God knows everything about your life. He has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. That may be intimidating for those who are trying to hide things from God, but very comforting for those who are seeking God to reveal that things in their lives that are hindering their walk with God.
God is Good and loves you with an everlasting love. He is for you and not against you. He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to bring you life as He intends it to be. Therefore we can trust that God is seeking our good and come to Him for help.
This blog post is part 10 of the series Eight Steps to Experiencing His Victory
Past Family Baggage
Every one of us has grown up with some kind of family baggage. We can even have baggage because of a lack of a family. There are many terrible things that take place in families that cause damage to our lives and shape the way that we feel about ourselves, impact the way we view the world, and how we live life day to day.
Here are a few of the many things that can touch our lives and shape the way we think and live:
- Abuse - physical, mental, sexual
- Drugs and alcohol
- Guilt and shame
The list could go on, but it is enough to say that most of us have grown up with some negative impact from our families.
Maybe you have seen it in the lives of other families. How about the family that is driven by fear. It seems that everyone in the family is fearful: the child, the parent, and grandparent. Or the family that is filled with anger. Then there is the family where everything must be perfect. You get the idea.
Our families can influence us for the good or for the bad. We are looking at how they influence us for bad. We are doing so to show that there is a way to get rid of past baggage and walk in freedom.
We are never victims of our past. We do not have to allow the negative things that have happened to us in the past shape our lives for the future. God is there to help us experience freedom. Those who believe in Christ are now part of the family of God.
How We Get the Baggage
Have you ever received someone’s hand-me-downs? If you grew in a family with limited resources or a big family I am sure that you got some clothing handed down to you. This is the concept we can consider when we are talking about Past family baggage or generational sin.
The things that are handed down are not clothing but attitudes, mindsets, and actions that do not align with God’s truth. The Bible calls them iniquities and they are handed down to us from our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents.
Moses asks God to show him His glory. God goes before Moses and lets His goodness pass by, then He says the following in Exodus 34:6-7:
6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
God says that the iniquities of the fathers visit the children. The main idea behind the word “iniquity” is “a deviation from or a twisting of a standard.” One focus of iniquity is on the inner twisting in a person that causes them to deviate from God’s word. Another is the guilt that comes because of the deviation.
When we are talking about family baggage, we are talking about the first understanding of the word. When we grow up in a family that has a twisted understanding of God’s word it will affect our thinking and actions.
Be sure that God never holds the children accountable for the sins of their fathers. Everyone is going to stand before God and give an account of what they have done. So the iniquity passed down is not the punishment of the fathers but the twisted views and impact of those views on our lives.
I liken iniquity to the atmosphere in which we grew up. When we grow up in a family filled with fear, anger, or guilt, we have a tendency to be fearful, angry, or guilt-laden. Or to use another word picture, we see life through iniquity-colored glasses. The environment in which we were raised affects the way we see life.
We become so used to seeing life a certain way that we need God’s help to see what needs to change in our lives. Many times we are not even aware that we are thinking or doing things that are not God’s way.
Ask God, He will Help You
God knows the impact of your family on your life. He also knows the truth and wants you to experience it. That is why asking God for revelation is essential. You simply ask Him if there is any sinful patterns or tendencies that come from your family upbringing. He will be gracious to show you.
It is surprising how many times the Lord has shown me thoughts and attitudes that I received from early childhood and beyond that were not based on the truth of His word. He would show me how I would react out of things of the past without even knowing it.
Before I accepted the Lord I was very angry. I would blow up at the least little thing. It was a pattern in my life.
Once I accepted the Lord, I wanted to get rid of my anger. It seemed that I would blow up and then feel so bad about it. It was such an instant response that I responded and then thought.
I started asking the Lord to help me. I asked him to show me how to deal with the anger. I asked Him to show me a red light in my head before I blew up so that I could have a choice to respond properly.
During this time two things happened that helped me begin to deal with my family baggage of anger. The first was when the Lord showed me that I chose to be an angry person.
I always blamed my anger on my dad. He was angry and he made me angry. I always blamed him for every outburst. I was always angry at him for making me angry.
One day after an outburst of anger and a blaming of my dad for it, God spoke to me. He said, “You chose to emulate your father.” I was shocked beyond belief. God was telling me that I chose to be like my father. He was not the one responsible at all. That changed everything.
From that point on I was able to take responsibility for my own actions. I asked God to help me with my anger, that is where the story of the red light comes into play.
I was in the Triple Nickel F-15 squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, AZ when I accepted the Lord. I was enlisted and served in the area of Air Operations. I worked with many officers that flew F-15s.
My role at the time was supervisor over an area of a squadron. One of my guys messed up and the Operations Officer, a Major, came and got after me because of his mistake. Normally I would get defensive and mad and argue with the officer.
I took a deep breath as I raised my hand to start arguing when I saw a red light in my head. God had done what I asked. Now, what would I do?
I let out my breath, let my hand down and said, “I’m sorry sir, that won’t happen again.”
I was so excited because it worked. God helped me begin to get rid of the family baggage I was carrying. The lie that it was my father’s fault. The lie that I couldn't help it. From that moment things began to change. It wasn’t an instant change, but over time I was able to overcome the anger in my life with God’s help.
How About You
Are you willing to ask the Lord about the baggage that you are carrying? It may surprise you that God will show you something that you believe to be a part of who you are. You will think it part of your personal makeup.
That is the hidden danger of iniquity. It seems to be part of you because it has been with you for so long. You grew up with this mindset. It is a part of your being, but it isn’t from God.
That is why we need God’s help. He knows who you truly are and what He has created you to be. The trouble with iniquity is that it always distorts the truth and hinders us from experiencing the truth of God.
God wants to help you find and root out areas of family baggage so you can live in freedom. If you would like to seek the Lord for insight about your family baggage I would suggest the following steps.
Set aside fifteen or twenty minutes to seriously ask the Lord to show you if there is anything He wants to reveal to you that is not a part of you and is causing you harm. It is simple:
- Ask the Lord if there is anything from your family background that He wants to reveal.
- Write down what he shows you.
- If there is anything that He shows you
- Repent of anything that you have participated in personally (like me and my anger)
- Renounce the lie (say that you reject the baggage and will have nothing further to do with it)
- Ask the Jesus to heal any areas of your life that are affected by the lie.
- Ask Him to bless you with His truth that you may walk in His ways.
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