Imprisoned by the C.I.A.
by Mike Evans
If you allow unforgiveness to remain in your life, you will be imprisoned by one of these three traps: Condemnation, Intimidation, or Accusation. An easy way to remember these is the acronym C.I.A.
THE FIRST TRAP: CONDEMNATION
Condemnation means "To pronounce judgment against or to declare unfit for use." I run into people who feel as though their sin is so bad that God will not forgive them. Whatever punishment comes they feel is deserved. In some cases, they cannot forgive those who have hurt them. Still others feel like the woman caught in the act of adultery, the story found in the book of John.
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. "Teacher," they said to Jesus, " this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman (John 8: 1-11, NLT).
Obviously, she was being used by the Pharisees to bait Jesus. She knew her behavior violated the Law of Moses and she also knew that the penalty of adultery was death. Her accusers condemned her and were justified. What do you think she was feeling while standing there? Fear? Degradation? Guilt? Shame? Probably all of these and more. First Jesus dealt with her accusers?and they left. He then turned to her. "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." (John 8:10-11, NLT)
She is suddenly forgiven, free from condemnation. She is no longer facing death. She has been declared not guilty! Just as the Pharisees had a choice when Jesus challenged them, she is faced with a choice.
First, there is the reality of accepting this forgiveness. Did she leave without accepting forgiveness? Did she allow the enemy to keep her trapped under condemnation even though she had been clearly forgiven by Jesus? Satan would find her an easy target for his lies. He whispers messages like, "You really haven't been forgiven. Look at what you did! Do you think God could forgive you after what you've done?" Satan often traps us in condemnation.
Her second choice was in handling forgiveness toward her accusers. Would she release them or carry resentment and bitterness toward them? It could destroy her. She had been spied upon, and then dragged out in public to be degraded. The whole village knew about her affair. Would bitterness and anger keep her in condemnation? Unforgiveness allows condemnation to take root, because it is sin.
Condemnation can take the form of words spoken to us by significant people in our lives. Words such as, "You'll never amount to anything; you'll always be a loser," are like daggers piercing our hearts and can be the very words that promote losing and failing behaviors. We have often prayed with people who heard these words from their parents or other significant people and these words have brought condemnation because they believed them and lived as if they were true.
By understanding who you are in Christ and that you are free from condemnation, you can avoid this trap! Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Satan tries to keep you from understanding the truth of your forgiveness and who you are in Christ.
THE SECOND TRAP: INTIMIDATION
To intimidate means to fill with fear, to coerce, inhibit or discourage by threats. Intimidation often happens after a commitment is made. If the enemy can intimidate you he has won a great victory. He will use any means he can, but most often he uses those around you who are friends or associates.
When I started Wholeness Ministries, there was significant opposition to it. This ministry was birthed with great pain. I was in a traditional Baptist church and the area of physical healing was just beginning to become popular. When we began to move beyond physical healing into the ministries of inner healing and deliverance, there were hindrances. During this time I was trying to learn everything I could about healing by attending seminars, reading books, and following people in the healing ministry. We saw some significant results as we prayed for people. It wasn't long before some people in the church began to raise questions about what we were doing. We were accused of manipulating people, of going against scripture, and were compared to "New Age." Some of the books we were reading and the ways in which the Holy Spirit was manifesting during church services caused this. My integrity was attacked. My motives were called into question. I was asked to defend what we were doing and answer charges made, charges over things I had said or written which were taken out of context. Lies were told that deeply wounded me personally. It was a tough time for my wife and me. We lost some long term friends who couldn't understand what we were doing. I found myself angry and resentful at the people who were doing this and I couldn't understand why. I remember sitting by a river complaining to God about the attacks. I remember saying, "God, why is this happening? All I want to do is pray for people. What's the big deal here? Why can't we just forget about all this hassle over how we're doing what we do and just do the stuff? All I want is for people to get healed."
I found myself becoming angry towards some specific individuals and it began to affect my ministry to people. I even began to question what I was doing. Maybe I was wrong. I was intimidated and became very careful of what I said and did, because I was concerned about attack and having to defend myself. Eventually these are the people who left the church. Looking back on this event I see how easily Satan was using this to manipulate, divide and destroy people. Because of these accusations, I had to work through some unforgiveness issues with people who had hurt me. By granting this forgiveness, I pulled the mat out from under Satan. I released to God those very things Satan was accusing me of?anger, bitterness, and resentment. And God forgave me. If I had allowed Satan to keep me in this trap the ministry we were doing could have very well been destroyed.
Another way Satan intimidates is through Scripture. He uses people in positions of authority to quote verses to you. They will say to you, "It says right here in Scripture that we have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness, purchased with his blood and forgiven for all of our sins." Therefore, according to this reasoning, since I have been washed in the blood, the past is done and I don't need to think about it anymore! This is deadly! This is a trap of the enemy.
While those Scriptures are certainly true, we are not exempt from the consequences of our sins. This includes both those sins we commit and those sins committed against us. We have churches full of people who are angry, jealous and bitter; and people dealing with addictions and compulsions living far from victorious lives. Most of the pain that remains in people's lives has not been able to be released.
THE THIRD TRAP: ACCUSATION
Accusation means bringing charges against someone. We know from Scripture that Satan is the accuser. For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth - the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10 NLT). How many times does Satan try to hinder or destroy us with accusation? He accuses us before God and he accuses us to our face. "Who do you think you are? You are of no value to God. You don't have any power to overcome that sin. You are such a hypocrite. How can you be a Christian and do that?
I was eighteen when my father was killed. I had just graduated. My father was not an alcoholic but on occasion he would go out and come home drunk. One night he went out and didn't return, so my mom went out looking for him. She found him outside a bar, brought him home and then took him to a hospital after she determined he was seriously hurt. We learned later that he was beaten outside a local bar in my home town. He died a week later from the blows to his head. At the legal hearing the entire case was dropped and the men were acquitted due to lack of evidence. I felt very betrayed by the judicial system. I was angry at the police, the sheriff and the judge. As a result, I began to distrust and rebel against authority, especially anyone associated with the legal system. I was angry at my father. I blamed him for going out, getting drunk and for getting into a fight that left me without a dad. It was a crucial time in my life and I felt abandoned and lonely without my father.
I was angry with God for taking him. I couldn't let God love me deeply and intimately, nor could I respond to Him, because I didn't want to risk getting hurt again. I found it difficult to get very close to other men; thus, most of my friendships were very superficial. I kept my guard up. It took a number of years before I was able to let the hurt and pain surface. After I faced it and dealt with it before God, I could then accept God's love and let others become close to me. Only after this healing was I able to get on with my life and move into an intimate relationship with God and others. God was then able to use me as a channel of His love.
Amazingly, I was in full-time ministry for many of those years. I was supposed to have an intimate relationship with God, I was supposed to be open and loving, to know how to help people move into loving relationships through forgiveness. Instead, I had given the enemy ample opportunity to accuse me, which made me pull back because of the anger I was hiding. Satan stands before God at any opportunity to accuse you and he takes every opportunity you give him to encourage you to hold onto unforgiveness.
If we have been trapped by Condemnation, Intimidation or Accusation, we are faced with a question?and the answer either traps us or brings us freedom. The question we all must answer is, "Will I forgive those who hurt me or not?" What will your answer be?
This article is taken from Mike Evan's newest book, Before You Get Here: Baggage to Drop On Your Way to Heaven, a book on inner healing.
|¯Mike Evans is the founder of Wholeness Ministries in Bakersfield, CA and is also on the National Advisory Board of CHM.||¯|