This is an excerpt from Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
Chapter 30: Closing the Circle
It would seem, after having been a Christian for almost eighty years, that I would no longer do ugly things that need forgiving. Yet I am constantly doing things to others that cause me to have to go back and ask their forgiveness. Sometimes these are things I actually do - other times they are simply attitudes I let creep in which break the circle of God's perfect love.
I first learned the secret of closing the circle from my nephew, Peter van Woerden, who was spending the weekend with me in our little apartment in Baarn, Holland.
"Do you remember that boy, Jan, that we prayed for?" Peter asked.
I well remember Jan. We had prayed for him many times. He had a horrible demon of darkness in his life and although we had fasted and prayed and cast out the demon in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the darkness always returned.
Peter continued, "I knew God had brought this boy to me not only so he could be delivered, but to teach me some lessons too."
I looked at Peter. "What could that boy, Jan, so filled with darkness, teach you?"
"I did not learn the lesson from Jan," Peter smiled. "But from God. Once in my intercession time for Jan the Lord told me to open the Bible to I John 1:7-9. I read that passage about confessing our sin and asked the Lord what that had to do with the darkness in Jan's life."
Peter got up and walked across the room, holding his open Bible in his hand. "God taught me that if a Christian walks in the light then the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses him from all sin, making his life a closed circle and protecting him from all outside dark powers. But - "he turned and emphatically jabbed his finger into the pages of the Bible - "If there is unconfessed sin in that life, the circle has an opening in it - a gap - and this allows the dark powers to come back in."
Ah, I thought, Peter has really learned a truth from the Lord.
"Tante Corrie," Peter continued, "even though I was able to cast out the demon in Jan's life, it always crept back in through the opening in the circle - the opening of Jan's unconfessed sin. But when I led Jan to confess this sin, then the circle was closed and the dark powers could no longer return."
That same week the wife of a good friend came to me for counseling. After I had fixed her a cup of tea she began to tell me about all the people who had prayed for her, yet she was still experiencing horrible dreams at night.
I interrupted her conversation and drew a circle on a piece of paper. "Mary," I said, "do you have unconfessed sin in your life? Is this the reason the circle is still open?"
Mary said nothing, sitting with her head down, her hands tightly clasped in her lap, her feet together. I could see there was a strong battle going on in her life - a battle between spiritual forces.
"Do you really want to be free?" I urged.
"Oh, yes," she said.
Suddenly she began telling me about a strong hatred she had for her mother. Everyone thought she loved her mother, but inside there were things that caused her actually to want to kill her. Yet, even as she spoke, I saw freedom coming into her eyes.
She finished her confession and then quickly asked Jesus to forgive her and cleanse her with His blood. I looked into her eyes and commanded the demon of hatred to lave in the name of Jesus.
What Joy! What freedom!
Mary raised her hands in victory and began to praise the Lord, thanking Him for the liberation and forgiveness He had given her. Then she reached over and embraced me in a hug so tight I thought she would crack my ribs.
"Dear Lord," she prayed, "I thank You for closing the circle with Your blood."
Having thus learned to close the circle by confessing my sins, I wish I could say that ever since then the circle has remained closed in my life. It is not so. For since Satan comes against us so often, then it is necessary to confess often, also. Regardless of how old a person may be, or how long he has ministered in the Name of Jesus Christ, that man still needs to confess his sins again and again - and ask forgiveness.
This truth became painfully clear to me recently when I was invited to Washington, D.C., to speak to a luncheon of businessmen and women. I love to talk to businessmen and was very excited about the meeting. When I arrived, however, I found only women present. This upset me for I felt that men needed to hear the message of forgiveness also.
After the meeting a fine-looking lady came up to me. "I am in charge of arranging the program for the world convention of our ladies'group,"she said. "Some of the most influential women in the world will be present. Would you come speak to us in San Francisco?"
I was still miffed that no men had been present for the luncheon. It's not that I disapprove of women's meetings. But I am concerned when men leave the spiritual activity to the women. God is calling men. Thus, I gave her a short, discourteous answer. "No, I will not. I must speak to men also. I don't like this business of all women."
She was very gracious. "Don't you feel that you are the right person?" she asked.
"No," I said, "I am not the right person. I do not like this American system where men go about their business leaving the women to act like Christians. I will not come." I turned and walked away.
Later that afternoon I was in my room, packing to catch the plane. The Lord began dealing with me. "You were very rude to that woman," He said again, gently.
I argued with the Lord. "But Lord, I feel that Your message is for all people, not just the women."
"You were very rude to that woman,"He said again, gently.
He was right, of course. He always is. I had been speaking on forgiveness, but was unwilling to ask forgiveness for myself. I knew I was going to have to go that gracious woman and apologize - confess my sin. Until I did, the circle would be open in my life and Satan would be pouring in many other dark thoughts as well.
I looked at my watch and saw I had only enough time to finish my packing and get to the airport. It made no difference. If I left Washington without closing the circle, I would be no good anywhere else. I would just have to miss my plane.
I called the front desk and found which room the woman was in. Then I went to her room. "I must ask your forgiveness," I said as she opened the door. "I spoke to you rudely."
She was embarrassed and tried to pass it off. "Oh, no," she said, "you were not unkind. I understand perfectly. I, too, feel that men should be the spiritual leaders, not women."
She was returning my unkindness with kindness, but that was not what I needed. I needed for her to admit that I was wrong about not speaking to women, and forgive me. I know it is often more difficult to forgive than to ask forgiveness, but it is equally important. To withhold forgiveness often leaves another person in bondage, unable to close the circle, and thus open to further attacks from Satan. It is as important to forgive as it is to ask forgiveness.
This sensitive woman understood. Reaching out and tenderly touching my hand, she said, "I understand, Tante Corrie. I forgive you for your remarks about women's groups and I forgive you for being unkind to me."
That was what I needed to hear. In the future I would indeed speak to women's groups. I would also keep a watch on my lips when tempted to speak unkindly. I missed my plane, but the circle was closed.