Chapter 13- Renouncing Sin
So many Christians hear about freedom from sin and want to experience that freedom but never really reach a place of victory over it…why?
…God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, 7Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.
Is there a difference between repenting of sin and renouncing our connections to the strongholds that were created in our lives as a result of a lifetime of submitting to sin? I believe that there is a difference and I am also convinced that this may be a significant reason why Christians, who have been postured for freedom from sin through Salvation in Christ, still live out their lives, bound by sin. It’s not that Christ has not provided freedom, it’s that they have not exercised their God ordained authority and broken the stronghold that has been given authority in their life and allowed to operate. This is literally a case where Gods people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…
In a previous chapter we discussed the importance of Repenting of sin and loosely defined repentance as asking God for forgiveness and turning 180 degrees away from the sin. However, since that chapter we have also discussed the topic of areas where Satan has established strongholds in our lives both through doors that we have opened and also through generational strongholds that are often handed down from generation to generation like Exodus 34:6 is addressing above when it states; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.
Many times these strongholds have left us with a feeling or even an understanding of forgiveness after we became saved but lacking a sense of victory over them because we have continued to fall into many of the vices that we previously struggled with before we became a Christian. This often occurs even when our staunchest desires and efforts have been to NOT succumb to that sin again. And when we do, we feel powerless to overcome sin.
In this chapter we are going to discuss what I believe to be the KEY to freedom in our lives in the area that we previously defined as a spiritual Stronghold, and that key is …
Definition of RENOUNCE
1: to give up, refuse, or resign usually by formal declaration
2: to refuse to follow, obey, or recognize any further
The areas of sin that we have called strongholds are absolutely forgiven once we have invited Christ into our lives and asked God to forgive us of them. But just because we are forgiven and just because our freedom has already been purchased, it does not mean that we have released the sin or that we will automatically walk free from sin or be released from strongholds that we have always struggled with, allowed to exist and many time even invited into our lives through our actions and agreements.
Most of us have spent a lifetime holding on to, protecting and even nurturing these stronghold areas and as a result, these strongholds have almost become a part of who we are. Then, we find ourselves having difficulty embracing what God has for us and what is truly our inheritance (our freedom in Christ), because we are still holding on to or being ruled by the strongholds of our past. In this chapter today I want to explain how we release those strongholds and embrace our new Godly inheritance of freedom.
The way we need to look at our new found relationship with Christ is much like an immigrant to a new country would look at their new citizenship in that country.
I live in the United States of America. In our country we have specific laws that must be followed in order for a foreign emigrant to become a US citizen. Much like the spiritual freedom from sin’s oppression that people experience when they become a Christian, people who have lived under oppressive governments will often come to the United States in hopes of experiencing the liberty and freedoms that we enjoy as US citizens. However, there is a process that must take place in order for those freedoms to be inherited and this process transcends the physical by applying also to our spiritual parallel.
There are some who visit this country on work visas or student visas and for a short time experience life in the United States but just because they have temporary residence here does not make them a citizen of our country. As a result, they do not experience all of the rights or benefits of that citizenship. They taste the freedom, and many times they want the freedom, wishing they could live it in all the time but cannot live permanently under the umbrella of our freedoms because they are still citizens of another country and bound by the rule of that government according to their citizenship. And because they are not citizens here, at some point they must return to the country where their citizenship resides and submit to the rule, laws and often times oppression of their leadership. Many also have lived a christian life that felt like this… It’s as if they are operating under a temporary visa, and returning back to bondage after tasting limited freedom… But this is not what God intended for us!
Citizenship entitles you to certain benefits
I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 22 who was a Roman Citizen by birth. In his day, Rome was the world’s superpower and Roman citizens experienced rights that superseded even the rights of those who lived in other countries that were under Roman rule. In this particular chapter, the apostle Paul was ordered by a Roman commander to be beaten.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Paul Reveals His Roman Citizenship
24 The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious. 25 When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer[a] standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?”
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”
27 So the commander went over and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I certainly am,” Paul replied.
28 “I am, too,” the commander muttered, “and it cost me plenty!”
Paul answered, “But I am a citizen by birth!”
29 The soldiers who were about to interrogate Paul quickly withdrew when they heard he was a Roman citizen, and the commander was frightened because he had ordered him bound and whipped.
When the commander found out that he had consented to beat a naturally born Roman citizen he was terrified of the repercussions because he understood the legal inheritance of those who are citizens of Rome. This soldier did not have the same rights that Paul had because he was not a Roman born citizen, he purchased his citizenship at great price and his actions against the apostle Paul could have cost him dearly.
Just like Paul, our heavenly citizenship carries significant entitlement and in a comparable manner, we have the authority as citizens to demand our God given rights… We used to reside under the oppressive rule of sin but now have been provided freedom through our relationship with Christ. In essence, Christ purchased our new citizenship for us. However, this does not mean that we WILL walk in freedom just because we have it at our disposal! Like Paul, sometimes we have to demand our rights and call upon the authority of our citizenship!
I’ve met MANY Christians who love Jesus and are absolutely saved but are still completely bound by strongholds of sin in their lives. Many of them simply do not even realize that they can actually walk outside of the bondages that they have always experienced!
I would liken it to someone who immigrated out of a very oppressive communist government into the United States and are now afforded all of the available liberties of our country but still act like someone who lives under tyranny. That kind of bondage supersedes the freedom that is rightfully theirs. It is a stronghold that has come to rule their life and keeps them from experiencing the freedom that is theirs by divine inheritance.
I’ve heard a statement that parallels what I am talking about. Have you ever heard someone say, You can take the kid out of the street but you can’t take the street out of the kid in reference to people who grew up dirt poor, then make money or come into some money but continue to act just like they did before they had the money… Now of course, this is not an absolute or even necessarily a rule of thumb, but it does adequately convey the perspective of a stronghold that I would term in this case a poverty mentality.
When someone becomes a citizen of a new country, one necessary action that must be taken is renouncing his or her former citizenship. You cannot become a legal citizen of one country if you still hold citizenship or allegiance to another. When renouncing your former citizenship you break ties and the rights of that country to have jurisdiction over you. You are no longer under their rule and also are no longer bound by their laws outside of their borders.
What often happens in Christianity is that people live what I will term a dual citizenship. They ask for forgiveness of sin, they repent and attempt to turn away from sin because they want Christ to rule in their lives, but they have not completely renounced the citizenship of their past and as a result attempt to live within the laws of both systems. They still have strongholds at work in their lives that have been there for as long as they can remember and many times they feel almost powerless to obtain victory over them.
It’s almost like becoming a citizen of a new country but having bullies from the former government contacting you constantly to threaten and discourage you from your new found freedom with accusations of how bad you are, how many mistakes you have made, how impossible it will be for you to live within the guidelines of your new citizenship and even with threats of, if your new government finds out who you really are, they will deny your citizenship and deport you back to your former oppressor! It is quickly understood when we try to live under this dual citizenship, that we cannot serve two masters. The difficulty lies in the understanding that we want to do what is right but we are too used to doing things under the old rule and strongholds. Even though we have taken the kid out of the street the street, the strongholds resulting from a lifetime of being raised under those strongholds are still ruling the kid…When you enter your new citizenship with the baggage and mentality of the old citizenship then, truth be told, you haven’t really COMPLETELY renounced your former citizenship and the strongholds from of the past.
Speaking to the Mountian
Mark 11:12, 19-25
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Clears the Temple Courts
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry… 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[a] went out of the city.
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[b] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
I love this scripture! Jesus is using a practical example one day to set up a lesson for the next day. On the first day, Jesus is hungry and goes up to a fig tree for something to eat. When he sees that there is no fruit on the tree he speaks to the tree and curses it with His words. Then, on the following day there is an opportunity to teach His disciples a very valuable lesson.
Peter, sees the tree that Jesus cursed just 24 hours before and now it is completely shriveled up! He’s blown away! Jesus then goes on to teach Him a lesson about mountains in our lives. He tells Peter, IF you will speak to the mountains in your life and command them to be gone and believe God to act on your behalf according to what you have said, then it WILL happen!
We have all opened the door for sin and strongholds to operate in our lives. Most of us have also grown up in environments where doors to strongholds were also opened by those in authority over us and we were simply taught to operate under the authority of those strongholds by the example of parents and leaders who themselves were bound by a generational stronghold.
Either way, these strongholds have been like Mount Everest to us! They have stood in our way and impeded our progress our entire lives and we have grown so accustomed to it being a part of our life’s geography that we have simply assumed that it marked the border of our progress and citizenship.
Jesus was exampling something specific to Peter in this passage of scripture. He told Peter, SPEAK to the mountain and command it to be removed and pray, believing that you will receive what you pray for and you will have it! The boundaries and borders set up by strongholds have never been God’s boundary or border for you! They have marked the boundary that Satan placed in your path to keep you from ever progressing beyond that point!
God’s citizenship expands your previous borders and the only thing standing in your way is your perception of the border, or perhaps better put your perception of the liberty and authority you possess as a result of your new citizenship!
Too often, we are much like the elephant who has been bound with a chain in its youth until its spirit is broken and it just believes that it cannot get out of the bondage. Once it is broken and convinced that it is bound, it can be held captive with a small rope, because it does not realize or believe that it has the ability to be free. In that perception lays a satanic belief system that was designed to keep you from your destiny as it contradicts the Word of God that says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! The believer who does not believe that he can do all things through Christ…WON’T!
Jesus was confronting a belief system with Peter as it pertained to mountains in our lives! He was saying, Peter, you can be free simply by confronting that stronghold (mountain) in faith and commanding it to be removed from your path! Like Peter, each of us are given that authority to confront sin and strongholds and command those mountains to be removed from our lives! It is our inheritance to walk in freedom from sin!
You have a new citizenship and in that citizenship comes new authority over what previously bound you! The thing that I see holding people back and forcing them to live under the bondage of lifelong strongholds is that most often, they are trying to live a dual citizenship. Under dual citizenship, you are ruled by two systems of government. Sin still has rule over you because it hasn’t been renounced and then God also has rule over you because you have given your life to Him. When this happens it feels as though we are being torn apart spiritually because we are serving two masters!
Renouncing citizenship in one country allows you the liberties of another but there is not a spiritual dual citizenship that experiences or entitles you to all of the benefits of both… It simply does not exist in the spiritual realm…and you have to choose your side!
Choose your side!
I’m confident, if you have reached this point in the book, your desires are to live free from the strongholds of your past citizenship under sin. The good news is, you can… and if you really desire to, you WILL walk in freedom!
Christ already purchased our freedom, but even in Mark chapter 11, Jesus didn’t say, become a Christian and serve me and the mountains will move. Jesus commissioned Peter to action! He told him to SPEAK to the mountain under his new authority in Christ and command it to be removed, then He told him to pray about his needs and desires in faith, believing God will answer his prayers and finally he told him to forgive anyone he had anything against.
There is authority over sin on God’s side! Our citizenship affords us rights and liberties far beyond that of our former citizenship! Now is the time to renounce your former citizenship! If you are sick of living bound by sin and defeated by the strongholds established in your past, you can be free! Are you ready to renounce your former citizenship and the bondage that accompanied it once and for all?
Renouncing your former citizenship
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
New King James Version (NKJV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Although our strongholds and mountains often have come in the form of people exercising their own free will to choose sin and give us hell on earth, the root of what is coming against us is not physical…It is spiritual! It does often have physical attributes and consequences, but the real battle is a spiritual one!
Because strongholds have spiritual roots we must address them from a spiritual perspective and then the spiritual victory will also produce physical results in our lives.
Jesus physically spoke to the fig tree and the tree dried up. Then Jesus told Peter speak to the mountain and it will be removed. Although these issues are being addressed with words, Jesus was showing us that our authority in this earth is linked physically and spiritually to our spoken words and prayers through our authority in Christ Jesus.
This is why I am convinced that there is vital importance to renouncing sin and directly confronting strongholds with our words! Jesus said to speak to the mountain and it will be removed and for most of us, our biggest mountains are the strongholds that have been established in our lives over a lifetime! These mountains or strongholds have represented the border that has impeded our progress our entire lives! Every time we reach a certain point, it is this same stronghold that caps our progress and keeps us from our God ordained destiny…and it is high time that those mountains be cast into the sea so that we can move on into our next level of victory!
As we have addressed in previous chapters, the bible says that we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
32And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
This is a perfect example where the truth of God’s Word shines a light on an area of our lives where we have been in darkness and bondage and shows us how to walk in new freedom! For many of you reading this, your are hearing about strongholds and freedom from them for the first time in your life and understanding this truth has lead you to a place where you not only understand that there is freedom but now you won’t settle for less than what you know is yours!
1 John 5:14-15
Amplified Bible (AMP)
14And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. 15And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.
It is time to renounce your former citizenship and break the power of the strongholds in your life! Are you ready?!
In order to do this, I would like you to first get a pen and a piece of paper and I would like you to write down every area in your life that you can think of that you have had difficulty overcoming. I’m listing below some of the stronghold areas that people experience. Go through and place a circle around the ones that apply to you in your life and then write them down on your paper. If you can think of something from your past that is applicable but is not listed write it down on the paper as well. And even before going through this list, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas that you may have had strongholds binding you and perhaps forgotten.
Strongholds of Fear (timidity, low self-esteem, worry, anxiety, fear of failure, fear of man (what people think of you), phobias, fear of abandonment, fear of men (because of abuse), fear of women, fear of authority,
Strongholds of witchcraft (black magic, white magic, wiccan, channeling, fortune telling, Satanism…etc)
Strongholds from sexual sin (adultery, lust, rape, molestation, pornography, fornication, prostitution…etc)
Strongholds of Repetitive Sicknesses (infirmities, repeated health problems…etc)
Strongholds of bondage (Drugs, alcoholism, cigarette addiction, co-dependency, pornography addictions, food addictions, addicted to specific sins…etc)
Strongholds of Pride (Vanity, arrogance, controlling, overbearing, judgmental, rude, egotism, prejudice, domineering, self-righteousness, stubbornness, contentiousness…etc)
Strongholds of Religion (atheism, agnosticism, false religions, false teachings and legalisms…etc)
Strongholds of Heaviness (depression, despair, continual sorrow, hopelessness, shame, abnormal grief, continual sadness, loneliness, feelings of rejection, unjustified guilt, whining, cynical, discouragement, brokenheartedness…etc)
Strongholds of Deception (lying, hypocrisy, legalism, exaggeration, strong delusions, poor self image, emotionalism, flattery…etc)
Strongholds of Jealousy (insecurity, distrustfulness, anger, wrath, rage, revenge, hate, cruelty, unnatural competition, division, self-centeredness…etc)
Strongholds Preventing Growth (procrastination, irresponsibility, immaturity, compromise, continuously making wrong decisions, intellectualism, unbelief, racism, inappropriate behavior, inappropriate thinking, lack of integrity…etc)
As you can see, each of these examples have a root stronghold that manifests itself in many different physical responses in our lives. I believe that it is important to list on our paper all the areas that we have had strongholds controlling our lives so that we can speak directly to the mountains that have caused us so many problems over the course of our lifetime! In just a moment, I am going to have you repeat a prayer with me where you renounce specific strongholds. When you are doing this, I would also encourage you to name the times that you can remember that you placed your life in agreement with these strongholds.
For instance, if you are renouncing adultery in your life, also write down the name of the person(s) that you have committed that sin with or even the specific times that you can recall. This is not to remind you of your sin, it is to intentionally address these areas so that when you remember them in the future, you remember them as something that you have renounced and is no longer a part of your life!
Get your list and pray this prayer out loud with me:
Father God, I thank you that you have forgiven me of every sin that I have ever committed. I thank you Jesus for purchasing my freedom from sin and providing me with authority over the strongholds of sin that have been a part of my life for so long.
Today, I intentionally renounce and break the power of sin and strongholds in my life in accordance to your word. I speak out loud with my mouth that these mountains which have previously served as barriers and borders in my life and impeded my progress are cast out of my life and have no authority to ever return.
I renounce today the demonic strongholds that have operated in my life! Both those that I have opened the door to and those that have been a part of my ancestry! The doors that have been opened to the enemy through my choices, the choices of those who have hurt me and my family choices are slammed shut today!
I renounce the stronghold of (name the sin and the stronghold that it set up in your life specifically-whether or not you committed it or it was committed against you, a stronghold was established and you need to tear that stronghold down) and I refuse to agree with it in action or deed any more through my actions. The curses that have come against me that associated with that stronghold are abolished in Jesus name and I do not submit to their rule anymore! (Name the sin and stronghold) has no authority over my life any more because I am a child of Almighty God and I have been purchased with a great price through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. I command that stronghold of (Name the sin and stronghold) to be broken and removed from my life in the name of Jesus!
(repeat the above declaration for each sin and stronghold that you have listed on your paper)
The truth of Gods word has set me free and I am free. Today is the day of my salvation. My past is gone, my sin is forgiven and my life is free from the bondages of strongholds!
I ask you God to fill me with your Holy Spirit. Fill the areas that were once occupied by sinful strongholds. Order my footsteps in peace according to your desires and give me the wisdom and understanding to be able to walk out my relationship with you in integrity and faithfulness.
Help me to reach my God ordained destiny and be the person that you created me to be.
I submit my life to you. Thank you for taking my fragmented life and making me whole again.
Now take the list of sins and strongholds along with the names and circumstances surrounding them that you wrote down on the paper and tear it up!!! Throw it on the floor and stomp on it… That stuff is beneath you and you don’t have to dwell on it any more… now get rid of it…throw it away, burn it, whatever… it’s behind you…Today is a new day! You don’t have to be bound by those chains any more! Those sins and their bondage were nailed to the cross with Christ Jesus… He died for your FREEDOM!!!
Now that you have broken the chains and bondages of strongholds in your life, how do you continue to stay free? In the next chapter I will address this topic in depth…