Dirty Little Secrets
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do,
but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15
Do you have a dirty little secret? Some habit, activity or attitude that seems like it has always been part of who you are, but you could never admit it? An area of your life where you just cannot get control? It is something that would bring you shame if people knew, and might even shock them. I think we all have at least one thorn in the flesh we feel we must hide; but of course, God knows…and He loves you anyway.
These hidden areas of our lives are called strongholds - so named because they are like fortresses that we are helpless to overcome in our own strength. You may have done everything you can to stop what you are doing, and you know your life would be so much better without it, but it is just part of who you are...or so you think. You may not even realize how damaging it is. It could be a hidden addiction to porn, cheating on your spouse, promiscuity, drinking too much, stealing, lying, over-eating, chewing your toenails (if you’re a contortionist!) or picking your nose…or it could be something as seemingly innocuous – yet just as difficult to control - as a critical spirit, a judgmental attitude, selfishness, negativity, or an Eeyore complex…oh, woe is me…!
What if I told you there is hope? You really can be free from that thing that brings you hidden shame. How do I know? Because God has set me free from a bunch of them, time and time again. These victories didn’t happen without a lot of work and a major mind-shift on my part - and a lot of help from God - but the first one was the hardest…it was the proving ground.
It began with a simple decision that I did not want to be that person anymore. Even though I enjoyed my guilty pleasure, I knew my life would be better without it. Nothing can get such a grip on you that it becomes a stronghold without giving you some level of pleasure. That’s why it is so hard to give up! I prayed and confessed my behavior to God, asked for His help in being set free from this shame-inducing habit, and then brought it to Him every time I was tempted or caught myself in mid-thought. It helps to pray a stronghold-breaking prayer (*see sample below.) In fact, sometimes that is all it takes. However, most of the time it takes dedicated effort and starts with the decision that you no longer want it to be part of your life.
I will warn you…changing a part of who you are doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel natural. But if you persevere with an honest heart and a deep desire to be set free, God will honor your request and help you overcome it. It will take effort on your part - nothing worthwhile is ever easy - and God wants to know you are sincere in your commitment to be rid of it. But when you give it to Him with an honest desire to be set free, you will soon realize He has broken that stronghold and given you freedom in that area of your life. When He sets you free, you will hardly be able to believe how light and clean you feel. It is liberation beyond belief!
God loves us so much He wants us to be completely free, cleansed of all sin; able to look in the mirror - or into anyone else’s eyes - without shame or any reason for hesitation. He wants us to feel so free and so clean that it is like a water hose has been attached to the top of our heads and washed us clean inside and out. That is what the blood of Jesus does for us. It doesn’t just cover our sin, it erases it for all time so that when God looks at us, He sees us right now the way we will be in Heaven – pure and perfect, without defect or blemish. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you could ever do to make God NOT love you. He IS love - it is His character - and you belong to Him. Ask Him to show you how to get rid of all your dirty little secrets. He wants to set you free!
Prayer: Father God, thank You so much for Your beautifully complete and unconditional love for us. We praise You for Your ability to remove all traces of sin from our lives and for setting us free to live without shame; fully known and completely accepted for who we are. It is through Your great love and the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the Cross that we have the ability to rise above our own humanity and live the lives You designed and created us to live. We praise You, worship You, love and adore You, and we offer ourselves on Your altar so that Your Holy Spirit can live through us to accomplish Your purposes in our lives. Cleanse us today and set us free in Jesus’ name, amen.
“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:41
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2
"It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. The weapons we use in our fight are not the world's weapons but God's powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (GNT)
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
(Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. Please do yourself a favor and read the whole chapter, meditate on it, and internalize its truth for yourself!)
*Sample stronghold prayer:
Father God, thank You for loving me so much, and for creating me in Your image. I confess [insert your personal stronghold here], but I do not want to be that person anymore. I want to be the person You created me to be so I can be set free from sin and shame, and fulfill Your plan for my life, but I cannot do that in my own power. I ask You to forgive me of this sin, cleanse me and cover me with the Blood of Jesus, fill me to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit, and break this stronghold of sin in my life, in the name of Jesus Christ and through the power of His blood. Lord, I ask You to separate this sin from me, break the hold it has over me, and cast it away from me as far as the east is from the west so that it will never return to me again. Send mighty warrior angels to guard and protect me in this battle and set a ring of Your all-consuming Holy Fire around me so that no unholy influence can interfere with this process. Jesus, You are the Lord of my life and I ask You to take this from me now through the power of Your blood and in the mighty authority of Your name. I thank You and praise You that I have the right to ask this as Your child. I love You, praise You and worship You! Thank You, Lord, for setting me free, in Jesus’ name, amen and amen!