For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at how temptations, accusations, and deceptions affect our lives. We’ve said that our mind is the battleground where the enemy attacks us the most, and that it is in the renewing of our mind, reclaiming our identity in Christ, and walking “dressed” in God’s armor that we are able to withstand the enemy (Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 3:1-3, Ephesians 6:10-20).
But what happens when we fall? Is everything lost? Do we go back to square one? Do we have to re-accept Christ? Should we just give up and go back to the way things used to be before Christ?
In a simple answer, no, we don’t have to do any of those things. Rather, we should get back up and continue walking.
Author Neil Anderson (“The Bondage Breaker”) has this to say to Christians when they lose control and fall to temptation: ” … I want to stress again that every believer belongs to God. We have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, and not even the powers of hell can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39, 1 Peter 1:17-19) … Satan knows he can never own you. But if he can deceive you into yielding control of your life in any way, he can impede your growth and destroy your witness for Christ” (pg. 185).
Oppression vs. Possession
Satan can oppress Christians, but he cannot possess them. When one accepts Christ, they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who comes in to take permanent residence. The only way He leaves is if we force Him out. Satan, then, no longer has any right over us, for he has lost his place and “victory” in our lives because of Christ. The only way satan comes back in to our lives is if we allow him back.
Anderson’s hard-hitting truth bears repeating, “Ownership is never at stake, however. We belong to God, and Satan can’t touch who we are in Christ. We may be demon-oppressed, but we are always ‘Holy Spirit-possessed.’ But as long as we are living in these mortal bodies in this fallen world, we are the targets for Satan’s fiery darts” (pg. 114).
Don’t Open the Doors
Without putting extra shame and guilt onto ourselves, we need to understand that when we fall it is because we’ve allowed ourselves to fall. Either we believed a lie about ourselves or we were enticed enough with temptation, our falling happened by our choice to submit to something other than God. We can blame satan, we can even blame God, but the reality is we allowed our minds to convince us that what was being offered to us was better than what God offers us.
In using the story of Ananias and Sapphira as an example (Acts 5:1-11), Neil Anderson says, “Yes, Satan filled their hearts with deception and exerted a measure of control over them in their misdeed. But he was only able to do so because at some point Ananias and Sapphira opened the door for him … We are all responsible for our own attitudes and actions. Satan simply takes advantage of the opportunities we give him. We have all the resources and protection we need to live a victorious life in Christ. If we’re not living it, it’s our choice. When we leave a door open for the devil by not resisting temptation, accusation, or deception, he will enter it … If we fail to cover ourselves with the armor God has provided, we are vulnerable in those exposed areas” (pg. 192-193).
Now, these words shouldn’t plaster us with guilt and defeat, but rather with power and assurance. Christ resides in us; in Him there is no condemnation; in Him we are more than conquerors (Romans 8). Will God smite us like Ananias and Sapphira? Not likely. Will we fall if we try to outsmart God instead of the enemy? No doubt.
Since God is for us, and not against us, when we fall He challenges us – calls us – to get back up and keep walking. The more we walk forth, in our true identity, and in the Spirit’s power and armor, the less falling we will do and the more victories we will have. The choice is ours. The power is God’s. The question then becomes, will we believe this or continue to believe something us?
“I’m pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed.
I’m blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure
And His joy’s gonna be my strength
Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning.”
My prayer is that you and I would stand in the full identity and power of Christ, and that we would experience the victory of Christ’s death – daily (Philippians 3). Here’s more insight from a good friend, Andrew Hedges, about this subject: Why Christians Don’t Experience Freedom. Check it out.