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Archive for July, 2010

What Shall We Call The?

Posted by owner on July 30, 2010

The adult Sunday School class my wife and I attend has adopted the helpful practice of providing name tags. After the first service every Sunday we head for our classroom, and dutifully pin on our name tags. I suspect most folks there know us by now. But it’s a nice practice, and really helpful to a person like me who has always had trouble remembering names.

I can’t help thinking, though, that it would be nice if Satan’s demons came equipped with name tags. That’s because most folks in deliverance ministry really want to know the names evil spirits are equipped with.

Are demons named in Scripture?

That’s an interesting question. In Bible times evil spirits wore names like “the Baal of Peor,” or the Dagon (the fish-god of the Philistines) or Ra (the sun-god of the Egyptians). We know this because the Old Testament states that sacrifices made to pagan deities were actually made to demons ( ).

If you look at Jewish literature of the two centuries before Christ, you’ll find those writings are filled with the supposed names of not only demons but also of angels. And the assumption is that if you call on a god or an angel by his name you have a much better chance of gaining his attention and getting something you want. Actually, if you look at the neo-pagan religions that are growing so rapidly in the United States and the West, you find the same phenomenon. Call the deity a pagan worships Goddess or Green Man [as they do], it’s still a name adopted as a “front” for a demon.

But we don’t find evil spirits named in this way in the Gospels, or the epistles. And those in deliverance ministry who have spoken with and expelled demons don’t use either a demon’s “front” name or personal name. Instead deliverance literature refers to evil spirits by their function. And deliverance ministers cast them out using “functional” names. For instance, an evil spirit that feeds on anger and causes rage is called “spirit of anger.” And an evil spirit that fastens on a person with a rebellious spirit and exaggerates that trait would typically be addressed as “spirit of rebellion.” Do these spirits have personal names? Almost certainly. Each evil spirit is an individual, just as much an individual being as the angel Gabriel or the fallen angel now known as Satan [a functional name that means “accuser”!) who was once known as Lucifer.

What it seems to boil down to is that if demons and evil spirits have personal names (and I expect they do), we don’t have any way to know what those names are. And we have no need to know them!

How did Jesus name-tag demons?

If anyone would have known the personal names of demons it would have been Jesus. But there is no record of Jesus ever addressing an evil spirit by its personal name. Instead when Jesus cast out a demon he either addressed it as “evil spirit” (Mark 5:8) or by a specific function, as “you deaf and mute spirit: (Mark 9:25). In either case the demons knew perfectly well who Jesus was commanding. And they were forced to obey him.

It seems just as unnecessary for us to know or use the personal names of demons. While demons still masquerade as the deities of those who are lost, what’s important to believers is how we experience them. An evil spirit who is tasked with creating self-hatred is, for all intents and purposes, the demon self-hatred. When addressed by his function, the demon knows who we’re speaking to. And when such a demon is commanded in Jesus’ name to leave an individual, the demon knows very well that he must obey.

Why then should we name-tag demons?

Name-tagging demons is really more for our sakes than to let demons know we’re speaking to them. One way we are alerted to the presence of demons is by their behavior. Yes, maybe we’ve always had a temper. But when we find ourselves constantly loosing control of our temper, and becoming furious at the least slight or opposition, it’s probably wise to wonder if a “demon anger” has attached itself to our temper. Yes, we may be especially vulnerable to a particular temptation. But if we find ourselves unable to think of anything else, and compulsively fixated on our temptation, we should ask ourselves whether a “demon lust” (or whatever the temptation is) may be present.

Understanding that demons are name-tagged by their function is an important tool we can use in diagnosing a demonic presence, as well as in challenging a demon to reveal its presence as we prepare to cast it out.

By diagnosing and naming problems with which we struggle we have clues to the possible influence of evil spirits in our lives, or in the lives of others.
So feel free to pin name tags on demons. They won’t like it. They’d rather remain unrecognized. The trouble for them is that they reveal both their presence and the functional “name” every time the act to influence us. We just need to be alert. It’s true that our sin nature is sufficient cause of even the most blatant of sins and dysfunctional behaviors. But it’s also true that the sins and behaviors with which we struggle the most may indicate a demonic presence, and that part of God’s solution for us may involve deliverance.

The Origin of Demons

Posted by owner on July 30, 2010

The apostle Paul pictures the “heavenly realms” as the abode of spirit beings. These rulers, authorities and “powers of this dark world” are the “spiritual forces of evil” against which believers must stand (Eph. 6:12). And the Gospels are filled with references to demons who infect humans and cause various illnesses and difficulties. Clearly demons exist. But nowhere in the New Testament are we told exactly what these spirit beings are, or where they came from.

Two theories

In first century Judaism there were two prevalent theories. The first was built on Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, which were understood to describe the transformation of the angel Lucifer into the Prince of Darkness, Satan. According to this theory, the demons and evil spirits which all ancient peoples believed populate the spirit world, were angels who had followed Satan in his great rebellion against the Creator.

The second theory was built on the Genesis 6 reference to Nephalim, who were the offspring of the “sons of God,” understood as angels, and human women. According to this second theory, demons are the disembodied spirits of these half-breeds who died in the subsequent Genesis Flood.

No other theories were offered then, or later. While in the first century the ghosts of humans were supposed to remain nearby for a time, and often supposed to harm the living, this was a pagan theory and not common in Judaism or early Christianity.

We’re left, then, if we wish to be biblical in our search for the identity of evil spirits, to ask whether either of these ancient theories has additional support in Scripture. We very quickly discover that the second theory is given no additional support beyond the Genesis 6 story from which it is drawn. But the theory that demons are fallen angels—angels who sinned with Satan when he fell—does have considerable New Testament support.

Six lines of evidence

1. Evidence that some angels fell with Satan

A statement in Revelation 12 pictures Satan as an enormous red dragon and refers to his tail sweeping “a third of the stars out of the sky and flinging them to earth (v.3). As angels are sometimes referred to in the OT as “stars” (cf. JOB 38:7), this reference is often taken as evidence that a third of the angels God created followed Satan in his rebellion. This interpretation is commonly supported by Rev. 12:7, which describes “the dragon and his angels” at war with Michael and God’s angels in heaven. A similar reference to “the devil and his angels” is found in Matthew 25:4.

2. Evidence from parallel expressions

The devil “and his angels” are linked in Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 12:7. A parallel expression is found in Matthew 12:24, where reference is made to “Bellzebub [a name for Satan] and his demons.” In these expressions “angels” and “demons” are parallel, and thus arguably the same.

3. Evidence from parallel activities

The Bible pictures demons as seeking to enter and control individuals (Matthew 17:14-18; Luke 11:14,15), something which Satan also does (Luke 22:3; John 3:2). In the same way evil angels are seen joining Satan to war against God, just as are demons (Mark 9:17-26; Revelation 9:1-11).

4. Evidence from essential being

Angels are called “spirits” in Psalm 14:4; Hebrews 1:14). Demons are also called “spirits” (see Matthew 8:15; Luke 19:17).

5. Evidence from personhood

Both angels and demons are referred to by personal pronouns, indicating that both are persons (Luke 8:28, etc.). While members of a class, both angels and demons are revealed to be individuals.

6. Evidence of personhood

Like angels, demons can communicate with us and are pictured as having emotions, intelligence, and other marks of personhood (Luke 8:31, etc.) As above, angels and demons are each pictured as individuals in Scripture.

Conclusion

While any one of these lines of evidence might be challenged, it’s difficult to imagine that six distinct lines of evidence which support the same conclusion, are likely to lead to an erroneous conclusion. In short, there is enough Scriptural evidence to conclude with some confidence that the demons of the Gospels and the powers of the Epistles are in fact angels who rebelled against God

While we can say this with some confidence, whether our conclusion is right or wrong has little impact on biblical demonology. Whatever their origins, there clearly are supernatural beings who are engaged with Satan in an invisible war against God and human kind. The good news is that Satan and his followers are defeated foes, and that as we follow Scriptures guidelines we can meet, and defeat them today.

Satan and You #7

Posted by owner on July 30, 2010

The seventh in a series of studies of references to Satan in the Gospels

This seventh mention of Satan in the Gospels is in a rebuke Jesus aimed at Peter.

Mark 8:33
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But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
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Background

Jesus has just told his disciples about his coming crucifixion. This is a theme none of his disciples want to hear about. The text tells us that Peter takes Jesus aside and begins to “rebuke” him. Jesus must not speak of dying or follow any course that would lead to his death.

Peter’s action is unprecedented, as it is not the place of a rabbi’s disciples to rebuke him. The incident tells us how upsetting this first mention of Christ’s coming execution was to the Twelve.

Observations

1. “Jesus turned and looked at his disciples.” The image is telling. It makes it very clear that Peter is not acting on his own, but rather reflects the feelings of Jesus’ other followers as well.

2. “he rebuked Peter.” As a disciple, it was not Peter’s place to rebuke [censure, scold] Jesus. Yet Peter was the acknowledged leader of the Twelve, and apparently took it upon himself to represent their views.
Those views, and Peter, do merit Jesus’ rebuke.

3. “get behind me, Satan.” “Satan” is both a name and an attribute. The word means “adversary,” and it is in this sense Jesus that uses it here. Peter is not the great fallen angel, nor is that being present in Peter. But Peter is acting like an adversary, speaking out against God’s plans.

4. “you do not have in mind the things of God” This phrase makes Peter’s error even more clear. He is not looking at Jesus’ coming execution from God’s point of view.

5. “but the things of men.” Peter has expressed his human point of view. From that viewpoint Jesus’ death would be a disaster. What would happen to the kingdom? What would happen to the power and position each of the disciples expected to assume when Jesus ruled? Besides, the disciples did love Jesus. And they depended on him. They would be devastated should Jesus die.

Implications

It’s impossible to evaluate God’s actions from a human point of view. We simply do not have the information or the perspective necessary to understand. Even more seriously, when we do what Peter did here we find ourselves inadvertently siding with Satan, and becoming God’s adversary.

It is not wrong to question God. Like the Psalmists, we often cry out “Why?” as we share our pain with our Creator. But it is wrong to stand in judgment on God, and declare him wrong in his decisions.

This is what Peter was doing. And this is what Satan did in his original rebellion. When we honor ourselves and our opinions above the honor we show God by trusting his choices, we too merit the Savior’s rebuke.

DELIVERANCE DICTIONARY: C

Posted by owner on July 18, 2010

Casting out Demons. The New Testament makes it clear that, in some sense, demons [evil spirits] can reside “in” human beings. Thus the Bible speaks of evil spirits “leaving” a person, and of Jesus “casting out” evil spirits. When evil spirits leave a person, the problems they caused [often in the Gospels illnesses or disabilities] are healed. Jess did more than demonstrate his authority over evil spirits. Jesus also gave his followers authority over demons. This authority was not only given to the Twelve disciples, but on one occasion Jesus gave authority over demons to 72 individuals he sent out to preach (Luke 10). The 72 acted “in Jesus name” [a phrase that means they acted “under the authority of and through the power of”] Jesus. No mere human has authority to expel evil spirits, but Jesus is the ultimate authority in the spirit realm as well as in the material universe.

The Book of Acts reports additional instances of casting out demons, and writers in the early centuries of our era frequently report that ordinary Christians continued this ministry. Today deliverance ministers continue to act in Jesus’ name, and find we today can also cast out demons. Most agree that casting out demons does not require any special gifting, but that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit Christians today also have the authority to expel demons in the name and power of Jesus Christ.

Cessationism. This is the term used to describe the belief of some Christians that the so-called “sign” gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the end of the apostolic period. “Sign” gifts are the more obviously supernatural abilities listed in the New Testament as spiritual gifts, such as the gifts of miracles, prophecy, speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues, etc. The argument for cessationism is based in part on 1 Corinthians 13:8 [“whither there by prophecies, they shall cease; whither there be tongues, they shall be stilled”]. This application of 1 Corinthians 13:8 is questionable, however. Still, the proponents of cessationism rely primarily on the argument that such gifts were necessary only when the canon of Scripture was incomplete. With the completion of the canon, the argument goes, there was no need for supernatural signs to authenticate teaching. So the gifts were done away with. This argument assumes that there is no other function for the so called “sign” gifts in the life of the church than authentication, an assumption which many question.
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It seems unwise reject the operation of supernatural gifts a priori on the basis of such fragile arguments. But it is equally unwise to place too much emphasis on these gifts, or to make them a kind of test of a spiritually vital church. It’s clear that while these gifts operated in the Corinthian fellowship. But it is just as clear that Corinth was the only church which the Apostle Paul bluntly calls “carnal” [worldly, immature, unspiritual] (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

Confession. One of the realities emphasized in deliverance ministry is that persistent, willful sin opens the door to demons. Continuing in sin provides demons with a “legal right” to be present in a person’s life, and makes it difficult to expel them. Thus those in deliverance ministry recognize the vital importance of confession and repudiation of known sin if a person is to be freed of demonic influence.

The Greek word translated “confess” is homologeo, means to “agree with” or “say the same thing.” To confess a sin is to agree with God that a particular act of ours is in fact sin. Acknowledging sin as sin is the critical step in releasing the power of forgiveness, for 1 John 1:9 states that “if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and [keep on cleansing us] from all unrighteousness.”

While confession is necessary it is not sufficient. If we are to break free and remain free of demonic influence we also need to repudiate the sins we confess. Christ’s death promises us unlimited forgiveness. But for true freedom repudiation of habitual sin and daily choices of God’s will are necessary.

Control. One of the most important issues in deliverance ministry hinges on a misunderstanding caused by the mistranslation in the Gospels of the term daimonizomai [demonization] as “demon possession.” The term “possession” conveys the notion that a demon has gained control over the person he “owns.” In fact demons seldom gain such a grip on an individual that they actually control his or her behavior. Demons can and do influence. They can and do weaken our resolve, or strengthen sinful impulses. But they do not normally override our ability to choose. We remain responsible for our choices…including the choice to follow a course of actions urged by demons.

At the same time, it is true that the more control we surrender to demons the greater influence they will have. For some people this surrender leads to a degree of bondage which is difficult to distinguish from demonic control. Yet some choice does remain, and the deliverance minister will need to help a victim of demonization choose to trust Christ and choose to be free of demons if deliverance is to be successful.

Conversion. Deliverance ministry is not ordinarily an evangelistic ministry. The exception to this is in power encounters where evil supernatural powers are entrenched in the culture and consciousness of a population. Then public exorcisms that demonstrate the power of Jesus are powerful evangelistic aids. But most in Western cultures who come to deliverance ministers for help will already be believers. Even here some who come will not have a personal relationship with Christ. While demons can be expelled from nonbelievers as well as from believers, the nonChristian has no defense against demons who seek to return. Most in deliverance ministry see casting demons from a nonChristian as an opportunity to lead a person to Christ. Such a person will have experienced the power of Jesus over demons, and an explanation of the need for personal relationship with Jesus for future protection gives a compelling reason to accept Christ as Savior.

Counseling. Most professional counselors are unaware of spiritual warfare against evil spirits, and so do not confront demons or even recognize their presence. Even so, Christian counseling may help a demonized person deal with underlying problems which have provided the demons with access to the personality. This may weaken the hold of the demons and make it easier to cast them out. Similarly Christian counseling after demons have been expelled can aid an individual’s spiritual growth, strengthening him to resist subsequent attacks.

As most deliverance ministry is not part of a long-term counseling relationship, it’s important to for a deliverance minister to know reliable Christian counselors in the community. Not all Christian counselors operate from the same theoretical orientation, so it’s important to have an understanding of the contributions different counselors might make.

In some churches those who have experienced a deliverance are encouraged to join Bible study and prayer groups. Frequently participation in such a group is as effective as individual counseling to stimulate spiritual grown and help an individual deal with problem areas. When conducting a FREEDOM WORKSHOP I encourage participants to form a Live Free Support Group that meets every two weeks to help each other apply truths taught in the Workshop about the armor God provides to protect us from Satan’s strategies.

Curses. Derek Prince has defined curses as “words spoken, with some form of spiritual authority, that set in motion something that will go on generation after generation. Behind the words is a spiritual power: God, or Satan.”

This ‘form of spiritual authority” may be the authority of a parent over a child, a pastor or elder or a member of a congregation, or even that of a person over his or her own life. The conviction is that, as in Scripture, curses do have the power to affect persons and events.

A curse need not be a formal or ritual attack, such as a curse placed on an individual by witchcraft. A parent’s off-hand remark, such as “She’ll never amount to anything,” or even an individual’s unhappy complaint, “Nothing ever goes right for me,” may function as a curse. Most in deliverance ministry are convinced that such curses are empowered, either by God or Satan, so that they do affect an individual’s life. A series of accidents, a chronic illness, continuing financial problems, etc. are often viewed as possible consequences of a curse.

It is standard practice for many in deliverance ministry to explore the possibility that a person is laboring under a curse placed on an ancestor, or has been personally cursed by another person, or has cursed himself or herself. The deliverance minister will then lead the person to renounce the 0curse and will break it in Jesus’ name.

Satan and You #6

Posted by owner on July 18, 2010

The sixth in a series of studies of references to Satan in the Gospels

This sixth direct reference to Satan in the Gospels is found in a parable Jesus told about sowing a field. In this parable, unlike the one in Matthew 12, the seed stands for the Word of God.

Mark 4:14,15
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The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
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Background

The image of a first century farmer sowing seed is a familiar one to Jesus original listeners. Everyone can visualize the farmer dip his hand in a bag of seed, and with a sweeping motion cast the seed evenly over the ground. Everyone also knows what happens to seeds that fell on the beaten path, or in places where the soil is shallow. Jesus uses this familiar image on more than one occasion, and applies it in different ways. In Mark’s version of the parable, Jesus answers the implied question, “Why doesn’t everyone respond to God’s Word?”

Observations

1. “the farmer sows the word.” In the parable Jesus is the sower, and his teaching is the seed. Yet the parable fits everyone who shares the Gospel, and to everyone who hears it.

2. “some people” This parable is about the people who hear the word. The Gospel’s impact reflects and reveals the nature or character of the listener.

3. “like seed along the path.” “The path” that Jesus refers to is a track beaten hard by the feet of those who pass along it. When seed lands on the hard surface, and lies there, exposed, to be snatched up by birds.

4. “as soon as they hear it.” In the first century birds attended the sower, eager to snatch up seeds as soon as they fell on hard ground. Jesus pictures Satan as present when the word is sown, quick to snatch away the seed as soon as it falls on hard ground.

5. “takes away the word that was sown in them.” The phrase “in them” is critical here. When the Gospel is sown it doesn’t fall “around” its hearers, but it’s sown “in them.” There is no flaw in the word itself.

Implications

The first implication of Jesus’ parable is that Satan [in the person of demons, his representatives] gathers round when the Word is shared. We do not typically think of demons “attending church” or eagerly observing as we witness to a friend. But the image of the birds watching eagerly for seeds to fall on the beaten paths, suggests that this is a time when demons are most eager to be present.

The second implication is that we humans bear personal responsibility for our response to God’s Word. In this parable the ground on which the seed falls represents people. In this parable the path clearly represents individuals who are hardened and unresponsive.

The third implication is that Satan has the ability to “take away the word.” In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul writes that “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.” Each image makes it clear that Satan can affect our the reception of God’s Word.

Conclusions

One of the least understood and certainly one of the most pernicious of demonic activities involves their efforts to keep us from welcoming God’s Word and taking it to heart. To some extent their success depends on us. As believers, we need to intentionally open our hearts and minds when we read Scripture or hear it preached. We also need to be in prayer during services that others will be open to the word, and will hear it without demonic distortion. We also need to explicitly command evil spirits to remain silent and inactive, or to depart, when we minister the Word. Satan’s forces will gather to counter our teaching. But if we recognize the danger we can exercise our authority to block their efforts.

Living Free #8

Posted by owner on July 18, 2010

Applying biblical principals of Freedom* in Living Free support groups.

“Living Free Support Groups” help believers apply biblical truths about identity, faith, peace, righteousness and truth in order to experience freedom in Christ. New activities for Living Free Support Groups are published every two weeks on www.demondope.com.

Living Free Support Group
Activity #8

HEALING

Activity

Give each person five minutes to talk about his or her parents. Each should try to give a clear enough picture of the parents that others in the group will sense what living with them was like.

Distribute 3”x 5” cards. As each person shares, the others should stay sensitive to the holy spirit and jot down any areas in which the speaker might need release from bondage. For instance, if the person speaking mentions harsh criticism, he or she may need release from resentment. Etc.

Recognize Satan’s Lie

Satan takes every opportunity to use the sins or weaknesses of others against us. Satan may use the failure of a parent who is a perfectionist to cause a child to think he do nothing right, or is a failure. Thus even a parents’ well-meant criticism can be used by demons to bring us into bondage. Many of our problems and disappointments have their origin in just this way, as Satan twists things others do and say to bring us into bondage. Whether that bondage is tied to a poor self-image, to resentment of authority, to anger at real or imagined affronts by other, Satan as well as other people are the ultimate source.

Hear God’s Truth

Satan binds. Jesus sets free. The distorted ideas, the emotions, the reactions that have patterned our lives and keep us from experiencing the life Jesus died to provide for us are, at heart, Satanic lies. The Bible says that “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). That freedom is not only freedom from legalism, but includes freedom from the other forms of bondage Satan has woven. We can use the spiritual resources that God has provided for us to break Satan’s bonds, and to free us from the demons who lurk in the hidden areas of our lives.

Respond to God’s Truth

Give each person a turn listening to others insights into possible areas of bondage rooted in he or her childhood experiences. In any area in which a person recognized truth in what the others are saying, pause and talk about that insight. Each person should pray aloud and express forgiveness for any damage parents may have done to him or her, and confess any personal sins that have been exposed.

Each person then can renounce any evil spirits associated with that area, and with the others in your group command in Jesus’ name those evil spirits to leave.

Unison Affirmation

Father
I thank you that you are a perfect parent, loving, compassionate, strong.
I forgive my parents for any way in which they fell short of your example.
I reject any lies Satan may have implanted in my heart through their failures.
I repudiate now and forever any evil spirits who may have used their failures to gain influence in my life.
I commit myself fully to Jesus.
I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me now.
In the name of Jesus, I command any spirits who have been repudiated to leave me now, and to never return.

Copy this Bible Verse
Post it in your home, and memorize it

“And he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases” (Luke 9:1)

Hidden Curses

Posted by owner on July 12, 2010

In Psalm 73 Asaph confesses his envy of the wicked. They just keep on prospering, while his life is marked with disappointment and trouble. His feelings are resolved, however, when he goes in to worship one day. In a flash of insight he considers their end, and realizes that the very prosperity he envied is a “slippery place.” Asaph is the one who has been blessed, for his troubles drive him back to God, while the very prosperity of the wicked convinces them they have no need for God. The consequences of their evil deeds will be apparent at “the end.” As will the blessings of the godly believer.

The psalmist Asaph isn’t the only one who has struggled with the conviction that God must [but doesn’t] punish the wicked appropriately. I’m sure he’s not the only one who has read the curses in Deuteronomy 28 I wrote about in last week’s post on Curses, and wondered why, if divine curses descend on those who sin, so many people seem to “get away with” wickedness.

Another person who was deeply concerned about this was the prophet Habakkuk. He lived in the midst of Josiah’s revival in Judah, yet when he looked at his society he saw injustice and violence. How could God possibly let his people live this kind of lifestyle and go unpunished? So Habakkuk left Jerusalem and climbed to the top of an isolated peak and settled down. He would wait there in prayer until God responded to his complaint.

God’s response was to tell Habakkuk that at that very moment he was preparing a fierce and rapacious people, the Babylonians, to invade Judah. Although the thought was frightening, Habakkuk urged God to send the enemy armies quickly. He was sure God would use the suffering to purify his people.

And then Habakkuk had a horrible thought. The people of Judah were bad. But the Babylonians were worse! How could a God so pure that he can’t stand to see evil use the Babylonians to purge a people less wicked than they are? And what would the Babylonians think? Would they see themselves as agents of divine punishment? No, they’d just see their success, praise their gods and their own power, and view conquered peoples as nothing but fish to be dragged in by their nets!

You can follow this train of thought of the prophet in the first chapter of the little book that goes by his name in the Old Testament. The prophet is left at the end of chapter 1 with the same moral problem that has troubled many. Its one thing to say the wicked will suffer in the end. It’s something else to say, “But they’re getting away with it now!”

God’s response

Habakkuk is more determined than ever to wait out an answer. He’s going to sit there on that peak until God comes up with a solution. And, strikingly, God does! God speaks to Habakkuk, and tells him to post His answer on billboards in letters so large not even a running man could miss it!

Basically, God’s answer is that though we might not realize it, hidden curses are at work, NOW, in the lives of the wicked!

God’s answer is given in chapter two of the Book of Habakkuk. Basically, God explains that no one who is wicked “gets away with” anything. On the outside the wicked may look prosperous and blessed. But we have to look more closely to understand the hidden curses that are at work in their lives.

The first curse: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (2:4-5). Like a fire that only gets hotter as more fuel is fed to it, the very success of the wicked makes them desire more and more. Instead of being satisfied with their “success,” the wicked are doomed to a life of dissatisfaction, that increases with every gain!

The second curse: Repayment in Kind (2:6-8). In their drive for success the wicked trample on other people. Their actions create hostility and hatred, guaranteeing that those they’ve harmed will turn on them when they have a chance. And we won’t have to wait till “the end” to see this principle of judgment work itself out in the lives of individuals and nations.

The third curse: Unsafe at Any Speed (2:9-11). The wicked are aware of others’ hostility, and do everything they can to protect themselves. But the more they do to assuage their fears the greater the fears grow. Neither wealth nor power can insulate them from their fears and insecurity.

The fourth curse: Material Things are Insubstantial (2:12-14). Whatever the wicked build is destined for destruction. God’s intent is that the earth will be filled with knowledge of the Lord, not monuments to murderers.

The firth curse: Repayment in Kind (2:15-17).Violence begets violence. We sow what we reap. Whether we couch it in sayings, or call it “the norm of reciprocity,” it’s a fact of life. The way we treat others sets the standard for how they treat us. And so God says to the wicked, “the violence you have done . . . will overwhelm you.”

Active curses

God’s answer to Habakkuk is an answer for us as well. Does sin and wickedness bring down divine curses on a person or nation now, or do we have to wait for Christ to return for justice to be done? The answer is, “We don’t have to wait!” There are divine curses on the wicked which are active NOW.

We may not be aware of them. But they are very real. And devastating.

No matter how much one gains by wickedness, he or she will go unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The contentment everyone seeks will forever elude him.

As one tramples on others in the pursuit of gain, he or she sets forces in motion that guarantee repayment in kind.

The “success” of the wicked is an illusion. Neither wealth nor power can provide security, or even a sense of security.

The material things the wicked count on are mere illusion, sure to slip through their fingers.

And within the span of their own lifetime, others will surely treat them as they have treated others.

These active curses are constantly at work within individuals’ hearts and minds and within society. God simply does not let the wicked “get away it” EVER. Yes, judgment is a specter that waits for the wicked beyond the grave, as Asaph realized. But hidden curses are at work in their lives today. As the prophet Isaiah writes,

“The wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest,
whose waves cast up mire and mud.
‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘to the wicked.”
Isaiah 57:20

Satan and You #5

Posted by owner on July 12, 2010

The fifth in a series of studies of references to Satan in the Gospels

This fifth direct reference to Satan in the Gospels is a brief reference to an event developed in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, and discussed at length in the first study in this series.

Mark 1:12,13
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At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
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Background

Two major events occur before Jesus launches his public ministry. He is identified as God’s Son when he is baptized by John, and he is led into the wilderness, where he is “tempted by Satan.” The story, here in its briefest form, tells us much about the Savior, and much about Satan.

Observations

1. “At once the Spirit sent him.” Jesus’ trek into the desert is in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is a healthy reminder to us. We are far too quick to question God’s leading when things don’t turn out as successfully or pleasantly as we expect. God may lead us into difficult and painful experiences, just as the Spirit sent Jesus into the desert.

2. “was in the desert 40 days” Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus fasts for forty days. Forty days is about the length of time it takes for the body to use up all stored resources. After a day or too of fasting hunger goes away, but it returns in force when the body’s resources are depleted. Weakened by the intense heat and the fast, Jesus; strength is at rock bottom when the tempter comes.

3. “being tempted by Satan” The Greek word translated “tempted” in our New Testament is also translated “tested.” Whenever this word appears in the Greek text the translators have to choose whether “tempted” or “tested” makes more sense. In Matthew and Luke “tempt” is appropriate, for they record Satan’s specific attempts to move Jesus to act out of the Father’s will. We need to adopt the same translation, for the “temptation” is “by Satan.”

4. “being tempted” At the same time, we need to recognize that the total wilderness experience was a “test” devised by God. Satan’s challenge was merely a part of that test. Jesus has been identified as God’s Son, and is about to set out on a ministry in which he calls the Jewish people to total commitment to God. The testing here in the desert, with its challenge by Satan, is a qualifying test. That is, Jesus is tested in order to prove that what God has said about him is true. Having demonstrated his own commitment, Jesus can now call others to follow his example.

5. “with the wild animals” This phrase is peculiar, but may allude to Isaiah 65:25, which pictures the “wild animals” such as the lion and the wolf living in harmony with the lamb and the ox. Clearly the image is one of peace and relief after the testing is past, when “angels attended him.”

Conclusions

This brief account of the temptation provides a clue that helps us put Satan’s attacks in perspective. The Spirit sent Jesus into the desert. When we’re responsive to the Spirit he may well lead us into situations that test our commitment and our faith. Satan may well try to take advantage of the stress to launch an attack on us, as he launched his attack on Jesus when he was weakest. Yet, whatever Satan may do he can operate only within a context of an experience which God the Father has designed. And God has designed each of our experiences for our good.

As Jesus triumphed over Satan by trust in the Father and his Word, we too can and will triumph. The passing of our tests, like Jesus’, will qualify us to call others to a similar commitment to our Lord.

Curses

Posted by owner on July 6, 2010

As Dudley Do-right rides off victorious, all villain Snidely Whiplash can do it mutter, “Curses! Foiled again.”

It’s the comic strip’s quintessential expression of absolute frustration. His plots foiled, Snidely is reduced to hurling curses at the comic strip hero. And we all know that while sticks and stones can break my bones, words can never hurt me.

Or can they?

Shakespeare’s audiences certainly believed in curses, and shuddered at the image of three witches huddled around a cauldron cackling as they chanted and boiled up “toil and trouble” for Macbeth. Even today superstitious actors resist appearing in that play, and won’t even refer to it by its title.

Certainly the Bible seems to take curses seriously. Genesis portrays God cursing the ground after Adam’s sin. Anyone who’s spent childhood days hoeing in the fields, (or who’s been forced to eat dandelion greens plucked from the yard!) knows that curse certainly worked! One ancient seer, Balaam, was offered a room filled with treasure if he would come and curse Israel, an action the king who hired him believed would make the Israelites vulnerable to attack. Even the New Testament speaks of curses, and calls on believers to “bless and curse not” (Romans 12:14).

In many parts of the world today people are convinced that witches and witchdoctors not only have the power to heal, but that their curses can cause disaster and death. In our country Wiccans are quick to protest that they only practice “white magic,” using their powers to do good rather than to harm. But they also admit that some practice “black magic,” using their powers to harm others.

Sometimes we might even wonder if a string of what we pass off as “bad luck” might not be something more, and mutter, “I must be cursed.” If you’ve ever pondered whether you or someone you know might be cursed, you’ll want to spend some time with this post. It’s a long one. The longest I’ve ever put up on demondope. But it might prove enlightening. Even transforming. If, of course, you or someone you know really is laboring under a curse.

What is a “curse” anyway?

The simplest definition of a curse is “a wish that evil may befall another.” This gets at the core of a curse’s intent, but it doesn’t tell us nearly enough. A better definition, suggested by Derek Prince, is that a curse involves “words spoken by someone with some form of spiritual authority that set in motion something harmful that will go on generation after generation.” Each of the four elements of this definition is important.

“Words spoken.” This reminds us that wishing someone ill falls short of a curse. As Shakespeare put it, “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” While someone we wish ill might have problems, it’s not due to our wishes. There’s no power in a mere wish to cause harm. According to Prince’s definition, however, there is power in the spoken word.

“Someone with some form or spiritual authority.” Examples of spiritual authorities are parents over their children, church leaders over their congregations, and mentors over their disciples. Leaders of organizations to which a person belongs may have some form of spiritual authority, especially if membership called for swearing some form of oath. Those who are in contact with evil spirits also have “some form” of spiritual authority. And, of course, an individual has spiritual authority over himself or herself, as we’ll see later when we deal with self-cursing.

“Set in motion something harmful.” Curses are by nature are expressed wishes that something harmful will happen to another person. It’s the expression of the wish, either by speaking or writing words, that “sets in motion” the harm that comes from the curse. This raises an important question: How do curses work? What are the mechanisms that set harm in motion? This too is something we’ll take up later in this post.

“that will go on generation after generation.” This concept is rooted in Scripture’s references to divine judgments which work themselves out not only in the lives of those who sin but “even to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:7). Those in deliverance ministry often see patterns of destructive behavior that persist across generations, and suspect that these patterns may be the result of a curse uttered against a grandparent or great-grandparent. This idea too is something we’ll explore later.

If we accept Prince’s definition of a curse as something harmful that is set in motion by a spoken word that may persist through generations, we’re left with more questions than the definition answers. But answer these questions we must.

Who utters curses?

This is the easiest question to answer. There are three possible sources of curses. The first of these sources is God himself, who according to Genesis cursed the ground (3:17b) and cursed Satan (3:14). The second is a person “with some form of spiritual authority”. An example of such a curse is that uttered by Noah against Canaan, which was a prophetic curse directed against a descendant of his youngest son, Ham, who had raped Noah when he was drunk (Gen 9:25). The third source is ones-self, and is considered self-cursing. The most powerful example of self-cursing is found in Matthew 27:25, where the Gospels report that the Jewish leaders were so intent on crucifying Jesus that they cried, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” However most believe that self-cursing can be casual, expressed in such off hand remarks as “I can’t remember names,” or “I’ll never get that job.” These casual self-curses might be called self-fulfilling prophecies. We expect to fail, and in part because we expect failure we fail.

Note that I did not include Satan or demons on the list of who can curse. Satan is utterly hostile to us, and if he were able to curse us he most certainly would. But Satan has no authority over believers, and must have God’s permission before he can act against us (cf Job 1,2; Luke 22:31,32). But Satan and evil spirits are actively involved in empowering curses uttered by others. This too is a theme we’ll get to later. First, though, let’s explore further the question of who utters curses.

Curses uttered by God When God gave Israel the Mosaic Law he very carefully explained the impact the law would have on the experience of his people. God promised that if the people who were called by his name would faithfully keep the Law, blessing would follow. God made the following commitment:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your wombs will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneeding trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. (Deut 28:2-6).

The blessings, listed in verses vv. 7-14, include life, health, prosperity, abundant crops, safety and international respect.

At the same time God warned that should Israel fail to keep the Law the nation would be cursed. The extended list of curses provided in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 details what Israel will experience if they break or abandon God’s Law. These curses include death, disease, drought, danger, defeat, deportation, destitution and disgrace.

This Deuteronomy passage enabled the later prophets to diagnose the causes of disasters that struck their generation. Understanding that sin had triggered the curses predicted by God, the prophets called Israel to return to God by confessing and repudiating the sins that had led to the current situation.

We can derive three principles from this passage that help us better understand divine curses.

1. God’s curses are triggered by sin. It is sin that activates the divine curse.
2. God’s curses are disciplinary. When a believer’s sin activates a divine curse, that curse is intended to focus attention on the sins which have interrupted his or her fellowship with God.
3. God’s curses are restorative, intended to lead the believer to repentance and to repudiation of the sins that have activated the curse(s).

Curses uttered by others. The Old Testament illustrates both deserved and undeserved curses.

A deserved curse. Abimeleck, a son of Gideon, conspired with the men of Shechem to become king and to murder his 70 half-brothers. But one, Jotham, escaped. Jotham then pronounced a curse against Shechem, “if you have not acted honorably and in good faith” (Judges 9:19,20). In the civil war that erupted shortly afterward all the people of Shechem perished and Abimeleck also was killed.

Strikingly, the New Testament tells us never to curse others (cf. James 3:9-10). Jesus went so far as to say “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44, KJV).

Intentional, but undeserved curses. On their way to Canaan the Israelites under Moses approached Moab. This panicked the Moabite King, Balak. He sent for Balaam, a seer who was believed to possess supernatural powers that made any curses he uttered especially effective. Balaam attempted to curse Israel, but God caused him to bless Israel instead. Frustrated, Balaam was forced to report, “there is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel (Numbers 23:23). Even worse from Balak’s point of view, Balaam blessed Israel, saying “May those who bless you be blessed, and those who curse you be cursed” (Numbers 24:9b).

Balak was furious. But Balaam wanted Balak’s gold. If Balaam was unable to curse this people of God, the wily seer thought it might be possible to get God himself to curse them. So Balaam advised Balak to set his young women to seduce Israelite men and lead them into idolatry. This strategy failed when God punished the guilty, but refused to turn against the whole people.

The undeserved curse was powerless, perhaps reflecting a thought summed up in Proverb 26:2: “Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.”

Unintentional, undeserved curses. Noah’s cursing of Canaan is an example of an intentional curse. In view of Ham’s behavior and in view of the immoral culture that later developed in the land of Canaan, this curse was deserved as well as intended. It is also clear that in this case the curse was prophetic: its author was not an unaided Noah but a Noah moved by God’s Spirit. It’s debatable whether we should emphasize the prophetic element or causative element here. This is a question we’ll take up later as we explore how curses work.

The point however is that many, if not most of the curses uttered by parents that affect their children are unintentional. A parent simply notes . . . often with displeasure . . . certain characteristics of a child, and makes an offhand statement such as “He’ll never amount to anything,” or “She’s never going to find a husband.” Such off hand comments can function as a curse, shaping the attitude of others toward the child or the child’s attitude about himself. When overheard by the child, such statements often function as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The parent, charged with spiritual authority over his or her child, has inadvertently cursed his offspring. Such words seem to have an unnatural power to shape a child’s sense of his identity, and to affect his future.

Self-curses. This is the third category of curses, and includes both intentional and unintentional self-cursing.

Intentional self-curses. It seems almost unimaginable that a person would intentionally curse himself or herself. Yet it’s quite common for guilt felt over some real or imagined sin to make a person say something like, “I don’t deserve to be happy.” Such a notion, expressed aloud, can set a person on a course of self-punishment which leads to unhappiness. Similar guilt-induced sentiments are what I mean by intentional self-cursing. It’s not that one is aware that expressing such feelings may function as a curse. The problem is that expressing those feelings—buying into them—functions just as any curse does, setting in motion something harmful that may persist throughout the person’s life, and even affect generations yet unborn.

Unintentional self-curses. These are, as noted earlier, essentially casual remarks that express negative feelings about ourselves, our abilities, or our future. “I can’t remember names,” “I’ll never get that job.” “I can never get ready on time,” These and any number of similar expressions, may very easily set in motion something that will prove harmful to us.

Sins that merit punishment. A person can and often will curse himself by making choices that he or she knows are sinful. Repeated and/or willful sins may trigger a divine curse. God has fashioned a moral universe, and in this universe evil actions [sins] will – in God’s time – produce evil [painful] consequences. In this sense when we choose to live a sinful lifestyle we bring down curses upon ourselves.

How do curses work?

This is the most mysterious and misunderstood thing about curses. How do they work? Prince’s definition says that curses “set in motion something harmful.” He adds that behind the curses there lies a “spiritual power.” This is hardly a complete or even satisfactory answer. We can, however, suggest several theories about how curses work. Curses may be empowered (1) by natural consequences, (2) directly, by God, or (3) directly, by demons.

Curses empowered by natural consequences. God has created a moral universe. There are moral laws and well as physical laws that operate in God’s creation. According to the physical law of gravity, objects on our planet will tend to fall to earth rather than fly away from it. According to moral law, “he who sows wickedness reaps trouble” (Proverbs 22:8). The Apostle Paul develops this thought in Galatians 6:7-9.

Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The man who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction. The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The passage points out that there are consequences to every moral choice. In this moral universe of God’s, those consequences fit the actions. At the same time, Paul makes it clear that not every consequence follows immediately from every action. This is particularly true for those who sow “to please the Spirit.” What we reap will come. But it will come in “the proper time.” Fascinatingly, those who sow “to please the sinful nature” are more likely to reap now! [This is a theme which is developed in the Book of Habakkuk, a theme which I’ll deal with in a future post on Hidden Curses.]

Generational curses. David, for all his many godly traits, was far from perfect. His major failings are seen in his relationship with Bathsheba. The all too familiar story paints David as an adulterer, who conspired to murder Bathsheba’s husband and who tried to hide his sins from his people. When finally confronted by the prophet Nathan, David did confess his sin, took responsibility for his actions, and even write a revealing psalm to be used in public worship. During the terrible days when David remained on his sinful path he never lost his relationship with God, which depended on his very real faith rather than his actions. His later confession brought David back into fellowship with God. Bur David’s failures seem to have triggered a curse that extended to later generations..

David’s son Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. David did nothing. So Tamar’s brother Absolom conspired to murder Amnon and led a rebellion against his father David. The pattern seen in David, of adultery, deception, conspiracy and murder, was repeated in his family. Future generations too were especially vulnerable to sexual sin, in time leading to God’s rejection of Solomon’s line in favor of a line through another of David’s sons, through whom Christ came.

What was it that empowered the repeated sins that marked David’s descendants? We can’t speak with certainty about the mechanism. But we do understand today more about the impact of a parent’s example on his or her descendants. And we also understand that often there is a genetic predisposition to such things as alcoholism which may be triggered by parental example. Is this all that’s involved in recurring “sins of the fathers” impacting their children “to the third and fourth generation.” Probably not. It’s likely that the father’s sin provided an opening which demonic forces used to invade not only the father but his offspring as well.

In any case, those in deliverance ministry are convinced that it is vital to break any generational curses that may be transmitted through the family line. But more about breaking curses further on.

Curses empowered by God. Generally speaking, natural consequences empower the curses that God pronounces against humans. Normally it is not necessary for God to intervene directly to empower curses triggered by sin.

Genesis 6 tells us that at a time when God evaluated the human race and found “every imagination of their hearts was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). At this point God acted directly and caused the Genesis Flood, saving only Noah and his family. In the unfolding story of God’s relationship with human beings, the Flood demonstrated the truth that God is a moral being who will surely judge sin.

There are additional cases of direct divine action, such as the deaths of Nadab and Abihu for violating instructions regarding their priestly ministry (Leviticus 10). But these are different from curses, which we’ve seen are acts that “set in motion something harmful which will go on,” perhaps for generations.

Curses empowered by demons. The Old Testament warns against any involvement in the occult, and points out that demons are behind pagan religions. It says little about how demons work in believer’s lives or their relationship to curses.

The Gospels picture demons holding believers in bondage, especially through infirmities and illness. And the epistles say quite a bit about Satan’s strategies and how to overcome them. The emphases in such passages are on Christ’s power over occult forces and on the importance of forgiving those who have hurt us and living righteous lives in order not to give demons a foothold in our lives. I know of no passage that speaks directly to the issue of demonic empowerment of curses.

Where scripture is silent, we should hesitate to take a firm position. What we can say is that those who are experienced in deliverance ministry are convinced that demon do empower curses, in that they use the curses to further oppress believers, and to maintain a grip on individual’s lives. Often breaking curses will be a significant element in casting out demons who have gained a foothold in a person’s life.

Breaking Curses

One of the privileges we have is that of breaking curses in the name and power of Jesus. In “Restoring the Foundations” (p. 153) Chester and Betsy Kylstra outline steps in ministry to a person laboring under a curse. The steps are theirs, the comments mostly mine.

1. Confess. The person needs to confess [acknowledge] any sins of his own and any known sins of his parents, grandparents, etc. For instance, if both were unfaithful in their marriages, the person needs to confess his own and his ancestor’s sin of adultery.

2. Forgive. It’s vital that the person then forgive parents, etc., for the sins that have had an impact on their lives. Be as specific as possible in naming the sins that have been committed.

3. Forgive. The person also needs to forgive anyone who has spoken [intentional or casual] curses against him and/or against his ancestors.

4. Repent. The person needs to acknowledge any sins of his own that may be related to curses, and choose to turn from them.

5. Forgive. The person then needs to forgive himself for his personal sins, and for carrying any guilt, shame or self-hatred.

6. Affirm. At this point the deliverance minister needs to verbally affirm the forgiveness that God has granted, and to pray for the person’s cleansing.

7. Repudiate. The person needs to renounce any future involvement in the sins and curses.

8. Break. In the name and power of Jesus the deliverance minister then breaks the power of any and all curses, and refuses Satan any right to carry out curses.

9. Affirm. Have the person affirm that he has a new, Heavenly Father, in whose family his is, and that he is no longer subject to any curses that were transmitted through his old family line.

10. Bless. The deliverance minister should look to Holy Spirit to guide him in stating a blessing God has for the person in place of the old curses.

Conclusion

Curses do have a strange power to influence our lives. Prince’s definition sums this up: a curse involves “words spoken by someone with some form of spiritual authority that set in motion something harmful that will go on generation after generation.” But Jesus has authority over curses, and curses can be broken. One important element in deliverance ministry is that of identifying and breaking curses, and so setting person’s free.

The comic strip character mutters

Living Free #7

Posted by owner on July 6, 2010

Applying biblical principals of Freedom* in Living Free support groups.

“Living Free Support Groups” help believers apply biblical truths about identity, faith, peace, righteousness and truth in order to experience freedom in Christ. New activities for Living Free Support Groups are published every two weeks on www.demondope.com.

Living Free Support Group
Activity #7

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Activity

Before your meet prepare sheets of papers having 64 squares [like a checkerboard]. Over each column write numbers from 1 to 8. Along the left side write letters from A to H. When you meet, give each person one sheet.

Each person is to select five of the sixty four squares and write his or her initials on them.

Send one of your group out of the room. He or she is to select any 10 squares and call out their coordinates. The others will place a large X over that square on his or her sheet. As each square is called out, those targeted are to call out “Missed me!” if the square does not contain initials. Each is to call out “Hit me!” when the square does contain initials. When all 10 have been called out, the caller is to return to the room and each person is to report how many “hits” he or she suffered.

Debrief. The game represents interaction between the material and spirit worlds. We typically are not aware that what happens in our world effects events in the spirit world, and visa versa. Satan is constantly striking out at us. Many of his efforts are misses. But at times he makes direct hits on on places where we are vulnerable, just as you were vulnerable in the initialed squares.

Recognize Satan’s Lie

Satan is eager for us to see faults in others while we excuse flaws in our own lives. We criticize another person’s lies, but gloss over our own tendency to gossip. We condemn the financier who cheats clients out of millions, but overlook the few dollars with which we pad our expense accounts. We feel contempt for the politician whose affair is exposed, but then we watch a pornographic film in our hotel room. Satan assures us that our sins are minor, not worth a second thought. And all the time demons use them as open doors through which they can enter our lives and exercise their influence.

Hear God’s Truth

God calls us to live righteous lives. He calls us to put off our old self and our former way of life, and to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). A righteous life is like the metal breastpiece worn by a Roman legionnaire to protect his vitals. Even “small” sins, if they become habits, make us vulnerable to demonic attack and influence. We are God’s dearly loved children, and we are called to live holy lives, as God’s own.

Respond to God’s Truth

Give each is to pray silently and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to him or her through the Word. Then each is to read Ephesians 4:25-5:13. If the reading brings to mind any area in which a person is vulnerable, he or she is to jot the specific vulnerability down in one of the squares.

When done any who wish may share [and talk about] a vulnerable area, and ask for prayer. Close with a time of prayer, supporting those who shared and those who chose not to. Pray that each might choose righteousness and close any doors that sin has left open to demonic influence.

Each can take home his annotated “checkerboard” as a reminder.

Unison Affirmation

Father, you have called us to live righteous lives.
We confess that we have fallen short in many ways.
We acknowledge our sins and failures.
We praise you for the forgiveness you have provided for us in Christ.

Father, you have called us to live righteous lives.
We repent of our sins.
We repudiate any evils which have become part of our lifestyle.
We praise you for the power to change
power that flows into us from Christ.

Father, we choose righteousness
We choose to follow Jesus
We choose to honor you in every way.

Holy Father,
We rely on you to enable us
For the sake of and in the name of Jesus.
Amen

Copy this Bible Verse
Post it in your home, and memorize it

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to yolur mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).