Imprisoned by the C.I.A.

If you allow unforgiveness to remain in your life, you will be imprisoned by one of these three traps: Condemnation, Intimidation, and Accusation. An easy way to remember these is the acronym C.I.A.


Condemnation means, “To pronounce judgment against or to declare unfit for use.” Occasionally in ministry we run into people who feel as if what they have done is so bad that even God will not forgive them. They feel that whatever punishment comes they deserve. Or, in some cases, when they are forgiven they cannot forgive the people who hurt them. Some feel like the woman caught in the act of adultery in John.

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. ‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’ They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, ‘All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!’ Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.” (John 8: 1-11, NLT)

Obviously, she was being used by the Pharisees to bait Jesus. And, she knew her behavior violated the Law of Moses and just as surely she knew that the penalty of adultery was death. Her accusers were condemning her and they were correct and justified in their condemnation. What do you think she was feeling while standing there? Afraid? Degraded? Guilty? Ashamed? Probably she was experiencing all of these and more. But then after Jesus dealt with her accusers and they left, He turned His attention to her. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11, NLT)

What has just happened to her? Suddenly she is forgiven, free from condemnation. She is no longer facing death. She has been declared not guilty! Just as the Pharisees had a choice when Jesus challenged them, she is faced with a choice:

First, there is the reality of accepting this forgiveness. She may have gone away from there not really able to accept that she was forgiven. She may have been so ashamed and guilty, knowing full well she deserved the punishment of death, that she allowed the enemy to keep her trapped under condemnation even though she had been clearly forgiven by Jesus. If it were totally beyond her that she could be forgiven, Satan would find her an easy target. He whispers things like, “You really haven’t been forgiven. Look at what you did! Do you think God could forgive you and love you after what you’ve done?” Satan loves to trap us in this condemnation.

Her second choice was in how she would handle giving that same forgiveness to her accusers. She needed to release them from what they had just done to her or carry her anger, resentment and bitterness toward them around with her. It could destroy her. It would be easy for her to be bitter. She had been spied on, and then dragged out in front of everybody and embarrassed and degraded. Now the whole village knew about her affair. That bitterness and anger could be easily turned around to keep her under condemnation. The unforgiveness brings the condemnation, because it is sin.

This condemnation can be in the form of words spoken to us by people who are very significant in our lives. Words such as, “You’ll never amount to anything; you’ll always be a loser.” These words are like daggers stuck into our hearts and can be the very words that condemn us to becoming losers and failures. Numerous times we have prayed with people who heard these words from their fathers, mothers or other significant people in their lives and these words have brought condemnation because they believed them and lived as if they were true. They felt “unfit for use.”
This is a trap you can work your way out of by understanding who you are in Christ and that you are free from condemnation! “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Satan knows that if he can keep you from understanding the truth of your forgiveness and who you are in Christ, he can keep you trapped by condemnation.


To intimidate means to fill with fear, to coerce, inhibit or discourage by threats. This often happens after you make a commitment. If the enemy can intimidate you he has won a great victory. He will use any means he can, but most often he will use those people around you who are your friends or associates.

A number of years ago when Wholeness Ministries began there was significant opposition to it. This ministry was birthed with great pain. At that time I was in a traditional Baptist church and the area of physical healing was just beginning to be explored. There wasn’t much problem with physical healing but when we began to move into areas of inner healing and deliverance there were problems. During this time I was trying to learn everything I could about healing. I was attending seminars, reading books, and hanging out with people in the healing ministry. We were beginning to see some significant results as we prayed for people. However, it wasn’t long before some people in the church began to raise questions about what we were doing. We were accused of manipulating people, of being unscriptural, of being “New Age.” This was because of some of the books we were reading and the ways in which the Holy Spirit was manifesting during church services.

My integrity and honesty were attacked. My motives were called into question. I was asked to go before a group in the church and defend what we were doing and answer charges they were making, charges over things I had said or written which were taken completely out of context. Things that were said about us were not true and were deeply wounding to me personally. It was a tough time for my wife and me. We lost some friends that we’d had for years who couldn’t understand what we were doing. I found myself angry and resentful at the people who were doing this and I couldn’t understand why. I remember sitting by a river complaining to God about all the flack I was getting. I remember saying, “God, why is this happening? All I want to do is pray for people. What’s the big deal here? Why can’t we just forget about all this hassle over how we’re doing what we do and just do the stuff? All I want is for people to get healed.”

I found myself becoming angry towards some specific individuals and it was beginning to affect my ministry to people. I even began to question what I was doing. Maybe I was wrong. This intimidated me and I became very careful of what I said and did, because I was afraid of being attacked and having to constantly defend myself. What happened was that these people eventually left the church. As I look back on this entire event I see how easily Satan was using this to manipulate, divide and destroy people. Because of these accusations, before I could move ahead, I had to later work through some unforgiveness issues with people who had hurt me. What I did by granting this forgiveness was pull the ground right out from under Satan. I released to God those very things Satan was accusing me of – anger, bitterness, and resentment. And God forgave me. If I had allowed Satan to keep me in this trap the ministry we were doing could have very well been destroyed.

Another way Satan will intimidate you is through Scripture. He will use people in positions of authority to quote verses to you. They will say to you, “It says right here in Scripture that we have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness, purchased with his blood and forgiven for all of our sins.” Therefore, according to their reasoning, since I have been washed in the blood, all the past is done and I don’t need to think about it anymore! This is deadly! This is a trap of the enemy.

While those Scriptures are certainly true, it doesn’t mean that we will be exempt from the consequences of our sins. This includes both those sins we commit and those sins committed against us. We have churches full of people walking around with anger, hatred, jealousy or bitterness in their lives. And people dealing with addictions and compulsions that keep them from living victorious lives. Most of the hurt that remains in people’s lives is hurt which they have not been able to release.


Accusation means bringing charges against someone. We know from Scripture that Satan is the accuser. “For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth – the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10 NLT) How many times does Satan try to stop or destroy us with accusation? He accuses us before God and he accuses us to our face. He will say, “Who do you think you are? You are nothing! You are of no value to God. You don’t have any power to overcome that sin. You are such a hypocrite. You call yourself a Christian. How can you be a Christian and do that? How can you feel that way?!”

I was eighteen when my father was killed. I had just graduated from high school. My father was not an alcoholic but on occasion he would go out and come home drunk. One night he went out and didn’t come back, so my mom went out looking for him. She found him outside a bar, brought him home and then took him to a hospital after she determined he was indeed seriously hurt. We learned later that he was beaten outside a local bar in the town where we lived. He died a week later from the blows to his head. When this came up for a legal hearing the entire case against the men who had beaten him was dropped because there was not enough evidence to bring them to trial. I felt betrayed by the judicial system. I was angry at the police, the sheriff and the judge. As a result, I began to distrust and rebel against authority, especially anyone associated with the legal system. I felt anger toward my father. My reasoning was that it was his fault that he had gone out, gotten drunk and gotten into a fight that left me without a dad when I needed one badly. I felt abandoned and lonely without my father.

I was angry with him and angry with God for taking him. I couldn’t let God love me deeply and intimately, nor could I respond back to Him, because I didn’t want to risk getting hurt again. I found it difficult to get very close to other men; thus, most of my friendships were very superficial. I kept a guard on how close I let anyone get to me. It took a number of years before I was able to come to grips with this and let the hurt and pain surface. After I faced it and dealt with it before God, then I could accept God’s love and let others who wanted to be friends become close to me. Only after I did this was I able to get on with my life and move into an intimate relationship with God and others. After this happened God was able to use me as a channel of His love to others.

What makes this so significant is that many of those years when I was so guarded I was in full-time ministry. I was supposed to have an intimate relationship with God, I was supposed to be open and loving, I was supposed to know how to help people move into loving relationships through forgiveness. But I had given the enemy ample opportunity to accuse me, which made me pull back because of the anger I was hiding. Remember this, Satan stands before God at any opportunity to accuse you and he takes every opportunity you give him by holding on to unforgiveness.

If we have been trapped by Condemnation, Intimidation or Accusation then we are faced with a question. Am, I going to forgive or not? The answer to this question will either keep you trapped or bring you into freedom.

(This is an excerpt from my book, Before You Get Here: Baggage To Drop On Your Way To Heaven.)