In war there are times when injuries and fatalities occur from friendly fire when soldiers from the same side accidentally fire upon one another. At other times there may be an accidental discharge of weapons or explosives that causes fatalities as well. Each of these events it is totally accidental, yet very unfortunate. Well, in spiritual battles there is something that is even worse; that is when individual soldiers in God’s army inflict wounds upon themselves. It is not accidental, yet it may be unknown to the person himself. The enemy loves this. What better way to defeat God’s people than for there to be self-inflicted wounds and the person not even know? In today’s lesson we want to focus on three ways in which this happens: through vows and judgments, self-talk, and destructive thinking.
Vows and Judgments
To make a vow means that one utters a solemn promise or assertion; specifically: one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition. A judgment is a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion. Experiences and perceptions of traumatic events may shape you if you form inner attitudes through vows and judgments. What you say to yourself about what has happened to you may be worse than the event itself. When an inner vow is made, it can commit you to act only in specific ways.
An example of an inner vow could come from a sexual abuse trauma. The young lady making the vow might say in her heart, “I will never let another man touch me.” Later in life she gets married and may find it difficult to give herself to her husband. A judgment out of the same trauma would be similar, except it comes from an uttered authoritative opinion, such as, “You can’t trust men!” It is possible for an abused mother to make a similar judgment to her daughter, thus placing a vow or judgment upon herself and her daughter.
Other examples of vows and judgments:
- Growing up in poverty: Vow – “I will never be without.” This can cause a person to be driven and never content. Judgment – “You are not important unless you have things.”
- Rejection from a lover: Vow – “I will never let that happen to me again.” This can cause one to break relationships when they get too serious because of the fear of being rejected. Judgment – “You can’t open yourself to love or you will get hurt.”
- Authoritative abuse: Vow – “I will never trust or submit to authority again.” This can prevent one from submitting to godly leadership. Judgment – “I must hold something back and not join in completely.”
- Cheated: Vow – “I will never trust someone like that again.” This can create a distance in this person’s relationships. Judgment – “You can’t trust people.”
- Rejected by a parent: Vow – “I will protect myself by not getting too close.” This person will build a shell or protection through isolation in his life.” Judgment – “I am unlovable.”
You can fill in your own blanks of possible vows and judgments, for there are limitless possibilities. If these examples remind you of some that you have made, your spiritual progress may be hindered. These judgments and vows work against you in the same way that bitterness does. Both come from hurt or unresolved trauma. These vows and judgments will come into play with your present relationships and pressures of life. How a husband views his wife may be in direct relationship to vows or judgments that he has made about women. How a person responds to church leadership or a boss may be in proportion to his judgments made about parental authority or even God. And how you respond to life’s conflicts and struggles may be in correlation to judgments that you have made.
Self-Talk and Destructive Thoughts
Self-talk is similar to judgments in that it is what you tell yourself about life experiences and about yourself. We all have constant inner conversations with ourselves about the events and world around us. This self-talk determines your outward responses.
Your own self-talk can be destructive to yourself.
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).
You can say or act one way for a while, but what you really think in your heart and what you tell yourself is the way you are. Proverbs speaks about going and sitting down to eat with a stingy man. He may be telling you to eat all you want, but inside he is thinking that you should only take a small amount. As he thinks in his heart, that is the way he really is (Prov 23:7). So it is with us. What you are telling yourself is the way you will respond.
People have mental pictures or images of how they are to act or respond to life’s events. These pictures can be destructive thoughts developed from past experiences of what they have seen in others. Most generally, people who were in authority or influential in a person’s life prejudice these. For example, you may deal with a crisis in the same way that you observed your parents dealing with crisis. It is not uncommon to dislike something about your parents that you see happening in yourself. This has come from an image or picture in your mind. If your parents expressed harsh anger in discipline, that may become your mode of operation with your own children.
The more you think about something in your mind, the more it has influence upon you. I am not suggesting that you ignore or suppress thoughts, but you must learn to allow Christ into this area of your life. If you do not take your hurt to Christ and learn to resolve conflict, then you will be building up destructive thoughts that produce resentment and powerfully negative attitudes toward others.
What negative talk do you have in your life? Are you telling yourself that you will never amount to anything? Are you saying, that you do not deserve better? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any self-talk or destructive thoughts that may be holding you back from the purposes of God in your life.
Steps to Victory
- Identify vows, judgments, negative self-talk, or destructive thoughts.
- Write them out so you can see them before your eyes.
- Ask God to forgive you for accepting lies about yourself and others and making such vows or judgments.
- Ask God to release you from your vows and judgments.
- Invite Jesus to heal you from your past hurts where these vows and judgments have been made.
- Now say, “Lord, I break these destructive vows that I have made; bring an end to their damaging means.”
- Tell the Lord that you choose to think on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—anything excellent or praiseworthy—you will think about such things (Phil 4:8).
 Merriam Webster Dictionary
About the Author:
Glenn Shaffer is the author of Apostolic Government in the 21st Century, Christianity 101 and Discipleship 201. He has a Masters of Ministry degree in leadership studies from Southwestern Christian University and is working toward a Doctorate in Ministry at ORU in Tulsa.
Glenn and his wife, Ami have been married for 40 years with two sons, Matt and Daniel. Together, they co-see the elder pastoral care of Destiny Life Church, one church in two locations (Owasso and Claremore, Oklahoma) where they have been serving for almost 4 decades. It is a non-denominational church, based on a New Testament Apostolic form of church government. Together, they also serve as the directors of ATI- Apostolic Teams International, an emerging network of churches and ministers.