We live in a world in which the kingdom of darkness wars against our hearts. It’s important to understand the particular strategies that evil uses. Today we look at the second main tactic of evil—namely, to deceive you to make agreements with it. But what are “agreements with evil” and how are they made? We’ll explore both of those questions in depth.
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Q: What do we mean by “agreements”?
Agreements are fundamentally about pledging yourself—in a particular way—to the kingdom of darkness.
At first glance, it sounds like a wild notion: who would pledge themselves to the kingdom of darkness?
Well, most of us are deceived into making agreements.
Agreements are almost always made in the context of particular stories of tragedy, harm, abuse, heartache.
The kingdom of darkness is opportunistic and the most opportune time to deceive a human being into making an agreement is in a moment of significant pain.
For example, for the first 12 years of your life, you watch your father struggle with immense emotional pain.
One day, when his pain is particularly evident to you, the thought comes to you, “since no one (including God) is going to care for Dad’s pain, I have to.”
And something in you says, “yes” to that endeavor.
You make the agreement: “I will tend to Dad’s pain because God obviously isn’t going to do it.”
At first, it might seem like a sweet, empathetic, kind thing for a child to do. But the impossibility of that task dooms the endeavor.
And just like that you’ve made an agreement with evil.
You have pledged yourself to take on a task that no child can accomplish.
Or suppose you watch your parents go through an ugly divorce as an 11 year old girl.
During the divorce, you witness your father lie repeatedly to his attorney in an effort to sway the settlement in his favor.
Then, one day at school, your male teacher screams at a classmate and then lies to the principal about what really happened.
Suddenly, a “truth” dawns on you: “When men are in trouble, they will always lie to get out of it.”
Just like that you have pledged yourself to a lie… a lie that seems like a rule of the universe. And that lie will wreak havoc in your future relationships with men.
Why? Because you have agreed with the Father of Lies that when men are in trouble, they will always lie to get out of it.
Hopefully, these two vignettes illustrate the point that the agreement is far more evil’s idea than your idea.
But you give assent, almost without realizing it. You sign your name.
Agreements range from the very general to the very specific.
An agreement can be as general as “I am alone in this world.”
Or an agreement can be as specific as
“Whenever someone is upset with me, I will admit that I’ve done whatever wrong thing they are accusing me of because otherwise the relationship might end.”
Following are examples of agreements: (Go very slowly).
No one really cares if I am hurting.
I’m my own worst enemy.
I’ll never get over this addiction.
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
I’m too needy.
She’s never going to respect me.
I’m too much for any man to handle.
I will do whatever it takes to be chosen.
There’s something wrong with me.
My anger is never welcome, so I will hide my rage.
In order to avoid the pain of not being heard, I just won’t take the risk of telling someone when they hurt me.
My husband will never change.
When there is relational conflict, it’s always my fault.
I mean, you can make an agreement about anything.
Evil nearly always comes to you in moments of pain and heartbreak.
In the wake of a painful event, we give meaning to the event.
We find a way of interpreting what just happened.
It is in this moment—in the immediate wake of heartache—that evil offers you an interpretation of what just happened.
And that interpretation is designed to entice you to make an agreement.
So, for example…
Suppose you’re a 12 year old girl who is devastated because your best friend just betrayed you and humiliated you at school and you’re sobbing with your Mom that night and your Mom says, “sweetheart I think you’re just too sensitive.”
And in that moment, something in you makes an agreement with the simple sentence, “I’m too sensitive.”
And from that point forward you begin to slowly kill your tenderness, your sensitivity.
You find a way to numb out enough so that things don’t get to you as much as they used to.
Now, nothing can hurt you.
You have agreed with your mother’s cursing of your beautiful sensitivity, and you have vowed to not be sensitive anymore.
Now here’s the thing: these agreements have efficacy in the spiritual realm. Repeat.
When you make an agreement as a 12 year old girl, an agreement such as, “I’m too sensitive” that agreement is like a signed legal document.
Another way of getting at the notion of an agreement is with the word “treaty.”
Agreements are treaties… and treaties are formal operating structures. Treaties operate until they are broken or dissolved.
The point I’m trying to make is that agreements are not merely summary conclusions that you have arrived at based on the bad experiences in your life.
You unwittingly signed a legal document.
Yes, as a 7-year-old you made agreements with forces you didn’t even know existed.
This is the place we find ourselves. We’re living in a world at war. Which means that there are forces of goodness and forces of darkness.
And the forces of darkness—evil spirits—will take advantage of every opportunity – they will take advantage of a child who doesn’t know evil exists.
Over the course of your life, you have been unknowingly interacting with a world that is bigger than what you can see.
So, as children and as adults, we unwittingly make agreements with the kingdom of darkness… .and these agreements are like binding legal documents that have efficacy in the spiritual realm.
Therefore, being free of that agreement isn’t simply a question of correcting your wrong thinking. Repeat
This is so important. “Believing the truth” is not going to get the job done.
Why? Because when you make an agreement, you are not merely quote unquote “believing a lie.” It’s more than that. You have agreed with the lie.
When something inside of you says, “Yes” to a lie, there is a very real sense in which you have bound yourself to evil. This is about becoming bound.
Words matter. Your words matter.
When you agree with a sentence—or even a phrase—that act of giving assent has consequences and implications in the spiritual realm.
The progression is this: you are wounded… and in the wake of that heartache and pain evil whispers a lie that makes sense of the pain and gives you hope that the pain can be avoided or eased. And then, welcoming relief, you agree with the lie.
This is about more than “believing lies.”
The notion of “believing lies” does not go far enough.
The issue is not merely that you believe a lie; it’s that you make a bond with the lie.
You pledge yourself to the lie. And soon the lie is just part of the way you see the world…
The lie then becomes axiomatic.
It’s not a matter of “I believed the lie that I’m alone.” It’s simply a fact: “I’m alone. And I have volumes of data to support that fact.”
Let me say this another way. It is true that evil offers you lies in the hope that you will believe them. However, this is not the goal.
The goal is far more sinister. Evil intends for you to use your words… [slow] (spoken or unspoken)… to covenant with the lie. Repeat
This is why exposing a lie rarely results in significant change. This is why telling yourself the truth will only take you so far.
The issue is not merely believing a lie. It’s far more a matter of “you have given your loyalty to the lie.”
And in that sense, you have bound yourself to the kingdom of darkness.
Now, please understand that the vast majority of the agreements you’ve made with the kingdom of darkness have been made unwittingly.
You were deceived into making agreements.
Evil doesn’t fight fair.
Moreover, most of your agreements been made… in an attempt… to avoid future pain.
Growing up your mother was always there for you and would comfort you when you had trouble at school.
But whenever you risked telling her how she had hurt you, all of a sudden it was always you who was at fault.
It’s too painful to open your eyes to the truth that your mother would rather blame you than she would suffer the painful feelings of acknowledging her own failure of you.
And so, in an attempt to avoid having to let in this reality, you make an agreement: “When there is relational conflict, it’s my fault.”
Q: Do you see how this agreement allows you to avoid the pain of seeing the failure of your mother?
Agreements are often attempts to avoid pain.
You don’t want to look at the reality that your mother is totally unwilling to own how she has harmed you—you don’t want to acknowledge that she would rather blame you every time for doing something wrong… and so you agree with the simple sentence, “When there is relational conflict, it’s always my fault.” [This paragraph seems unnecessarily repetitive. Can delete.]
There is always an initial time when you first make an agreement.
However, the agreement is often sealed dozens and dozens of times over.
Remember the first example of the boy who watched his Dad wrestle with immense emotional pain?
Each time he witnessed Dad wrestling with his pain, something in him reiterated the conviction, “I need to tend to Dad’s pain because God clearly isn’t doing it.”
And you sign your name again. And again.
Certain stories have a disproportionate influence on your life because agreements were made during those stories.
Q: In moments of heartache in your life, what did evil whisper? What agreement or agreements did you make in those moments?
When we make agreements with evil, we are bound to them until we break them.
Your words—spoken or unspoken—have weight in this world.
Your intentions—that inner sense of saying YES to something… like “I’m too needy” or “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself” — those inner “yeses” have weight in the world.
Our words and our intentions matter. For good and for ill.
Now, how do you begin to identify some of the agreements that you have made?
First, pay attention to the sentences and phrases that come to life inside when you are in a fight with your spouse, or when you are having a particularly painful day at work, or when you are having relational difficulty with someone… pay attention to the sentences and phrases that have come to orient you in your world.
Agreements orient us.
Pay attention to sentences that often come up inside. Phrases that have become companions.
So, you’re in a fight with your husband and you’re trying to explain to him why you’re upset and he’s not getting it and suddenly the thought comes up, “he’s never going to understand this part of me.”
And it’s a sentence that often comes up in the midst of difficult interactions with your husband.
But it’s an agreement with darkness! “My husband is never going to understand me.” Really? And you know that how?
That agreement orients you… How? Well, to begin with, it allows you to escape your war with hoping that if you continue engaging with him he might understand your heart.
It orients you to what to do next… probably in this case to give up talking to him, to give up trying to be understood, to stop the conversation, to leave the room.
Agreements drive our behavior… particularly our behavior in our most intimate relationships.
“Your husband is never going to understand you?” Really?
What if—and here’s the whole point of this episode—what if your agreement with evil, namely that your husband will never understand you—what if that is part of what’s blocking you from being understood?
I’m not saying it’s your fault. This isn’t about fault.
We make agreements for very good reasons…. there’s a reason you first concluded that your husband would never understand you. Something in you died that day.
But here’s where agreements become so sneaky and stronghold-y— if you’ve made an agreement that your husband is never going to understand you, then your brain is primed to expect him to not get you.
Primed to expect.
You’re already going into the conversation bracing yourself for him to not get you.
And as soon as you have one iota of data that he doesn’t understand you, you give up the conversation—either by sabotaging it through contempt or by surrendering to the hopeless despair of “it’s not worth it. He doesn’t care.”
Okay, a second way to identify agreements in your life is to pay attention to the places in your heart that don’t seem to change with counseling or reading or prayer or anything.
Q: IOW, where are you still stuck?
Q: What are those things—the Bible calls them strongholds—what are those strongholds, or places in your life that don’t succumb to therapeutic engagement?
Things you’ve been wanting to be rid of for years and they just won’t go away. You can’t seem to get breakthrough no matter what you do.
Suppose you’ve always had this nagging sense that if you had done X, you could have prevented your parents’ divorce.
Perhaps you live with this notion that “If I say the right thing with the right tone of voice, my relationships will work and the other person won’t be mad at me.”
I mean it could be anything.
And you know it’s not true in your head, and you’ve talked about it many times with your counselor… but you’re still bound by this sense of “I could have prevented it.”
Here’s a sentence that changed my life.
In 2006, a therapist that I respect said to me, “change for you Adam will not come by gaining insight but by breaking agreements.”
I was living under the assumption that if I could figure out how my trauma had affected me and why I was bound in particular ways and what lies I was believing—if I could name all of that and understand it, then I’d be free.
But it’s not that simple. All of that is necessary, but it’s not sufficient.
There are times when we are bound by agreements that we’ve made with the kingdom of darkness. And freedom requires that we break those agreements.
The subtlety and enormity of agreements might take you aback at first. But I hope your heart is leaning in because the first step in fighting back is seeing where we have made agreements and what we have agreed to.
In the next two episodes, we will look at how to fight back… how to wage war against the kingdom of darkness by silencing accusations and breaking agreements.