15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
When I was very young, around the age of three, I experienced some things that later in life, I realized had become my first memories. There is more than one memory. It is a collage, if you will, of things I remember from a period of my life, all of which took place over the course of a few days. Some of the memories are pretty neutral in their scope and content. One is even funny, in a childish, immature sort of way.
But within this collection, there is also a horrifying memory, one that has stayed with me from then until now. This memory shaped me, molded me, into the person I eventually became, and the person I was, before God saved me. It perhaps is still having an effect on me now. Honestly I don’t know for sure. I hope not.
I am not going to go into the details of what happened, because I don’t want to malign the living. So much has changed; indeed the person involved is not who they once were. This person has been born again, and if asked, probably has absolutely no recollection of what I’m going to write about.
I hope you, the reader, are okay with the vagueness with which I have so far presented this blog. Please understand my motives.
The memory in question is from a time when I believed someone very important to me, to my very existence, was going kill me. Not accidentally, but rather as an act of homicide. I remember being there, in that situation, absolutely convinced that the person who was holding me on their knee was going to do something that somehow, my three-year old mind knew, meant I was going to die. There is a part of me that, with some uncertainty, seems to recall this person specifically asking me how I would feel about them doing the very thing I thought and feared they were about to do.
Some of this is fuzzy, and I’m sure the vagueness with which I am describing the memory isn’t helping. It’s okay, though, since the memory is not my main point (Suffice it to say I believed I was going to be thrown down from a VERY high place, to my death). The main point is that, above all other things, I can vividly recall the sheer terror of that moment. I know I was only three, and what can a little child’s mind really comprehend at that age? But I somehow understood all too well what was going on, and how I felt about it all.
I remember being so terrified that this person was going to actually follow through and do to me what they had threatened (albeit in a perversely humorous sort of way), that I froze, and in a traumatic panic, became absolutely silent and still, fearing that any word, any movement, any anything I did or might do, would cause this person to end my life.
I was three years old when I received a spirit of bondage to fear.
14. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15. And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
2 Timothy 2:26,
26. And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are takencaptiveby him at his will.
The devil is able, at his discretion, to take captive those who become a slave to the fear of death.
When I was three, I was brought under such bondage, and in that moment, when I became terrified of dying, of death, the devil used the experience in order to take me captive.
The next memories of my childhood are just as bleak. Some time after the experience detailed above, I began having recurring spiritual nightmares, nightmares that endured through most of my childhood, even into my pre-teen years. They were almost always the same. I say “they” because there were in fact, two different ones. I feel like I had them almost every night for years (from the time I was at least four, onward). It probably wasn’t every night, but the force with which they stand out makes it seem that way.
The first nightmare would start with some invisible entity forcing me across a field or some other kind of place, to the edge of a great and evil forest. The forest appeared to be surrounded by a moat of some kind, and this nameless, shapeless entity always made me find a way across. In the dream, it was always a risk to my life just to get across. This part was already terrifying enough. But then, once I succeeded in getting across to the forest proper, I was always forced to go in, always against my will.
Whatever happened next, if anything, is beyond my recollection. I probably woke up from the dream at that point. I’m not sure. I had this dream more often than the one I’m about to describe.
The other nightmare found me at the front door of a very wicked looking, scary house, one that just seemed to exude sinister, demonic power. And again, some unseen entity made me go into the house.
I don’t remember what happened each and every time, but I remember one time standing before the door of that dark and terrible place, standing on a welcome mat, only to have the welcome mat become a trap door. I remember falling through the trap, down into a dark and menacing room. I found myself sitting on a couch. The room seemed to have some kind of dark blue glow to it. Next to me there was a man reading a newspaper, but when I looked at him, he didn’t have a head—just a bloody stump for a neck. Around the room other evil creatures sat. Above us a screaming witch flew around the room, occasionally dive-bombing at me as she went past. I will never forget her horrid screeching.
I likewise don’t remember what happened next in that particular dream. All I can recall of these two nightmares is that once I was forced into the respective locations, I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t find a way out. I would try and try to escape, always feeling chased, like the encroaching evil in each dream was drawing ever closer, inciting new levels of panic.
Whenever I would finally wake up, I would be so scared, the only thing I could think to do was hide my head under my blanket, and be as silent as possible until it felt like the entity I could tell was in the room with me went away, as if I could somehow successfully hide myself sufficient to cause the “thing” that was nearby, in my very bedroom, to lose interest and depart. Over the years, I did this more times than I can count. I’m talking hundreds of times.
As I grew older, I found myself drawn to scary images, horror movies, and the like. I remember being only seven or eight, and going into the VHS rent-a-center at the local Pick-N-Save to look at the backs of various horror movie cases. No matter how disturbing or frightening the cover of the case was supposed to be, the backs of the cases were much more grisly and sometimes even gory. I especially remember looking at the case for Evil Dead 2. But there were others.
When I was eight or so, I remember sneaking down stairs when everyone else had gone to sleep to watch a show called Tales from the Darkside. One night, I was flipping through the channels, and I found Stanley Kubrick’s version of Stephen King’s The Shining. I was fascinated with that movie for almost my whole life. My mom, after catching me watching it one time, tried to be on constant vigil to make sure I never got to watch it again, but against her wishes, I succeeded.
There was another time, again when I was about eight, that during a family gathering, when a bunch of younger cousins and other children were present, that I snuck upstairs and put on all black clothes and an old zombie/ghoul mask my brother had gotten one year for Halloween, and a cape we had had for years, and came running and yelling into the room where all of the children were playing, so as to terrify them. They all started screaming in fright, sobbing and crying bloody murder. Every adult came rushing up the stairs, scolding and shouting and cursing at me.
One night, when I was sleeping in my oldest brother’s bedroom, I woke up out of a deep sleep, because, in my sleep, I heard my grandma, my dad’s mom, shout my name. I had been sleeping on my stomach, and bolted up on both hands in a heart-beat. The moment passed; I shook it off.
But then I realized my pillow was missing. I searched everywhere for it, using the pale moonlight and my hands. It had disappeared. I even crawled out of the bed, looking all over the floor. At some point while searching I looked up to see a Native American-like, shirtless figure standing in the room with a tomahawk in his hand, staring at me like he was going to kill me. I stared at him/it in unspeakable terror, unable to breathe or speak. Somehow I managed to creak out my oldest brother’s name, just a tiny, cracked, high-pitched whisper, but it was enough. It woke him up and the thing in the room was gone.
I began to crave wicked things. I used to seek out Fangoria magazine at whatever stores we would shop at. I was obsessed with death, violence, and blood. I was only a child, but it didn’t matter.
20. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
21. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
22. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
23. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
In verse 24, the Greek word for “unbelief” is apistia. Yes, it can be translated as unbelief, but unbelief doesn’t really capture the totality of meaning. Apistia literally means “without faith” or “without faithfulness”, that is to say, “without trust” or “without trusting”. In this way, the word indicates a condition in which a person finds themselves not merely un-persuaded in their thinking (although that’s the starting place), but rather, such a person dwelling in apistia is actually in outright moral rebellion and disobedience to God and His Christ (by not relying upon their Savior for salvation). Their actions, conduct, and speech all indicate a lack of faith in, and faithfulness toward, their Creator and His Redeemer.
Note now how the man explains in verse 21 that his son had been demon-possessed and afflicted since, according to the Greek (i.e. paidiothen), he was a little boy. Did the father’s own apistia create a vacuum which caused, due to his unrighteous disobedience, his son to suffer the consequences?
I think yes. How else can an innocent two or three year old child end up demonized? I can’t think of anything a barely above a toddler, who can’t read, write, or tie his or her own shoes, could ever do that was so intentionally wicked as to invite Satan into his or her heart and life. I know in my own life, the devil was invited in by someone else. I was innocent.
But imagine a father, or a mother, or a family member, whose responsibility it is to care for a child, who has no moral compass guiding them. Who refuses to submit his or her life to the Creator and His Redeemer. Who intentionally balks at and with no regard for the Word of God, disobeys Him (whether as an act of the conscious will, or because of the law of sin in their members driving them forward into unrighteousness), and so, continues to reject the Lord’s offer of free salvation.
Can such an important person in the life of a child bring such unwanted wickedness upon the child?
In a word, yes.
When a child is exposed to evil, it becomes ingrained into their minds. The law of sin and death in their members becomes attracted to it. The carnal mind will begin to crave it, and the more the child is fed, the more the carnal mind will devour, until the person, even a child, is wholly given over to evil. It may take years. Innocence rarely dies in a moment. But however long it takes, know assuredly that sin will come alive in every child who is old enough, and when that happens, it will slay them (See Romans 7:8-11).
Their soul will be lost to the Lord and their name will be blotted out of the Book of Life, and should they die in such a state, the very real possibility of eternal death awaits them. I do not say it is for certain. What I do say is that if a child is old enough to be saved, he or she is old enough to be lost. God is the Judge, and will be righteous in all His dealings with humanity, adults or otherwise.
This is what happened to me. It’s what has happened to millions. It’s what’s going to happen to millions more. It is happening right now, somewhere in the world, even in the lives of parents and children I personally know. Thank God for the cross of His Son!
As I got older, about nine or ten, I began drawing pictures of people getting their heads cut off, or being shot in half by some fanciful weapon. I would draw all the blood splatters and gore and guts I could, according to my ability at the time.
My mom and dad confronted me about this one night, and would not let it go. They demanded I tell them why I was drawing such things. I lied to them, a pretty convincing lie, and blamed my oldest brother. I didn’t say he made me draw anything, just that I couldn’t help thinking about “evil” (yes, I used that very word!), and when pressed, when asked who or what I thought was evil, I told them I thought my oldest brother was.
By eighth grade, I was learning how to draw on supernatural forces to manipulate and intimidate people; that is, other kids my age at school. I discovered a trick that allowed me to stare at people without blinking for minutes on end, so much so that they would begin to feel my eyes on them, and would jump with a start and look around until they saw me looking right at them, with murder in my eyes. I wouldn’t stop staring. They’d become visibly uncomfortable, even shaken. I would only choose to do it to kids I felt were weaker than me. I got a lot of enjoyment out of tormenting other kids with my newly forming abilities to operate in the demonic.
I began reading horror novels, especially Stephen King. I still enjoyed horror movies, too.
In high school, I began having hallucinations of me bringing baseball bats or meat cleavers and such other weapons and using them against the student body.
After high school, I was a miserable, suicidal wretch. The only joy I ever seemed to experience was when I would dream. Every now and again, I would have a dream that I was a mass-murderer, and in these dreams, I would get sick pleasure out of killing people.
I am unhappy to report now, at this point in my life, that I would always wake up feeling happy and fulfilled, like these dreams were somehow good for me. They improved my moods, until of course the reality set in, and I could only day-dream about them, realizing I could never do what I dreamed of doing while I slept.
I was at the time listening to a lot of very ungodly, even intentionally anti-Christian music, while also reading similar literature. I wrote a lot at that time, too. Without really knowing what I was doing, I found I could summon and channel evil spirits, almost at will, especially when I wrote, especially poetry.
I had become a subversive manipulator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I was a slave to sin and to at least two different demons. I was not a nice guy to be around.
But all of this changed when I was twenty-four, the year God intervened and saved me. He did more than “save” me, though. He completely delivered my soul from hell and the evil spirits that had had me bound for so long, that is to say, since I was three years old.
Within the first week of God saving me, I began having spiritual nightmares. Wicked dreams, with demons in them, attacking me, trying to hurt me. The first dream was about a plague of locusts. They were swarming all through my hometown, attacking and hurting people. I was running everywhere I could, telling people that if they just called on the name of Jesus, they would be safe.
About a week later, while I was sitting in my living room, wide awake, eating some chips, a cold chill and evil presence enveloped me, taking away my ability to breathe. I was terrified and could just barely mumble the name Jesus, feeling like I was going to literally choke on the food that was in my mouth.
Another dream took place at night in a real life location called Spring’s Park in my hometown. This demon didn’t have any eyes, just ragged black holes where eyes should have been. It had these massive claws and was trying to shred my face, my neck, or whatever it could attack. I could barely defend myself, trying to call on the name of Jesus.
Another dream took place in my high school. The teacher turned into a demon wearing a red dress and began spinning around the room, screaming and screeching. There were others, ones I can’t remember anymore.
It got to the point that I was afraid to go to sleep. I would pray and pray before going to bed, begging God to protect me while I slept.
But something interesting began happening. The nightmares continued, but slowly and surely, with each one, I became stronger. Less afraid. I began calling on the name of Jesus with power, and in time, I was not only fighting back, I was winning the fights. I was sensing the presence of evil spirits in waking life, but they couldn’t seem to afflict me with fear. I was afflicting them by the power of God!
I eventually came to realize that God was using these nightmares to deliver me from the spirit of bondage to fear. They were training.
Two more stories:
The year after I graduated college, I was working third shift. I was trying to go to sleep. It was morning. Suddenly, a violent surge of memories from all of the horror movies I had watched growing up and as an adult overwhelmed my mind. The worst scenes from the worst of the movies flashed over and over again. I felt repulsed, sickened, and upset. I hated the images. I wished I could forget them, knowing I couldn’t. I prayed, but weakly, as if in vain, I must admit.
Nothing happened at first. Then all of a sudden, I had a vision of a hand using one of those old black erasers to erase an old-school dark green chalkboard. All of the chalk dust from the board spilled into a large, black garbage bag. The bag was then knotted up and thrown away. And immediately, all of the images from the movies I had watched lost all of their power over me.
They no longer bothered or afflicted me. I fell asleep, sleeping peacefully. Even to this day, if an old memory is triggered, it comes and then drifts away, like it never was anything major to begin with.
One night, several years after I had become a believer in Jesus, I had one of my two recurring nightmares from my childhood. It was the haunted house dream. I was forced to go in, but this time, I wasn’t afraid. I turned this way and that, and for the first time since I was four years old, I got out of the house safely, quickly, and with ease. I just walked right out, and you know what? The house wasn’t scary looking. Just a normal, average two-story, white house. And it wasn’t dark outside, anymore, either. In fact, it was a rather sunny, beautiful day.
15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
 Truth be told, I think the whole reason I became convinced that I was about to be murdered was because the person in question was the one who brought it up, thus, in my mind, making it a real possibility.
 This makes perfect sense to me, that there would be two, because I was later in life afflicted with bi-polar disorder, a mental illness caused by the oppressive activities of two separate evil spirits (i.e. one that drives towards mania, the other that enslaves to depression).
 Speaking of Halloween, since I was about six years old, I always wanted to go out dressed as Satan, or Dracula, or some other kind of grotesque monster. We were all unregenerate and didn’t know any better back then. My mom let me dress up however I wanted. She still has all the unfortunate pictures to prove it.
 And oh, by the way, my pillow then miraculously re-appeared.
 See: http://www.hebrew-streams.org/works/misconceptions/havharah-sefer-hayyim.html
 There are reasons for this, all of which are under the blood of Christ. But at the time, it was a nice cop-out so I didn’t have to give them a real answer. The truth is, and was, I didn’t have a real answer. I just wanted to draw pictures like that. My oldest brother was and is innocent of that particular charge I made against him that day.
 This is a REALLY long story that I don’t have time or room to convey, so please pardon the fact that I am jumping so quickly through time without giving many details. You can read more about it here: https://votivesoul.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/a-sad-little-insight-into-the-demonic/ and here:https://votivesoul.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/coming-out-of-darkness/