Spiritual Oppression

courtesy ... GreatBibleStudy.com


It is very disappointing when I see many who are being harassed by evil spirits being told that it is normal for God's children to be oppressed. What a lie from the pits of hell! They are actually preaching a very weak version of the gospel! The Jesus that I serve came to set the captives free, and heal ALL who were oppressed, clearly showing us that oppression is NOT God's will:

Acts 10:38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."

I do not serve a Jesus that wants His people to be harassed or oppressed by demons. My heavenly Father wants His children set free! Does this theology work in the real world? Yes! I have seen people who are oppressed SET FREE as demons and their legal rights and strongholds were dealt with... not simply resisted or ignored!

"Isn't resisting the devil the answer to oppression?"

Many use James 4:7 to establish a doctrine that if we resist the devil and draw near to God, the devil will flee; thus solving the problem of demonic oppression. This is true when interpreted in the context of James 4, which is speaking of temptations that is thrown at us in the world today. What James 4 is not talking about is demonic oppression, vexation, possession and harassment. This verse was taken out of context to say something that it never really said!

How Jesus did NOT handle oppression

Many people today believe that us Christians are to handle oppression simply by drawing near to God, resisting the devil, and their demons will go away. Sounds great... but that's not how Jesus helped to those who were oppressed.

Acts 10:38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."

Jesus did NOT tell the people, "You should be drawing near to God and resisting those things... they'll leave you alone!"... did He? No, He did something about their oppression... He didn't tell them to deal with it themselves by resisting those demons and drawing near to God.

Demonic oppression and vexation

Oppression in the NT Greek is referring to a person having a host of fallen angels (Satan's army or 'domain' if you want to get Greek savvy) exercised against a person. To be vexed with a demon means to be harassed, tormented or troubled by an evil spirit. The meanings of these two words are virtually saying the same thing.

If you have a demon(s) exercised against you (oppressed of the devil), you will be tormented, troubled or harassed by evil spirits.

Matthew 15:22, "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil."

If you look up the phrase 'vexed with a devil' in the NT Greek, we find the word daimonizomai, which is the same word used behind the phrase 'possessed with a devil'. This Greek word has several meanings. It can mean a person is under the demon's power, harassed, troubled, tormented by evil spirits or simply to have an unclean spirit.

How did Jesus 'heal' (make whole or cure) those with unclean spirits?

When people that try to tell me that it is normal to be oppressed, it is usually coming from individuals who have little or no experience with casting out of demons. In Matthew 12:22, we are told of a man who Jesus healed from an unclean spirit.

"Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw."

If we look down the page a few verses, we find out how Jesus healed this man:

"But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils." (v.24)

The word healed means to be made whole or cured of something. When Jesus healed those with unclean spirits, He was making them whole and curing (restoring) them by removing those unclean spirits. What means did He cure (restore) the man's eyesight above? By casting out the unclean spirit behind his blindness!

How did the early church handle oppression?

Not surprisingly, this pattern of 'healing all that were oppressed' was carried right into the early church.

Acts 5:16, "There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one."

Notice that everyone who was vexed (harassed, tormented or troubled) by evil spirits were healed - that is - made whole or cured (restored). People came to the early church that were oppressed, and they were gloriously set free... not some... but EVERY ONE of them!

How do you minister to the oppressed?

If somebody is being harassed by an evil spirit, I believe there is always a reason for it. What they are experiencing is the symptoms on the surface of an underlying spiritual problem. It could be as simple as a stronghold that the demon is using as a means to harass the person. There could be a legal right he's using as an excuse to trouble the person. I usually like to address these two first, and if the person is still harassed, I believe it is time to walk them through a deliverance and go after the spirit(s) that are troubling them.

The truth is, without the casting out of demons, a minister will turn away many who are oppressed without ministering complete freedom to them. They will walk away still oppressed and harassed when they could have been set free. Balanced deliverance ministering requires three key elements: the tearing down of strongholds, the breaking up of legal grounds and the casting out of demons. If you attempt the operate in a deliverance ministry and address only 1 or 2 of those areas, you will turn many away without completely setting them free. They may feel a change from your ministering, and some may be completely set free, but there will be those who will walk away still in a measure of bondage, and some that you will be unable to help at all. You wouldn't dare try to make a pizza with the dough and the sauce but omit the cheese, would you? You wouldn't attempt to use your computer with a keyboard and mouse but no monitor, would you? Why attempt to run a deliverance ministry and omit one of the three major areas where ministering is required? I believe it is important to be balanced and complete in this ministry.

Is there such a thing as spiritual warfare? YES! But it's not the same as oppression!

 

PART 2

 

The difference between deliverance and spiritual warfare is that deliverance is dealing with demonic bondages, and getting a person set free, whereas spiritual warfare is resisting, overcoming and defeating the enemy's lies (in the form of deception, temptations and accusations) that he sends our way. Deliverance involves the breaking up of legal grounds, the tearing down of strongholds (offensive spiritual warfare), and the casting out of demons. Spiritual warfare on the other hand, is dealing with three key things the enemy sends at us: temptations, deception and accusations.

This teaching will give you an idea of how spiritual warfare works. There are other teachings on this site that will go into more detail on certain areas of spiritual warfare.

Offensive vs. defensive warfare

Spiritual warfare comes in two ways: offensive and defensive. Offensive warfare is tearing down the strongholds the enemy has formed in your mind through deception and accusations, and defensive warfare is guarding yourself against the tactics or schemes of the devil.

The enemy's three primary weapons

There are three things that we can expect from the devil. The Bible tells us that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against demonic forces. Ephesians 6:12, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." The three primary things we struggle against include:

#1 Deception: To deceive somebody means to make another person believe a lie or something that is not true. When the enemy sends deception your way, it is an attempt to deceive you into believing something that is not true, so you will fall into error. Strongholds are built through deception. A stronghold is formed when deception takes hold in a person's mind. A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern that stems from believing something that is not true.

From the very beginning, Satan deceived Eve into believing that God's Word was not true. In Genesis 3:4, the devil told her that she will not surely die as God said she would in Genesis 2:17.

#2 Temptation: Temptation often follows deception. First the enemy tells us, "You won't surely die!", then he makes the fruit on the forbidden tree look good to us. Since Eve accepted Satan's deception (his lie), now the tree that she was not supposed to touch looked good to her. She was tempted (enticed) to sin, because she allowed herself to first be deceived. Temptation is when we are enticed or encouraged to sin in one way or another.

In Matthew 4, Jesus was led out in the desert to be tempted by the devil. The devil tried to convince Jesus that it would be harmless to jump off a building. Often people will be so drawn to sex with their boyfriend/girlfriend when the enemy tries to convince them that it is all harmless and fun, when it's not harmless at all, but an open door to the devil. Jesus saw through Satan's deception, and resisted the temptation by speaking God's Word. King David said in Psalms 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

When the enemy tempts you, he's showing you the worm... but behind that worm is a hook. The Word of God helps you see the hook behind the worm.

#3 Accusations: The devil is known as the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). He is known to take a believer who has done an embarrassing or gross sin in their past, and continue to rub it in their faces and beat them down with guilt and condemnation over their past.

Dealing with deception

We have two weapons to deal with deceptions: the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14) and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) which is the Word of God. Both are truth, which is found in God's Word, so why are they given two different names (a sword and a belt)? Because one is meant to be defensive (the belt), while the other is meant to be offensive (the sword). This means that the Word of God is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. A belt is something you wear to guard against an attack, while a sword is used to slaughter the enemy.

You use the belt of truth (God's Word) to guard against the enemy's deception (lies) he sends your way, while you use the sword of the Spirit (also God's Word) to tear down existing strongholds (deception that took hold) in your mind.

In Romans 12:2, we are told to "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." How do we renew our minds? By getting in God's Word! In Ephesians 5:26, this process is referred to as washing of water by the Word: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."

Dealing with temptation

In James 4:7, we are told to resist the devil and he will flee from us. But it's not that simple; in the same verse, we are also told to draw near to God. Dealing with temptation is a two fold process of resisting the devil and drawing near to God. The closer you get to God and the more you become aware of His love, the less power temptation will have over you.

James 4:7, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (The context of those verse is clearly speaking of temptation).

In the teaching Forgiven Sinner or Saint?, it shows you how the power of sin (temptation) can be broken in our lives.

Dealing with accusations

The fiery darts of the enemy in Ephesians 6:16 are accusations sent our way. For example, when the devil tries to accuse us of our past sins, we are to have faith in the work of the cross and know that they are forgiven and not to look back. Faith is what we use to put out the fiery darts of the enemy (Ephesians 6:16). We are not to meditate about our pasts, because they have passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17), and our sins have been forgotten (Hebrews 10:17).

Ephesians 6:14, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth (knowing your sins have been forgiven through your faith in the work on the cross), and having on the breastplate of righteousness (not our righteousness obviously, but the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus);"

Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but because of the work of the cross, we can receive the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22, Galatians 3:6). Therefore when the enemy tries to remind you of your past, tell him it's been washed away (2 Corinthians 5:17), your sins have been forgotten (Hebrews 10:17) and you have the righteousness of God (Romans 3:22)!

There are other teachings on this site that will specifically help you wage war against the enemy's accusations. They include Condemnation versus Conviction, The Power of Your Thoughts and Dealing with Guilt.

The tearing down of strongholds

A stronghold is deception that's taken hold in a person's mind. It's an incorrect thinking pattern based on a believed lie. People can get incorrect perceptions of God by listening to Satan as he tells them how God doesn't love them, etc. People can feel like dirty old sinners when they believe Satan's accusations as he continually reminds them of their past (which has been washed away!). Strongholds are based on lies from the devil. They can come in the form of deception or accusations. Accusations always lead to guilt and the feeling of unworthiness, which weighs you down and tears you apart spiritually.

Since strongholds are built upon lies that we have been fed, the way we tear down strongholds is by feeding on the truth (in God's Word), which is the opposite of what the enemy has been feeding us. If the enemy has been feeding us a lie, we need to stop eating the lie and start feeding ourselves the truth. The weapon we use to tear down strongholds is found in Ephesians 6:17, "...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." A sword is an offensive weapon and is meant to tear down and kill the enemy's troops. Strongholds are the devil's assets in war, and he uses them against us. Take up the sword of the Spirit (God's Word) today, and start slaughtering the enemy's assets that he's been using against you!

 

PART 3

 

The process of deliverance often consists of three main parts: Tearing down strongholds, removing legal rights and then casting out the remaining demons. If you try to cast out demons without taking away the strongholds or legal rights that they are holding onto, then you can't really expect to achieve a complete successful deliverance. Removing these two blockages is vital in going about a complete and successful deliverance.

What is a stronghold?

A stronghold is a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception. Deception is one of the primary weapons of the devil, because it is the building blocks for a stronghold. What strongholds can do is cause us to think in ways which block us from God's best. For example, if you think you have to confess all your sins to everybody you've ever wronged, you'll feel just awful and guilty until you do all that, and even then, you'll probably feel guilty, because you probably forgot many people that you didn't confess your sins to. All unnecessary, and a waste of time, all because you were deceived and thought that you had to do something that you really didn't have to do.

An example of a stronghold at work: A common scene is somebody who is scared of God, and has a hard time feeling His love and presence. They view Him as a cruel taskmaster, and not as the God that is really is to them, and therefore, they put up there own wall which makes it hard for them to receive God's love, presence and draw close in their relationship with Him. If you saw your spouse as a rude and cruel dictator, you probably wouldn't be as apt to snuggle up to Him and love him as you would if you saw him as a loving and kind person who loves you and cares for you. If you see somebody as mean, it's hard to receive their love, isn't it? That's how our perception of God can hinder us from feeling His love and presence in our lives. It is VERY important to have a correct perception of God if we want to live victorious lives in Christ Jesus!

Two very destructive and common strongholds

The first one, where you see God incorrectly: One of the most popular and devastating strongholds to have, is an incorrect image in your mind of who God is, and how He sees us. People who see God as a taskmaster, live their lives with an unhealthy fear of God. There's a good kind of fear of God, which is more like a holy respect for Him, but there's another kind of fear that is very unhealthy that the enemy wants us to have, and it's the kind of fear where we see God as a taskmaster, cruel, cold, distant, uncaring and would snap the whip at us the moment we step out of line. People who are afraid they've committed the unpardonable sin are almost guaranteed to have this stronghold. People who find it hard to feel God's love and presence, often have this stronghold too. If you feel God is distant and cold, or question if God loves you, then you need to get this stronghold torn down.

The second one, where you see yourself incorrectly: People who suffer from this have a hard time seeing the new person that they are now in Christ Jesus, and often suffer from low self-esteem. They don't understand what Christ did for them, and how it applies to their own life. Common symptoms of this stronghold are guilt feelings (questioning if you've really been forgiven of your sin(s)), low spiritual esteem (they feel like sinners, not saints), they lack spiritual confidence that we are supposed to have in Christ Jesus, they may still struggle with sin (Jesus said that if you keep in His Word, which tears down strongholds, you will be free from the power sin has over you - John 8:31-34), and overall you don't feel 'worthy' spiritually and lack the joy of the Lord in your life.

How to tear down a stronghold

2 Corinthians 10:4, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds."

Strongholds are birthed and dwell in deception (which are lies and false beliefs), so naturally the cure is to bring the truth in God's Word on the scene. You debunk the lies of the enemy, with the truth, which is in the Word of God! The Bible says that our weapons are mighty for the tearing down of strongholds (2 Cor 10:4, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds."). What is our primary offensive weapon? The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17, "...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."). Truth dispels deception and lies, and therefore the more truth you bring into a situation, the more the darkness must flee. This is where it's important to grow in God's Word, is because it is your primary weapon for tearing down the strongholds of deception that the enemy has been feeding you.

In John 8:31-36, Jesus tells us that we can be held in bondage due to strongholds in our lives. And His solution was to, "continue in my word... and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (v. 32-32) Strongholds are torn down as we meditate on God's Word, which is truth!

 

PART 4

 

The power of your thoughts - Where many strongholds begin

The enemy loves to put thoughts into the believer's mind. Those thoughts (if meditated on), produce strongholds, which produces feelings, which lands you into bondage... all because you listened to the devil more then your heavenly Father! I am going to use a common stronghold here in this teaching as an example... an incorrect perception of who you are in Christ. There are many other strongholds out there, but this teaching will give you a general idea of how many strongholds are formed.

How it works

Two voices are speaking: Satan likes to come along and tell you, "Look at that sin you did 5 years ago! That was so bad! You are such a failure!" But Jesus, through God's Word, tries to tell you that if you turn to Him, you will be forgiven (1 John 1:9), and your past will be forgotten: Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

You are faced with a choice: You can either listen to Satan's lie that you are a failure, or you can listen to God's Word that tells you that your past has been washed away and you are a new creature in Christ! 2 Cor 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Whichever voice you listen to will crowd the other one out: If you have two dogs who fight all the time, and you can only afford to feed one of them, how do you know which one will win? The one you feed! The same is true in the spiritual realm. The more you listen to Satan's lies and deception, the more he will build strongholds in your mind, and the more strongholds that go up, the harder it will be to hear God's voice. The other side of the coin is true too... the more you feast yourself on the truth in God's Word, the more it tears down strongholds and makes it harder for the enemy's voice to penetrate your system.

If you listen to Satan's lies that you are a failure, he will continue to feed you that lie, and it will grow into a stronghold (a lie that is believed, or an incorrect thinking pattern). Your feelings are quite often a direct result of your thoughts. If you think you are a failure, you will feel like one.

If you listen to your heaven Father, who is speaking truth to you through His Word, you will begin to tear down the strongholds in your life. When you meditate on the truth in God's Word, it will become part of you, and before long, you will be feeling different, simply because you are exchanging lies of the devil for the truth in God's Word. When you believe that your sins are forgiven, you can then allow your conscience to be cleansed from dead works by the blood of Jesus: Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

A practical example

Let me show you how many believers end up feeling like losers... guilt-ridden by their pasts. It all starts with a simple voice of condemnation from the enemy. Satan, through his network of evil spirits (that's how the devil speaks to people, since Satan can't be everywhere at once), injects thoughts into their mind that remind them of their past and their failures. They begin to listen to his voice and agree with it. They did sin, and they failed. But instead of looking at the solution, which is repentance and the blood of Jesus (which washes away sin), they continue to listen to the enemy who keeps reminding them of their past. As they continue to do this, stronghold(s) are formed. A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern based on lies and formed in deception. Once a stronghold is in place, the person naturally thinks of their past instead of focusing on the fact that their past has been forgiven and wiped away. They believe they are a failure instead of believing the truth in God's Word, which tells them that they have been forgiven, washed clean, and even God Himself has chosen to forget their dirty past! So instead of feeling like a child of God who was washed clean in the blood of Jesus, they feel unworthy, guilty and consider them self a loser. What a shame for a child of God to feel that way!

Your thoughts can affect how you feel

When you believe something, it will affect your feelings. When you believe you are a failure, you will feel like one. When you believe you are a forgiven saint, you will feel like one.

The difference between a guilt-ridden Christian and a light-hearted and joyful Christian is often one simple thing... what they are thinking about. Guess who's thinking about the sin, the guilt and the past? Now guess who's thinking about how they have been washed clean and they are a new person in Christ Jesus?

Whatever you keep your mind on (think about often) will affect your whole being. Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."

An exception to the rule: Evil spirits are known to directly affect our emotions, feelings, etc. King Saul was tormented with fear and depression directly. However, evil spirits often use our thoughts to access our feelings, and this is done through the creation of strongholds. This is what we are addressing in this teaching... how the enemy uses our thoughts to build strongholds, and how strongholds affect our feelings.

In a nutshell

Thoughts from the enemy (if listened to) turn into strongholds (lies believed or incorrect thinking patterns) which affect how you feel (you feelings often stem from your beliefs) and can cause you to remain in bondage to plain simple ignorance. Jesus made it clear that it's possible for a believer to remain in bondage to sin even after they've been set free, all due to ignorance of the truth in God's Word (John 8:31-36).

If you think you're a failure, you'll feel like a failure. If you think you're a new creation (washed clean from your past), you'll feel clean and new... alive in Christ!

 

PART 5

 

A lot of believers hear condemning thoughts, and some believers even think it's God telling them these things. My friend, nothing could be further from the truth! God NEVER tells you what a loser you are. Jesus said He came not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 12:47)!

What is condemnation?

Condemnation comes from Satan and is meant to tear you down. Condemnation continually points out what a failure you are, and how badly you've messed up. Condemnation is showing you the problem, but avoiding the solution.

Jesus did NOT come to condemn the world (John 12:47). There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Satan on the other hand is KNOWN for accusing the brethren (Rev 12:10).

Why won't you ever hear God telling you what a failure you are? Because Jesus said, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." (John 12:47)

What is conviction?

Conviction is known in the Bible as Godly sorrow. God's Word tells us that Godly sorrow is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Condemnation tells you, "You are such a failure! Look at what you did!" while conviction tells you, "Come to me... and I will forgive you!"

Not only is God willing to forgive your sins, but He longs (deeply desires) to do so! Isaiah 30:18, "Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him." (NASB)

1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness."

Romans 2:4, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

Conviction shows you the answer to your problem. Conviction shows you the blood of Jesus that wipes away your sins!

What is the difference?

Conviction shows you the answer (the Blood of Jesus, which washes away sin), while condemnation shows you the problem (the sin, the past and your failures). Condemnation shows you the problem, but conviction shows you the answer.

Condemnation shouts, "Your past! Your sins! You loser!" But conviction shouts, "The Blood of Jesus washes away sins! Come to Jesus and be forgiven of your sins! You can be forgiven! Your sins and past don't have to be a part of you anymore!"

Understanding the nature of God's forgiveness

It's so important to understand the nature of God's forgiveness and His desire to wash us clean from our pasts.

 

PART 6

 

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons so many of God's children are living defeated lives, is because of guilt. Guilt is one of Satan's biggest weapons against us. It tears us down, it makes us feel dirty, unworthy, robs of us of our faith and confidence in Christ Jesus. Jesus not only came to cleanse us from our sins, but also set us free from the guilt of our sins. If you want to live a life of spiritual victory, you need to have a conscience freed from the guilt of your past. 1 Timothy 3:9, "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."

Two kinds of guilt

There's two kinds of guilt in the Bible. There's Godly sorrow that leads a person to repentance (2 Cor 7:10), which is know as conviction and it comes from the Holy Spirit (John 16:8, "when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin..." - NASB). Once a person repents, the guilt lifts and they feel relieved and joyful that their sin(s) have been forgiven. Then there's another kind of guilt, and that's condemnation or accusations from the devil. Satan loves to torment God's people by reminding them of their pasts, and continually holding their sins before them even after their sins have been forgiven. This is condemnation and there is no good that comes out of it whatsoever. It tears us down, makes us feel dirty, unworthy and robs of us of our faith and confidence in Christ Jesus. It's a lie from the father of lies, and it needs to be ignored.

Guilt is a door to the enemy

I have seen how guilt can be an open door to be tormented by evil spirits. False guilt is actually a symptom of unforgiveness in your heart that is directed at yourself. In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus tells us how important it is to forgive those who have wronged us, and how we can be turned over to the tormenters (evil spirits) if we are unforgiving. Colossians 3:13 tells us to be, "...forgiving one another..." The phrase 'one another' in NT Greek translates to the word Heautou, which includes THEMSELF! Bitterness, regardless who or what it's about, defiles a man (Hebrews 12:15). Spiritual defilement is what makes a person open to unclean spirits. It is very possible for a person to be harassed by evil spirits or come under their power, just because a person has refused to forgive them self.

How guilt is cultivated and nurtured

Guilt is cultivated when you continually allow yourself to dwell and think about how badly you've messed up, your pasts, the sins you've committed, etc. The enemy loves to remind us of our past failures, so he can keep us thinking about them. The problem is, if we allow ourselves to fall for this trap, it allows the enemy to build what they call a stronghold in our minds.

Your best bet is to learn what is going on, and stop Satan dead in his tracks. Learn the difference between condemnation and conviction, and stop listening to condemnation. Condemnation comes from the devil, and it's meant to build strongholds in your mind and weaken you spiritually.

The stronghold of guilt

When a person who has repented of their sin(s) but continually feels guilty day after day, even after being told that their past has been washed away and their sins have been forgiven, is facing what they call a stronghold. A stronghold is a lie that is believed, which results in an incorrect thinking pattern. The stronghold of guilt is often not alone, it is usually accompanied with an incorrect perception of themselves or an incorrect perception of God (which are both strongholds in themselves). People who have a stronghold of guilt rarely see God for who He really is (including His awesome forgiving nature) or they don't see themselves correctly. They are new creations in Christ who's past has been washed away (2 Corinthians 5:17), but they simply don't believe it because they have a stronghold in their mind that needs to be torn down.

How to deal with guilt

Step 1: Understand the nature of God's forgiveness towards you.

Step 2: Repent of your sin(s) if you haven't already done so. They big key to being forgiven is repentance.

Step 3: Know that your past sins have been forgiven, and that you are now clean in Christ Jesus. Stop thinking about your past sins and start thinking about the new person you are in Christ. We are NEVER told to mull around our past sins, but rather to forget the things which are behind and press forward. (Phil 3:13, "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.")

Step 4: Forgive yourself! Jesus made it clear that we are to be forgiving, and that includes forgiving yourself. You need to release yourself from the bondage of unforgiveness. If God chose to forgive you, who are you to hang onto something that God chose to let go of? This is a major source of bondage, and I can't stress how vital it is for you to release yourself from your past. Colossians 3:13 tells us to be, "...forgiving one another..." If you look up the phrase 'one another' in that verse in the NT Greek, it translates to the word Heautou which includes THEMSELF! It is vital to be forgiving towards yourself!! Bitterness (the fruit of unforgiveness), regardless who or what it's about, defiles a man (Hebrews 12:15).

If a stronghold of guilt exists, then the feelings of guilt may not disappear overnight, because strongholds need to be torn down by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). A great place to start is learning how to recognize condemnation from the devil, and stop paying attention to it.

Once you know the difference between condemnation and conviction and can recognize condemnation when it's thrown at you, you need to guard your thoughts, and when you see condemnation coming your way, pay no attention to it. Treat it for what it really is... a lie from the devil.

If nothing seems to work, you may need to have a spirit of guilt or condemnation cast out. There are particular evil spirits that go around and hang around people like a thick black cloud, constantly making them feel dirty, unworthy and guilty. They usually thrive on strongholds of guilt though, so usually your first step to getting rid of this spirit is by tearing down the stronghold by which it's holding on.

The Blood of Jesus takes sin away

Hebrews 10:1-22, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having a high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."

In the Old Testament, they used to offer sacrifices each year to cover the people's sins. The blood of Jesus does far more then cover sins, it takes them away. It removes them from your identity... it removes them from you as far as the east to the west! Psalms 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."

Revelations 1:5, "And from Jesus Christ, who... washed us from our sins in his own blood."

Psalms 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."

Matthew 26:28, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Do you know what the NT Greek has to say about the word 'remission' here? "Forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty."

Christ died so your conscience could be cleansed

2 Cor 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Why do you think God wanted us to be new creations when we enter His royal family? Because He doesn't want your past to be a part of you anymore! He wants you to be washed clean from all your sins and wiped clean from your past!

Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

God knew that if He didn't forget our sins, they would forever be before Him, and it would hinder the closeness that He desires to have with us. Therefore, God Himself said that for His own sake, He chose to not only forgive your sins, but also forget them and cast them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

Not only did God chose to forget your sins, but He also wants you to forget them as well. God's Word tells us to, "...draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)

Worship is one of the most intimate ways in which we commune with God. Jesus tells us that, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) The truth is, if we have repented of our sins, and believe upon the blood of Jesus to wash us clean, then we are clean from those sins, and if we approach God in worship with a dirty conscience, we won't be approaching Him in truth. Hebrews 10:2 tells us how worshipers should have a conscience clean from sin, "...the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins." God doesn't want us hanging onto our pasts when we come to worship Him! He wants us to approach Him through worship from a conscience washed in the blood of the lamb!

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus tells us, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If you look up the word 'labour' in the NT Greek, it basically means to toil under a burden. What kind of people are heavy laden and labour in their souls? People who are labouring under the burden of guilt. Jesus wants you to come to Him, and shed your old heavy burden of guilt. He died so you could be released from it... won't you make the choice to let go of it today?

 

PART 7

(By Matt Slick)

 

If you suspect that you are being demonically oppressed, you must first pray and ask the Lord to protect you. It is a spiritual issue, so you must fight it spiritually. Prayer is always the first step.

Second, you need to take a survey of your life to make sure that you do not have open doors for demonic activity. Things like tarot cards, astrology, séances, drug abuse, pornography, Ouija Boards, demonic music (forms that exalt evil), etc., can invite demonic involvement. You will need to renounce all of these things, confess them as sin, and seek the covering of Christ.

Third, remove all cult material and objects from your home. Remove things like Watchtower Magazines, the Book of Mormon, pornography, illegal drug paraphernalia, false religious material, New Age crystals, etc. If you must, block certain TV channels and/or shows that might be pagan in subject matter. I'd like to note that studying cult material for the purpose of education so you can know the methods of the enemy is fine. Just pray over the material and ask God to protect you from its false teaching and study away.

Fourth, make sure that your family and friends are not into those things (listed above) that can bring spiritual oppression. If they are and they won’t stop (maybe they aren’t Christian), then pray for protection, for God’s intervention, and for their salvation.

Fifth, if things don’t get better, get the elders of your church involved. It might be necessary for them to come to your place and pray. If they won’t do it, find someone who will.

As Christians, we are cleansed by the blood of Christ and are indwelt by the living God. Sometimes it is necessary for us to review our past lives and openly confess, repent, and ask the Lord to cleanse us of various activities that could have opened the door to demonic oppression. I suggest that people pray aloud to the Lord, confessing their specific past sin. They must label it as sin, asking the Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse it, asking the Lord to bind any demonic forces that are attached to it, and then verbally proclaim that they've renounced it and are resting in and trusting in Christ alone. It isn’t that this is a formula on what to do, but it is the public declaration before God that you belong to the Lord, you renounce sinful things, and are trusting in Christ.

Finally, consider anointing your home with oil (which Biblically often represents the Holy Spirit) and praying over every room. Anointing with oil is not a magic formula that produces a certain result if performed properly, but there is something about the ceremony of taking oil, placing it upon the fingertips, going through every room of your home, and praying aloud as you touch walls and objects.

Finally, remember that greater is He (God) that is in you than he (the devil) that is in the world (1 John 4:4).







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