Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Overcoming Strongholds

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, Christian or otherwise, that has somehow become controlled by a stronghold in their life? Perhaps it's an addiction to alcohol, pornography or smoking, for example. Maybe it's a constant state of depression that weighs them down day after day. Do you know anyone that has ever been there? I do. Me. I know full and well the feeling of day after day disappointment and failure. And of course it's magnified when you're a believer and have become bound to sin. Can one really know Christ and live a lifestyle of sin? This is widely debated, but I believe that you can, based on no data other than my personal experience. For well over a decade I would try my hardest to leave it all behind and follow God, I just didn't really know how. It's simply a sin cycle. We all sin, but there's a marginal difference between "occasional" and deliberate sin – "occasional" sin and a lifestyle of sin. I attempted for half of my life to juggle a feeble attempt at living for the Lord yet maintain a lifestyle of sin. When the Bible states that you have to choose one or the other, it is, as always, completely accurate. Countless times, I was, as Paul stated, knowing what I ought to do, yet not doing it. Or worse yet, knowing what I ought not to do and still doing it. I have vivid memories of the feeling of sin that gripped me. That evil that literally clings to you when you're in it's grip. The temptations come, you fall. You regret, you hurt. Real pain, real hurt. Many times I would feel as if I could sense the same demonic evil that lured me into the decisions would then be accusing me and making me feel completely worthless. Reminding me of my failures and holding me captive all the while. I felt that I had no hope and would forever be controlled by my sin.

Fast forward through 15 plus years of my life into the current day and time. Through complete devotion to following the Lord and turning all of me over to Him, I've truly grasped what it means to become a new creation. Do I still struggle with sin? Of course. We all will until we arrive in Heaven, where no sin can reside. Today though, I had quite a breakthrough. When faced with an age–old temptation, I battled, I warred. Through Christ, I won. We won. I became angry, literally angry. Looking back now, perhaps enraged would be a better description. Do you realize that the enemy is relentless? The closer I walk with the Lord, the more trouble I am for them you see. I'm becoming a nuisance. In the spirit realm, I imagine myself becoming actually noticed. For example, a soldier in a battle that sits behind a tree and shudders in fear will likely not receive as much, if any, opposition as one running head–on into the fray. Within hours of this, I could literally sense, in my spirit, the demons of this earth "speaking" to me. To clarify, all didn't go dark and smoke didn't swirl about. I was simply walking through my house alone. They were angry – attempting to convince me that I had done well but would be bound to fail saying, "You may have stood strong this time, but you can surely give in now." In other words, I had pleased the Lord so I would certainly have some "credit" to use up on pursuing the lusts of my flesh. Galatians 5 states that I must choose to live by the Spirit. A choice must be made, a decision established. The evil that lurks around each corner is aware of that decision and must kneel to the name of Jesus. But we must use that name. It's no fable or simply an old hymn lyric when you state there is power in the blood of Jesus. It is alive, it is true, it is our only hope to conquer the traps that lay before us.

May we allow God's word to be our lamp and light up our path so that no darkness may reside there. May we wield our sword and wear our armor for a battle is certain. Let us not ignorantly think, even for a moment, that we have become invincible. No matter what depths you've been to or battle's you have won, more are always around the corner. God, may we, Your people, Your army, rise up and run full–on into the darkness and remind them each day that they have no place in Your people, in Your church, in Your kingdom.

No comments: