Hi Everyone!! Here Goes… We will just a few more weeks to finish Chapter #2. Suggestions? Comments?
Paul, the Apostle warns us to “not give place to the devil.”[i] This doesn’t mean our enemy can take possession of our lives, but we can allow him to oppress us or set up a stronghold in an area of our soul. The Greek word topos Paul uses here, translated as the English word place in his statement, is a noun defined as “a place, location, any portion or space marked off, a condition or station being held.” Figuratively the word is used as “an opportunity, a power, or occasion for acting.” Paul is telling us that we can give the devil an opportunity to have territory or topography in the way we think and feel.
For instance, if we experience a hurtful circumstance, especially in early childhood, and continually think about it, relive it, and in essence give place to it for any length of time in our thoughts and emotions, we may find ourselves unable to get past the hurt. We may interpret, or allow the enemy to interpret for us, the hurtful situation in the form of a lie about what really happened at the time of the incident.
Lies, unfortunately, are simply easier for us to believe. Choosing the truth about a situation almost always requires faith on our part. Jesus made a big deal about lies vs. truth, bondage vs. freedom, in John 8. In our early childhood, even if we were in the best of Christian homes, we seldom have the ability to process a hurtful circumstance correctly. These wounds may be rehearsed over and over again in our young hearts and minds with the possibility that we may believe the devil’s lies. These lies might concern our worth and abilities, or cause us to have insecurities, fears, or struggles in areas of faith that reach into our adulthood.
Remember, our adversary doesn’t play fair. When we dabble with his lies in our thoughts and emotions for any length of time, they can become like truth to us. This enables an unspoken agreement with them to be made that we may not even be aware is taking place. It is similar to when Paul wrote the Corinthian church not to be yoked with an unbeliever. He states, “what agreement does the temple of God (us!) have with idols.”[ii] Yet, we may create these agreements or unions with darkness anytime we choose a lie over God’s truth. We have opened the door for our adversary to ensnare us.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
When a similar hurtful incident occurs later in our adolescence or adulthood, we may succumb to the reactions, emotions, or thoughts we initially made room for in our youth. When hurts, large or small, take place in our formative years, the enemy can create havoc in our souls – lies about ourselves and about God are his weapons of choice.
Take for example a parent’s divorce. Let’s say a dad or mom walks out the door and life is never the same it once was for the family. One sibling may say, “Good riddance!” and move on, seemingly unscathed by the trauma. The next sibling may believe that it is all their fault that the family split has happened. Sibling number three, may seethe in anger at the unfairness of it all. How the individual interprets the situation or allows the enemy to whisper into their ear can set up a lifetime of hurt whenever similar losses take place in the child’s future– i.e. the break-up of a girlfriend, the loss of a job, or a wayward child. A person may act out in their lives what they falsely believed to be true at the time of the first incident.
The child who believes the break-up of her family was her fault may find the wounds of the past resurfacing when, let’s say, a dear friend cancels a lunch date. Feelings of sadness beyond what might be considered normal arise or possibly they question themselves, “Did I do something wrong?” Tormenting thoughts of self-analyzation may happen as she turns over in her mind where she may have erred causing the friend to break the date. This self-analyzation then spirals into dark places in her mind and heart that may take hours or days to recover from. Sound familiar?
Sibling number three from our example may struggle in adulthood with pornographic images. This temptation seems particularly hard to overcome when he experiences a boatload of blue feelings or disappointment. Self-pity may arise. Pornography, or any harmful indulgence, may be a self-medicating balm that feels deserved because, gosh darn, life is hard and unfair and I deserve some relief!
In their book, It’s Momplicated, about mother and daughter relationships, authors, Debbie Alsdorf and Joan Edwards Kay, relate their own dance with lies about themselves that they carried well into adulthood:
I wish this weren’t my story (Debbie writes). These kinds of life-shaping wounds go deep. My mother left her imprint on me, and it shaped me. And though it wasn’t all bad, I have spent years understanding the impact and unraveling the pain…I sought counseling in my fifties and was surprised to learn that a current situation was triggering feelings of rejection that had developed in my early relationship with my mother…It has been theorized that each of us holds three to five core lies about ourselves or God…[iii]
[i] Ephesians 4:26-27
[ii] 2 Corinthians 6:16
[iii] Debbie Alsdorf, Joan Edwards Kay, It’s Momplicated (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2018) 6, 154,158