Tuesday, April 25, 2006

KAREN A. SILVA's Testimony

This is not about my life story. This is not about me, or my existence. I’m not here to tell you about myself, my life, my experiences, my achievements, my failures, my pains, my fears or even my struggles but I’m here to tell you of the one great SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST who changed it all.

I was born on November 13, 1977, but for me life only began 13 years ago. I grew up in a Christian home. When I was 4 years old my parents got saved, but it was only when I was 14 that I have truly accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. For a time I enjoyed my newfound relationship with Him, but when I was 16, I was sent to Iloilo to study at the University of the Philippines where I lived independently at a young age and with no one to guide me at a very crucial moment of my life. I was exposed to so much academic freedom, with nobody to disciple me, I looked up instead to people who value the wisdom of the world than the wisdom of God. At the university, we studied about the great philosophies and religions of the world which breed confusion into my young mind. Little by little, I drifted away from the faith and went back into the world. I was plagued with skepticism. I’ve done things that were so displeasing in the eyes of the Lord even after having received the truth. My heart grew calloused because I ignored the conviction of the Holy Spirit and I continue to live in sin.

A few years later, I was again convicted of my sins. God in His faithfulness did not give up on me but my initial reaction after the realization was “How could I sin against God?” My self-righteousness got the worst of me. I could not believe that I’m capable of sinning against God when the truth is I have no righteousness at all apart from Him. So instead of repentance, I experienced remorse. I kept on asking God for forgiveness but I could not believe He could forgive me and at the same time, I couldn’t forgive myself. Instead of Godly sorrow that leads to salvation and repentance, I experienced a worldly sorrow that leads to death (II Corinthians 7:10). Although I never attempted to do so, I have contemplated of ending my own life many times. I believed it was the voice of the Holy Spirit that prevented me. When I was 18 years old, I went to the psychiatrist because I have suffered from an anxiety disorder and clinical depression. I had panic attacks. My heart would beat wildly, my palms would sweat profusely and I felt so uncomfortable even in the midst of a sea of people. I have doubted my salvation, thinking that if I’m a Christian, how could I do such things against God and why am I experiencing such agony. I was always attacked with great fear because I’m afraid that when I die I will go to hell because of my sins. I wanted to repent because I am afraid of the punishment and not because I have hurt and offended God. It was only later that I understood that repentance is not just being sorrowful over my sins but it is a 180-degree turn away from my sins. In my affliction, the voice of the enemy is clearer than the voice of God calling out to me. Those were the darkest moments of my life. I have struggled and have been oppressed by the enemy on every side because I have given him a foothold in my life. For years, I wailed and howled from the bondages I was in. I still went to church regularly out of obligation, but I was suffering in silence because my former church does not believe in spiritual warfare. I was afraid to reveal my struggles to my fellow Christians because of the fear that they would think of me less as a Christian and that others would think I’m just insane.

This went on for years. I’ve struggled with worthless, incessant thoughts and I didn’t even know where they came from. In psychology it’s called “obsessive compulsive disorder” but it was only when I got hold of the book “Bondage Breaker” by Neil Anderson that I understood the possibility of a Christian being oppressed by the enemy. Initially when we sin, the accuser of the brethren, Satan – he accuses us before God day and night - (Revelation 12:10), will deceive us into believing that God will not forgive us and even cause us to doubt our salvation. I’ve learned then that the weapon against the deception of the enemy is the TRUTH. He is a defeated foe who is out to deceive, steal, kill and destroy many. But God has given us the full armor against him (Ephesians 6:10-18).

I’m not here to talk about the enemy but to proclaim that we have a deliverer, JESUS CHRIST!

Crushed and broken because of the constant battle in my mind, I sought healing and cried out for freedom. I went through several inner healing and deliverances seminars such as the Ancient Paths and the Encounter with God retreat which helped me find freedom in HIM. “He came to set the captives free, and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1). Through constantly reading God’s word, I was able to overcome fear. “God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.”

I was just one of those many Christians who lived defeated lives because I didn’t know my position and authority in Christ. If we have a limited knowledge of who God is, we will also have a vague idea of His grace, mercy and forgiveness. When we fall which is more likely to happen because we are not perfect, let us be reminded that His mercies are new every morning. If we have little knowledge of God’s word, we will live in poverty and we will have no effective weapon to counteract the deceit of the enemy.

Now I can say that I’m a person who has totally found her identity and destiny in Christ. I still struggle at times but now I understand that we should be thankful when we struggle because it means that we are indeed in Christ. There is constantly a battle between the flesh and the spirit. Unbelievers don’t even struggle because they are comfortable with sin. However, we can have the victory if we walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

There are many Christians out there who may look normal on the outside but are being oppressed by the enemy. Do not allow yourselves to be bound nor allow your diseases to afflict you. “By His wounds you are healed” (Isaiah 53:5) and “He came to set the captives free.” (Isaiah 61:1). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). Cry out for your freedom! JESUS CHRIST is your deliverer!


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