Overcoming The Hidden Joy Killer
By Chester & Betsy Kylstra

There is a "killer" on the loose, a deceptive one, that creates powerful strongholds in Christians everywhere destroying their joy unless it is identified and exposed. We call it the Shame-Fear-Control Stronghold or SFC. This multifaceted stronghold will also destroy their self-confidence and rob them of their destinies; and it destroys unbelievers, too. Go with us as we expose this stronghold and help you overcome it.

Perhaps you know people who are affected by this stronghold. Right now it is killing their emotional lives while its victims curiously try to protect it from being exposed. Such is the nature of this stronghold, which binds its victim with the shame of being found out until he musters the courage to receive his freedom. If you or someone you love are among its victims, in order to be free, you must learn to identify the fruit of the stronghold, understand its operation, and then apply God's strategy to defeat and demolish it. Let's examine its trail of evidence.

Clues of the Killer's Presence

The "SFC Killer," which may affect as many as 80% of the people you know, hides deep within our personalities, masquerading as part of who we are. Ask yourself these questions to see if you or someone you know has its symptoms.

Do you know anyone who constantly feels unworthy, inadequate, intimidated or just plain "bad"? These negative emotions indicate the presence of shame. But don't feel alone, in this age of abuse, fatherless families, emotional neglect, and abandonment, it seems that many people struggle with these issues. Many people have even taken on "shame" as a personal identity.

When we are looking for the presence of shame in a counselee, we usually ask him, "Do you have an endless refrain that 'plays' in your thoughts? Are you continually thinking thoughts like, I am different, I am defective, I am embarrassed, I am guilty, I am inadequate?" If so, shame has become a part of your identity? But the presence of shame is only the beginning. Shame is often allied with fear.

Ask yourself, Is fear included in my frequent mental refrain? Am I afraid of being exposed, or abandoned, or rejected? Do fears like these dominate my thinking so that they have become my continual companions, deeply embedded within my personality as "normally abnormal" parts of my identity?

If so, you may have developed a strategy for survival. Do you control other people, or yourself, or perhaps the situations around you in order to minimize any risk of having the shame exposed? Have you developed "walls" where you permanently display a "Keep Out" sign? If you feel threatened by someone, do you resort to aggressive and bullying behaviors in order to intimidate them? These are only a few of the telltale signs that had their ugly beginning in the Garden of Eden.

In the Beginning

The Shame-Fear-Control (SFC) Stronghold started in the Garden of Eden, with Father Adam and Mother Eve. When both Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, it produced a terrible effect. "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves
together and made themselves loin coverings." (Genesis 3:7) Then when God came to walk with them that day, instead of wanting to be in His company they hid from Him. When God confronted them, Adam said to God, "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked so I hid myself." (Genesis 3:10)

Adam and Eve's shame over their sin led to their fear of being exposed. In order to hide their shame, they covered themselves with the fig leaves and hid themselves. The fears of exposure, of being found out, and of facing their failure, all joined forces to give "legal ground" to the stronghold of control.

Unfortunately, these strongholds are still with us today. They come down our family lines as ancestral sins, those wicked behaviors that we learn from our ancestors and become habits we develop in our own lives. Left undetected and unconfessed, these sins cause us to reap the curse-like effects of shame, fear, and control. They form bonds with other sins such as the fear of abandonment and occult involvement to keep us trapped as they intertwine with our positive, God-created qualities. Because they become so much a part of us, they deceive us into believing that we are one with them.

The day the Lord revealed the "inner" workings of the SFC to us, we were excited. We were praying with a counselee and had already progressed through the preliminary stages of cleansing from sins of the fathers and resulting curses, ungodly beliefs, and soul/spirit hurts helping her to recover the "legal ground" she had unwittingly given over to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27) We were ready to bring freedom from demonic oppression to our counselee.

We explained to her the evidence we saw in her life of oppression by the evil triumvirate, shame, fear and control, and that these were somehow cooperating together and strengthening each other for her destruction. She asked, "How are they able to do this?"

Up to that moment, we had not known the answer to her question. Yet we found ourselves explaining the answer in a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit that surprised us. He showed us how we give "place" to each stronghold, how the different strongholds reinforce each other, and how they remain hidden. Most important of all, He showed us how to disassemble and demolish the SFC Stronghold.

The Truth Shall Set Us Free
The only way to freedom is to realize and act on the truth. This requires a major paradigm shift in our thinking. We need to change what we think of as "I" because "I" has been distorted by demonic strongholds so that we don't even know our true God-created personalities. For most of our lives, our true identities have been buried in the bowels of a castle-like prison held captive within the walls created by our fears.

It is important to accept the fact that we have believed a lie about our true identities. This lie declares that the real "me" is shameful, has a mindset of fear, and a modus operandi of control. Rather than believe a lie, it is time for us to believe the truth about who we are, that we have a God-ordained identity, that He has destined us for "sonship."

It is time to believe that Jesus Christ did indeed take our shame on the cross

(Hebrews 12:2), and that He has opened the prison door. It is time to do all that we need to do to receive His freedom. It can be done, and many Christians have already received their freedom.

Strategy For Freedom

The first step in defeating any enemy, even a demonic stronghold, is to understand his weak points, in this case, shame. Shame can be easily destroyed if the SFC victim will make a paradigm shift and treat this stronghold as his enemy rather than as part of himself. He must move from a defensive posture to an offensive one, from hiding to active warfare against shame.

Next, he must make the decision to battle the SFC Stronghold until the victory is total, no matter how long it takes. This is a battle unto death. In the past, shame killed its victim. Now, the demonic stronghold must be destroyed and eliminated.

If the person infected with shame then identifies one by one the places where he has been ashamed, he can then disassemble the stronghold by confessing its presence and its underlying sins. He can then demolish the stronghold by replacing it with believing what God says about him and can achieve victory in a short time. Making fast progress here depends on the victim's willingness to continually submit to the process as it did with the Israelites as they took possession of the Promised Land. "Little by little I will drive them (your enemies) out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land." (Exodus 23:30 NIV)

God has great things for us, as we appropriate His promises like the one in Isaiah 61:7 (NIV). "Instead of their shame My people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs." If we really let Jesus heal us, we will "never be put to shame." (1 Peter 2:6 NIV)

(Chester and Betsy Kylstra are the founders and overseers of Proclaiming His Word Ministries, based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Their book, Restoring the Foundations, explores emotional healing as an integrated approach to ministry. They oversee the Network of Healing Houses, a safe place where leaders can come for ministry and training.)