Lesson 5 - Inner Healing - Reclaiming the Mind and Will from Vows, Curses and Deception
We have considered the healing of damaged emotions. The will and mind can also be infected through damage so that we are unable to live fully in the freedom of Christ.
God's gift of a will is one of the features that distinguishes humans as the high point of creation.
The will is important. An animal's choices are dominated by instinct - the drives of the body. The human being is free to choose. If we do not exercise our will then instinct will rise up to take control, as can be clearly seen in the loss of will of those who are addicted through substance abuse or sexual perversion. The sin of choosing badly has placed them in a position where the chemical balances of their body or its desires for physical gratification are choosing for them. So they become more and more powerless to do anything but give in to the desire.
We begin by an act of our will. Without the consent of our will nothing can be accomplished in our lives. Some choices made in the womb, such as "I don't want to be born.", have to be repented of because they affect our ability to live as God desires. Some wounds of life leave us with a passive will and we need to learn to choose. Initially we need to choose to do God's will. "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (John 7:17). From then we can trust God to lead us as we continue to choose to obey him.
Other wounds result in a will which is stubborn and unyielding - 'stiff-necked' God so often calls it (Exodus 32:9; Isaiah 48:4; etc). It is interesting that we tend to believe the first instance we see or hear something. We use this to judge anything else we hear later against this first time, and it is often very difficult to shift our first impression. We will defend it against all the evidence, no matter how compelling. This is why 'mud sticks'. The Lord requires us to be teachable, and to learn from him. So we need to be able to change our minds. But once we are convinced of truth by the Spirit, then we must be able to withstand all pressures to change.
No-one can make you do anything! What they can do, and what happens in brain washing, is to make the pressures to choose what they want you to do so great that you are likely to choose the easiest way out for you. But it is still your choice. It is possible to choose to suffer the consequences of refusal, even to die, rather than to give in. Jesus modelled this, as did many of the people we now look up to as heroes. We need to reach the point where obedience to God is more important to us than comfort, safety, and even life itself. (Hebrews 11:24-25,35).
Often we struggle in an area because we have not exercised our will. Joshua presented the children of Israel with a choice, Joshua 24:14-18, "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.... We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God."
Until we have decided, made a choice, committed our will to something, we will find that our mind and emotions will be unable to embrace new ways of thinking and feeling. When seeking healing we need to be willing for God to do things his way. Often we have made vows or decisions which we have forgotten but which still have power to affect us. These must be repented of and new choices made.
We may not be willing to face the truth. At the beginning it is good to pray along these lines, "Lord, I choose to be free and am willing for you to reveal anything that may be stopping your work of healing in my life. I give you permission to work in whatever way you know is right. I surrender my agenda and my knowledge to you and commit my will to obey you, whatever you say. I ask you to remind me of any hidden memory which needs to be healed." See later the section How to change our minds.
God will never "take my will" so that we are robots, having to do what he wants. His Spirit works through an engaged will. When we decide, he acts to empower our decisions. In ministry, it is good to pray for the strengthening of the will, especially when people have been passive or have surrendered their will through addiction.
All that has ever happened to us is recorded in our memory, whether or not we can actually recall what has happened. The emotions and feelings of the happening are also inseparably intertwined with the memory of that occasion.
Neil Anderson speaks of Plan A = living God's way: operating by faith; and Plan B = living our way: operating by our limited ability to reason (Victory over the darkness, p. 158). The oft quoted Proverbs 3:5,6 speaks of these ways.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart (= Plan A) and lean not on your own understanding; (= Plan B) in all your ways acknowledge him, (= Plan A) and he will make your paths straight. (= Plan A living)
The strength of Plan A in your life is determined by your personal conviction that God's ways are always right and by how committed you are to obey Him. The strength of Plan B is determined by the amount of time and energy you invest in entertaining thoughts which are contrary to God's Word. You really know God's way is best and you intend to walk 100 percent by faith. But the moment you begin to entertain thoughts or ideas which are contrary to God' Word, you have established Plan B as an escape route in case Plan A should fail. You are then committed to two conflicting plans,...
James 1:5-8 reminds us of what then results: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."
Our flesh continues to control us, bringing many thoughts that are contrary to God's thoughts and ways.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). We act according to those thoughts, doing our will and not God's. This then makes us vulnerable to thoughts from outside, both from the world and the devil.
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God" (Romans 8:5-8).
This is why the word of God is so important. Regularly reading, meditating and learning what the Bible says fills our minds with truth, which the Spirit is then able to bring into our minds as we need it. Colin Urquhart, in "The truth that sets you free" says, "If you do not believe what God says you believe something else instead. You have substituted something else for the truth!" Satan, the father of lies, is very happy for us to believe him rather than God, and is constantly feeding our minds with lies, doubts and fears. We then become his slaves, believing we are powerless to control our wayward thoughts.
Paul's instruction to Timothy explains what happens to those who oppose God and shows a way to help them. "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Notice they need repentance to lead them to truth, so they will come to their senses (their mind) and escape from the devil's captivity.
Neil Anderson's definition:
Strongholds are negative patterns of thought which are burned into our minds either through repetition over time or through one-time traumatic experiences. (Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ, p. 160)
John Sandford writes:
By far the most powerful devices by which Satan controls the minds of his victims are individual and corporate strongholds.
Every living thing God creates has a life and free will of its own. So do our minds. Once we have shaped them, they have a will of their own and so not submit willingly to the will of God, or even to our own wills. A mental stronghold is a practice way of thinking that has become ingrained and automatic, with a life and a will of it own. (Healing the nations, p. 151)
They prevent us from receiving the truth, locking us into patterns of thinking bringing destruction both to ourselves, and our relationships with God and others. They are part of our old nature and must be brought to death on the cross. We need to identify the strongholds and practices in our flesh, hate them, repent of them, acknowledging them and confessing them as sin, and then believe they have died with Jesus. It is possible to deal with the fruit of some strongholds quite successfully for a while by discipline and new habits, but we always revert to the old practices if we are pressured, ease up, or get passive. Strongholds need to die. The battle for our mind is not won by self-effort and positive thinking techniques. We need the weapons with "divine power" to defeat the "strongholds" built by us which then have demonic attachments.
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Weapons Against Strongholds
The Word of God - it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16)
Repentance - removes the legal base for Satan's attacks
Personal testimony - humbly sharing, seeking to identify with a person
The Blood of Jesus - through forgiveness and blessing as well as its own power (Revelation 12:11)
Prayer - this applies the blood, the cross and resurrection life of Jesus and enables the hearing of the Word.
The Sandfords write in greater detail about defeating strongholds in others and ourselves in the books listed in the bibliography.
Messages in the Mind
Parent: represents the law
Parent sentences, the 'do's' and 'don'ts' of childhood.
"You'll always ..."
"You should ..." (with a wagging finger)
"Children are ..."
God's law - the ten commandments.
Man's law - governments and authorities.
Moral law and conscience. Inbuilt by God into every human being.
Child: represents the flesh, its desires, wants, feelings. These are often quite legitimate but when the child is in control it demands instant gratification, bringing trouble to the adult.
The Holy Spirit gives us a new spirit when we come to Christ but our minds need constantly to be renewed. (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Philippians 4:8,9). We recognise the conflict Paul speaks of in Romans 7:14-25.
As well as Parent and Child messages feeding into the Adult from within, the World and Satan add their voices from outside.
World: represents expectations to achieve - to conform to custom and culture, and offers excitement and enticement, encouraging the child to gratify fleshly desires.
Satan: represents the deception of Satan and his agents, with lies, half-truths, threats, and accusations bringing into condemnation. Eg. As we are doomed to fail we might as well give up now.
The fifth voice is the One to whom we need to learn to listen. Jesus said it is the truth that brings freedom (John 8:32), and the Holy Spirit will guide into all truth (John 16:13). With the different conflicting thoughts we need to listen to the voice of the Spirit and respond to the Word of God.
The Holy Spirit will strengthen our will to choose rightly; restrain the demands of the flesh; reveal grace where law brings bondage; godly wisdom to handle the world's demands; and strengthen us to resist the devil.
Parent messages, such as "You can't do anything right." and "Nobody will ever love you." are in direct variance to the truth found in the Bible: "I can do all things through Christ" (Philippians 4:13) and "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). As such they should no longer influence our thinking if we are new creations in Christ. But they do. There is a need for forgiveness of the one who caused the hurt, and healing of the emotional wounds before we can effect the necessary change in our thinking. We have already considered forgiveness in greater depth in Lesson 3 - Forgiveness and Repentance, and healing of the emotional wounds that affect our ability to think correctly about ourselves and how we can receive healing in this area of our soul, in Lesson 4. Our will has to engaged and our mind changed to be able to be fully healed.
Learning to Live as an Adult
In our house it is the adult who has to learn to evaluate and make decisions. This is the difference between walking by grace in the Spirit and walking by law in the flesh.
We saw before that it is the truth that sets us free. So healing begins with us acknowledging our feelings and listening to the conflicting voices. We are seeking to be reconciled. In a broader context Desmond Tutu used these words which have a personal application, "Pain and joy both make us who we are. To be whole we must own the bad with the good." (Quoted in New Life 63 (6) 13th July 2000, p. 10)
Feelings are neither right nor wrong. Attitudes, beliefs and actions may be sinful, but the feelings themselves are morally neutral. We need to accept them without condemning ourselves. Be specific about your feelings.
Take time to allow the Holy Spirit to throw light on the source of negative feelings. The greater the intensity, the deeper the root. Confess any sinful response, pray forgiveness, repent of judgments made. (Psalm 51:6)
Examine the ways in which Jesus responded to circumstances similar to your own and ask Him to teach you new ways of thinking and acting.
Because our feelings and thoughts are so intertwined, we often have difficulty even after we have repented of sinful responses, received prayer for the hurts that preceded them, and forgiven those who hurt us. We need to work with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of our mind.
How to Change Our Minds
LISTEN to the voices inside one at a time.
IDENTIFY which voice (parent, child, world, Satan or adult) is trying to control. Acknowledge them and accept both the good and bad parts, and love and forgive yourself. The thoughts are like the identification label attached to the parcel of feelings.
to resist the devil
to test the law
(Romans 7:4; Galatians 2:19)
to deny the flesh
to renounce the world
(I John 2:15-17)
to renew your mind
with the word of God
CONFESS any sin in the thoughts attached to the feeling.
DISAGREE with the wrong and untrue thoughts which have resulted from past experiences and are a distortion of life in Christ. Take captive the thought to make it obedient to Christ. Reject it.
AGREE with the voice of the Holy Spirit and with Scripture. It is his Word, not what someone else says, nor my feelings, that are to be trusted implicitly. Make God's thoughts and attitudes your own. Renew your mind according to His Word. (If you have not chosen to disagree with the wrong you will be unable to live by the right.)
OBEY what God tells you because you love Him.
FREEDOM comes progressively as you recognise you are dead to the law, have crucified the flesh and walk in the Spirit. (Romans 6 and 7 expand on this.)
NB: Old thought patterns take time to dislodge. Repetition of the truth will be necessary for weeks to bring about a renewed mind. The spirit needs to be strengthened and fed truth too. The scriptures, words and encouragements given during prayer ministry are particularly important. "Take daily for 6 weeks after meals" could be a helpful prescription here. See also Hearing God's Voice Lesson 3 - The Power and Anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Satan transmits curses and their inherent power from one generation to another.
Types of Curses
Result of Sin - There is a natural law which comes into effect when a person, through their own sin and rebellion, goes outside the terms of God's covenant and protective blessing, and enters into an area where Satan holds authority, (Leviticus 26:14-46; Deuteronomy 28; 30:19.)
Spoken words - Curses placed on individuals and on their descendants - words of hatred, death, ill-will, continual criticism, (Proverbs 18:21; James 3:9,10)
Self-curses - We can place similar curses on ourselves by speaking out words of self-rejection, self-hatred etc.
Ritualistic Curses - Through freemasonry, cults, witchcraft, which authorise demonic spirits to be active in a person/family's life.
Breaking Ties with Cults, etc. - When a person leaves a cult, freemasonry, or a coven, particularly to become a Christian, they carry the organisational curse for breaking their original initiation vows.
Release from the Effects of Curses
Jesus on the Cross has borne all the consequences that sin and disobedience have brought upon us,
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13,14).
Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in earth, (Matthew 16:19.)
Acknowledge as far as possible the source of the curse.
Forgive those involved, ask the Lord to forgive and then bless them.
Confess and renounce all self curses.
Pray for deliverance from demonic spirits attached to curse.
Cut and break all soul ties to any person that links you to the source.
"Lord Jesus, You were made a curse upon the Cross, that I might be redeemed from the curse and enter into the fullness of Your blessings. I believe that through Your death and resurrection You took upon Yourself every curse that has come upon me. I ask You to now release me, my family and all I hold dear, from every curse and its effects on my life. By faith I receive and thank You for my release".
God has given us the gift of free will, to choose or not to choose. We do not have to make a vow but if we do, we fix our will and subsequently our ability to choose may be impaired in that specific area (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Types of Vows
- Made to or before God
In biblical terms, a vow is a sacred obligation or promise made to God. It is not necessarily a sin to vow or not to vow, but if such a vow is made it is binding - eg. vows made at baptism, confirmation, commissioning, marriage, and religious vows. (Numbers 30:2, 3-16; Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Ecclesiastes 5:4,5)
Jephthah's vow to God for victory in battle meant the death of his only daughter (Judges 11:29-40).
- Made in cults and to false gods
Children are often dedicated by their parents to false gods, false religions, cults, New Age, nature worship, freemasonry, witchcraft, satanic rites, or people make a vow or dedication for themselves. Either way, the person comes directly under the ruling demon of that religion or organization.
- Inner vows
"An inner vow is determination set by the mind and heart into all the being in early life and often forgotten." (The transformation of the inner man, p.192) There are good and helpful ones as well as destructive ones. They resist the normal maturation process. Even the good ones need to be released. They are one aspect of a stony heart (a defence mechanism we believe will protect us from hurt, but which keeps us distant from others). However, they act as directives controlling our responses to situations and people around us. If a vow is made to oneself, (whether for good or for bad), the person comes under bondage to that vow, their will is programmed to an ordained pattern of behaviour and thought, and to associated demonic influence.
Question of Christians Taking Oaths and Vows
The follower of Christ does not need to swear by God's name, but simply speak the truth. (Matthew 5:33)
Caiaphas to Jesus, "I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if You are the Christ the Son of God?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. (Matthew 26:63)
Peter makes a vow to Jesus not to disown Him even if it means his death (Mark 14:29 - 31).
Paul, "I call God as my witness that it was in order… " (2 Corinthians 1:2.)
Paul, "I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie." (Galatians 1:20)
Ministry for Release from Vows Made
Because of the binding nature of vows and the power of the will, this is not a problem the person will eventually grow out of, even if the original vow has been long since forgotten. Until these vows are broken and the person is loosed from them, they will always find difficulty in experiencing total surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18).
Vows made to or before God
Deliverance and victory can only be found at the cross of Jesus.
Confess breaking (even ignorantly or unwillingly) sacred vows made before God.
Receive His forgiveness and ask Him to release you from those vows.
Cut off soul ties with others who were also involved in these vows, loose them from all promises you have made to, and received from them.
"Father please release me from my (marriage/religious) vows, and the vows I made to X--- In Your name, Jesus I loose X---- from the vows (he/she) made to me, I pray you will enable X--- to loose me from the vows I made to (him/her)."
Invite the Holy Spirit to re-program you with His truth and love.
Vows of Dedication and to False Gods
Repent, confess, receive the cleansing blood of Jesus.
If the dedication was made by parents for a child there needs to be forgiveness of the parents as well as personal repentance, confession and cleansing.
"Lord forgive me, I sinned in ignorance. I take back the vows I made or were made over me. I take back the ground I gave to Satan, I renounce his control and submit myself to You, my Lord and Saviour."
Receive deliverance and invite the Holy Spirit to re-program you with His truth and love.
Repent, confess, and receive the cleansing of the blood of Jesus.
Forgive those whose actions caused you to make these vows.
Cut off soul ties as you forgive.
"Lord I take back from myself and from Satan those words/vows I made by an act of my will. Those words were not from You and I refute them."
Ask the Lord to release you from the vow.
Pray for deliverance from demonic spirits attached to vows made.
Replace with positive affirmation of who you are in Christ.
Structural change will often be needed with new habits to be formed and ongoing healing needed to demolish the inner vows which led to hearts of stone, bitter-root expectancies, deep anxieties and fears and the inability to trust.
Colin Urquhart (Explaining deception, p. 8) defines deception as:
Anything and everything that does not agree with the truth. Jesus is that truth: He is the absolute standard of truth. Deception does not recognise Jesus to be who He is, neither does it accept the total victory He accomplished on the cross. Deception comes from believing anything other than what He has said and done.
Anything that is part of our belief system that is at variance with God's truth is deception. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and works through circumstances and situations to sow deception. Paul spoke of the way the devil works.
Preventing unbelievers from hearing the truth by blinding their minds.
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2-4)
Using false teachers to deceive believers, leading them away from the truth. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)
By far the most common deceptions met in prayer ministry are those imbibed in childhood which are foundational beliefs, strongholds that undermine all attempts to receive the truth of the gospel.
Claire Steward writes of the lies that held her captive and how Jesus brought the truth, and with it, she found freedom. ("Defeating the lie & the liar!" pp. 29-30.)
"It's the repetition that does it. Among the lies I was looking at, many were hand-me-downs, passed down from the English heritage household in daily routine. Don't we often notice destructive family patterns, accepting them as inevitable? It can be, partly, the work of lies...
There are many sources of hand-me-down lies. As well as national and family cultures, they can come down through educational, sports and arts cultures, even theological training and church denomination cultures. I started working on finding lies in various contexts years ago. It's a continuous process once you start and always liberating! Some examples are: questionable ethics in employment practices and advertising; the theory of evolution as fact in children's education and the many new age courses available today; doctrines of prosperity and faith, out of context, in church teaching...
As long as Satan can get us to think and act on something that is not the truth, he is happy as it has done its' work as a lie; it has kept us from the truth and wrought havoc in our lives. He started with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:6,7), so the dictionary definition certainly applies to him (John 8:44). But Jesus has a way out for us, and it's up to us to find it and do our bit so that he can heal us and bring order into our lives."
Once the truth has been revealed:
DISAGREE with the wrong and untrue thoughts which resulted from past experiences and are a distortion of life in Christ.
REPENT of believing the lies.
then ASK the Lord to fill your mind with the truth to replace the lies you previously believed.
DEAL with any demons that had attached to the lies you believed were true.
CONTINUE to actively repeat the truth until is becomes embedded in your thinking.
"He who belongs to God hears what God says." (John 8:47)
"You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6)
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)
1 John speaks much about knowing and believing and it provides an excellent foundation on which to build a new belief system. Resource Sheet 10 - Causes of deception gives further teaching on this area.
As the will is strengthened and the mind renewed; and the curses, vows and lies brought to death at the cross, there will be a new alignment in the soul with the Spirit indwelling and directing our spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 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 your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:5-11)
Bibliography and Suggested Reading
- Anderson, Neil T., Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1990.
- Bennett, Rita, Emotionally free. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1982
- Gruen, Ernest J., Freedom to choose. Springdale, Pa: Whitaker House, 1976
- Kraft, Charles, Deep wounds, deep healing: discovering the vital link between spiritual warfare and inner healing. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1993
- Kraft, Charles, Defeating dark angels: breaking demonic oppression in the believer's life. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1993
- Payne, Leanne, The healing presence. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1989
- Sandford, John, Healing the nations: a call to global intercession. Lond: Monarch, 2000
- Sandford, John and Sandford, Loren, The renewal of the mind. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1985
- Sandford, John and Sandford, Mark, A comprehensive guide to deliverance and inner healing. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 1985
- Sandford, John and Paula, The transformation of the inner man. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1982
- Steward, Clare, "Defeating the lie & the liar!" in Christian Woman Magazine vol. 51, No. 4, July/August 2004, pp. 28-30
- Urquhart, Colin, Explaining deception. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1993
- Urquhart, Colin, The truth that sets you free. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993