J found joy and purpose in serving actively in church but was angry and frustrated once he was on his own. Here is his testimony of being set free from invisible chains from past hurts that used to hold him back from experiencing spiritual freedom. Praise God!
I was prepared to remain in anger and frustration, thinking that the problem was everybody else.
The smallest of acts – being bumped into, not sharing the footpath, doing something bad or not doing something nice – would affect me. I saw the world heading into a dark place and people caring only for their own interests. No common courtesy, no thank you, no excuse me. What happened to respect, care and responsibility? Without realising it, I was constantly brewing angry tea in judgement against people around me on a daily basis.
I felt ‘called’ to use my self-righteous anger to fix the world and teach them the way of love. I became a judge and a vigilante rule enforcer. Passive aggression became small acts of active aggression. And I was constantly exhausted and frustrated.
In fact, I was becoming just like the people I despised.
I was gently encouraged by my fiancé to go through a renewal prayer to get rid of my junk. Blinded by self-righteousness, shame and guilt, it took some time before I agreed. There was a fear that if I went through with this, I would have to become a Christian push-over, where I would have to ‘turn the other cheek’ and let people step all over me.
Suffice to say, this was wrong thinking. I am to choose my battles wisely – against my true enemy, Satan – not other people who need Jesus as much as we do. I learnt the importance of being vigilante over my own thoughts, not over other people’s actions. Ungodly thoughts can be triggered by forces in the spiritual realm, when we hold on to sinful patterns we develop through our past experiences.
The renewal prayer process helped me see all this. It involved digging out the past, repenting, and asking God for forgiveness for many things.
Painful memories, no matter how tightly held or forgotten, will invariable surface in our lives.
I vividly remember being called into my sister’s class as a six-year-old. Humiliated and crying, I was forced to apologise for a fight with her at home – in front of a class of laughing students. Twenty-seven years later, the anger and resentment towards that teacher were as poignant as ever. This experience led me to have a deep disdain for people of influence and power whom I judged as incompetent. This scorn eventually spread to all around me.
My judgemental views were driven further by my “Christian” circles. The young adults in a church I attended were constantly drunk and slanderous. One would even come out as gay. I saw them as liars, hypocrites and fakes, and started to doubt Christians.
In giving up on my faith and God, strongholds of anger, hatred and judgement became the driving force in my life.
There was no room for compassion, love nor redemption. I was my own benchmark of moral success, as my mind focused on excellence. I began seeing people as callous, lazy, self-serving and insular. My dreams of people loving their neighbours, feeding the poor and being responsible moral leaders disappeared. God’s truth about people became irrelevant. Without renewal prayer, I wouldn’t have realised all this as I was blinded by my own moral compass.
Prayerfully, I dealt with painful memories by releasing forgiveness to the teacher, my sister, those from my old church and other people in my life. Luke 6:28 says to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” and I was asked to speak blessings over them.
This was a powerful experience as I sensed my heart soften.
I was even able to pinpoint where Jesus was in the classroom during my greatest moment of vulnerability. He was there right beside me. The desire for revenge and justice dissipated as I released all my pain to Jesus.
I always knew that Jesus promises a life of freedom. But I hadn’t known this freedom and was curious to know how it would happen. After the cleansing and rebuking of several spirits such as anger, judgement and self-righteousness, I found that the angry thoughts that lived in my head were no longer there!
My spiritual eyes were opened to all the hidden poisons that had amassed inside me.
Now I can walk the streets and not mentally judge everybody around me. Whilst I’m not free of this environment, I am beginning to experience the freedom that Jesus promised. It is a freedom from the poisonous junk in my own head. And I see goodness everywhere I look; the gentle smile of the domestic helper, the helpful vegetable stall owner, the street cleaners who sweep with passion. This has been a remarkable transition in a matter of hours from the renewal prayer.
Dark spiritual forces operate to steal, kill and destroy our freedom in Christ, just as the Holy Spirit gives us life. He enables us to receive forgiveness and healing, and then release His grace to others.
We remain in His freedom when we do the Bible says; to bless and not to judge others.
This will be an interesting and challenging new chapter of my spiritual life. Satan will continue to bombard me with evil thoughts and attempt entry into my head. However, through Jesus, I now have the structures, resolve and experienced the freedom to remain rid of them.
John Newton wrote Amazing Grace in 1779. Over 230 years later, these words remain true for me – “I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.”