I am quickly learning that walking forward in my newfound freedom does not come without a price. I think the verses that speak of dying to self apply most poignantly when a person who understands their freedom in Christ lives in close quarters with one who knows and loves Christ, but does not fully grasp their freedom yet
While my freedom is rooted soundly in the power of what Jesus did on the cross and cannot be taken from me, I am learning more intimately just how our enemy works patiently and skillfully at manipulating it away from us. I have been listening to the audio book by Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind, and as I absorb all she is sharing, her Scriptural insights are hitting me squarely between the eyes. Being free from strongholds the enemy once held in my life means I have stepped right into the line of fire coming in the form of those fiery darts the enemy keeps ready for those who rock his boat.
Those fiery darts are aimed at all my former triggers and weaknesses, and his most deadly are shot from behind the shield of those I love most in this world. If there is one thing I see far more clearly now, it is exactly how much of a coward our enemy really is. I also recognize one of his main tactics, which is to patiently work at distracting us from one major truth; the battle is already won and victory is already secured in our favor.
Now that I am free and far more aware of him, the enemy would love nothing more then for me to focus on battling him. (I say “battling him” because I am fully aware that his desire is to divide me from those I love by battling with them instead of being aware of him). If I am continually focused on how he is attacking and where he is aiming, I leave little time or room in my thoughts to focus on what truly matters. The God who has given me my freedom. And, focusing on Him is the sole purpose of the freedom He paid such a high price for me to have. It is the very thing our enemy would like to rob us all of.
As I continue in this journey of freedom, I am discovering that the only way I will ever keep my freedom is if I keep my focus trained on the One who freed me. This happens when I pursue the renewing of my mind, my will, my emotions, my habits. The reason I invited the Holy Spirit into my soul, being baptized by His fire, is for this purpose. But, He works at my invitation and with my complete cooperation. Being holy, He is perfect at respecting what I am and am not comfortable with and what I desire. He does not move in and simply start redecorating. He moves in and waits for me to ask Him to get involved – and then He only involves Himself in the things I invite Him into.
How the enemy works, at least in my life presently, is by shooting off those fiery darts from behind the shield of those I love most, and often now days in rapid succession, aimed directly at my weakest and most vulnerable triggers. My guess is that his goal is to so bombard me that I forget, or decide not, to invite the Holy Spirit into my responses. That my pain and reflex will still be so great in my memory that I will fall back into the habits I have yet to completely renew. And, that he will do this patiently over long enough a time that I will grow weary, frustrated or forget my new freedom altogether.
This is where I am learning to move into living a life of abiding. Because I do not yet have new habits and because I do not yet even truly understand how to invite the Holy Spirit into my responses timely enough to behave according to the new freedom I walk in, I have to submerge myself in Scripture, in sermons online, in worship music, in audio books on this topic, in repeating the words, “I am sorry” and “I forgive,” and by renouncing every unclean spirit that comes to mind when it comes to mind or stirs within my spirit. As my friend, who introduced me to deliverance, said, “I would rather be casting away spirits that are not there, in the name of Jesus, than living with something that might destroy me in the long run.”
When I first walked through deliverance the freedom I encountered was so real and alive and amazing that everything seemed to be vividly colorful. I couldn’t stop smiling, and I felt like a child discovering simply things all over again. I found forgiving offenses easy – I was so in love with life! Though it hasn’t been very long that I have been walking in freedom, I find that the vibrance has started to dim. When the patient persistence of the enemy’s barrage of cowardly insults and attacks start to take a toll, and me in my child-sized freedom so newly gained, begins to wonder if I have what it takes to survive it all – this is when I understand the vital importance of living a life abiding in Christ. That standing firmly against the attacks of my enemy until he flees from me means to sink deeper into a routine of audio books, sermons online, worship music, group prayer and speaking out all that I am learning in hopes of encouraging and build up others in their faith. To allow the Holy Spirit deeper access within my thought life, my emotions, my will and my habits – to allow Him to request changes and to be willing to make those changes as He enables me.
I looked up the word “abide” and this is what I found. I inserted my own applications of the word as well, and this is what I came up with. This will go on a 3×5 card and kept with me where I can see it.
Abide:( abide by) accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation [Of the Holy Spirit]) ; ([In a renewed] feeling or memory) continue without fading or being lost; [The place for my mind to] live, dwell; to comply with, obey, observe, follow, keep to, hold to, conform to, adhere to, stick to, stand by, act in accordance with, uphold, heed, accept, go along with, acknowledge, respect, defer to [the work and presence of the Holy Spirit within me]; continue[in], remain[in], survive[on], last[through], persist[in], stay[true to], live on[continued learning, hearing, receiving and doing all that the Holy Spirit brings to light]; Tolerate, bear, stand, put up with, endure, take,[the fiery darts of the enemy shot from behind the shield of those I love most, in the love the Holy Spirit pours through my constantly renewed] countenance;