"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:34-37
A sister in the Lord contacted me recently in turmoil, asking how to honor parents who are not saved. She could feel the oppressive tangles of the spirit of witchcraft vexing her soul when dealing with them (which is the spirit walked in by those who are not born again - this link is a Derek Prince study sheet download).
There always seemed to be manipulation, condemnation, control, and discord at work in those interactions. There were even physical affects from those interactions, whether it was a terrible twisting in the gut, raised blood pressure, ulcer pains, etc. All because the parents were not in agreement with their decision to live for the Lord and obey Him.
Things had so deteriorated that the parents were trying to use her children against her and her husband. It had escalated to such a point where she felt like she needed to cut off contact with their parents altogether.
This is a situation - and a feeling - with which I was familiar. I had even written about it once before. And while I believe the previous article to still be true, it is not the end of the matter. Yes, choosing to serve the Lord will often bring about variance between you and those who are closest to you. However, what I learned is that the answer lies in the cause of the variance.
The sword is what we need. It is the answer for how we are to still honor our father and mother, even when they do not currently belong to the Lord.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
The sword of the Lord not only brings potential discord between family members, but that same sword is working in you to remove inordinate attachments to them. God may not change your parents right away because they do not belong to Him yet, but He can surely change you...and that is the goal!
God is killing off in you those cords which bind. With the sword, He is dividing within you that which is soulish from that which is spiritual so that you can sincerely honor your parents without being unnaturally bound by them. The areas where these bondages are attached are in your soul; your feelings, emotions, perceived shortcomings/injustices, pride, resentments, etc. Once your soulish life is fully submitted to your spirit man, then you will be truly free to love. Don't look at these tensions with your parents as evidence that you need to separate from them, but consider whether it is proof that there are still issues in your own soul which need cleansing.
So, your parents are not saved. Tell me, what is the difference between your unsaved parents and your unsaved neighbor? If you cannot deal with your unsaved parents, then how will you be an effective witness to your unsaved neighbor? They are both unsaved! The difference is that you feel a certain way about your parents, and they know how to push your buttons. The issue is in you.
Your "self" life must die. At that point, the things done to control you will not matter anymore. There will be no puppet strings to pull because the strings have been cut. I have found this to be true in my own life. As I grew and matured in the Lord, those things that people used to do to control me - which truly got under my skin - just didn't have the same affect on me that it used to.
Yet, it is not merely my own experience which bears out the truth of this statement. Look at the very next verses of Scripture.
"And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:38-39
After talking about the sword which might bring division in your family, Jesus immediately moves to speaking about the need for you to take up your cross and die to self. This is because that is the key. We need the sword of God's word to divide us asunder so that we can be led of the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh - even the lusts of envy, wrath, strife, bitterness, and hatred. Only then can we forgive from the heart and be healed.
I'll share something else with you. When it comes to unbelievers - or even just compromising Christians living in sin - you rarely have to bring about the separation. If the Holy Spirit is not drawing them, then they will separate from you all on their own; especially once they see that they can no longer control you. Yet, there should always be a spirit of reconciliation at work, ready to receive them again as the Spirit leads,
It is true that your family may not be able to receive the Gospel from you, being unable to move past who you used to be (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4). Yet, that is on them. Let it not be unforgiveness in you which has become the obstacle.
Satan's answer is to cause permanent alienation. After all, he cannot have you rubbing off on them or drawing them to Christ, right? Yet Jesus' answer is to bring about healing...even if it is just within you. Whether your parents ever change, you can be made free from everything which would make you captive.
Seven Steps to Revival - Volume 2 - *particularly the study guide Witchcraft in Disguise (this guide will download to your computer if you click it)
The Prayer of Desperation - Part 1 and Part 2
How to Live in a World Falling Apart - Part 1 and Part 2
The Cross Nullifies Witchcraft - Part 1 and Part 2
The Seeking of Control - (this guide will download to your computer if you click it)