Vows: Addressing the Real Problem
Vows Are Solutions Held in Place by Belief
Years ago, James came to me (Ed Smith) seeking spiritual help. He told me that his life was falling apart and that he believed he was being oppressed by demons. Unlike what I practice today with TPM, my approach at that time was focused on spiritual warfare, reclaiming “stolen ground,” identifying and renouncing vows, tearing down “strongholds” and denouncing assumed “legal rights” that I believed James had given over to the devil.
I had mistakenly viewed James as a victim needing to be rescued from the devil. I thought James as needing to be delivered from something that I assumed was holding him captive against his will. By my definition, his will was being violated by outside forces, and therefore, he needed to be rescued. During those early years of doing ministry, I often found myself confronting the enemy and performing search and rescue missions. I had somehow come to believe that things such as vows held some spiritual power over the person and needed to be broken before he could be free. I also thought that there was (more often than not) a demonic element involved holding the vow, curse, or “stronghold” in place, so confronting demons using some form of spiritual warfare was an assumed necessary part of the protocol. None of this is a part of TPM as I practice it today. I was mistaken in my earlier approaches.
The current training in TPM views all of the above through the framework of what we call “solutions.” People make vows as a way of “protecting” themselves from future pain in an attempt to solve or avoid some perceived problem. The current training also recognizes that we have a real enemy who is alive and well and still deceiving anyone that he can. However, TPM does not teach that people are held captive by anything other than their own belief. The vows themselves are powerless, and demons do not control people or make them do anything apart from that person’s own choosing.
The “Snare” and the “Snarer”
The Apostle Paul reveals what holds a person captive by using an analogy of a trapper setting snares to catch his prey. Without question, the trapper has caught the animal, but it is the snare and not the trapper that holds the animal in its grip. Paul writes, “… God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:25-26)
In this passage Paul also reveals the solution to the predicament and it is not battling the trapper. When God grants a person repentance (Greek word metanoian means a change of thinking about something) the result is coming into the knowledge (experiential knowing) of the truth that results in coming to their senses or seeing with mental clarity. This might be likened to an intoxicated person suddenly sobering up from his drunken stupor. For those who have been doing TPM for very long, this should all sound very familiar.
If a vow really holds power over a person, then what happened to the power of the wedding vow or our New Year’s resolutions? Making a vow accomplishes nothing unless it is held in place by a belief. The power of both a demon or a vow is totally resident within the belief of the person and nothing else. It is because of belief that the devil can do what he does, and it is because of our belief that we ever made the vow in the first place.
All manner of things may surface and be reported by the person during a ministry session, such as unholy vows, the confession of occult practices, or even sins of the fathers. However, none of these things are viewed as a root problem in TPM; therefore, renunciation, breaking vows and curses, are not needed.
Before I proceed, I would ask that those of you, who may practice the very things that I have just mentioned, not come to a premature judgement of where I am going with this discussion. Please consider, what I am about to share, to see if it will not make good sense, both practically and theologically. Over the last many years, I have not personally led any person to renounce any vows, confess any of their forefathers’ sins, or break any curses, and I am watching people enter into what appears to be genuine and lasting freedom. I am convinced that my current approach is extremely effective, compared to my previous methods. I believe it is also more biblical and does not view the person as a victim needing to be rescued.
In the TPM training, it is taught that all these issues depend upon the person’s belief. Vows, curses and former sins only have a perceived power because of the person’s belief. When belief is made the focus and truth the solution, freedom will follow
A Closer Look at Vows Particularly
Let’s focus our discussion to vows in particular for a moment. Vows are made because of beliefs formed in a time of trouble. A vow is a form of solution behavior attempting to resolve a perceived problem. A person is not held captive by the vow, but rather, the vow is serving the purpose of “solving” a perceived problem. To have the person renounce and let go of a vow is asking him to let go of his solution and thus, leaving him with the unresolved perceived problem. This will create an inner conflict for the person and put him in a double-bind.
If he lets go of the vow, then he is left with an unsolved problem. However, if he holds onto the vow, he is left with the problems that holding the vow creates. Even if he could renounce the vow, the lie would still be in place. Renouncing a vow has no impact on what the person believes and he cannot renounce a belief since it is what he believes. The vow is not his problem. It is his solution. The belief is what needs to be attended to.
Typically, the vow is the way the person hopes to protect themselves from future pain or difficulty. Some common examples of vows might include:
- “No one is going to hurt me like that again. I will always be in control.”
- “I will never do to my kids what my mother did to me.”
- “They may make me ______, but no one can make me ______.”
- “Since girls always get hurt, I just won’t be a girl.”
- “When that happened, I put up a wall inside to keep from feeling.”
- “I will never be like my mother, father…”
- “I will never trust anyone again.”
- “I will never let myself feel that way again.”
- “I will never cry again.”
- “I will never feel like that again.”
- “I swore from that moment that I would never ______…”
Vows and the Belief and Choice Principle
In TPM we recognize that everything that happens in a ministry session is based upon the person’s belief and choice and nothing outside of himself. We call this the “Belief and Choice Principle.” When a person is faced with a painful predicament (especially in childhood) that he believes will happen again, he may come up with a plan to avoid having to repeat the same trouble. He does this based upon his belief, and choice as well. Because he believes something, he chooses to do something.
This plan can be played out in the form of a vow made to protect himself. For example, if a boy is betrayed by his father, he may make an inner vow to never trust anyone again. He starts with a problem needing to be solved “I’ve just been hurt by someone I trusted, which means if I trust people, they will hurt me.” In an attempt to resolve the perceived problem a belief is established, “Not trusting people will keep me from being hurt again.” This belief becomes a vow intended to protect himself, “I will make sure that no one ever hurts me like that again. I will never trust anyone again.”
The vow itself is not a problem; rather, it is his choice of a solution directed by what he believes. What needs to be dealt with is not the solution to the problem –the vow, but rather the belief that is holding the vow in place. When the belief is replaced with truth, the solution is no longer needed.
- Belief: “I am being hurt because I am powerless and helpless.”
Choice: “I will never let any man hurt me like that again.” (Vow)
- Belief: He is molesting me and I am out of control.
Choice: I will never allow anyone to control me again.” (Vow)
- Belief: “Failure gets you rejected and disapproved of.”
Choice: “I will never fail.” (Vow)
Nothing holds the vow in place other than the person’s belief. It is not a spiritual issue that needs to be battled, broken, or renounced. Demons do not have any part in why the vow is in effect. This is not to say that they will not use it to their advantage, because they will. However, they are not the ones holding it in place. The person’s belief is the only power the vow holds.. Therefore, there is never any need to address or engage demons when dealing with a vow.
Using the Right Tool
The vow is not the problem; it is merely an indication that there is a lie-based belief that needs to be replaced with truth. When using TPM, because a vow is a solution, it is addressed using the “De-Solution Tool”. Renouncing a vow fails to address the reason why the vow was initially made in the first place. The vow is simply the person’s solution held in place by a lie. So then, when a vow surfaces you should follow the De-solution Tool protocol. A typical scenario might look like this:
Facilitator: “I am not asking you to let your vow go, but if you were to consider doing so… “Do you feel any hesitation or resistance at the thought of letting this vow go?” (First De-Solution Tool Question)
Person: “Yes. I think so.”
Facilitator: (Second De-Solution Tool question) “What do you believe might happen that causes you to hesitate or resist?”
Person: “If I let it go I will get hurt again.” (The problem needing to be solved.)
Facilitator: (Third De-Solution Tool question) “So then, the reason for maintaining the vow is what?” –Or an alternative wording can be– “What is the vow doing for you, or how is it serving you?”
Person: “It is keeping me safe.” (This is the lie-based belief holding the vow in place.)
Once the lie-based belief holding the vow in place has been identified, the person has moved to the BELIEF Box. You will follow protocol for this box on through to the TRANSFORMATION Box. Once the lie that is holding the vow in place is resolved with truth, the vow will no longer be in effect. No renunciation will be needed. When we know the truth, it resolves the need for a solution. Nothing more needs to be done concerning the vow. There is no reason to ever address demons since they were never a part of the problem anyway.