Today's sermon might have made you feel uncomfortable. I named a number of 'sins' that keep God's children in bondage: forgiveness, bitterness, alcoholism, and pornography. I don't often get so specific. When you start naming some sins you can give the impression that these are the ones that really matter, these are the ones that you should avoid.
The reason I chose the first two is that they lend themselves well to illustrating the connection between sin and bondage. It may not be so clear to us how gossiping about others can become a habit that ensnares us. It's easier to envision how relying on alcohol to deal with stress can become maladaptive and destructive and difficult to escape.
The bigger concern to anyone who finds themselves enslaved in any type of sinful behaviour is, "How can I be set free?". If Jesus has defeated sin, death, and the Devil then how can we claim the victory and experience his redemptive power in our lives?
Today's story is maybe less helpful in this regard. Jesus simply shows up in the life of the demon-possessed man. Given the degree of his bondage, it is unclear to what degree the man is seeking Jesus' intervention or trying to avoid it.
Maybe the most we can take from this story is that Jesus has authority over all the bondage we experience in life. Maybe we need to draw from other teachings as to how we can experience Jesus' authority exercised in our own lives.
One passage in particular, from the book of James, seems to address this concern: "Make this your common practise: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed." (James 5:16 MSG)
When we confess our sins to each other (and not just to ourselves) we are acknowledging our need and dependence on God and each other. We are not longer suffering alone but are being supported by the community.
By adding prayer to confession, we are exercising our authority as the church and agreeing that this issue needs God's attention. And we are opening ourselves to the many different avenues where God may accomplish this healing.
If you are wondering how you might experience greater freedom in your life, maybe the next step you can take is to share your struggle with another follower of Christ.