Tuesday, May 7, 2013
For some people the name Neil T. Anderson is not a new one. He has been on the Christian writing scene now for over two decades. The genera he writes is very specific, it deals with demonic oppression and activity especially in the lives of believers. He was at one point an astro-scientist before pursuing ministry full-time. He is the founder and president emeritus of Freedom in Christ ministries, he has written or co-written upwards of sixty books and is an international speaker. He also has won numerous awards for his written works.
Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker is fourteen chapters broken up into three different sections. The first section encourages us to be courageous, the next section wants us to hold fast and stand firm in what we are learning, and finally he takes us through the steps to be free in Christ. Chapter one Anderson starts out by changing the way we understand things because as westerners we dismiss the thought of demonic activity. The first thing we have to let go of is the thought that “Demons were active when Christ was on earth, but their activity has subsided.” For whatever reason the church in the west has dismissed the reality behind the fact that Satan and his minions are real. Anderson makes a good point when he says, “If dark spiritual powers are no longer attacking believers, why would Peter alert us to them and insist that we arm ourselves against them? Surely the armor of God is for the believer, not the unbeliever.” Another common misconception that is perpetuated even by me at times was, “What the early church called demonic activity we now understand to be mental illness.” While it true that we do have mental illnesses, since we have gained a smaller understanding of how the brain works; “to be effective Christian counselors, we have to learn to distinguish between organic or psychological mental illness and a spiritual battle for the mind.”
The next challenge is realizing that some problems are psychological and others are spiritual. Followed by changing our mindset that Christians cannot be affected by demons, and demonic influence is only evident in extreme or violent behavior and gross sin. It is amazing how easy it is to be affected by Satan because he has deceived people to think that demonic influence means the greatest levels of sinful behavior has to be evident. When the greatest problem comes we notice “most deceived Christians lead relatively normal lives while experiencing personal and interpersonal problems for which no cause or solution has been found.” The last aspect that Anderson covers is freedom from spiritual bondage that comes as a result of a power encounter with demonic forces. He argues against power encounters and instead encourages what he calls truth encounters. “But I have learned from the Scriptures that truth is the liberating agent, and this has proven to be the case in every successful counseling session.”
In chapter two Anderson attempts to help us find our way in the world. The way we understand evil and the truth that supernatural things do affect us will ultimately affect how we interact with the world. There can be not true interaction amongst believers with each other or the world without understanding the position that has been granted to people as believers in Christ. Anderson says, “You were not designed to function independent of God, nor was your soul designed to function as a master. “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). When you deny yourself, you invite God to take the throne of your life, to occupy what is rightfully His, so that you may function as a person who is spiritually alive in Christ. Denying yourself is essential to spiritual freedom.”
Chapter three Anderson is determined to drive home the point that we have every right to be free. The best way that we can live in this freedom is,
“When we find a promise in the Bible, the only appropriate response is to claim. When we find a commandment in Scripture, we should obey it. But when the Bible tells us the truth about who we already are and what Christ has already done, there is only one appropriate response-- and that is to believe it. I point this out only because the verses in Romans six; one – 10 are not commandments to be obeyed: they are truths to be believed.”
Once it is understood that we must take Scripture and use it and apply it to our lives, then we have “to choose whether you’re going to let your body be used for sin or for righteousness. Satan, who is at the root of all sin, will take advantage of anyone who tries to remain neutral.”
Chapter four drives home that if we are not seeking God we vulnerable to the schemes of Satan. “Don’t think that Satan is no longer interested in manipulating your mind in order to accomplish his purposes. Seconds perpetual aim is to infiltrate your thoughts with his thoughts enter him promote his lie in the face of God’s truth. He knows that if you can control your thoughts, he can control your life.” For whatever reason western (mainly American) believers think to highly or not at all of Satan; and if you give him that kind of control he is surely capable of putting thoughts into your mind.
In the chapters that follow Anderson emphasizes that fact that Satan is not an equal foe to God he does not have the same amount of power. “Second is not an equal power with God; he is a disarmed defeated foe (Colossians 2: 15). But if you can deceive you into believing that he has more power and authority than you do, you will live as if he does!” Chapter 6 helps us to understand that Jesus has already won the battle for us, he also encourages us to get dressed for battle. Very interesting fact that Anderson points out is “the Word of God is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God.”
Chapter seven deals with evil spirits that are out to destroy us; throughout the chapter Anderson breaks down many different levels of demonic activity. He does not just limited chapter to the activity but also personality traits and their cognition. The next several chapters eight through twelve specifically focus on the tactics the devil uses to get us to stray from God.
Evaluation and Critique
Straight out near the beginning of the first chapter Anderson wants to wake believers up to the fact that you could be troubled by a spirit even though you are not experiencing the opposition the way think it would happen. A really good point Anderson makes is “affirming the truth of Christ victory in Satan’s defeat is the primary step to successfully stand against the enemy’s attempts to intimidate you.” The reason this is a good point is because Scripture tells us if we resist the devil he will flee (James 4:7). Something that Anderson said that hit home was “possibly the greatest sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to postpone rewards.” The best question that comes to mind is how long are you supposed to postpone those rewards?
In a day and age when self-help books are some of the most popular, people are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves. However, once you understand like Anderson says, “your attitudes, actions, responses, and reaction to life’s circumstances are greatly affected by what you believe about yourself.”So as long as Satan can pollute a person’s thoughts he has a great amount of authority over them. Far too often many Christians believe, that because they are covered by grace they can do whatever they wish to do without any consequence. Anderson rebuttals that thought when he says, “even as believers we can still be conformed to this world by listening to the wrong programs or reading the wrong material.”
It seems that western believers find it easier to dismiss any supernatural acts apart from our salvation and refuse to acknowledge demonic attacks to our mind either while awake or asleep. I agree with Anderson when he says, “When someone has grotesque nightmares which cannot be traced to something previously seen or heard, then I would say the dream is demonic.” Another great thought has to do with where we place our thoughts are we focusing on God or on our enemy. When Goliath challenged the Israelites all they saw was his size until David arrived and focused on who their God was. “Don’t be demon-centered, be Christ-centered. Don’t be concerned about the enemy and your authority over him; be concerned about who you are, and don’t let the devil set the agenda.”
Something that every believer needs to understand and own is “…deceptive thoughts come first person singular in such a way that we think they’re our own thoughts.” On page ninety-five Anderson encourages his readers by saying, “but if you do come under spiritual attack like this, remember that it is not necessarily because you are doing something wrong. It is not a sin to be under attack. You may be experiencing spiritual opposition because you are doing something right. In fact, if you are not experiencing some spiritual opposition to your ministry, there is a good chance that Satan doesn’t see you as any threat to his plans.” When reading this quote one of the very first things that comes to mind are the apostles in the boat going across the lake when the storm comes. These men were merely doing what they were told by our Lord and a storm arose on the way, but in the middle of the storm the Lord showed up to comfort them.
Anderson provided a clearer understanding when he compared the acts of Christianity to the acts of Satan. “Everything he does is a counterfeit of Christianity: Clairvoyance is a counterfeit of divine revelation; precognition is a counterfeit of prophecy; telepathy is a counterfeit of prayer; psychokinesis is a counterfeit of God’s miracles; and spirit guides counterfeit divine guidance.” Anderson and several other authors have made the declaration that Satan is the god of this world; according to Anderson “Jesus didn’t challenge Satan’s right to offer him the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Since he was the God of this world, and they were his to offer after Adam and Eve have forfeited them.” When hearing of Satan being referred to as the God of this world it stirs up trouble inside of me, because when I think of God think of the all-powerful and all mighty Yahweh. If Satan was truly the God of this world then why did he have to go before the Lord in the book of Job?
A very important distinction that Anderson makes is between the devil’s accusation the Holy Spirit’s conviction. “When you’re feelings of remorse pound you into the ground and drive you from God, you are being accused by Satan. Resist it. But when your sorrow draws you to confront Christ and confession are wrong, you are being convicted by the Spirit. Yield to it through repentance.”
This book has been a very interesting book, it has made me appreciate the struggle for my mind between God and Satan. I will be more vigilant to critique the thoughts that I have and make sure that they are from God and not a counterfeit. From reading this work I understand the importance of protecting every aspect of my life from the possibility of Satan creeping in.
 For a list of his awards and other info visit this link: http://harvesthousepublishers.com/authors/neil-t-anderson/?page=2&author=neil-t-anderson&sort=-Release_Dt
 Neil T.Anderson, The Bondage Breaker. (Eugene: Harvest House, 2000)19.
 Ibid., 19.
 Ibid., 20.
 Ibid., 21.
 Ibid., 21.
 Ibid., 22.
 Ibid., 22.
 Ibid., 39.
 Ibid., 50.
 Ibid., 52.
 Ibid., 61.
 Ibid., 63.
 Ibid., 80.
 Ibid., 100.
 Ibid., 41.
 Ibid., 60.
 Ibid., 68.
 Ibid., 77.
 Ibid., 63.
 Ibid. 95.
 Ibid., 125.
 Ibid., 158.
Posted by Paul Horne at 1:04 PM