Are you the person who goes on the bus with a seat and still carries your heavy, bulky backpack on your back, even when the driver kindly reminds you to put it down because it will be a long way to the next stop?
This analogy completely reflects my spiritual life. I was saved as a God’s child (meaning I was on the bus), but I was not free (meaning I still carried my backpack). Even worse, I was miserable because I could not fulfill most of the commandments in the Bible with a genuine heart.
I did want to be a good Christian but I found that I often heard voices like “you just fake to be loving because you still have jealousy in your heart,” or, “it’s impossible for you to be totally selfless because the Chinese saying says, ‘the heaven and earth would be destroyed if a human was not selfish’ ”.
Besides believing the condemning voices, I suffered with depression, self-rejection, low self-esteem, anxiety, control, an angry temper, suicidal temptation, etc. At that time, I did not fully understand the solid Bible truth for transforming my mind. I practiced and knew little about how fortune-telling and astrology are connected with evil and detested by God (refer to 2 Chronicles 33:6). And the human-centered world view plus my own unconfessed sins from my lineage and my heart still haunted me.
When I was in early elementary school, I had never heard about baptism in Christianity. But I sometimes immersed myself in the bathtub that my mom stored water in for cleaning. I wished I could wash away my wickedness after coming out of the water. There’s a temple for worshipping Guan-Gong (ancient Chinese general) near my house. I often went there to play in the big front yard and also accompanied adults to go inside to worship many different idols. The strong smoke of incense and the pictures about hell in the books were the vivid memory about the temple. In my young mind, I remember I often asked myself that if I only worship this god, would I offend the other gods?
When I was 18, in the college, I heard about God’s creation for the first time from the pastor who came to the campus to preach the gospel. I immediately accepted the idea that humans are God’s creation because it solved my long-time puzzle about the theory of evolution which I was taught in high school biology class. After a few months, I was urged by a local house church to be baptized so that I can be saved from the world. Afterwards, I walked my Christian life in the dim light for almost 20 years until I got an opportunity to translate an English speech to Chinese.
This speech was about how to tell the difference between mental illness and demonization. The speaker was a pastor’s wife and a nurse (read her story). I read through her article and asked her if she could pray for me because my situation fitted the demonization as what she described from her experiences in the deliverance ministry. During the counselling time, she gave me a list helping me to identify the sins I committed in the past. It seemed that the light of Holy Spirit shone through my heart and I was reminded of a long list of sins from myself, my family and the sins against me from the religious cult I joined ignorantly as a child, from the curses someone spoke to me, from the sexual harassment by other adults and from the possible sins in my lineage (ancestors).
Nothing dramatic happened during the prayer time. The pastor’s wife told me that I may stop being afraid of something after the deliverance prayer. Then I noticed I did not fear the bitter coldness of the winter in Minnesota for the first time after I moved here for nine years. My spiritual journey was like the blind man in Bethsaida who was brought to Jesus. Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him. The man saw people but they looked like trees walking around. Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes, then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly (refer to Mark 8:22-24). After the deliverance prayer, my eyes are bright and I walk in the full light of God since then.
My story may not be the situation for some Christians who were healed by Jesus and got their eye sight right away like the blind man, Bartimaeus (refer to Mark 10:46-52). But one thing I am sure–God intends His children to be free and joyful in the faith, hope and love, because that’s what Jesus came to do:
“This is why the Son of God was revealed, to destroyed works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
When I look back and wonder how I got here, I know that the long nights in the spiritual life were meant for me to finally surrender myself to God and ask Him to be my Lord, not just Savior in my life so that I can be filled with His Holy Spirit and gain the power with His authority to resist the devil. During the gloomy times, I call upon Him in the day of trouble and He delivers me and I shall glorify Him (refer to Psalms 50:15). I went through the bitterness of being a saved but not free Christian. Then God came through for me and I can savor the full sweetness of living in Jesus.
After I was set free in Jesus’ name, I noticed the gradual changes in my spiritual life:
I am hungry for the Bible’s truth and love to talk to God in prayer. (Psalms 42:1)
I can love God with all my heart after I pray to Him for giving me love. (Luke 10:27)
I make peace with myself and others. (Galatians 5:22)
I learn to discern with the help of Holy Spirit and discard the fault from the cultural/social influence and the lies coming into my thought. I am transformed by renewing my mind by practicing the truth. (Romans 12:2)
I am alert to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. If what I hear does not align with the truth, I resist it right away. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
I learn to fight with Scripture in the spiritual warfare. (Ephesians 6:12)
I have the spirit of power, love and self-control to obey God’s commandments and live a holy life. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch missionary and a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp said:
“Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the birthright of every child of God. But we must make room for Him, even in the hidden corners deep in our hearts. Then we can count on Him who will accomplish His work through us”.
Every child of God ought to be a free and victorious Christian.
If Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed (refer to John 8:36) and you have the power to overcome sins and the freedom not to sin again.
You can learn more from the biblical teaching about the victorious Christian life from the free download documents on this ministry website.