Later in the summer I began to experience a new bout of emotional turmoil. I had to spend three to four hours a day in quiet time with the Lord just to maintain my emotional balance. This was different from my depression, as I was still able to function, but felt like a stalk of dried grass blowing in the wind: fragile and in danger.
The first course of action I took was to ask the Lord for help and guidance. He was not long in answering. A man in our church had some tapes from a deliverance ministry and suggested I listen to them—although he knew nothing of my present problems.
The tapes were sessions of a pastor working with distressed and disturbed believers and nonbelievers, many of whom had demonic oppression or possession. I remember one where a woman had begun to speak in tongues while working as a missionary in Africa. The Pastor had her speak in this new tongue while he asked questions like, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to answer this question: who is Lord? Who is Jesus Christ?”
The woman continued her tongue, but was becoming agitated, sometimes grunting. “Who is the Savior of the world? Who shed his blood for all sinners?” The woman suddenly shrieked and shouted, “Get this thing out of me!” The pastor went on to help free her from the demonic influence she had inadvertently put herself under.
Later in the tape the man pointed out that all the people who came to him were troubled people, so they should not be seen as a normal sampling of Christians. He added that he believed not all who spoke in tongues were demon possessed or oppressed. And not all who had emotional problems were involved in the occult.
However, the symptoms that were described in these tapes were similar to some I was experiencing in my life. I got the phone number of the pastor and called him at his church in the mid-West. He said he would get back to me with the name of someone in my area who could help me.
Later in the day he called and said that he couldn’t locate the information for the man he preferred but had a back-up, Pastor Burchett at Quidnessitt Baptist Church in Rhode Island.
Little did I know how important getting this “second choice” would be in my life, introducing me not only to freedom and grace in Christ but also to a host of people who would help and mentor me for many years to come.
I called Pastor Burchett and he immediately gave me an appointment. I had no idea that he was the pastor of a large church and a very busy man, yet he willingly made time for some troubled young person he’d never met.
Pastor Burchett was quite an intimidating person. When you asked him a question, he would hesitate for an uncomfortable length of time before answering. I found out later that he was praying for wisdom in what to say, a godly and wonderful practice, but disconcerting if you didn’t know what he was doing.
He began our time with prayer and then started to probe, asking about my present state of mind and emotion, and he uncovered all kinds of things, including my compulsive comfort seeking.
He asked about my family history and wanted to know about any involvement in the occult among my relatives. There had been such involvement on both sides. He explained to me that when a child is very young, the will of the parents can override the will of the child and inadvertently make him open to occult influences. My viewing of the monster movie at age four was one such example.
“Now we are going to do a ‘house cleaning’ in your life,” said Pastor Burchett after he had finished his probing. “We will be working through four different areas of your life, taking four steps in each: confessing, receiving forgiveness, reclaiming ground given to Satan, and surrendering these areas to the Holy Spirit so He can fill them.
“We’ll use the categories in the description of the fruit of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-20.” He had me open my Bible to the reference and read out loud, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;”’
Pastor Burchett interrupted me, “There’s the first category, sexual sins.”
I read on, “idolatry and witchcraft;”
“And that’s the second category, sins of the occult. Continue reading.”
“…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy.”
“There’s the third category, sins in relationships. And now the last one.”
“..drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
“This is the area of sins of appetites.”
Pastor Burchett had us both get down on our knees before our chairs. On my chair he laid a paper with the four steps written out on it.
He began our time with prayer. “Lord Jesus, I praise you that you are the Victor over sin, self and Satan. I praise you that in your suffering, death and resurrection you bought freedom for us from the powers of darkness, and as Steve and I go through these steps to freedom, I pray that you will protect us, expose his sin and bring him out into the true freedom you have provided. Amen.”
He raised his head and looked at me. “Ok, Steve, start now with sexual sins, whether thought, action or habit, confessing everything you can think of.”
“Out loud?” I asked, cringing at the thought.
“Yes, out loud.”
I began; it was humiliating to mention the lustful thoughts and other shameful struggles I’d had, the times I’d looked at the wrong kind of pictures. I choked on some of the words, but finally I came to the end of what I could remember.
Then he had me ask for forgiveness from the Lord Jesus, accept it and praise Him for it.
“Read the next sentence, and pray it out loud,” he commanded.
“In the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, I withdraw any ground, any authority I’ve given to Satan in this areas of sexual sin. I belong to Jesus Christ and this area of my life I surrender to Him. I ask you, Lord Jesus Christ, to fill this area of my life with the Holy Spirit; I invite you to rule here.”
Next he led me in a time of praise and thanksgiving, giving God glory for what He has done in providing all we need in Jesus Christ.
He led me on to deal in the same way with sins of the occult, sins in relationships and sins of appetite.
There were immediate, discernible differences inside me. For one thing, some strong negative feelings I had against my father were gone. There was a new sense of freedom. I didn’t feel so fragile.
I looked at my watch. Pastor Burchett had spent three hours with me! But he wasn’t done yet.
“You have had victory here today,” he said, “but Satan is not going to give up easily. He will counter attack, he will throw lies at you, he will tempt you strongly in these areas.” He handed me a paper with Ephesians 6:10-18 written on it. I want you to memorize these verses and use them in the battle.”
“You need to keep putting on the armor of God and fighting in His power against the enemy. When you are strongly tempted in one of these areas, go through this confession process again and you will find that it will help you. And call me when you need to.”
He was absolutely right. The next month was one long onslaught, one temptation after another. But as I followed Pastor Burchett’s instructions, praying through the armor of Ephesians 6:10-18 and using the prayer of reclaiming ground from Satan for Jesus, there was progress.
During that month I failed twice in the battle against compulsive comfort but that was the end of it in my life. The bondage of compulsion was broken, the focus was now on loving God, who provided me all the comfort I needed!
Truly God sets prisoners free. He freed me not only from my own sins, but also from the sludge of sin from previous generations, the sins of the fathers being visited on the following generations.
Jesus broke the chain, opened the door and took me from the dominion of darkness in to the Kingdom of light. This reclaiming of ground from Satan was a huge step forward in my spiritual life and it began to spill over into the lives of those around me.
Picture: Pastor Burchett