Understanding Inner Vows

I don't do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. 16 I do what I don't want to do.

Romans 7:15-16

Have you ever caught yourself saying something like "I'll never be as angry as my father" or "I'll never be fearful like my Aunt" and yet found yourself struggling with the very things you vowed you wouldn't? I have. I'll never be fearful like my grandmother, I'll never have a temper like my dad, I'll never be like my good-for-nothing Uncle. And yet no matter how much we promise ourselves we won't, we end up doing exactly what we don't want to do. Why is that?

Let's do an experiment.

Don't think about the color Green.

Did you think about green? Or did your thoughts go something like green, oh crap no, blue.

Don't think about chocolate chip cookies?

Hungry yet?

Don't think about baseball.


Yah..... I thought so.

The human brain cannot conceive of negatives. When you promise yourself you won't do something, that something organizes the rest of your thought life. When we promise ourselves not to be like "___" or do "___" those things stay at the forefront of our mind and as we continue to ponder on them, we make the problem worse and we become what we don't want to.

These negatives are called "inner vows,"- internal promises we make to ourselves that stem out of negative experiences. Inner vows cause us to define ourselves by what we are not, or by what we don't do, which is as we saw in our experiment above--impossible for our brains to understand.

So what's the answer?

We shift our focus off of defining ourselves by what we aren't or don't want to do and define ourselves by who we are and what God already did for us. There are models out there for how to break an inner vow, but the most important thing we can ever do is take the matter to God, who's ready and willing to demolish vows, judgements, or strongholds, AKA. to heal anything in our lives stopping us from being who we were created to be. This requires us to be familiar with Hearing His Voice, but that's content for a different post.

Inner vows hold us in a prison defined by our negative experiences. By thinking differently about what has happened to us and shifting our focus off the problem and onto the Problem Solver, we break the hold that inner vows have and we're released to be who God created us to be.

Okay, now I really want a chocolate chip cookie!


  1. Thanks Alex for such an insightful post. It is the don't do what I do, do what I say and all we want to do is forget what was said and do what we shouldn't!

  2. GREAT post...you've been reading and/or listening to Bob Hamp, haven't you? :) He uses OREOs instead of Chocolate Chip cookies...

    THANKS for the refresher course! Wonderful.


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