October 17, 2014
I like days like today. You wake up in the morning, the presence of the Lord is there, it’s kind of like Dr. Luther Mieir used to say, “Good Morning, Lord! Sure glad you’re here.” Now I know some of you wiseacres wake up, wipe the sleepy seeds from your eyes and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!” See. It’s like this. You’ve got to change your whole frame of mind when you wake up. Hehehehehe…….
Your attitude when you wake up in the morning can affect your work, the words that come out of your mouth…actually, it can change your entire day. That’s why today is the best day of my life. Tomorrow will be even better. Know why? Because – to quote one of my friends – "God don’t make no junk days!"
David had it figured out right when he sang, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
Let's take a slightly different approach today to dealing with fear. I'm addressing -- perhaps a bit from an oblique way -- the Fear of Evil, and how it affects folks in ministry.
A number of years ago, I met with a group of perhaps eight or ten pastors over lunch to discuss a really contentious topic: deliverance. You understand that this topic is only contentious for those folks who’ve adopted the mindset and doctrine that Christians can’t be afflicted with evil spirits.
The doctrine really does come out of the mis-interpretation of the word, daimonizomai, and its usage in the KJV as “being possessed” by demons. Possession conveys the wrong idea entirely. Possession connotes ownership. People aren’t “owned” by demons, any more than they are “owned” by Holy Spirit.
When we invite Jesus Christ into our lives, He takes up “his abode” with us. If we continue to yield to the leading and guidance He provides through Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity and authority to become totally free in every aspect of our lives. Once a person has begun the process of salvation, deliverance, healing, walking in health and prosperity, it is somewhat like the kid who throws a big rock in a pond. You have a big splash, but then there are the ripples that seemingly continue outward for a long time thereafter.
Deliverance is like that. Your initial experience of being set free from unclean spirits may be dramatic, but there are the ripples – the ongoing revelations that come by the Holy Spirit – that continue on for months, and sometimes years.
Demons, unclean spirits, evil spirits – no matter how you refer to them – can only create impulses; they can lead you through the pleasures of your flesh, they can create thoughts in your mind, and they can drive you through fear -- whether that fear be the Fear of Evil, the Fear of Man, or the Fear of death -- through doubt or through unbelief to commit certain acts or take certain actions that lead you into sin, or take you away from the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Evil spirits operate in two ways: internally – through thoughts implanted in your mind, and externally – by creating a set of circumstances or “supernatural” manifestations that generate fear, doubt and unbelief.
The eight or ten pastors that met with me that day over lunch knew, and confessed to me, that Christians could be afflicted and tormented by evil spirits. Nevertheless, they had adopted – for the sake of convenience and political expediency within their churches – the anti-deliverance doctrine.
I took them to task over their arrogant expediency, and quoted to them from Jeremiah 8:11-12, “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.”
I rebuked these pastors for telling their folks that they were free when many of them were still being tormented. They were saying to the people, “It’s just your flesh. You need to discipline your flesh and bring it under subjection.”
So what’s wrong with an answer like that? Nothing. Except that it doesn’t go far enough. It stops short. You cannot bring unclean spirits under subjection. You don’t discipline evil spirits. You kick them out!
In the months that followed, three of those men fell “among them that fall”(see Daniel 11:33) – they fell into sin themselves. All three were removed from their places of ministry. One was indicted by a federal grand jury and wound up in prison.
Of the remaining pastors, one began to suffer ill health and turned his senior pastorate over to his son – who also happened to be among that group of pastors. The son, when he took over the pastorate, later called me and acknowledged that they had been wrong. He asked me out to lunch, and made it clear that I would be welcome to come and share and teach in their church any time.
Another of the pastors present that day at the luncheon began to repent of his anti-deliverance stance when the fall began for the three who were later removed from their ministries. I was pleased to sit in his church one Sunday and hear him openly repent for having taught error. He began to call people to acknowledge their need for deliverance and respond to the authority available in Christ Jesus.
The sixth man in that group was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease. Although he acknowledged to me privately that he knew I had spoken the truth, he refused to acknowledge it publicly and died two years later. It was a real loss to me because he had been a dear friend and brother in the Lord whose ministry I had otherwise greatly appreciated.
The other pastors moved on, and I never heard how their ministries prospered or failed. It was a graphic picture I’ve never forgotten.
This is something that the Lord Jesus Christ takes very seriously. You cannot pretend that folks are free, tell them they are free, and withhold the deliverance from them or the understanding that deliverance is necessary to deal with certain issues in their spiritual lives because you either "fear the people" or because of doctrinal compromise stemming from the Fear of Evil, and not suffer the consequences. The responsibilities that accompany spiritual leadership are great.
Jesus paid the complete price for our freedom on the Cross. He took back the authority that had been given Satan and made it available to all believers. Everything that Satan stole from us – everything! – was now available to those who would seize it.
Jesus put it like this: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.”
When an individual is called by the Lord, anointed for leadership, and equipped by Holy Spirit to teach and to lead folks into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and then that individual knowingly avoids teaching and sharing truths that will set folks free from bondage, he or she effectively leaves Jesus hanging on the Cross instead of presenting Him as the resurrected and risen Christ who has taken the final authority over death and all that Satan seeks to do to retain his control of the human race.
Wheww! That was a mouthful! Let me put it another way.
Jesus’ death and resurrection proved that there is no enemy man cannot subdue when that subduing takes place utilizing the power and authority He has given. To cheat folks out of that authority is unconscionable.
One of the worst fables being taught by those who seek to make Salvation a once-and-for-all event, presupposing that once a person is a Christian, it is impossible for Satan to afflict them, is the idea that evil or unclean spirits cannot remain in the presence of the Lord.
That flies in the face of Job, Chapter 1, where Satan presents himself before the Lord and God asks him if he has considered his righteous servant, Job. It becomes an event in which Satan repeatedly tests Job and returns to stand before God to continue his arguments, “Yeah, but if you do this, Job will turn on you…” What Satan is playing on in this instance is the Fear of Evil.
Consider for a moment, each and every event where Jesus ministered deliverance. The individuals who were under the influence and/or being afflicted by the evil spirits did not flee from His presence. Not one of the evil spirits fled from the individuals until they were ordered to do so by the Lord, and in a couple of cases we have examples of them arguing with Him over having to depart.
In each case Jesus held firm. The unclean spirits recognized His authority over them and finally departed at His command. But they didn’t leave until they were commanded to. There is not one single case of an evil spirit leaving as soon as Jesus was present.
It makes a nice, religious doctrine for folks to believe that once they have Christ in their lives, no unclean spirit can remain, but there isn’t one shred of evidence in Scripture to support such a doctrine. More often than not, that doctrine is bolstered by a fear of Satan and the lying concoction that he is almost as powerful as God. What hogwash!
What is truth is that individuals who allow these spirits to remain in their lives after they have accepted Jesus Christ and made Him the Lord of their lives will suffer raging spiritual battles in their lives. Sadly, too many Christians seem to be unaware of the fact that He has given them the authority to deal with the situation. They do not have to remain in the midst of these struggles.
History is replete with the stories of some of the most influential Christians, saints of God and profound leaders in the body of Christ who have lived their lives with certain aspects of their character under the torment of evil spirits.
Martin Luther, one of the most incredible leaders of the Reformation, and a man responsible for beginning the process of leading Christians out of the Dark Ages, was tormented by a spirit of racism. It hounded him to the day of his death, and he never recognized that Christ had given him the authority to be free of his hatred of the Jews.
John Bunyan, who wrote one of the all-time classics of Christian literature, The Pilgrim’s Progress, was tormented by a spirit that drove him to demand everything at half price. You may laugh at that and think it is something of little consequence, but he was never free to the day of his death. Because of his continuous demands on people to sell him whatever he wanted at half-price, his testimony was compromised, and people had difficulty seeing the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in him.
Was he a Christian at the time of his death? Certainly.
Just because folks are tormented and do battle in certain areas of their lives with unclean and evil spirits does not in any way alter the fact that they have committed their lives to Christ and seek to walk with Him in a love-relationship. It simply means they have not taken advantage of the authority available in Christ Jesus to kick out the tormentors.
It was the prophet Hosea that prophesied, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
When the knowledge of how to be free has been provided and folks fail to avail themselves of it, either through ignorance or willfully because of a religious doctrine that teaches otherwise, they suffer unnecessarily; and there are folks who go to their graves who have given their lives to the Lord that never walk in the liberty Jesus Christ provides – in this lifetime!
Freedom isn’t a when-we-all-get-to-heaven goal or objective. It is a here-and-now reality available to everyone who seizes it and takes it by force from an enemy who seeks to cheat them. It is available to the newborn Christian. It is available to the seasoned Christian. It is available to the weakest Christian. It is available to all who will avail themselves of the power and authority Jesus Christ provides.
No demon or evil spirit can prevent a Christian from seizing his or her freedom and kicking it out when they appropriate the name, the authority, the power of Jesus Christ. By the same token, no wicked spirit will leave of his own accord just because Jesus is there in a person’s life. That spirit must be commanded to leave, and once gone, the person now freed must continue to resist Satan. There is nothing automatic about it.
This is war, folks! Spiritual warfare! Jesus is after a people who are overcomers. One does not get classified “an overcomer” if he or she does not overcome the world, the flesh and Satan, just as Jesus overcame. We are more than able to overcome Satan!
Wow! I didn’t mean to get preachy today. Just got started sharing things, and the “preach” kind of took off. It isn’t my purpose to fight with folks over doctrines. You can hold any doctrine you want to hold – as long as that doctrine has life and reality in it. If your doctrine(s) keeps you in a place where you lack real peace in your life, I suggest you begin to take another look-see at where that doctrine comes from, and what Jesus actually said and did, and what He is saying to you.
Are you afraid of Satan? Are you afraid that he won't leave when you command him to do so? Are you afraid you will be in worse shape if you try and he doesn't obey? Folks, this is all part of the Fear of Evil! That fear is generated by Satan himself. He's the one who is afraid! He's the one who MUST bow to the name -- the onoma -- of the Lord Jesus Christ IN YOU!!!
In the coming weeks, I will try to share with you some of the experiences I’ve had with folks (and they would fill many books if I recounted them all) throughout the years who have been set free.
Jesus made a statement that puts everything in context. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) That is free “indeed!” Not free because you think you are free; not free because your pastor says you are free; not free because I say you are free; not free because you have a doctrine that says you are free; but free in reality, free experientially, free indeed!
We will continue this next week.
Again, if you are in need of healing -- especially if you have some terminal disease or prognosis of a very short time to live from the doctors -- please join our prayer conference calls on either Monday or Wednesday of each week at 7:00 PM Eastern. Once again, the number to call is (805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#. To get into the queue for prayer, when Randy opens the call up for everyone, hit *6-1 on your keypad. Let us minister to your need for healing!
Blessings on you!
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