Being changed into the image of Jesus
Decisions That Bind Us
(taken from the book "I Will Give You Rest" by Edward Kurath)
A Second Problem
As discussed earlier, judging is the first and primary sin that causes bad
fruit in our lives.
There is a second related sin which holds us in bondage, which we call an
Inner Vow. It is a close cousin to judging, although it has its own features.
An Inner Vow is usually present whenever there is a Bitter Root Judgment.
George, a ten-year-old boy, has a father who is a very angry man. His
father's inner anger is taken out on George and his mother and his siblings.
George comes to hate his father, and he judges him. So the consequences
of the first sin of judging takes effect and will cause him trouble later in life.
But at some point George also says to himself, “I am never going to be like
my father.” George has just made an Inner Vow, and this compounds and
expands his future problems.
The judgment against his father is sin, and it plants a bitter root that will
grow inside him and produce bad fruit in his life as a result of the operation
of God’s law. It is simply the way the spiritual universe works.
Inner Vows Add To The Problem
But he has compounded his problem by taking his life into his own hands.
George decides that he will never be like his father, whom he despises. He
has just entered into bondage. What will likely happen in George’s adult life
is that usually he will not get angry, because the Inner Vow represses his
anger. But now and then he will explode in a fit of rage, and those around
him will be wounded. Afterwards he will be angry with himself because he
has just acted exactly the way his father did!
During those times when he is successfully repressing his anger, other
people may sense the anger seething below the surface, but George will be
unaware of it. After all, he has decided that being angry is bad, and he
doesn’t want to admit to himself that he has anger inside. In Chapter 11,
"Emotions Are Your Friend," I will talk more about emotions, their nature,
and how they behave.
The problem for George is that he is locked into this pattern of behavior. He
hates it, but he is powerless to change it. He is again reaping from the
operation of God’s law, but in a slightly different way.
The Nature Of An Inner Vow
The rigid features of "always" or "never" lock us into a specific mode of
behavior, in the same way that a railroad track keeps a train on a specific
route. A railroad track goes from point A to point B. If the engineer wants to
turn off somewhere in between point A and point B, he is unable to do so,
because the railroad track follows a specified path and doesn’t go anywhere
else. Similarly an Inner Vows doesn't allow for any divergence from the
"path" specified by the person's declaration.
We all realize there are things in our lives that need changing, and at times
we make decisions to change. We often call these decisions “New Year’s
Resolutions." We all laugh about them, because we have all made them and
usually we can’t keep them. Why are these decisions so puny while the
Inner Vows are so powerful?
Why Inner Vows Are So Powerful
The difference between the New Year’s Resolution and an Inner Vow is that
the resolution was made with our head, whereas the Inner Vow was made
with our heart. The way the Inner Vow got into our heart was that at the time
we made it we were very much living from our heart. We were in a state of
bitterness, and our emotions were greatly stirred. When we made an Inner
Vow we were judging, and it is the power of the sin of judging that gives the
Inner Vow its power.
It is important to note that many Inner Vows are not consciously spoken or
even thought. This is especially true with small children. Even though they
may not yet know how to talk, yet they can still make Inner Vows.
We Reacted To Hurtful Situations
And yet there was another powerful dynamic going on when we made the
Inner Vow. At that moment we were taking our life into our own hands. We
decided that nobody else was going to rescue us from this awful situation,
and so we were going to have to take control of our own life. Thus we
judged God and we were presumptuous. In our opinion God was not fixing
the situation, so we needed to do it. We presumed that we had the ability to
protect ourselves with our own power. This sin is a cousin to judging.
Remember that when we judge another person we are usurping God’s role,
because we don’t trust Him to be the just judge. In the case of an Inner Vow,
when we decide to do it ourselves, we are again usurping God’s role. We do
this because we don’t trust Him to take care of us. Right from the Garden of
Eden there has been a tendency for man to want to be like God, to take His
How The Inner Vow Relates To Sin
The Inner Vow itself is not sin, because we have a right to make decisions.
But at the time that we make an Inner Vow, we have bitterness in our heart.
In that moment we don't trust God to be our protector, and we decide to take
control. We decide to take God's place and to be our own protector.
When we do that, we are in sin. When we sin in this way, our willpower no
longer has authority over the decision that we made in our moment of
bitterness. In that moment of bitterness, a bitter root was planted in our
heart. A spiritual event occurred, writing the decision in our heart. Now that
decision is no longer under the authority of our own power. God's laws are
now impelling it to operate as we had decided. After this point we cannot
decide to renounce it and make it stop operating. From then on it will direct
our life, perhaps making us do things we no longer want to do.
Summary Of Features Of An Inner Vow
1. An Inner Vow is a decision we make that contains the words
"always" or "never.
2. Therefore, an Inner Vow is rigid and locks us into specific
3. The most powerful ones were made when we were very small.
4. They are often forgotten by our conscious mind, or were never
verbalized or consciously made.
5. Often we only know that an Inner Vow is present because of the
bondage in our life.
6. An Inner Vow is always connected to a Judgment. There may be
several Inner Vows connected with one Judgment.
How To Stop The Operation Of An Inner
The power of an Inner Vow in our life can be broken. Since sin is what gave
it power, first we need to deal with the sin. But what sin? Remember that
when we made the Inner Vow we were in the process of judging. Then we
committed the second sin, of being our own God – "I will do it myself."
To break the power of the Inner Vow in his life, George needs to do the
1. First he needs to recognize that he judged his father, forgive him
from his heart, and receive forgiveness from God.
2. Then he also needs to recognize how he judged God (because
He wasn't protecting him the way he thought God should) and decided
to take his life into his own hands. He then needs to forgive God from
his heart and receive forgiveness from God.
3. Then George can successfully renounce the Inner Vow. He
would say something like this, "In the Name of Jesus, I renounce the
decision that I made to never be like my father. It had been written in
my heart, and Jesus, I ask You to erase it and to set me free, so that I
can be free to obey You."
How does he know that he has been successful? The rigid behavior will
stop. George will be able to be appropriately angry at the appropriate time,
and the outbursts of rage will stop.
Again I want to emphasize that this is not a formula, or a rote prayer. The
example I have presented simply lays out the principles, but we need to say
the appropriate words that the Lord gives us to speak.
A Common Fear
Sometimes people are afraid to renounce their Inner Vows. Because he
wants so desperately to not be like his father, George may find it difficult to
renounce his Inner Vow. He is afraid that if he does so, he will become like
his father. That would be intolerable (even though he currently acts like him
anyway). But what actually happens when he is set free of the bondage of
the Inner Vow is that he is free to feel the anger when it is present. After all,
the anger was always present, but previously he wasn't free to feel it. He
needs to feel it so that he can recognize that he has judged the person who
currently transgressed him, and then he can process it by forgiving and
being forgiven. I will speak more about this in Chapter 11 on emotions.
What About “Good” Inner Vows?
When George said “I will never be like my father," he might also have said “I
will always be nice.” What is wrong with this vow? Isn’t it a good thing to
always be nice? Sometimes we are reluctant to see that a “good” Inner Vow
is a problem, but Inner vows always create difficulties for us. For instance,
George has his car repaired and the mechanic overcharges him by $50. If
George has made an Inner Vow to always be nice, it will be impossible for
him to confront the mechanic, because that wouldn't be "nice." So he may
rationalize his behavior: “Oh, well. It’s only $50, and I know he has a family
to support, so I won't say anything.” It would be appropriate to ask the
mechanic politely about the overcharge, but the rigidity of the Inner Vow
interferes with George’s ability to do this.
George may also rationalize that it is good to be "nice," and so a "good"
Inner Vow is OK. However, Jesus never told us to be "nice." Was He “nice”
when he called the scribes and Pharisees “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7),
or called them “whitewashed sepulchres” (Matthew 23:27)? Was He "nice"
to the moneychangers when He overturned their tables in the temple? He
didn’t tell us to be “nice," but to be “loving," and there is a very big
difference between the two. It was because of His love for His Father that
He cleansed the temple.
This "good" Inner Vow that George made was based upon sin, and
therefore it is not "good." We need to be free of anything that is based upon
sin and bondage. Therefore we need to be free of all Inner Vows, including
"Good" inner vows compel us to establish our own righteousness, whereas
Jesus came to express His righteousness through us. We need to be free to
let Him do this, rather than to be locked into our own decision which may be
different than what the Lord wants.
How To Know That An Inner Vow Is
There are two ways to identify the presence of an Inner Vow.
• Directly. Recognize the presence of the Inner Vow by the
symptoms it produces in our life - rigid behavior that we hate.
• Indirectly. When we have identified a Judgment, then look for
any Inner Vows that may be attached to it.
Identifying An Inner Vow Directly
Inner Vows lock us into rigid behaviors. Any time we find ourselves doing
things we don’t want to do and we find ourselves unable to stop the
behavior, an Inner Vow is probably present. This sounds a lot like the
reaping from a root of bitterness, and it should. Any time there is an Inner
Vow, it is linked to a Bitter Root Judgment. They work as a unit to produce
the rigid behavior. Therefore, any time we identify an Inner Vow, we need to
look for the Judgment that gave rise to the Inner Vow.
Once we can identify the Judgment we can remember the event where we
were wounded and we judged. Then we can likely remember the words that
we uttered when we made the Inner Vow. It is also possible that we cannot
consciously remember making an Inner Vow, or exactly what we said. But
the rigid pattern in our life will give us a clue to what we said.
Identifying An Inner Vow Indirectly
The second way to identify the presence of an Inner Vow is to start with the
judgment and track back to any Inner Vows. When we realize that we have
judged another person, then look for any Inner Vows that are connected to
it. At the moment that we judge, we almost always make an Inner Vow, or
several Inner Vows.
George may have made three (or more) at that moment of bitterness, such
as, “I will never be like my father," "I will never get angry," and "I will always
Always keep in mind that, whenever we identify an Inner Vow, there is
always a Judgment that preceded it. This is always true, because it is the
Judgment that gave the vow the power to be written in our heart and to thus
become an Inner Vow. On the other hand, when we identify a Judgment,
there is usually, but not always, at least one Inner Vow present.
Therefore, to erase an Inner Vow we must first take away the power that
wrote it on our heart - the Judgment. We do this by forgiving and being
forgiven by Jesus.
An Inner Vow is a mechanism that is always linked to a Bitter Root
Judgment. Working together they cause us to do the things we don’t want
to do. When an Inner Vow is operating, it produces rigid and inflexible
behavior, and our willpower is unable to overcome it. All Inner Vows, even
“good” ones, need to be removed. Otherwise they will hold us in bondage;
and they will obstruct our ability to obey Jesus.
How This Chapter Fits In
The purpose of this chapter has been to help you recognize why you are
stuck in rigid behaviors that you hate.
This chapter was also essential as a preparation for a more full
understanding Chapter 9.
Skipping Chapter 8
You may note that we will be skipping Chapter 8 on the website. You can
come back to it if you buy the book.
It deals with your relationship with your parents (both historically and now),
as described by God:
"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has Eventually you need to understand what it means to "honor" them if life is
commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well
with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you."
(Deuteronomy 5:16, NKJV).
to go well for you. Remember, when we align with how God says things
will go well, they do. If not, they don't.
But skipping it for now will not break the flow of what I would like you to
If what you have been reading makes sense to you, then to
actually take this journey out of your brokenness and into peace,
you need the whole story.
My book, "I Will Give You Rest" gives you the whole story,
including the scriptures revealing how Jesus and you can do this.
He came to give us life here and now, not just in the life to come.
Click here to see how to buy the book.
Copyright 2003 Edward Kurath
|Chapter 9 is perhaps the most profound presentations in this
It will help you to understand yourself and how you got wounded,
and will therefore help you to better understand how to be set
Click here to go to Chapter 9, or click on the
list on the left of this page.