July 07, 2006
In celebration of the Fourth of July holiday, I thought I’d share a personal story of freedom. I was recently tempted in an area that I thought was behind me. It came out of the blue. It started with a dream. I woke up the next morning and said to myself, "Where did that come from?" I knew it came straight from hell but I was surprised that my subconscious let it get through to my dream life. From that point on, old feelings began to resurface in an area that I had been successful at subduing for years. I didn't want the feelings but they grew stronger and stronger. I could look at them objectively and see the lie and reject the promptings but the compulsion was so strong. I began to contemplate ways to give in a little to the temptation without actually "sinning." One idea, in particular, seemed perfect. On the outside it looked perfectly innocent but I knew on the inside it was a step down a path that would only lead to trouble.
The next morning, while doing my Bible study, the topic was on obedience. In the response area, the author wrote, "Is there anything - even the tiniest thing - that you know God is asking of you, and yet you've hesitated?" I knew there wasn't any outright disobedience that I was aware of in my life but I also knew I was planning a step in the wrong direction. I prayed for strength to resist and then I wrote the following prayer in my journal.
Psalm 119:112 - "I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the end."
Dear Lord, thank You for this struggle of obedience I am facing. Thank You for giving me an opportunity to choose You over myself. I resolve in my heart to obey You and resist temptation. I will not _________ (do the thing I was planning to do.) Now, Lord, I confess that I need your help. I cannot obey in my own strength. Be my Defender and my Deliverer. You are able to deliver the godly from temptation. Thank You for that. I will give you all the praise for the victory. Help me to walk in obedience with every step. Have mercy on me. I want to choose You. Help me. Give me strength and mercy when I am weak. Battle the forces of darkness on my behalf because of Your goodness. I am your child and servant and I look to You to be bigger than me and take care of me. Thank You, Daddy.
I made it through the day and I followed through on my commitment not to take that step in the wrong direction. I was so glad I had made the commitment to the Lord in that moment of strength in the morning, and wrote it down, or I know I would have stumbled because the feelings, impulses, and compulsions grew stronger, not weaker. The best way to describe it was a battle was raging between my feelings and my mind; my soul and my spirit; lies and the truth. It was downright oppressive and annoying. I didn't want these feelings. I had rejected them. Why were they still pressing in on me?
During a time of worship, I cried out to the Lord. I confessed that I was not strong enough to fight these feelings. All I could do was run to Him as my Shelter and Strong Tower and trust Him to win the battle for me. Three more days and this war raged on. I made choices in moments of strength not to let the enemy encroach even an inch by giving in to choices that appeared innocent on the outside but I knew were compromises. I did not "feed" the feelings, rather I tried to take every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ Jesus. I entered into worship often, asking God to use my praises as a weapon of warfare to drive back the oppressive spirit.
But mostly, I rested in the care of my Heavenly Father and depended on Him to defend me. I knew He wasn't mad at me for struggling in this area. I sensed that He wasn't upset that I wasn't able to overcome this in my own strength. Instead, I felt like He took pleasure in knowing that I was counting on Him to get me through this.
One night, in the middle of this battle, I had a dream. There was a dog attacking me. At first, I tried to fight back. I yelled at him and tried to bite him myself. That only made him more mad and it didn’t stop him, he kept growling and snapping. Then I simply started to walk away from the dog and yet the dog did not chase me. Instead, he stood still and started yelping and crying because I was walking away and he couldn’t bite me anymore. He was thoroughly frustrated and apparently not allowed to follow me. He could only hurt me if I was close enough for him to reach me.
This dream reminded me of the verse James 4:7, “Submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Over the previous few days, I hadn’t really engaged in any major “spiritual warfare,” per se. Mostly, I submitted my weakness honestly to God and did my best to resist the devil’s promptings. Thankfully, the devil did flee.
After a few days of relentless battle – the oppression and temptation simply lifted. The feelings were gone. I could see clearly again. I felt like my old self again. It felt like a light switch had been turned on (or off.) I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving. I knew I had not won this battle, but the Lord had won it for me. I had been weak and had contemplated sinning against my Heavenly Father, but I cried out to Him and He heard me and delivered me.
This is not the first time I have been set free in an area. The Lord has done much bigger works of deliverance in my life in many other areas. I hope the word "deliverance" doesn't scare you. I'm not talking about throwing up pea soup, or anything. I'm simply talking about finding myself, either because of my own sin, or because of a sinister attack from the enemy, in a struggle that is too big for me to fight in my own strength. If it hadn't been for the Lord coming to my rescue, fighting the enemy for me, and delivering me from the grip of oppressive thoughts, feelings, or actions, then I would still be bound to a particular sin. That is the kind of deliverance I am writing about today.
I wanted to share this experience with you because I know there may be someone reading this journal entry and you have been beating yourself up with guilt because you have not been able to overcome certain temptation. I want to encourage you. Yes, there are some wise steps you can take, but deliverance ultimately comes from the Lord, not by you gritting your teeth and vowing to do better next time.
Even so, there are some steps you can take to partner with the Lord as He sets you free. Here are a few things I've learned that help when I find myself getting entangled with sin.
· Confess to the Lord – Be honest with the Lord. Don’t make excuses or rationalize. Shine the Light on the ugliest parts in the deepest recesses of your mind and heart. Confess your weakness, even confess any desire you have to continue in the sin.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 ESV
· Confess to a trusted friend or mentor - Secondly, wisely choose a friend to come clean with. Be careful with this one. It needs to be someone you know will not judge you, but they also won’t blow this off as “no big deal.” I recommend a pastor, counselor, spiritual mentor, or someone you look up to. There is great power to break bondage by simply confessing it and bringing it out into the light! Not to mention the prayer support you will also receive.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16 ESV
· Read your Bible – feed your spirit Truth to war against the lies that are floating around in your head.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17 ESV
· Make commitments – perhaps after your time in the Word, make practical commitments in moments of strength to help you avoid making steps in the wrong direction. These commitments may also be good to share with the person to whom you’ve confessed and is now partnering with you to help pray you through this crisis.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.
Psalm 119:112 ESV
· Guard your mind – pay attention to what you’re thinking about. If you can take every thought captive in your mind, rather than dwelling on it and thinking about it, then you will have a better chance at resisting the temptation in action.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV
· Worship – attend gatherings of other believers, put a worship CD on, sing praise songs.
And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
2 Chronicles 20:22 ESV
· Cry out to the Lord – call on Him in the middle of your struggle. As soon as you recognize the feelings or patterns, call out to the Lord for help. Be honest, “Lord, I’m doing it again and I don’t want to. Help me. Please forgive me and show me the escape route you have prepared for me out of this temptation. Give me the strength to walk away. I’m sorry, Lord. I don’t want this. I want You and uncomplicated, unhindered fellowship and relationship with You. I choose You over this temptation. Please rescue me. Please deliver me. I am trusting in You.”
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17 ESV
Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!
Psalm 142:6 ESV
To wrap up this journal entry, I would like to pray for you.
Dear Jesus, I lift up my friends and ask You to give them the courage to confess their sin to You. Help them to know that You are not angry, rather You are broken-hearted on their behalf because You see the turmoil and destruction the enemy is causing in their life through this torment. Remind them that You are on their side and You hear them when they cry out to You, run to You, hide in You, and You will deliver them from evil. Encourage them to continue to call out to You even if the battle is long and if they stumble a few more times before the war is won. Please show them a godly friend in whom they can trust with their confession and rely on their prayers, mercy, support, and love. Father, I agree with my friend and ask in the authority of Jesus’ name, that You would set my friend free from the bondage of sin, oppressive thoughts, and inability to walk in victory in this particular area. Thank You, Lord, for extending Your love and power on their behalf. You truly are our Strong Tower, Deliverer, and help in time of need. Amen.
Posted by weblion at 08:25 PM