Question: Why are some believers under bondage when they are set free, and why is the devil still oppressing them?
To unpack a little further, I believe the source of the question comes from the daily struggles believers face. As a result, they view the situation as still living under bondage and oppressed by the devil, even though the Bible teaches us that we are set free in Christ? Many believers ask similar questions, especially when encountering various troubles and problems in their walk with Christ. So the root of the question comes from the “perception” of what Christian living must be like! If the Bible promises that we are set free, why are we still in bondage, being oppressed by the devil and facing troubles in this world?
We can sometimes fall into this kind of thinking because of a lack of understanding of the terms “being set free in Christ”, “being in bondage”, and what the “oppression of the devil” means? What does the Bible say about these, and how do we understand what Christian living really looks like? We often get the impression from certain teachings/sermons that “being set free in Christ” means that we are free from worldly troubles and burdens. Instead, we can expect abundant material and physical blessings this world offers. According to scripture, this is not the case. God can do all of these if it is so according to His will. When the Bible teaches us about being set free, it is not about freedom from troubles or problems but a spiritual redemption.
• We are free from the lie of the devil, and instead, the truth sets us free (John 8:32)
• We are set free from bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:21)
• We are set free from sin and become slaves to God, and the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life (Romans 6:22)
• We are free to approach God with confidence (Ephesians 3:12)
• And many more.
We are never taught in the Bible that we will be set free from the world’s troubles. Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” This world is still alienated from God, but Christ has overcome it, and He is more than able to help us through our journey in the world. We know that the world will hate us because it hated Christ before it hated you (John 15:18).
A true believer will endure in the world, not in their strength but in the power of the Lord. The troubles and oppression of the world help to build you in Christ so that you may be of greater use in His service and for the Kingdom. Romans 5:3-5 teaches that we are to glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. Hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. This is why we must be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. To walk in a manner worthy of God, fully pleasing to him and bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened in all power, according to His glorious might – for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:9-12).
We are no longer in bondage to sin and death, nor are we in bondage to the devil. As a Christian, you need to understand your position in Christ. Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” Nor are you under the bondage of the law. Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear but instead, you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).
So, the question becomes, can the devil oppress a Christian, and how do we overcome it? To begin, the Bible clearly conveys the message that a believer in Christ cannot be demon-possessed, but on the other hand, there can be demonic oppression in the life of a Christian. There are no examples in the New Testament of a believer being demon-possessed. We do not see any instruction or warning about believers being demon-possessed or casting them out of a true believer. We are also taught not to give any opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). Christians are constantly in warfare, and we are not to be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs (2 Corinthians 2:11). The Bible tells us that when Jesus Christ rules someone’s life, God’s power keeps them and is protected by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5). Also, 1 John 5:18 teaches us that the evil one does not touch the one born of God (1 John 5:18). Again, 1 John 4:4 tells us that He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Amen!
The mindset of a believer is what keeps them in bondage. Romans 8:1 warns us not to fall back into a spirit of slavery or bondage. Understand that you are set free from sin and death, set free from corruption. In terms of oppression from the devil, we are to expect it in this world. Not only expect but to endure it until the very end. Acts 14:22 says, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Like the trouble the Israelites faced in the wilderness on their journey to the earthly Canaan, it is a picture of the oppression and hardships God’s people will encounter in this world as we journey to our heavenly Canaan.
Remember your position in Christ. If you are a child of God, you can expect many trials and troubles because we are not of this world. It does not mean that you are in bondage and not set free; instead, it reveals that you are no longer of this world. God will allow these in your life so that they build you up. 1 Peter 2:20-21 “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
Demonic influences can still tempt believers, and an example is that Satan tempted Jesus Himself. Jesus stood on the word of God and resisted the devil. You see, when we resist the devil, he will flee. When we resist with God’s word and armour, the devil has no victory over the child of God who resists Him. Remember that we are in a battle, not a fleshly battle but spiritual warfare as believers. Ephesians 6:12-13 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” When the devil oppresses you, always be ready adorning the whole armor of God and stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-20).
In conclusion, believers are set free from bondage to sin and death and transferred into the kingdom of Light. The devil can tempt Christians, and he will try to deceive and oppress them. We as Christians are to expect this while we journey through this world. As we do, rely entirely on the power of God, seeking to do His will, and continue to persevere, so that you can boldly declare like the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”