Have you ever had a night where sleep eludes you as you toss and turn worrying about past mistakes? I know I have. It seems like as soon as I let one of those memories of past failures, or even perceived failures, into my mind a flood gate opens, and all of a sudden every mistake I have ever made comes rushing back. If I don’t stop those thoughts as soon as they start I begin hearing in my mind words like: “Failure”, “ Who do you think you are?”, “ Pretty soon everyone is going to know you aren’t good enough”, “God could never move through someone like you”, “People just put up with you because they have to”, “You drag everyone around you down”, “People are probably shaking their heads or laughing at what you said”, “ You are just the same loser you have been your whole life, and no one will ever take you seriously”. Then I start hearing “ Well if you prayed more, read your Bible more, and were more spiritual you wouldn’t have been in this situation.” If I don’t take authority over these thoughts soon I begin to feel not only that this is how everyone else sees me, but how God sees me as well. A night like this can leave you feeling not only tired, but discouraged, powerless, and very alone. What can you do in these moments when you feel paralyzed by self doubt? What can you do when sleep won’t come and the accusations won’t stop? How can we be assured that this isn’t the voice of God? How can we overcome in the middle of the battle? This is what I want to address in today’s blog.
It is important to realize that when you are feeling like an onslaught of accusations are coming against you, that is exactly what is happening. You are in the middle of a spiritual battle. Revelation 12:10 says that the devil is our accuser. He delights in bringing up past sins and mistakes because if he can get you focused on your past he knows that you will not be able to successfully press forward into all God has called you to. He wants to destroy you, leaving you in a puddle of self hatred and doubt. If we doubt who God has called and created us to be we often tend to pull back from our calling out of fear. The first step in winning this battle is knowing that you are actually in a battle. The Bible says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8 NIV) We have to be aware of his tactics. He doesn’t always hit us with something obvious. He can be very subtle, just like planting that first thought about failure as you lay down at night. If we do not recognize this thought for what it truly is, a fiery dart, and do not close the door of our mind we leave ourselves vulnerable to a full attack. This attack can leave us doubting ourselves and even how God sees us. As a believer you have the authority to silence the enemy. James 4:7 says that if we resist the devil he will flee.
How can we know that these thoughts are from the enemy and not from God drawing us to repentance? To answer this we need to grasp hold of the fundamental understanding that God is a good Father. If we can get a revelation of God for the good Father that He truly is there will be no doubt that any thought that brings despair, depression, or discouragement does not come from Him. When we understand what Christ purchased for us at Calvary we can begin to see ourselves the way that our Heavenly Father does. The Bible says: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” ( Romans 3:23). It does not say for all are sinners. We need to recognize who we are. Once we have come into the Kingdom of God through accepting the gift of salvation we are no longer sinners, we have become saints. The Bible says that old things have passed away, all things have become new. I commonly hear in Christian circles the phrase, “ I am just a sinner saved by grace”. This phrase is often used when someone is talking about their failures. I feel that preparation for the battle needs to start with how we talk about ourselves. We were sinners saved by grace, but now that we are in Christ we are a new creation. We need to recognize that Jesus purchased our redemption from the kingdom of darkness, and sponsored our citizenship through His blood, into the Kingdom of God. Colossians 1:12-14 “ always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” If you declare over yourself, and believe that you are just a sinner, it becomes difficult to recognize the accusing voice of the enemy because it lines up with what you already believe about yourself. The first step in winning this battle is to begin declaring who you are in Christ. You are no longer a sinner, you are a saint. You may make mistakes, but that no longer defines you. If you are just a sinner you are going to sin, it is in your nature. If you are a saint (a citizen of the Kingdom of God) sinning is outside of your nature. You may stumble, but that does not mean that you are now a sinner. I have a United States passport that declares to everyone where my earthly citizenship is. I may travel overseas, but that does not make me a citizen of that nation. I can always come home because that is where my citizenship lies. As believers our citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. When we do miss the mark, make a mistake, or sin, Holy Spirit is there to remind us of who we are in Christ, of where our citizenship is, and that our actions are not part of our new nature in Christ. Repentance should come from a place of love for our Father and those around us, not out of a place of despair, or self loathing. Here is an example. When I have had a rough day and speak unkindly to my husband or children I apologize, not out of fear that they will stop loving me, not out of despair or depression, but because I love them and want to begin to repair the breach in our relationship that I caused when I spoke unkindly. Repentance is the first step. This is the same with our Heavenly Father. When we do sin the Bible says that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness ( 1 John 1:9). The Bible also says in Psalm 103: 8-13 ( NLT):
“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
Did you get that? He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Our sins, once we have confessed and asked forgiveness, are gone. God does not bring up our past mistakes because to Him they have been blotted out by the blood of His Son. I love how the Passion Translation describes this in Psalm 139: 5
“You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.”
Our loving Father has not only made plans for our future, but has gone behind us to spare us from the harm from our past mistakes. It does not mean that there are not consequences in the natural for our sin. If you are speeding and get a ticket you are still going to have to pay the fine. However, satan no longer has the right to continue to bring up past mistakes that have been covered by the precious blood of Jesus.
So what can you do when you are having a night like I described, a night where it seems like every past mistake is rushing at your mind at warp speed? First, take a moment to recognize where these thoughts are coming from. Second, if there is something that you need to confess and ask forgiveness for, do it. Then begin to resist the attack. Remember, when we resist the devil, he will flee. How? Begin by praising God that you have been forgiven. Thank Him that He has gone before you to prepare the way and that He has followed behind you to spare you from the harm of your past. Declare out loud that God has a purpose and a plan for you. (Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 57:2) Declare who you are in Christ because of what Jesus purchased for you on the cross.
(2 Corinthians 5:17; 20-21, Colossians 1:22, Romans 5:1, 1John 5:18 Ephesians 1:4,
1 Corinthians 2:16, 1 Peter 2:9 ) Finally cover yourself with His peace. ( Phillipians 4:7)
Remember, you are who God says that you are. Your mistakes do not define who you are today. The enemy of your soul has no grounds to accuse you, for your forgiveness was purchased at a high price, the blood of Jesus. You have the authority to stand and defeat any attack of the enemy.