When I was younger I was so zealous to be free of my sin, I think I would have done anything. Before we were married, I drove my wife an hour into some dump in New Jersey to a church that specialized in deliverance. They proceeded to cast the devil out of us and encourage us to read John Bevere books, but I don’t think anything happened, excepted creeping out my bride to be. I resorted to this sort of thing because I knew we both had problems that needed help, and I thought if I could just get a lightning strike from heaven, it would get fixed. I thought it was bad enough that it must be a demon, so all I needed was somoene who really could cast one out and I’d be great.
After a long time in searching these things out, I’d like to offer a basic reason why many people struggle: they are fighting against themselves. Many people try to fix the fruit of a problem without fixing the root of a problem. When you cut out the root, you’ll get somewhere. Now there are different kinds of roots, but the one I’m thinking of specifically is your real belief about something.
Simple example for men. So you see a worldly woman, and you look at her, and you think, “Boy she’s attractive.” That’s true, right? Wrong. She’s not attractive. The Bible says she’s a one way ticket to destruction. Does that sound attractive to you? But when you look at her, you have these feelings, and then you think these irrational thoughts. The battle is really to keep a Biblical view of these women. If you already think they are attractive, then you will have a compulsion to run after them, because underneath you’re starting with a lie. When you develop and maintain a Biblical view of beauty, no one will be more attractive than the wife of your youth.
Or say you have trouble confronting your children. Now you “believe” in strict discipline but yet you can’t confront them. You can spend all of the effort in the world, but you won’t be able to confront them. The reason is because deep down, there is some false belief which keeps you from confronting them. Perhaps you think it would be damaging to them to tell them to make them feel bad. As long as you believe that, you can forget being able to confront them.
Last example, let’s say you go to bed too late like me. Now you can say to yourself “I need to go to bed earlier” but you really don’t believe it. When you really believe it, you’ll start doing it.
So our beliefs are very powerful. And many times we don’t realize that we have put some kind of veneer on what we really believe about something deep down. And that thing we believe deep down is out of line with the Word of God, but what we believe on the surface is correct. This is the essence of what it means to be in works. When you change your heart, that behavior stuff is not too hard, because all of your actions flow out of it. The solution is to identify what the false beliefs are deep down and repent of them. Then instead of behavior modification you have personal transformation.
This is not to dimish the role of relationships, systems, your past, or demonic presences. Those all have their place, but this is I believe a major missing key for a lot of people. They are trying to “fix” themselves on the outside, without changing their hearts on the inside. They don’t even realize that this is the case, but it is. If you think it might be you, then the first step is to get really honest with yourself and find out if you are not in fact your own worst enemy.