Proverbs 29:25 says, "The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that" (MSG). How true!
The disabling lies of the enemy had literally paralyzed me with fear. As I began to acknowledge the deception, however, and trust God more and more with my life, the Holy Spirit helped me build up a powerful resistance to Satan's schemes.
Lie 1: "Betty, you can't understand God's Word." Growing up in church, I read my Bible but had difficulty understanding it. I avoided reading the Old Testament, convinced that it was beyond me.
Then I learned that the Holy Spirit was sent to reveal God's Word to believers. Once Satan's lie was exposed by this truth, I asked God to fill me with His Spirit and teach me His Word.
I began to spend the early mornings studying the Bible and making notes on what I was learning. I was amazed when I saw New Testament truths foreshadowed in the writings of Moses, David and the prophets. The Bible was a new, exciting book, and I couldn't stop studying once I started.
Whenever I shared the insights God was showing me with James, our discussions reminded me of the spiritual exchanges he had with other preachers. I could understand the Bible after all! Sometimes James would even tell a congregation, "Tonight I am preaching something Betty showed me in the Word."
Lie 2: "Betty, God has His favorites—and you're not one of them." One evening after a long day of ministry, James and I fell into bed exhausted but spiritually refreshed. Suddenly I felt my emotions being overwhelmed, and tears began to flow freely.
James reached for me. "What's wrong, Honey?"
"Nothing's wrong," I said through my tears. "God is just loving me.
"For the first time I feel like God is saying, 'Betty, I love you just as you are. I am pleased with you. You let Me do the changing in you. Quit trying to change yourself.'"
As His love flowed through me in a new way that night, I felt special to the Lord. It was a totally freeing experience.
Lie 3: "You will die, and James will get the wife he deserves." Secretly I had believed this lie all our married life. When I finally confessed it to James, he held me, rebuked the fear, and prayed Scriptures of Christ's authority over me.
My body shook violently as the enemy made his last desperate attempt to keep me in the lie. Then the shaking stopped, and I rejoiced because I knew I was free.
For the first time, I understood 2 Timothy 1:7: God had not given me a spirit of fear, but I had allowed one to control me.
I'll be honest. Fear still assaults my mind sometimes. But now I recognize its source, and I trust God's love and the authority of His Word to protect me.
Six Steps to Freedom
For me, freedom didn't come overnight. It was a process. But the key was found in one word: surrender.
Using a simple progression through Scripture, God showed me that surrendering to Him was the only path to true freedom. He led me through six steps of surrender that eventually broke the power of Satan's lies in my life.
1. Humble yourself before God (see James 4:7). This first step of surrender often reveals a well-hidden stronghold of pride. Pride hates to be uncovered—and when it is, we generally don't like what we find underneath.
At one point I found myself suffering a series of severe headaches. I asked James if God was showing him anything about me. I knew he'd learned in his studies that affliction can sometimes be demonic and attached to unconfessed sin.
James sat down next to me. "I believe God is showing me something, but you aren't going to like it."
I insisted I could accept whatever it was.
"Well," he continued, "I think God is saying you have an unteachable spirit."
In a burst of energy, I stood, planted my hands on my hips and announced, "I do not!" My head pounded fiercely as I ran to the bedroom, hurt and upset.