After the revelation of Cain and other evil influences that were controlling my life, it was clear to me that a similar dynamic must be working within most of my family members lives. But how had this evil infiltrated our family unit? Beginning with my dad's death and throughout all of the many other misfortunes that had befallen myself and my family, it seemed that our religious devotion alone had not protected us from this dark curse. So was it through sin that we had allowed spiritual evil to enter our world and begin to have a hand in our health and wellbeing? Again although my dad was not perfect, I just couldn't see anything in his life that would constitute a sin big enough for Satan to gain access on such a life threatening level. This is the point at which I was prompted toward another important conclusion.
I had been looking at the overall concept of sin too narrowly. Yes we were moral people, we were honest people and we were people of high standards, but now I realize that there were other doorways through which Satan could have accessed our lives, some big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through. They were doorways that we didn't think of as sin. They were things to which we felt we were victims, things over which we felt we had a limited amount of control, things we thought we must tolerate, things with which we thought we just must live. A good example of this was the emotion of fear.
As I have outlined in a previous chapter, fear was a dominating influence throughout most of my life.
Now my dad on the other hand was not a fearful person but he did carry a lot of worry and stress with him, which is certainly closely related to fear. You never heard him verbalize it, instead he tended to internalize it. He just wore it on his face and countenance at times. He was always burning the candle at both ends as a result of the obligations of life. He would leave for work at 6:30 am every day and return around 6pm each evening. Once or twice a week in the evenings he would be gone fulfilling Church assignments. On Saturday's he was always out in the yard working all day, or dealing with issues around the house. Sunday came and we were at meetings or tending to Church duties most of the day. By Sunday night he would literally pass out on the couch, completely exhausted. He did this for years, until just before his death. He faced great obligations in business and dealt with life changing, cut-throat corporate politics on a number of occasions. He carried a great burden and you could see it on his face. There were periods of time during which it looked like it was draining the life out of him.
Now on the other hand, while I loved her dearly and few people have cared for and loved me more, my grandma was a very fearful person. She worried excessively throughout her life, always expecting the worst. Having lived during two world wars and the great depression, who could blame her, and yet its influence pestered her throughout her life. While my mother handled it better, she too carried this trait into the next generation and that trait was passed on to me.
The point at which things began to change for me is when I started looking at this fear in a radically different light. Instead of an irrational emotion that must be managed, I started to look at it as a spiritual presence sent to keep me under control and to inevitably destroy me.
Now I'm not saying that all of our problems were as a result of fear, but it appeared that our family had been infiltrated by something deadly. I'm using chronic fear here as my own personal example of one way Satan can enter and begin to navigate the direction of our very lives. In 2 Timothy 1:7 the apostle Paul teaches:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
So fear is a spirit and if God is not the author of fear then Satan must be. The evil spirit Cain was certainly proof of that. Of course in this more enlightened and scientifically advanced age, most of us have come to believe that it is simply an emotion. As people by the tens of millions suffer from debilitating phobias, depression, scores of behavioral issues, or as the apostle Paul might have put it, a lack "of a sound mind," they are told by doctors and experts that they are broken and have a chemical imbalance that must be managed, quite often through prescription psychiatric drugs.
But even if Satan is behind all of this, it's a stretch to call heeding the promptings of fear a sin, isn't it? Those poor folks are victims of such attacks, rather than participants, aren't they? This used to be my attitude, until another rather large personal revelation hit me. In relation to my own experiences, if fear is in fact a powerful dark spiritual presence, then this presence had been my master for most of my life. I listened to its warnings of doom. I repeated it's words of hopelessness and negativity thus cursing rather than blessing my life, and I followed its guidance and warnings. It is clear to see how such an influence could not only have held my life hostage, but how it might also have been capable of slowing or even stopping the flow of God's blessings into my life.
In Hebrews 11:6 we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. Well I have got to tell you… excessive fear and worry are "faith killers". They are the very antithesis of faith. But again, did this qualify as a sin? Well it turns out that it was the greatest sin that I could have been committing. I was in fact, unknowingly violating the first great commandment.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
This dark presence was not just my master, it was my lord and master, and I didn't have a clue. Did this make me a bad person? No. I was simply uninformed and unaware. I had the power to break free from this devil all along, but I just never knew it. It may sound harsh to refer to someone deeply in the clutches of something like fear as sinful, but just because we are unaware of the sin does not mean that we are immune to the consequences surrounding its influence.
And what of my dad? Was it the spirit of fear through stress and worry that allowed the evil of cancer into his life or was it something else? We may never know. But again it wasn't until my eyes were opened and I started looking at it as a destructive spiritual presence, did things start turning around for me.
So my second great prompting in relation to my desire to keep darkness at bay in my life was not only the redefining of my understanding of sin, but the redefinition of the concept of repentance and it's importance to my future happiness.
The Power of Repentance
I was next led to a passage in 1st John 1: 9 which promises that:
If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So I took this promise and brought it before the Lord. I told Him that I had been previously unaware that the fear and worry with which I had wrestled all my life, was in fact a powerful dark spirit, but now I knew the truth. I confessed to Him openly and completely that I had spent much of my life listening to, and following the guidance of this evil earthbound deity, in turn ignoring much of His loving counsel. I asked Him to forgive me and to cleanse me from this unrighteousness, and I asked by the power of the Holy Ghost for Christ to come into my heart and heal the destruction that this sin had created in my life.
This was a first for me. I had never in my life repented for excessively worrying, but you know what? It felt really good! After that whenever feelings of stress or worry would arise, I was much more careful. I did not repeat their dark words of hopelessness and doom over my life anymore and if I did, I would come before the Lord and start the process again.
Now while I still have a way to go, I was astonished when things began to turn around quite quickly in my life. In time much of the worry and fear was lifted from me.
In order to effectively apply the promise of 1st John 1: 9 it became necessary that I strengthen my understanding of the gift of repentance. I had been told all of my life that it was a gift, but frankly there were times it felt like a curse to me. Rather than an emphasis on freeing me from the control of Satan, I was taught that repentance got me right with God. I was told that God could not be in the presence of sin. The process was marked by guilt and personal suffering as a result of the violation of God's law. I came to believe that I had disappointed God and that part of the process was getting back into His good graces.
If I were to make the same mistake in the future, Satan got to work using these beliefs to steer me away from future repentance. I would hear that I was a failure and a fair weathered friend, and that God just couldn't trust me. I would then be discouraged by the enemy from making things right again since the process had been so trying, and as a result, I just didn't want to go through it anew. After being told again and again by the adversary what a failure I was, eventually I would just give up on the process. This inevitably set me up for the deception that taught: that my character flaws or sins were just part of who I was and that I needed to learn to live with them. As you can see, this system of repentance did not free me from sin and the clutches of Satan but instead it tended to spiral me deeper and deeper into his control.
Let's quickly remind ourselves of what is sin after all? Sin is the result of violating God's laws. What are God's laws intended to do? Their purpose is to keep us and those around us safe from the destructive influence of Satan and his followers. Just like the violation of earthly laws is known as crime, breaking God's laws is known as sin.
The more we commit sin, the more we participate with Satan, and in turn the more control and influence he gains over our lives. We gradually sell ourselves into spiritual bondage through our participation in sin. So how is a person released from such captivity? Well again usually someone has to pay a ransom. This is where Jesus comes in.
The sacrifice of Jesus can release us from this bondage to Satan and sin. Much like a hostage swap, He willingly traded His life for ours. Now here is the powerful part of this; we can avail ourselves of this amazing gift every day of our lives, to incrementally free us from the chains of the devil and it does not have to be a never-endingly painful and guilt ridden endeavor. A healthy conscience is a good thing. Your conscience should tell you when you are participating in something that is destructive or adverse to God's will, but painful, excessively protracted or torturous guilt and remorse comes from Satan himself. When we actively participate in his dark works or have done so for many years, it can be very painful and trying to remove ourselves from his control. In such a case he will not let you go easily, but will try to make you suffer as you fight for your release.
1st John 1: 9 says nothing of the necessity of guilt and remorse. It makes no reference to a disappointed, untrusting God. No it simply says that if we will confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If you are a Christian who has made a commitment to follow Jesus and strive to live by His teachings, then this is one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal. This said, if you are not dedicated to this path, then this will not work for you. I'm not saying you have to be perfect, but I am saying that you must be genuinely trying.
No matter the issue, whether it be fear, worry, anxiety, depression, anger, envy, jealousy, scornfulness, excessive sorrow or hopelessness or any emotion, character trait or bad habit through which Satan has accessed your life, the gift of confession and forgiveness is a critical part of the healing process. You must work toward minimizing participation with evil, if lasting healing, health and happiness is desired.
If you are tackling a large issue, then there will most likely be some guilt and remorse in the beginning but as you move further and further away from the grip of the iniquity, you should begin to operate from a position of strength, even if you occasionally backslide at first. Confession and forgiveness is a ladder out of the dark pit of sin, in which Satan holds us captive. The climb to freedom is usually a gradual one, but if we will keep going even when we slip backwards a rung or two, now and then, eventually we will emerge into God's glorious light, never to be imprisoned by that particular issue or habit again. So am I saying that you can permanently overcome any bad habit or behavior by way of this process? The answer is yes! The power of Christ's redemption can overcome anything!
So pick your poison. Once you have decided which issue or sin you are going to tackle, add to it the power of Christ's redeeming sacrifice through confessional repentance as found in 1st John.
Go to Father in prayer as I did, and open up about the sin that you want to overcome. Expound on the depth of your participation in this behavior and what it has done to your life. Let Him know that you are aware that this issue is allowing Satan access to your life and that you are miserable because of it.
Take full responsibility for your actions and openly and completely confess this sin. Thank Him for revealing this evil in your life, then ask Him to grant you forgiveness and release from this dark debt. Ask Him to cleanse you from this unrighteousness as promised in 1st John, and finally, ask by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus come into your heart and heal the destruction that this sin has caused in your life.
As you move forward in the repentance process, a battle will most likely ensue to keep you mired in this sin. Satan will fight to stop you from freeing yourself from his control in this area of your life. As a result, you may see ups and downs as you work to break free. This is where the process of confessional repentance can be most clearly seen.
Say that you are trying to overcome the destructive habit of being scornful and overly critical of others. At first, you may find you have good days and then there will be days when you revert to your old ways. On those days, get back immediately to your confessional repentance. You see when you backslide, Satan regains a little bit of power over you anew. That is why it's so important to go back before the Lord and discuss the events of the day. Confess once more and ask for release from your newly incurred spiritual debt, then immediately recommit and get back at it again. As you can see, by doing this regularly you will never lose ground. You may be surprised how quickly and permanently you can overcome bad habits, behaviors and even physical issues when you disempower Satan on a regular basis.
Now while all sin is damaging to your life, you may find that in certain cases you enjoy your sin. Perhaps it's addiction or sexual sin, or perhaps you are contentious or controlling and this gives you power over others. Whatever the case may be, if you feel like you need a certain sinful behavior and can't live without it, go to Father in prayer and explain the situation to Him. Tell Him that you feel conflicted and ask Him to take the desire for this sin from your heart. Do your part by separating yourself from people and situations that encourage and facilitate the sin, and He will gradually make what before seemed impossible, a reality.
The promise connected to confessional repentance as found in 1st John is probably the most powerful force on the earth for personal transformation and change by defeating darkness, because it taps in to the greatest gift the world has ever known, the unparalleled redeeming power of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The Next Step: The Power of the Rebuke
Next we examine a concept we call "Bold Scriptural Prayer", if your prayers sometimes feel a little lackluster and powerless, you'll definately want to read this one. Please click here to continue, or click on the link below to return to the "Weapons of Warfare" index.
Next we examine one of Jesus' favorite weapons in defeat of the devil, and how it can be applied toward victory in our own lives
Next, in addition to the power of the ESAT process, God has given us other weapons to drive back and defeat the devil in our lives