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Custom Made Cages

• Greg Boyd

This week we heard from Greg Boyd during our fourth installment from the Cage Free series. Greg explored the custom made cages that can be built overtime in our soul and the need to perform consistent soul audits. The enemy will take advantage of any area of wounding to lie to us about our real worth. We need to sit with God to become aware of these wounds, allow God to remind us of how much we are loved, and come up with a plan with God and others for how to move beyond this place of woundedness.


We also sat down with Laure to hear some of her story.

Click here to watch that interview.

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Greg Boyd begins our fourth installment in the Cage Free series by sharing his story of wiping out while speed walking and the ensuing infection. He emphasized the way germs work and how this relates to the work of evil spiritual forces. Those forces are always looking for a point of vulnerability to come in and infect the way we see ourselves and others. This is particularly true in those experiences in life where there is a significant gulf between what we needed and what we actually received. Even the smallest wound in our spirit can create an opening for the enemy to invade and infect which will often result in harmful attempts (i.e. addiction, anger, depression, etc.) to avoid feeling the real result of that wound.

These custom designed cages by the enemy that revolve around our source of woundedness do not have to be our story forever. Greg goes on to share three practical steps he uses to become more aware of these cages and to intentionally get free. First, you need to get aware of cages you are in and acknowledge before God what is really going on in your soul. For some people these cages are obvious because the evidence is outward (i.e. drinking, anger, sexual addiction, etc.), but for most of us they are much more subtle and often only visible internally. As a result of this we often don’t realize the affect of these wounds. The way to gain an awareness of these wounds is to do a regular soul audit. This practice is modeled in Psalm 4:4 and Psalm 139:23 as an intentional way to allow God to scan your soul with ruthless honesty. Second, before you make plans on how to deal with these hurts and cages you need to STOP and just be loved. In the midst of all of this woundedness and sin you are loved with an everlasting unwavering love. The source of all our freedom is found in the love of God and you are confronting the lie of the enemy when you sit in that love and are reminded that you don’t have to get more put together to be loved by God. Third, ask God and others for wisdom on what steps you can take to get free from that cage. Invite Jesus and others into the truth behind this wound or this sin. We all need someone who knows us inside and out. The enemy is the prince of darkness and he needs darkness to work. When we shine the light on our wounds in the presence of someone else we are fighting the spiritual battle and uncovering the truth. Finally, forgiveness is always an essential part of getting free from the cages that have been custom made for us. To the degree that you remain in the state of woundedness you continue to empower the wound or the one who did the wounding. Forgiveness is the intentional action to release the debt as we receive all our life from Jesus.

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Topics: Identity in Christ, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation

Sermon Series: Cage Free

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Focus Scripture:

  • Psalm 4:4

    Psalm 4:4

    ...when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.

    Psalm 139:23

    Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

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7 thoughts on “Custom Made Cages

  1. Peter says:

    It is interesting with Greg that we have ‘speed drumming’ and now ‘race walking’ I wonder how Greg’s wife feels when she climbs into their car’s passenger seat with Greg driving : – /.

    While the ‘self audit’ Greg explains (and is doing) in this message has considerable merit I believe it may be taken further.

    What brought this home to me is a person I meet on my morning walks; a friendship that commenced about a year ago. While this person is an older Christian lady in her 70’s and of sound mind and body I have found out over time through other sources that her husband can and has been, at times, mentally abusive to her. However, notwithstanding this, she has been to date the most gracious person that I have ever met. And while some may argue that this may stem from her situation, I don’t believe this to be the case and is not the argument to be made here. The point being is that her natural character of always helping, putting others first, reaching out to strangers and not speaking ill of others etc is such an inspiring example. In one sense she is a ‘Saint Theresa’ of the suburb where she lives.

    With this background, we can understand that in a pre-Fall creation both Adam and Eve, being made in God’s image, would be gracious (of character) not only to themselves but to all creation. They would be tending to the needs of others before themselves. However, in a post-Fall creation, ‘self’ and the ‘self-life’ has become the priority to the exclusion of others. We therefore find man living a ‘false’ life or one he was not designed to live.

    When we are ‘born again’ into a new life through Christ we are effectively returning to a pre-Fall lifestyle in a post-Fall world. This is why the first Christians/church were so different to the rest of the community. As it was through God’s grace that believers experienced total forgiveness, and were able express a gracious and loving character to the community, to meet their needs ahead of their own.

    So while we find through Greg’s approach that we seek to correct ourselves of our ‘old- self’, this can be taken further where we seek to conform our lives to Christ through those Christians who exhibit such a gracious character. As Paul says in Col 2:20,

    “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world”

    and in 2Cor 4 15-17,

    “Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”

    While I have not discussed this matter with the lady in question mentioned earlier, her lifestyle has significantly challenged (and changed) my own so that it is not necessarily introspection alone that changes our lives but also where we see and experience the graciousness of a fellow believer living out the gospel.

    (By way of interest, I have found “Gracious Christianity: Living the Love We Profess” to be helpful in understanding my situation.)

  2. Dave Pritchard says:


    When you mention that the first Christians “were so different than the rest of the community”; Acts 6 came to mind.

    At the beginning there seems to have been a snafu that developed over the disruption of food. Even at that early stage, Believers seemed to perhaps remain somewhat in their own familiar cliques. Dietary observances were more than likely so ingrained into the minds and culture of Hebraic followers, that they possibly just overlooked the needs of those outside their subset. Or, there could have been a deliberate withholding of resources assuming that the Hellenistic followers could afford to feed themselves more easily (?) In a similar vein, Peter wanted to eat with his kinfolk to impress or to avoid contention – But Paul was having none of it and essentially told him off – gently. Even though there was a tremendous amount of love, fellowship and Holy Spirit filled collaboration amongst the early fledgling churches; there also was plenty of trouble and strife as we learn from the Epistles. They weren’t immune from a lot of the contentious behaviour we experience in the body of Christ today.

    I love the idea of pre-Adamic /pre-Fall innocence, and this may if fact be a necessary prerequisite to how our atonement plays itself out in the grand scheme of things – Romans 5:12 etc… ‘Preadamism’ aside, we seemed designed for variance and dissimilarity, it’s part of the innate curiosity that comes with the dynamics of ‘free will’ emanated from the beauty of Triune love.

    Your perambulation partner sounds like a true blessing from above! Awesome fellowship can happen when we travel on that road to Emmaus with a good friend – this can happen online as well! But there’s nothing quite like the fresh air and sunshine to burn off some mental and physical chaff with a trusted mate!


  3. Dave Pritchard says:

    “Distribution” of food…….

  4. Peter says:

    Dave, you are correct in your observations made in your first paragraph, and they are but a sample of the (remedial) issues covered by Paul in his letters to churches, and later with Jesus in His seven letters to churches at the beginning of Revelation. However, the thrust of the early church was as described, otherwise they would be as Paul mentioned in the quote given,“…why do you live as if you still belonged to the world”. It is effectively this latter aspect and your comment, “ They weren’t immune from a lot of the contentious behaviour we experience in the body of Christ today.” that is, in part, Greg’s focus that we endeavour to remediate ourselves through the Spirit of these enslaving matters.

    However, when we are told to be ‘conformed to the image of Christ’ or ‘put on the mind of Christ’….what does this mean in reality….are they just a set of words or, do they lead to a change in behaviour?…..as it has been said elsewhere we cannot live by definitions, but we seek to live relationally first with God and then with others. This is where I believe being (or becoming) gracious in our disposition/character to others, both Christian and non-Christian is the standard we seek (viz in demonstration, to love God and our neighbour as ourself). Again, there are numerous paths that branch out from here and I have already written too much. However, the book I mentioned in the previous post is insightful in this area and, of course, Dallas Willard’s “Renovation of the Heart – Putting on the Character of Christ ”. In relation to the latter comment, Dallas makes the following observation,

    “To ‘grow in grace’ means to utilise more and more grace to live by, until everything we do is assisted by grace. Then, whatever we do in word or deed will be done in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17). The greatest saints are not those who need less grace, but those who consume the most grace, who indeed are most in need of grace — those who are saturated by grace in every dimension of their being. Grace to them is like breath.”

    Considering this comment, I couldn’t help but think of the first chapter of John’s gospel, specifically 1:14 and 1:17,

    “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

    “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

    It is interesting where Paul sees the ‘bridal mystery’ of the church and Christ (Eph 5) as an end goal of the people of God. When I was thinking of the impact my friend is having on me I was trying to think back to a similar experience. The only thing that came close was with my wife, especially before our marriage, where (normally), each is prepared to sacrifice their own life to meet the needs of their partner…and go the ‘extra mile’ ie we are most gracious to each other…..and hence we see the Bride and Christ or, members of the Godhead, with a similar interaction.

    With reference to my comment that, ‘…through Christ we are effectively returning to a pre-Fall lifestyle in a post-Fall world’, sure we are not yet physically in an Edenic setting (yes KathyD I see in my mind’s eye (and with the greatest respect), you playing in the field with a lion, not with fear but with joy), but spiritually we must be in a state of total forgiveness (and yes, we are currently in a conflict zone/spiritual warfare), otherwise we are making the work of the Cross of no value in our lives.

    It is the Cross that represents pure grace otherwise humanity is forever in the pit.

  5. Dave Pritchard says:


    I love Dallas Willard’s stuff! He’s got this beautiful style of spirit filled erudition that kind of flows like golden syrup – “Come let us [sit down calmly] and reason together…” Isaiah 1:18

    “…..but we seek to live relationally first with God and then with others.”

    So True! This is the key that unlocks our potential in Christ. One of the issues associated with this though, is how one’s ‘sanctification process’ if you will, plays itself out in the life of the believer. Augustine is attributed as saying –

    “Is the church a hotel for saints or it is a hospital for sinners.”

    Or more colloquially stated, the real pertinent question may be –

    “Is the church a hospital for those struggling with ‘Sin’, or a spiritual ‘Club Med’ for those already Sanctified?

    I can’t help but think that so frequently potential followers of Jesus are turned away and turned off by the intimidating level of spiritual ‘jaronese’ they encounter when seeking God. They so desperately want that dead albatross off their shoulders but see others or institutions as erecting gates or mediating conditions for them to come into his presence. When Jesus said “I am The Door” I think he meant it – not just in an exclusive sense; in that other doors cannot lead to Him but that at the end of one’s journey, He himself “Is” the door you must pass through, not as a means to and end, but rather a true Spirit filled collaboration where he knocks and you open the door to your mind and heart. We can go ‘in and out’ and find true [zöe] pasture but it must be in and through his love. So being ‘sanctified’ – our ‘hagiasmos’ in the Greek – the setting of ourselves apart for ‘holiness’, is something we ultimately cannot do ourselves as you know but rather involves ongoing trust and obedience as Paul lays it out in 2 Cor 7:1 –

    “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

    The weight of his beautiful and incredible Glory should break us and set us free; how could we not sell out everything we are to a love like that displayed on Calvary. But as believers or potential followers, we are not a static ‘bounded set’ as in mathematics; as Missiologist and Cultural Anthropologist Paul Hiebert pointed out in his ‘Bounded’ vs. ‘Centered’ Set Model. Borrowing from Tim Harmon’s article on line, The basic idea of each model is shown below.

    *Bounded Set: This type of set is static – it’s all about boundaries. Christians are those people who affirm right beliefs, and practice right behaviors. Those who don’t, aren’t.

    *Centered Set: This type of set is dynamic – it’s all about movement in a particular direction. Christians are those moving toward Jesus, rather than away from Him.

    Hiebert pointed out that from a bounded set perspective, a person like the one described above may not be able to be identified as a Christian. Such a person may not have a solid grasp of orthodox theology, and may not even understand basic Christian moral imperatives. However, using a centered set model, if movement had been made toward Christ, such a person could be identified as a Christian.”

    Link to the article below –

    Who’s in and Who’s Out? Christianity and Bounded Sets vs …https://www.westernseminary.edu/…/whos-in-and-whos-out-christianity-a…

    One of the things I keep encountering in discussions with skeptics is that they are emphatically convinced that somehow if they open themselves up to Jesus and his teachings, that it will be tantamount to a lobotomy of their personality: they will cease to be who they are and somehow be morphically absorbed into a drone-like collective – becoming essentially a “Robot” marching to a choreographed religious legalism. This fear is not without its legitimacy, based on what so many see of the supposed church Online and through televangelism.

    I have to ask myself daily as a “Friend of the Bridegroom” – John 3:29 “What am I doing so that I can take joy from hearing his voice proclaimed?” At work, some would just as soon not ever have his name mentioned or see him in your actions – it’s an offense to them. Others though, are hungry to see and hear a demonstration of your faith; but it’s got to be selfless and got to subtle otherwise, it will backfire and the Enemy will turn it to egg in your face. This is an ongoing challenge in my walk with Jesus where I often want to give myself a convenient pad on the back for a job well done, when usually I still have my head up my a$$.

    C. S. Lewis said –

    “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.”

  6. kathy d says:

    I couldn’t stop saying, “hallelujah, praise God”, AMEN, preach it Greg in my head during this whole sermon, thank you!!!

  7. All the “puss” stuff sounded pretty gross, but I guess Greg’s just making a point. The repetition of it seemed strange to me, though. Anyway, I have been listening to him for 20 years+ and continue to learn and challenge myself to grow in God’s Love.

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