ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: DEALING WITH FEAR, Part 3
July 18, 2014
We start again with II Timothy 1:7, amplified from the Greek text: "For God has not endowed, or committed to our being and existence the spirit (the very breath and speaking forth) of fear, timidity and faithlessness; but of miraculous power, might and strength, and of agape love, and of a disciplined mind (under control and not subject to "flights of fancy")." (RAC Translation and Amplification)
The fear that took hold of Adam and Eve in the Garden did NOT come from their relationship with God: it came as a direct byproduct of yielding to the serpent's lies and disobedience to God's command. As we have already noticed in the previous Coffee Break, no sooner had Eve eaten of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil with Adam following suit, The Fear of Evil gripped them both.
A chain reaction was set in motion and the Fear of Evil opened the door to the Fear of Man. As we will see in the following sequence, the Fear of Death became the third family of fear to invade their beings.
You see the working of these spirits already, do you not? The Fear of Evil affects our relationship with the Lord directly. In Adam and Eve's case, the first thing they did was to run and hide from the Lord. The Fear of Man contaminates the way we relate one to another. We saw the "blame game" begin as Adam and Eve were confronted by God and challenged as to their disobedience. The first thing Adam did was to avoid his own responsibility and point his finger at God for having given a "faulty" Eve to him. Then he proceeded to point the finger at Eve and instead of acknowledging responsibility for his own actions, he put it all off on her.
The Fear of Man, you see, infects our perceptions of our spouses, our family members, those with whom we connect on a daily basis such as our neighbors or those with whom we work at our jobs or in our careers. We live in an era in which the Fear of Man has literally taken hold in every segment of society.
Our politicians live under the Fear of Man. They run their elections based on how they are perceived by the electorate instead of basing their electioneering on the real truth of what they stand for. Then when they are elected, depending on their polling of public opinion regarding an issue, they compromise themselves and their votes rather than standing up and being counted for who they are and what they believe.
Excuse me for a minute while I digress. Our society today is being groomed by people in places of authority who, themselves, suffer from the Fear of Man. Folks are being taught to avoid responsibility, to point the finger at someone else or something else in order to avoid taking personal responsibility for their actions or their statements. If a person has failed in some area or committed a crime, the finger gets pointed at their parents for failing to raise them correctly; or maybe some lame brained excuse is made that their act or remarks were justified because of someone else's act or words.
This issue has permeated the body of Christ and has manifested itself in a variety of ways. Let me demonstrate for you with some examples of doctrines which have been part and parcel of some major segments of the body.
Apostles and prophets died out at the end of the first century. Why introduce a heresy like that when Ephesians 4 clearly specifies that Jesus gave these ministry functions "For the perfecting (the complete furnishing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying (the architecture, the structure and the confirming) of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity (the oneness and agreement together) of the faith, and of the knowledge (the full revelation) of the Son of God, unto a perfect (whole and complete) man, unto the (required) measure of the stature (maturity) of the fulness (the completion) of Christ." ? (Ephesians 4:12-13, KJV with my amplification)
Let's see...the last time I checked, we weren't there yet.
So why ignore that very important part of our destiny in Christ Jesus? The simple answer is that when folks recognize that the Lord has given certain authority, certain revelation, and specific anointing to lead, to teach, to direct, to correct, to admonish, to warn and to provide overall guidance from and through Holy Spirit in the growth and development of the body of Christ, if they suffer from the Fear of Man, they fear having someone in authority over them. The practices within the body of Christ that led to this "doctrine of cessation," are found in what John refers to in Revelation 2:6 and 2:15 as "the doctrine (and deeds) of the Nicolaitans." The doctrine of the Nicolaitans is two-sided and is rooted in the Fear of Man.
The doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitans manifest either as "power over the people" or as "power to the people." As I have noted in previous Coffee Breaks, for those who fear power being vested in a few people, they choose a form of government within the structured church world we know as "congregational" government. We call it "power to the people." Another, more specific term would be "democratic." (I'd like to take this discussion a lot further, but won't today for the sake of staying on track.)
The other side of this doctrine fears power or authority being vested in the so-called "common people," and instead chooses power or authority being vested in a few." We know this within the structured church as "hierarchical government" with tiers of leadership beginning with a pastor or priest and moving upward through various diminishing tiers until you reach the point at which a single leader speaks for God. That single leader determines what should be taught, transmits the teaching through the various tiers until it reaches the pastor or priest who, for all practical purposes, becomes the puppet of the governing authorities above him with little or no sensitivity to what Holy Spirit is saying.
No matter how you slice it, you get the Fear of Man -- one way or the other. If you fear power being vested in a few, you choose democracy in the body of Christ. If you fear power being vested in "the congregation," you choose hierarchical church structure. Either way, you have man in charge -- NOT God!! The miracle that I see is that Holy Spirit has overcome centuries of this kind of error and fear being propagated in order to bring about a people in this day and this hour who could care less whether folks will like them, or receive them, or reject them. They are more interested in what Holy Spirit is doing and saying, and what Jesus gets out of the bargain in the end.
Here's another screwball doctrine that permeated the body of Christ for centuries -- and again, one based in the Fear of Man: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit with Speaking in Tongues is of the Devil. Another variant of this is not quite so severe, but it goes like this: If God Wants Me to Speak in Tongues, He'll Give it to Me. The corollary to this argument is that Speaking in Tongues is Not Really Necessary in Order to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit.
I know some of you are looking a bit cross-eyed at me right now, wondering how in the world I come up with this as being based in the Fear of Man. Let me explain something about the Fear of Man: this spirit of fear wants you to be in complete control of yourself, your normal senses (such as seeing, hearing, speaking, touch, and smelling) and your surroundings. This fear focuses on the way you perceive yourself, the way you think folks perceive you, and the way you perceive those people around you. It is all the more magnified when the people around you are your closest friends, your family members, the people you associate with on your job, and especially those who may be in authority over you as far as your career is concerned. (I've only scratched the surface here.)
When one is baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues is the (super) natural evidence of it taking place. Many people fear speaking in tongues -- most of them subconsciously -- because they have absolutely no control of their tongue. What comes forth when they yield to Holy Spirit in many cases comes out as something strange -- even gibberish -- and for folks who are afraid of losing that control of their tongues, this becomes an absolute no-no! For many, they are afraid of how it makes them look or how they sound; and if they spend a lot of time around non-Spirit filled or non-Spirit baptized believers, their concern is that they will appear foolish to them.
There have been a fistful of articles written by Christians who've tried to analyze speaking in tongues by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Those articles will criticize or even try to state that it is all emotion, that it is nonsensical, that the words have no meaning whatever, that it really isn't any language being spoken and/or that the sounds coming forth are all made up in the mind of the person speaking.
Before I continue, let me make something abundantly clear. NO ONE who has been truly baptized in the Holy Spirit and is seeking an ongoing daily filling by the Spirit will ever argue against speaking in tongues. By the same token, anyone who argues against speaking in tongues, or makes the argument that it isn't really a necessary part of one's walk with the Lord, has NOT been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Let's get to the heart of this issue. Satan does NOT want believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and he certainly doesn't want them to go onward to the daily experience of being filled with the Spirit. Satan does NOT want believers to speak in tongues because he is absolutely threatened when believers can circumvent his ability to interfere with their prayers and their intercession. He is threatened when believers can use a language and a stream of communication directed by Holy Spirit which tears down his places of power and influence.
When a person speaks in tongues, their mind is totally unengaged in the process because they can't control what is coming forth, and what is being prayed or spoken comes directly out of and by Holy Spirit. The tongues-speaking believer simply becomes a vessel and a willing channel for the Spirit of God to work His will in us and in the world around us because of the creative power inherent in His speaking.
Let me illustrate with a couple of Scriptures before we move on.
Psalm 8:2: "Out of the mouth of babes (metaph: those who lack the ability to speak coherently, intelligently, with clarity) and sucklings (metaph: those who've yet to be weaned from milk) hast thou ordained (established, appointed and set in place) strength (force, boldness, power and might), because of thine enemies (adversaries), that thou mightest still (cause to cease) the enemy and the avenger." (KJV, with my amplifications from Hebrew)
I Corinthians 2:7-8: "But we speak the wisdom [*see note] of God in a mystery (a way that conceals it), even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained (established and pre-arranged) before the (beginning of the) world (and this time-space period) unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
[**Note: J. H. Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon identifies the context of the Greek word, sophia, in this instance like this: "the wisdom of God as evinced in forming and executing counsels in the formation and government of the world."]
That said, let's consider Paul's statement (and David's prophecy) like this: When we speak in tongues we are executing the counsels and governance of the Lord in the affairs of this world, whether it pertains to us directly in our immediate circumstances, or whether it effects change in the lives of people we don't even know, or -- again -- in the governing of affairs within our local, our state or our national governments.
I realize that I've gone around a 40-acre field here, but what I'm trying to show is that the power and authority of God we execute when we speak in tongues is a deadly threat to the dominions of Satan and his demonic realm. He fears the believer intensely who readily permits Holy Spirit to use his tongue and the creative power of speech to enact the will and purposes of God. Hence, the Fear of Man works both consciously and sub-consciously to intimidate the believer and keep him/her from responding to Holy Spirit in this way.
Let's get back to Adam and Eve in the Garden. Taking our cue from the responses we saw in Adam and Eve once they were confronted by the Lord for their disobedience, they pointed their fingers at one another, or at God, or at the serpent. Sure, the serpent lied to Eve. He fed her deliberate mis-information so as to entice and deceive her. (That, by the way, is exactly what mis-information and the campaigns of disinformation are all about! But that's another topic we'll get to at some other time.) The issue at hand wasn't that the serpent lied to her. The issue was that she knew God had specifically instructed them to avoid eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
When she ate of that fruit, a dawning was taking place in her, and she didn't want to be alone in her disobedience. She gives it to Adam who knowingly eats of the fruit for reasons we've already discussed. Again, Adam's issue wasn't that he didn't know: he DID know! As soon as he ate of the fruit, he knew he was in trouble. Both of them saw the Glory of the Lord stripped from them as their covering. Now they had no covering whatever. They saw each other in a carnal way for the first time and it scared them.
Into this moment comes the Lord. They hear Him walking as they have heard Him before. Instead of rejoicing and running toward Him, they run away and hide. Fear has taken over. We've already talked about the Fear of Evil, and that's something we'll explore more in the days ahead, but let's get to the confrontation that takes place between God and Adam, and then Adam and Eve, and then Eve and the serpent.
"What have you done," God asks Adam. "Have you eaten of the tree I specifically commanded you to avoid?" What's the first thing Adam does? "It's that woman YOU gave me! It's your fault, God! If you hadn't given her to me in the first place, this wouldn't have happened! She's the one who picked the fruit. She ate of it and then gave it to me, and...by the way...Yes, I did eat of it."
Adam avoids taking personal responsibility for his actions and instead first points the finger at God, and then points the finger at Eve. Do you see what happens when the Fear of Man takes hold?
Next, God speaks to Eve. "What is this that you've done?" Eve is stricken by the same fear that has gripped Adam and avoids personal responsibility for her actions. "The serpent deceived me. He pulled the wool over my eyes and tricked me into eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."
We'll get to the next sequence of events momentarily, but consider what we've just seen take place.
The Fear of Man causes people to avoid taking personal responsibility for their actions or statements. In a husband-wife relationship, if the wife confronts the husband, or the husband confronts the wife with some act or word they consider wrong, evil, or simply offensive, the husband or the wife will respond with some characterization of the other which denigrates them, places the fault at their feet or accuses them of similar offenses.
There have been many marriages or personal friendships which have been broken or dissolved because one or more of the parties have avoided personal responsibility for something they've said or done and instead passed it off on someone else.
Why didn't Adam simply say to the Lord, "You're right, Father! I really blew it! Eve did fail but I should have covered her and canceled her disobedience rather than participating in it myself. I'm asking you for forgiveness, Father! I take full responsibility for what took place."
I rather suspect that we'd have had a VERY different outcome in the Garden had Adam responded that way. The same holds true of Eve. Had she responded with acknowledgement of her disobedience instead of pointing fingers, I believe forgiveness could have taken place. That's an opinion, you understand.
What God is after in each of us is to face our fears and to overcome them. Revelation 2 and 3 take us through seven specific descriptions of things we need to overcome. The Fear of Evil, the Fear of Man and the Fear of Death are clearly included. The crown of the Lord is for the overcomer -- NOT the avoider! We are going to face things we don't like. We are going to be confronted with issues we need to overcome. Avoiding them will only prolong the agony, and keep us from achieving the goal that the Lord Jesus Christ has set before us.
Well, I didn't get as far into the Genesis narrative today as expected, so we will continue with it next week.
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