About a week or two ago, I felt myself giving into feelings of anger like I hadn't for years. Understand, I am not an angry person. I am very easy-going and usually, if something bothers me, it brings me to tears -- not rage! So, this particular explosive emotion inside of me was very peculiar to me and unexpected.
As a child of God, I know that God desires the repentance of all people. God loves the whole world, not just the "righteous." Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. I should have a heart of compassion for all people, not a passion for revenge. So, I put the angry thoughts out of my mind as best as I could.
But, interestingly, I noticed that over the next week or so, I continued to have bursts of rage that were out of the norm and somewhat irrational. Take one example: My 2-year-old son was pulling a little table a short distance so that he could better reach the things on it. I saw that the table was threatening to tip over, and I impulsively yelled at my son with a harsh voice to stop it. In the process, I ended up projecting the things I had in my hand across the room because I so forcefully reached to halt the table. Not knowing what came over me, I immediately apologized to my son, gave him hugs and kisses, and told him that I loved him. This episode lodged in my mind, and I was greatly disturbed.
A few days later, I was praying in tongues (as I make it my habit while driving), and I had the thought that I needed to cast out a spirit of rage. This seemed completely off the wall, but given the explosive impulses I had experienced over the previous week, I decided to give it a shot. I declared my position in Christ, I declared Christ's authority over my life, and I commanded the spirit of rage to depart in Jesus's name. I immediately felt a sense of relief.
That was several days ago, and I have not had any explosive impulses of rage since then. Of course, only time will tell. But it makes me wonder... Do Christians (in general) underestimate the influence of evil spirits in their lives? Are there chronic problems that we face that we try to deal with by counseling or medication but that really ought to be dealt with spiritually? In the Bible, we see that a boy suffered from epilepsy because of the work of an evil spirit (Mark 9:14-29). It also appears that King Saul suffered from violent outbursts when an evil spirit came upon him (see 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 1 Samuel 18:10-11). We know that an evil spirit frequently visited Paul in order to tempt or torment him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), so it looks like those who are born again are not exempt from the wiles of evil spirits (see Ephesians 6:11, 1 Peter 5:8). Why else are we warned to resist the enemy (James 4:7), unless it is because we can actually succumb to his oppression?
I think that the spiritual realm is more real that most American Christians take it to be. And I think that many Christians lose battles because either they don't realize that there is a battle at all, or else they fail to fight with spiritual (not carnal) weapons. Through Christ, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), and He has provided us access to His Spirit of power (Acts 1:8) to overcome all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). But Paul reminds us that we need to continuously be filled with the Spirit of God (or, we should "keep on being filled," see Ephesians 5:18 -- note Greek verb form). God's Spirit, dwelling in us, is our protection against the schemes of the enemy. It is through God's Spirit that we have power unto victory, and it is through the authority of Christ that we can declare the good news that God's kingdom is near. Jesus has purchased freedom for all those who enter God's kingdom -- therefore, we know that we have the victory in Christ every time!
Are you struggling with something -- either a chronic physical condition, mental condition, or habit of sin -- as a child of God? Let me encourage you that freedom is possible, and that God wants you to be free. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5-10). God is a good God -- do you believe that? God gave His own Son to save us; how will He not, along with Him, also give us all things (Romans 8:32)? Let's all start pursuing the freedom that we have in Christ to the fullest.