Now the last post was certain to have created some heartburn. Because, most of us have come to believe that struggling with sin is the normal Christian experience, and anyone stating otherwise must be off the deep end. However, I want you to know that we have all been given opportunity for complete and total freedom from sin’s power, yet we fail to accept it. As stated earlier, we cling to the chains, all the while assuming the shackles are still on.
The phenomenon reminds me of how elephants are trained. They are attached to an immovable object for a time—they pull and pull and never break free. So after a while, they never pull again. They can be held with a tent spike from that day forward, because they are convinced their pulling will be futile. I think that is the bondage many believers face. This deceptive training concept also applies to northern pike captive in fish tanks. To prevent the large fish from eating their natural prey within the tank, a plexiglas divider is placed to prevent the pike from reaching the prey. A short time of running into the glass trains the pike to never try again. Even with the protective glass removed, the small fish live in safety, because the pike assumes they can never get the prey.
We oftentimes walk around in bondage as a result of similar training. We have tried for so long to escape some sin patterns, we become convinced we can’t and just stop trying. We have been deceived into thinking that the struggles we face are beyond our ability to overcome. The enemy keeps us clinging to the chains, when all the while, we have been granted freedom.
Now I do not want to belittle the enemy’s influence. In this post, I want to shed light on his methods and the root of his power in our lives. The big picture is this: we are in the center of a custody battle. There is a battle raging on between God and His foe, Satan, for the glory of men. We are in the middle of the battle, but are not the focal point. It’s all about them. As stated earlier, glory that rightfully belongs to God has been directed toward the devil and his works via out sin. God, through Jesus Christ, has restored glory to its rightful recipient by turning our allegiance to Him and transforming our lives. Anything less than full allegiance and radical transformation falls short of glorifying God—He is still mocked.
We see this dynamic in the book of Job. Job apparently gave his allegiance to God: he “signed the blank piece of paper.” God reveled in his glory, even boasting to Satan. Satan tested whether or not Job indeed “signed” by going after one line item on the sheet at a time. In the end, Job proved out that he surrendered full allegiance to God and glory was given to God, not the devil. Job was actually not the center of the story—God and the devil were. Nor are we the center of the epic battle for the glory due God.
Now before we give allegiance to God, all areas of our life are under the authority of the devil. Our sin invites him to operate freely within our lives. Let me illustrate this dynamic. Picture our life as a house. The door is wide open for him to roam freely within the home. Our sinful life grants him full dominion. We have sins in every room: unforgiveness, anger, sexual sins, idolatry in many forms, addiction, worldliness, and much more. These permeate our being and give him permission to have his way with us.
When we surrender to God, our repentance cleans the house through Christ. In fact, the house is outright purchased by God, and we are no longer even the rightful owners. The deed is in His name. In actuality, there is no permission for sin to enter that house. We actually don’t have authority to sin; yes, we still possess the ability to do so, but it is a violation of the house rules.
Now, what happens when we do not fully surrender? If there are items in a closet that we do not give to God, the devil still has our permission to operate in that area. Now legally it is God’s house, and illegally we have granted permission for an intruder to take from what rightly belongs to Him. Let me explain. What if there was lots of jewelry in the back closet in God’s house. Who in all creation has the power and authority to steal from God? That’s right, no one. But we, being tenants in the house can still open the door and let folks in and allow them to take things—even though they are rightfully the property of the owner, and not us the tenant. The closet can indeed be cleaned and the door locked, but we allow the devil entrance. That’s because the door can’t be locked until the house is clean, because Satan is still permitted to access those dark corners. By his so doing, he gets his grubby footprints in every room. That is why light needs to shed in all the dark closets, and those areas must be taken from the devil and given to God.
So what does this look like, practically speaking. A mentor must take a disciple through a spiritual inventory. Through much introspection and prayer, literally write down recurrent sins, past strongholds, areas of victimization, and so on. The disciple must repent to allow cleansing. Then, out loud (Satan can’t read minds), rebuke the enemy—take these from him by exposing light to them, command Satan to get out, and submit these things to God. State plainly that he no longer has permission or authority to operate in these areas. Then ask God for strength and protection—lock the door so Satan can’t get in. Then burn the list.
Now here is a tip. Teach the disciple to live moment to moment, not day to day. If someone struggles with smoking—they may light up and fail—but they can mid-drag rebuke the enemy, remind the devil that he has no authority over that stronghold, and put it out and throw away the pack. There is victory moment by moment. If day by day, we justify our sin saying “I’ll quit when this pack is gone.” Glory goes to Satan rather than God.
Now take the disciple through the same exercise next week. Some rooms really don’t get clean with one pass—carpet stains always come back a few times. The list will get shorter and freedom is the end—total freedom. God will be glorified in that life.
Now I wish I had unlimited space to deal with this subject, because it is so important for freedom from sin’s power. A radically transformed life can only occur when sin’s power is defeated entirely. However, I trust the Holy Spirit to finish where I have left off.
Lord, grant your people freedom from the enemy’s clutch. I rebuke the enemy and command him by the authority of Jesus Christ to stay away from your people. Free them from sin’s power and restore your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.