. 1:14). The Lord promises that He will not hold our wrongs against us or even remember them (Heb. 10:17). No good can come of dredging up the old failures and sinful habits that He has put behind His back (Isa. 38:17). The Liberator has torn down the walls of your prison. So lay down your guilt and live free.

When God looks upon a believer, He sees a spirit washed clean of all sin. Don’t allow guilt over past wrongdoing to hold you captive a second longer. Take God at His word, and believe that He has removed it from you as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12).

About jam4JESUS

I... 'will seek [First] the LORD my God, and I will find Him if I seek Him with all my heart and with all my soul.' Deut. 4:29 I... 'shall love the LORD my God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength.' Deut. 6:5 I... 'Trust in the LORD with all my heart, And lean not on my own understanding; In all ways... acknowledge Him, And He shall make my path straight.' Proverbs 3:5-6 I... 'remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you' 2Tim. 1:6 I... 'thank God, whom I serve... without ceasing... I... remember YOU in my prayers night and day,' 2Tim. 1:3 I... am to 'Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let my requests be made known to God' Phil. 4:6 I... KNOW: 'I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.' Phil.4:13 'My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.' Phil. 4:19 'My GOD will never leave me, nor forsake me.' Heb. 13:5 JESUS so loves me, this I... KNOW
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