Regaining Surrendered Ground
Regaining Surrendered Ground
We are told in Ephesians 4:27 not to “give place to the devil.” The word place refers to an area of jurisdiction. In warfare, opposing sides gain jurisdictional area whenever ground is surrendered.
The context of Ephesians 4 refers to three ways “ground” in the soul can be given to the devil: immorality (they “… have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” verse 19), greed (“let him that stole steal no more …” verse 28), and bitterness (“let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” verse 31).
It is critical that we understand the spiritual battle in which we are involved and that we resist temptations to sin. When we do sin, it is important to repent as soon as the Holy Spirit convicts us and then reclaim the ground that we have given Satan the “legal right” to occupy. The steps involved in taking back ground are as follows:
1. Repent of your sin.
Repentance is acknowledging your sin, submitting to God’s truth, and making commitments to be obedient to His holy standards. Only after we have submitted to God’s justice can we plead for His mercy. “The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy” (Psalm 147:11).
2. Make a full confession to God.
The greatest offense is the offense against God when we violate His Law. Violating the Law brought about the need for atonement through the death of His Son, Who took the punishment for our sins on the cross. When making confession, we must name our sins with the terms God uses, such as fornication or lust, not physical involvement or attraction. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
3. Claim the blood of Christ.
Because Christ died on the cross in our place, we can accept His shedding of blood, which provided the remission of our sins. “… Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Colossians 2:14–15 explains that at the crucifixion, Satan had before the cross a “handwriting of ordinances,” which listed all the sins by which he had authority to condemn us. However, Christ took it from Satan and blotted it out with His own blood.
4. Ask God to take back surrendered ground.
God has written His Law in our hearts. Therefore, when we violate a portion of His Law, we give away a portion of our souls through that violation. Satan uses his new authority over the surrendered ground of our souls to bring his philosophy into our thinking. With Satan’s deceptions, we distort God’s Law in our hearts to justify our sin. Scripture speaks of those “which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:15). Once we accept the blood of Christ, Satan loses his claim to the ground of our souls. We then need to ask God to take the authority over that ground.
5. Make confession to appropriate authorities.
Once we have made our hearts right with God, we need to go to our human authorities and those who have been directly affected by our sin to request their forgiveness. The first commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all they strength … . And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30–31). (See also Matthew 5:23–24.)
6. Tear down “strongholds” of false ideas.
Although God has retaken authority over the ground of our souls, we still have the “strongholds” of false ideas and the distorted understanding of God’s Law which we accepted to justify our sin. We must identify these strongholds in our thinking and tear them down. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4–5).
In order to identify these strongholds in our thinking, it is important to memorize and meditate upon the portions of God’s Word that deal with the sin committed. As we receive God’s Word into our souls, we are able to reestablish His truth in our hearts. “Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart” (Job 22:22).
7. Build up “fortresses” of truth.
Once we have made wrong decisions and violated God’s Law, it is easier to fall back into the same sin again. In order to guard against this, we must go beyond the basic commitments of right and wrong and establish higher standards through disciplines that will guard the previously lost ground in our souls from further defeat.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips, put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:23–27).
8. Be ready for opportunities to share with others.
Conviction takes place when God measures our wills and the direction of our lives with His desire and purpose for us. “The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly” (Proverbs 20:27). Once the soul is submitted to God and the heart is purified with His truth, God gives us grace, which includes the desire and the power to do His will. (See I Corinthians 15:10.)
We can use this grace and a testimony to motivate others to make Biblical commitments and avoid the same sins. A further benefit of accepting the humbling opportunity of telling others about our failures is that it brings more grace to strengthen us against temptation, for “… God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). It is important when sharing, however, not to describe details of sin that would create wrong imaginations in the minds of others and cause them to stumble.