Published October 31, 2017

Paul's Epistle
"Chain Breaker"

"Chain Breaker" has become an enormously popular song. In Southern Gospel music, the charting version is by Triumphant, whose song went to number one on the Singing News chart for two months in a row – something that rarely happens. The Gaither Vocal Band and other Southern Gospel artists have also recorded it.

But the song was written first in the contemporary/church worship area, and the song has become very popular in those genres, as well. In fact, it took a Dove award in the pop/contemporary field this year as recorded by artists in that genre, particularly by the song's primary writer, Zach Williams.

Although the song's lyrics are simple and straightforward, clearly they are speaking to a lot of people who have suffered – or are suffering – from "chains" in their lives.

What kinds of "chains?" There are, of course, many types. But often they are addictions of some sort. Here are a few we're hearing a lot about these days:

Substance abuse. More than 20 million Americans are bound by some form of substance addiction, but, a report by the U. S. Surgeon General says 40 percent of these don't even seek treatment. Nicotine addition is common. Of all addicts reported, ten percent (a percentage that's increasing) were addicted to opioids.

Opioids. The "opioid crisis" is getting a lot of attention these days. Authorities say nearly a hundred deaths in the U. S. each day can be attributed to individuals overdosing on drugs to which they have become addicted. They predict that over the next decade, more than 650,000 people could die from opioid misuse if nothing more is done to stem the tide. These drugs already kill more people than guns or car accidents.

Illicit sex. One needs look no farther than the recent much-publicized case of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to find an example of someone who obviously was bound by an addiction to illicit sex. Registered sex offenders in the U. S. total more than 750,000. And those are only those who have been caught, as only about 30 percent of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities.

Such people have clearly been bound by chains of addition.

OK, so perhaps none of those has affected you. But what about these:

Depression. An estimated 5.3 percent of adult Americans suffer from clinical depression. That's about 14.4 million people. Women are especially vulnerable. Years ago, Shelia and I visited in the home of a well-known Gospel singer who was in the midst of a years-long bout with depression. We prayed with him there. But the problem, he explained, is that you can't just "think your way out" of depression. Only God can do it. Eventually, he was delivered. But depression "chains" a lot of people, even Christians.

Your past. One of Satan's favorite "chains" that he likes to apply to Christians is in bringing to your mind past mistakes, past sins. As the song puts it, "If you've been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies..." Sure, for a Christian those sins have been confessed and forgiven, cast, as the old hymn says, into the "sea of God's forgetfulness." But that doesn't stop Satan from trying to spoil your day by reminding you of those sins and trying to get you to doubt that they've really been forgiven. As Adam Crabb recently noted, "We all have a past that we're not proud of and things that we've been through and mistakes we've made. But we know a God that's able to break every chain off of our life."

Years ago, Milton Ostrander and Mike Payne wrote a song that says it all right there in the title: "When [Satan] Reminds Me Of My Past (I Remind Him Of His Future)." While you're someday enjoying heaven, Satan will be tormented forever in the "everlasting fire" created by God "for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41). So the "accuser of our brethren" — the one accusing you — will ultimately be cast into hell for all eternity (Rev. 12:10).

Habits. What "bad habits" do you feel are chaining you down? Perhaps it's as simple as overeating. Perhaps it's not doing what you know you should be doing. Perhaps it's an attitude problem on your part toward others. Perhaps it's something even more serious.

All such things need to be set aside, and, with the Lord's help, it can happen. Those chains can be broken. The writer of Hebrews counsels us to "lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us [so that we can] run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:12).

It's happening. And, in fact, the "Chain Breaker" song is helping a lot of people in this regard. For example, Triumphant's Eric Bennett says a young lady heard the song at one of their concerts. Her mother and two older brothers were addicted to drugs. But that night, during the concert, the young lady surrendered her life to Christ while Triumphant was singing that song. And, as Eric says, the song "really spoke to her and the Lord was able to change her life because of it."

The "Chain Breaker" song was even beneficial to songwriter Zach Williams. He says he had experienced "dead end after dead end" in things he tried to do. As reflected in the song's lyrics, he "was hearing a voice in my head saying you're not gonna make it. Everything you've tried to do, you've failed at." But, Zach says, now Christ has broken "all those chains I had basically given myself." And "not only can Jesus break my chains, but if you're struggling with addictions or personal hangups, he can break those chains. All you have to do is surrender your life to him."

    "If you've got pain, He's a pain taker.
     If you feel lost, He's a way-maker.
     If you need freedom or saving, He's a prison-shaking Savior.
     If you've got chains, He's a chain-breaker."*


What's that sound? It's the sound of Christ breaking chains in the lives of those who do, indeed, surrender their chains to Him. And those broken chains remain broken. We have the Lord's own personal assurance that "if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). And you can count on it!

- Paul

*Chorus from "Chain Breaker," written by Zach Williams, Jonathan Smith and Mia Fieldes.

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