The Need for Redemption
The most important tool in the fight against this dark spirit factor, is a principle known as redemption. It is a powerful heavenly gift that can care for us in life and protect us in death. But before we can avail ourselves of this unparalleled blessing, we must have a basic understanding of the process of redemption and why we need it so desperately. We begin by exploring the concept known as sin. While there are probably those that understand the concept of sin, unfortunately it remains one of the most misunderstood terms when it comes to God and His program here on Earth.
What is Sin?
It is becoming increasingly popular to think of anyone who brings up this word in conjunction with certain behaviors as mean spirited, judgmental, and bigoted. The following comparison should illustrate just how misguided such attitudes toward this principle really are.
No matter where you live there are laws. For instance, in the town in which you reside, your local government has most likely established a legal code or a collection of laws by which all citizens are required to live. Usually laws are passed, not to restrict a person's freedoms, but to protect them. For instance, highway speed limits are set not to control your life or keep you from having fun, but they are there to keep you from injuring or killing other people. They also help to keep you and your family safe from the irresponsible actions of others.
Should you violate or break one of these laws, you have committed what is known as a crime. If you are caught committing a crime, you will most likely be prosecuted by the criminal justice system which has been put in place to enforce the laws. You will then be fined or even jailed. They will do this to encourage you to stop breaking laws in the future and again to protect others from you and your destructive behaviors.
Now this very simple explanation of the laws of man, can bring great clarity to the concept of sin. Just like earthly laws, God has provided us with spiritual laws. These laws are designed to do one thing; keep us and those around us spiritually safe. When we turn our backs on God and his laws and guidance, we not only hurt ourselves but we hurt those around us by letting dark spiritual influence into our lives. Just as the violation of earthly laws is known as crime, trespassing against God's laws is known as sin.
So as you can see, referring to certain behaviors as sin is no more judgmental than calling bank robbery a crime, and once you find out how sin affects not only you but how it can hurt those around you, you might just start looking at it differently.
The Spiritual Justice System
The above comparison contains the example of a civilized justice system, one that is in theory run by a relatively balanced and benevolent government system that actually has the well-being of it's citizens at heart. The spiritual equivalent upon this earth is not quite so kind. While God created this world and most certainly will have the final say concerning it, the Bible makes it clear that he is not the governor of it. In 2nd Corinthians 4:4 Satan is referred to as "the god of this world" and in Ephesians 2:2 he is called it's "prince". In fact the New Testament time and time again attests to his ruling power and influence upon the earth.
So if we choose to live a temporal or Earthly centered life then whether we like it or not, Satan is the god that rules over us. When we strive to place our focus on spiritual things through Jesus Christ, then God becomes our protector and advocate.
The spiritual justice system on this earth is more analogous to having an organized crime syndicate govern your town. They loan you money or do you favors, and you are then in their debt. In fact the result of sin can also be thought of as a debt that must be paid. But it gets worst than that where our dark spiritual rulers are concerned. They require of their debtors payment in the form of servitude.
In other words as we commit sin we gradually relinquish more and more control of our lives to these dark spiritual influences until we literally become their slaves, and as their captives they have rights over us.
So how is a captive ever released? Well usually someone has to care enough to pay for and settle the debt of the enslaved. Someone has to pay a ransom for their release.
Paying the Ransom for our sins
Within this book a compelling argument has been made that there are unseen spiritual influences working to control and enslave living humans and use them to forward their destructive purposes here upon this earth. If this is true; who will pay the ransom for our release? Since the problem is spiritual in nature, the answer must be spiritual as well. So is there a religious or spiritual system of belief that understands this inhuman spirit factor; one that talks about saving our souls from such bondage? Is there one that teaches that a spiritual ransom can be paid for our release?
There is in fact only one spiritual system of belief that makes such claims. Christianity not only counsels concerning this problem but it offers a solution in the form of a Savior.
You've Got a Friend
The God of Christianity differs greatly from the gods of many other religions throughout history. Unlike other so-called deities Jesus Christ is not a demanding God, or one who lords over His subjects. He is a God who came to Earth in the flesh and dwelt among us, in a very humble and lowly station. He is a God that was willing to come and endure everything that we are asked to endure and much more.
Our relationship with him is amazingly unique and revolutionary. He explains this wonderful dynamic in the book of John 15:15:
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (NKJV)
A true friend is someone who is an equal. Someone that cares for us genuinely and is a person in whom we can confide. It is someone who is there for us when we are in trouble or in a place of great need. In many cases a good friend is someone who will do anything for us.
So as we ponder the state of our souls here upon this earth and the fact that we are being held in spiritual captivity to one degree or another; what is our God or rather our friend willing to do for us?
No Greater Love
In the 13th verse of the same chapter of the book of John, Jesus gives us another clue to our path of deliverance when he teaches that:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
It turns out that He is not only willing to pay a ransom for our freedom but His love is so great for us that He was willing to trade his own life for ours.
Even if you are not a Christian, you most likely have heard the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and even if you have no belief in the concept, you have probably also heard that he died for our sins.
The concept of Jesus dying for our sins can be confusing for believers and non-believers alike. Again, a belief in the existence of oppressing spirits gives great clarity to this event.
We have discussed that sin is the result of violating Gods laws and it places us in debt to and under the control of spiritual darkness from one degree to another. The ransom that Christ paid allows us to be freed from the consequences of sin and can release us from spiritual bondage in life and in death, if we choose to accept this wonderful offer.
This is why many Christians use the term saved when referencing their relationship with Jesus and this powerful event. What are they being saved from? They are saved from dark spiritual control in life and an earthbound state in death.
As the sacrifice that Jesus made for us accomplishes many wonderful things, three of the most important involve the defeat of evil and their purposes.
1) Transfer of Burden:
As mentioned earlier, these dark spirits and the destructive energies that they inspire and use to empower themselves, literally can manifest in the feeling of weight or heavy burden upon a person. When these spirits are removed, at times some will feel as if a weight has been lifted from their shoulders. The apostle Peter tells us that Jesus literally took these burdens or sins upon himself and it is by way of his sacrifice that we can be healed. In the 1st book of Peter 2:24 he explains:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree [the cross], that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
The apostle Paul refers to the sacrifice of Jesus as redemption when in Ephesians 1:7 he writes:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
To redeem means:
to free from captivity by payment of ransom. It also means to release from debt or obligation.
Again Jesus traded himself as payment of ransom for our captive souls, and by so doing freed us from our indebtedness to darkness. The death of Jesus can be another point of confusion for many. Why did he have to die to satisfy our debt? While the fate of Jesus was certainly influenced by the fact that He surrendered Himself to a group of people who were inspired by sadistic, murderous dark spirits, there is another important reason why His death was necessary.
3) Conquering Death
We often hear that Jesus came to this earth for the express purpose of giving His life for mankind. This means that He had to die to accomplish an important goal. That goal being the defeat of spiritual bondage in life and in death. He had to show that He is the way and the guiding light to free us from this cycle of spiritual death, and if we choose to follow Him we will be released from this burden and its frightening captivity. In Hebrews 2:14-15 we learn:
...that through death he [Jesus] might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Jesus not only defeated the power of spiritual death and captivity, but He conquered physical death as well; as three days after his crucifixion, he raised up his body from the tomb, resurrected in immortal glorified perfection.
It is the greatest story ever told, about the greatest gift ever given. It is unmatched in the annals of spiritual teachings, and is the only way to escape the debt and bondage of sin in this life and the next.
Forgiving our Debt
God's forgiveness is another often misunderstood principle. In the past I have suffered from confusion in my own personal life in relation to this concept. As a child I was taught to ask God for forgiveness of my mistakes and sins. I remember feeling like I needed to do this because my actions had offended Him and I needed to make things right between us. I also mistakenly believed that God withheld his love and blessings when I sinned.
I recall being taught that God was unconditionally loving and kind and yet when I perceived that I had done something wrong, I sometimes pictured God furrowing his brow in disappointment and turning His back on me. This misconception caused confusion as these opposing character traits just didn't seem to mix.
Again, since I was lacking sufficient information concerning the role of darkness in this equation, the subject of God and forgiveness caused me to feel uneasy and at times upset. While reaching out to God for assistance in overcoming personal weakness was a good thing, feeling that I must beg His forgiveness was not.
When we remember that sin equals spiritual debt, the forgiveness of God takes on a whole new meaning. In other words, when we ask in prayer for God's forgiveness of sin, we are asking that by the power of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ he release us from the debt that we have accrued to the devil and to free us from the control over our lives that we have relinquished as a result.
So forgiveness of sin = forgiveness of spiritual debt. But it takes more than penitent prayer to obtain release from our spiritual debts. There must also be a true desire for personal change; a desire to forsake our association with evil.
In the book of Acts 3:19, the apostle Paul teaches the first step necessary to receiving God's forgiveness of spiritual debt when he says:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,
Paul tells us that we must repent and be converted. To repent is to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one's life for the better. He then teaches that we must be converted as a result of that repentance. One of the definitions of convert is to change in character; cause to turn from an evil life to a righteous one.
So receiving God's forgiveness in a sense is not that much different than asking sincere forgiveness of a friend, against whom we have trespassed. We not only request forgiveness but there is an understanding that we have identified our actions as hurtful, and we are making a commitment to change; to not repeat the behavior again.
Through repentance, we become people who no longer blindly participate with the spiritual influence of evil in our lives, but instead we become those that watch for it's presence and work towards no longer participating with them. Less participation with darkness and more direct participation with God equals a truly powerful conversion.
As Paul notes, our spiritual debt then begins to be blotted out. Here we see that God's forgiveness is analogous to the erasing of a debt from a bank ledger; releasing us from spiritual obligation and control.
In addition to repentance, Jesus gave us some very specific guidance concerning this process during his earthly ministry.
Jesus shared many wonderful and revolutionary spiritual teachings during his life. As his fame grew as a result of his many amazing miracles, multitudes of people would gather together to hear Him speak. His most famous speech is probably the Sermon on the Mount, where He taught specific principles that have come to be known as the beatitudes. What many do not know, is that the first four beatitudes outline the process to connecting with Jesus and his redeeming sacrifice.
This famous sermon can be found in the beginning of the book of Matthew, chapter five. There we are told that he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Within this first principle, we are taught that we must begin by identifying that there is a problem in our lives. We have to recognize that we are lacking or poor in God's spirit or light. As we have discussed, most often it is the power of darkness that feeds the destructive spiritual influences that guide us. This darkness blocks out the light of God, the very influence and nourishment that our souls so desperately need to increase and thrive. Here again, a belief in this poisonous spirit factor is critical. For those who choose to identify and begin the journey away from it, God promises a path of deliverance and a way into the kingdom of heaven. Next Jesus teaches:
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
This beatitude represents the process of repentance. When we identify actions or a lifestyle that is contrary to God's plan, one that empowers darkness within our lives and the lives of our family members and friends, we hopefully feel remorse. It only makes sense that we would mourn such behaviors and desire to make things right. Here we are reassured that sincere repentance will be rewarded with great heavenly comfort and care. Jesus then shares with us the next important step in this process, when he says:
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
After we have journeyed through much of the repentance process, and we are now engaged in regular thankful prayer, a change of overall demeanor should begin to take place. As a child I always thought Jesus was asking me to be a timid wimp by way of this beatitude. I could not have been more mistaken.
As we begin to be released from the clutches of evil and our temporal defenses begin to drop, we should become more peaceful and at ease. There should be much less disorder in our hearts and our minds, and God's promptings are more clearly heard. In turn we will become increasingly and obviously peaceful and centered. So meek equals the beginnings of a new type of confidence, a kind and loving demeanor, a caring approach-ability, and a happy attitude that inspires God's hope and joy.
But how will the meek inherit the earth? This is a very clever way of telling us that at this point in our conversion, we have placed ourselves in a position to begin receiving the temporal blessings that God had waiting for us all along. We will start witnessing earthly blessings trickle into our lives in the form of resolutions to problems, increases in income and other righteous earthly needs will be begin to be satisfied. God understands that of which we are in need and He is anxious to deliver these things to us.
Remember that Jesus tells us that we will inherit these tangible blessings and this means that they are rightfully ours, and if they are bestowed by God and we have inherited them from Him, they are as a result lasting and cannot be taken away as long as we continue following God's plan.
It is at this point that most people slow or even stop in their conversion. Many strive to live good lives; they pray once or twice a day and they may go to Church services weekly to help remind them of their spiritual responsibilities. In other words they put in just enough work to maintain their temporal blessings and to keep darkness at bay. While this is a good thing, Jesus promises an even more wonderful result to those that are willing to apply the next beatitude, when he counsels:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
When we move from a complacent attitude concerning conversion, to one that is filled with focus, interest, and excitement, Jesus tells us that the very powers of heaven will be poured down upon our lives.
As we become more actively involved in the pursuit of truth and self-improvement, and a vacancy is made where dark spiritual presence once dwelt, the light of God will begin to fill that void. His spirit will enlighten the mind and comfort the heart, and every corner of our lives will begin to be spiritually uplifted and healed.
This only happens when we come to the conclusion that we must make God our first priority and learn to actively seek him out. If we hunger and thirst after His truths and wisdom, we will be carried closer to Him and His glory.
The concept of hungering and thirsting after righteousness is the desire to do good and to work in the best spiritual interest of yourself and others. It is also the desire for increased understanding and knowledge of God the Father and His teachings and plan. From a Christian perspective, the best way to do this is to become better acquainted with, and make a lasting commitment to, the person that was sent to lead us back to Father, and that person is of course Jesus himself.
Getting to Know You
I remember watching a Christian preacher during a television broadcast who encouraged new viewers to make a verbal commitment to Jesus, after which he informed the audience that as a result they had just been saved. While talking to Jesus is a good thing and making a regular pledge of commitment to Him is also wonderful, we have come to realize that it takes more than a few words to place us in the position of understanding and faithful acceptance of the redemption's fullness.
Like any other interpersonal relationship, before we can make a lasting commitment to Jesus we must first get to know Him.
In this chapter I have laid out a relatively basic explanation of sin, the captivity of dark spiritual influence and the need for a Savior, but there is much more to know. If you are so inspired, I would encourage you to not only begin the repentance process and start taking your life back from the control of evil, but to engage in active education concerning Jesus, his love and his saving sacrifice. Be prayerful in your learning and keep it simple. Begin by reading the first four books of the New Testament, and search out other sources of inspired and uplifting information about Jesus and his plan for your life.
Eventually, once you have a better understanding of Jesus and that which he is asking from you, you will then be in a better position to make a real and lasting commitment to Him.
The Next Step: Our Core Beliefs
Next we examine, "Our Core Beliefs". No single event in human history carries with it more importance or more power. Join us in clarifying this principle, and in emphasizing it's critical role in the defeat of evil and the freeing of the captives. Please click here to continue, or click on the link below to return to the "Weapons of Warfare" index.
There are core beliefs necessary to not only establishing but sustaining a effective campaign against the enemy of our souls.
These are latest articles, tips and ideas on making a better connection with God's love, by disconnecting from darkness.