Passion 2023: Pastor lists 3 barriers keeping Christians from 'true freedom'

Jonathan Pokluda speaks at the Passion Conference on January 4, 2023.
Jonathan Pokluda speaks at the Passion Conference on January 4, 2023. | Screenshot/Passion Conference

In a message delivered to thousands of Gen Zers gathered at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Pastor Jonathan Pokluda identified some of the greatest barriers Christians in the West face when it comes to finding true freedom in Christ.

“Behind every fear is an idol,” Pokluda, the lead pastor of Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, said in a Wednesday afternoon session. He shared that as a college student, he was enslaved to pornography, sex, smoking and partying.

“All of the things that I wanted the freedom to pursue I became a slave to,” he said. 

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

It wasn’t until he completely submitted to Christ, Pokluda said, that his life changed dramatically and he found true freedom.  

“Freedom comes through surrender, victory comes through submission, it’s all backward — it’s different from what the world tells you,” he said. “Some of you, you're here and you know the Bible, you've heard the Gospel, but you have not found freedom in Christ. And some of you, you're here, you've got one foot in the world and one foot in the church, and you've got so much world that you can't enjoy the church and so much church that you can't really enjoy the world. Jesus is calling you to freedom.”

Pokluda said he’s on a mission to “wake up” a sleeping church and identified some common things that prevent people from finding freedom in Christ, particularly in Western cultures where it’s easy to become inoculated to the Gospel. 

“Misunderstanding your role will keep you from freedom in Christ,” he said. “You're the sinner. You're not the savior. Your role is, you sit in desperate need of a Savior.”

“I bet you're not finding freedom in Christ, because there's a part of you that still thinks it's up to you. And it's not up to you. He saved you or He didn't,” he continued, citing Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Sometimes, life goals and good intentions can be “distractions” from the Kingdom of God, Pokluda said, explaining that true freedom in Christ is only found through surrender.

“You don't think that Satan wants to take some of you or all of you to captivity, using the thing that you're afraid to let go [of]? You think he doesn't want to keep you a slave to sin? I don't know if it's pornography, sex or an unhealthy addiction relationship with social media. I don’t know if it's money or Amazon, buying things, materialism, a relationship that you came here hoping no one was gonna challenge you on. It's time to give it up.”

“I want you to know you don't have a behavior problem. You have a belief problem. You need to go back to what you believe; return to the basics,” he added. 

Finally, Pokluda stressed that “misunderstanding the cost” will keep people from finding freedom in Christ. 

“Jesus is a trustworthy captain,” he said. “He created everything you see. He spoke it into existence. He created a way out for those who are in slavery. He literally separated the sea so that they can walk through it … He gives the weak strength; He heals the sick. He's made the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak.”

“He's available to you, He wants to save you, and wants to give you freedom,” he added. “You ran from Him. You sinned against a mighty God. Your sins cost the life of His son. Talk to God about your role; talk to Him, stay focused. You're holding on to something that's holding you back. What is it? What is the thing you sense the Holy Spirit prompting you to let go of right now?”

The Passion movement was launched in 1995 by Pastor Louie Giglio. This year’s conference was held from Jan. 3-5 and featured a number of Christian thought leaders and pastors, including Jackie Hill Perry, David Platt, Tim Tebow and others. 

Passion movement's ministry statement declares: “For us, what matters most is the name and renown of Jesus. We believe in this generation and are watching God use them to change the climate of faith around the globe.” 

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles