My extended family is going through a sort of “sifting”. The enemy is on the prowl, whispering lies, and as a result, I am reminded of the song lyrics, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear.” We are constantly bombarded by noise in our society today, and we must be very careful which noises we actually give credence. It’s often rather easy to detect a worldly message from a worldly source, but what about an ungodly message from a “seemingly” godly source? Some people claim “the voice of God” said this or that to them, and unless you know God’s heart, you might be swayed to believe the words to be God’s when they are not. Obviously, if it conflicts with God’s character in the Bible, it is not His voice. For instance, if you think God is telling you to steal your neighbor’s property, we know this is not Truth because He flat out tells us not to do such a thing (Exodus 20:15).
Unfortunately, this isn’t usually how the “voice of deception” comes to us. The lies of the enemy are only as subtle as they need to be for the individual. So, for those who think they know God, more than likely, the enemy will wrap the lies he feeds them in an element of truth. That’s why deception is so deceiving, because it’s believability is grounded in the bit of truth included with the lie. These are the types of falsehoods that have been perpetuated since the day the serpent hissed his way into the heart of Eve. Now, I might add that God did not tell Adam they would die if they touched the fruit. Eve (probably with a bit of help from Adam) came up with that little “rule” on her own. Humans are really good at making lists of rules aren’t we? Just check out the number of laws we have in America (so many ridiculous ones too) to keep people in line (and it still doesn’t work). So, when the serpent told Eve she wouldn’t die from touching the fruit, that was true. The part about their eyes being opened, that was partly true too. That’s almost like a box of hair color advertising that it will turn your hair a flaming red color… and when used, it actually lights your hair on fire… oh, it’s flaming red alright. My point is, we are quite capable of deceiving ourselves, in addition to listening to the lies of the enemy.
I’m not going to expound on all areas that we may be deceived by a voice other than God’s; However, there is one area, as it relates to strongholds and captivity of believers, that I feel compelled to speak on. Before we go further, I want to make clear that what I’m about to address is to “the believer in Christ”: Romans 10:9-10; John 3:14-16; Romans 4:5; 1 John 5:20; Romans 5:21; John 10:28; Ephesians 2:8-10.
Condemnation vs. Correction
So often we find ourselves held captive in the pit of a stronghold because we haven’t fully embraced “freedom in Christ”. The Bible says that it is for freedom that Christ set us free. He wants us to live victorious lives. He didn’t die on the cross so we could only be saved from “hell fire”. He wanted to rescue us from the law of “sin and death” while we still reside in these temporary vessels. As believers, we often say we believe they’ve been set free, while still sitting in the muck and mire of our personal pit of despair. Something has a death grip on our lives, something that sets itself up against Christ, and we hand over our lives willingly. I’ve found that a lot of the time, this has a great deal to do with the voices we listen to, and the benefit we receive from pit dwelling. Today, I’m not going to spend time on the benefits of pit dwelling, although hopefully, the mere statement that we must benefit to some degree to stay captive, will get you to consider this and make some changes. What I do want to talk about are the voices.
I spent decades listening to the “voice of condemnation” about everything from what I ate for breakfast to how I reacted to others. It would sound something like this:
“I cannot believe you ate that doughnut. Clearly you are a weak, gluttonous person.”
“You are so ugly.”
“Ha ha, you snapped at your sister, see, you are a hateful monster.”
“If they knew you, they wouldn’t like you.”
“You will never be able to forgive.”
“Just give up and die already, you’ll never be good enough.”
“Oh boo hoo, you’re crying again. Suck it up.”
“You are a horrible wife and mother!”
“You didn’t read your Bible today. You are the worst Christian I’ve ever seen!”
Um, yeah, I know what the voice of condemnation sounds like. It’s that voice in your head that keeps driving home the point that either you are a screw up or you do screw up (or both). It’s not a loving voice, it’s one that condemns and accuses with every breath. It’s that voice of hopelessness. “You can’t be any better, so why try”, it says. Sometimes it actually trips you right into the trap of condemnation with something like, “Did you hear what she just said to you? Are you going to let her get away with that?” So you react, and then you get, “Ha ha, you just snapped at your sister again, you really are a hateful monster.” Sigh. This is one of the reasons it matters so much to which voice we listen.
For years, I believed that, at least some of, the condemnation I heard was from God. I mean, He “smote” a lot of people in the Old Testament for some seemingly small things. My reasoning was flawed of course because “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart“. I not only got really good at condemning myself privately, I would also condemn others in my mind. Then, one day, during a Bible study (can’t remember which one), I came across the passage:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
No condemnation? I cannot tell you the frenzy this passage set into motion in my heart. I was headed down the path of legalism, perpetual captivity, and powerlessness, but in that one moment my direction completely changed. I saw that, in my own twisted way, I was actually trying to earn God’s grace by attempting to be “good enough”. The constant berating of myself (and others) was in an effort to be worthy of God’s love, which, if it were even possible, totally negates the need for grace. That was a humbling revelation to be sure. Tenth Avenue North’s song, By Your Side, always brings tears to my eyes because it reminds me of all the searching I did when God just wanted me to fully surrender to His love.
God showed me that verse several years ago, and since then I have discovered so many precious passages confirming the message that the believer in Christ is free from condemnation. It has taken years for me to even begin to understand what “no condemnation” looks like, but I’m learning. I quote that verse in the face of the enemy’s taunts frequently, because in no way do I want to live in condemned captive defeat.
Don’t get me wrong, God corrects His children and we are certainly subject to consequences. He corrects me almost daily. The difference between his voice of correction and the enemy’s voice of condemnation, is that God does so in love, because He is love. His desire isn’t for my defeat, but rather to continually grow me in Him. His voice is that of a loving Father to His child. He corrects with my best interest at heart because He loves me. He tells me that all things are possible with Him. He tells me to put my trust in Him. He reminds me who I am in Christ. He promises that He will never leave me nor forsake me. He offers support even when I stumble. He bestows peace upon me. He takes my burdens. No, God does not condemn His children, He trains and corrects.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! ~1 John 3:1a (NKJ)
Dear one in Christ, if the voice you hear berates, accuses, and condemns… it is not God, but rather Satan. However, if the Voice offers love, hope, healing, life, fruit, and forgiveness in its correction, it is God the Father (Truth).
So little ears, to whom will you listen?