Over the years we have seen a lot of confusion around the issue of renunciations. Do they actually work? If so, how? And when should we use them?
To be sure, a full review of this would take a small book. But let us offer a few guidelines.
First, a few verses:
Not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions (Lk.14:33 NET).
We have renounced the things hidden because of shame (2Cor.4:2 NASB).
Training us to renounce (NET = ‘reject’) impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly (Titus.2:12 NRSV)
These all refer to an aspect of salvation and sanctification which is a turning away from sin. If we take Paul’s reference seriously about verbal confession (Rom.10:9-10) then it is not unreasonable to say that this kind of rejection of evil can include a verbal renunciation.
How does this help us? Because our ‘say-so’ matters. What we align with and agree with matters. If I renounce my family’s heritage of self-hate that has plagued multiple generations, I declare to my own soul and to the powers of the air that I will not allow this lie to rule my life. I may or may not be free yet in that moment, but my resolve is to work with God for healing and truth and a renewal of my self-identity that ca live without self-condemnation. It matters.
Not an Incantation
Renunciations are not magic. Contrary to some contemporary teaching, we do not fix things by merely speaking over them, exercising some power inherent in our words. Yet at the same time, our words to matter.
Sometimes people try to repress fleshly desires through “renunciation.” This can lead to serious problems. Pushing something out of my conscious awareness is not a renunciation but a mild form of willful dissociation. But renunciation is not the same thing as repression. In a nutshell, renunciation wants something to leave my soul, whereas repression assumes I cannot get rid of it but only control it. Here are a few contrasts:
Repressing // Renouncing
try not to think about // it think of it as a foreign invasion
control // release
overpower // abandon
squelch, bottle up // disavow, repudiate
To sum up, repression buries the problem in my soul somewhere; renunciation rejects its claim on me and wants it out of my life.
Neil Andersen built an entire ministry of helping people renounce the dark things in their life. When used at the right time in the right frame of mind, this is a powerful weapon against the enemy. At times it offers a full release; at other times it jump-starts a victorious process.
Legitimate renunciations need to be part of every Christian’s set of tools for combating the evil that can otherwise hold us in bondage.