We can’t even say “The devil made me do it.” God did not invite Satan into the world; man did. Jesus defeated the devil, but it is man’s job to search and destroy. It is man’s job to send the devil packing, and the place to start is with ourselves. God has already done all He is going to do about the devil. With the authority we have through the Holy Spirit, we sweep that unholy one—the one who did influence us that is for certain—we sweep him out of our existence, out of our territory. The earth we cleanse from his filth is the earth we live in, ourselves. We know now that we want to love “good” and despise evil.
Evil is so easily taken care of. We tell it to go, in Jesus’ name, and it is obligated to leave us alone. Jesus gave us that authority. I have so many personal testimonies of using that authority, for myself, that I know evil lives in terror of me. Is he afraid of you? He should be!
Being born again is death. We pass from one life to another. Scripture tells us that through this death we are given a new spirit, one that can now communicate with God. The Bible tells us that in this new spirit there is even a new language that only God understands. In this new spirit the Holy Spirit now lives with us as a constant companion, a soul brother, a best friend forever. Now the learning process starts all over, only now we learn how to go from independence to complete dependence until we don’t even move our head without the Holy Spirit nodding His approval.
My grandson relates stories to me of his experience on the climbing wall in his school gymnasium, and I am struck by how similar that is to spiritual growth. We start at rock bottom, no matter who we are, we are in the lowest depths of hell, yet when we meet Jesus, we know we can make it to the top. We know that the Holy Spirit will be there encouraging us every step of the way, catching us when our sweaty hands slip, or our shoe gets caught on a rock. We know that with every grip we take on the sure wall of God, a grip we had on ourselves will fade. As we climb we prove the sentence, “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” Every sentence that started with “Yes, but…” goes away. No more “Yes, but You don’t know what I suffered.” No more, “Yes, but they made me do that.” No more, “Yes, but who can control the words that come out of our mouths?” No more self-defense. We were guilty, and our guilt was wiped away.
The story of Adam and Eve explains death. Eve told the serpent they would die if they ate the fruit, and that is exactly what happened. They instantly died spiritually because their communication with God was cut off. No more long walks and talks. Gradually, their bodies died. They were designed to live forever in their glorious state in the magnificent garden, but their bodies returned to dust. Man, in his crowning glory of having learned to control his world, at his peak of dominion, starts to decline and finally ends in a mad dash rush for death.
Am I saying that if we learn to obey God, and we relinquish all our worldly knowledge to obtain all the spiritual knowledge in the Bible, if we take responsibility for the mess we’ve made of the life we were given, and we submit our lives to living like the Bible says, that we will live forever? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. The first lesson we find is that we must be born again. We must become a baby in the arms of our triune God. How do we do that? By humbling ourselves in front of our Heavenly Father and receiving Jesus Christ, His Son, as our Lord, as the one who saves us from ourselves.
In the spiritual life, we can look a little more closely and see that every decision we make is our responsibility. Every word we say is our reality. Our independence in the natural has placed us as guilty before a holy God because we have learned to operate in a filthy world, and so spiritual maturity requires one more spurt of growth. We must learn to be dependent once again. We must learn to lean on God as Adam and He leaned on each other. We must learn we cannot make one decision without asking the Lord what He wants, and lovingly, admiringly, wait for our best-friend-forever’s counsel.
When I first encountered the Lord in my life (He’d been there all the time, I just looked right through Him), and He told me I must say with my mouth that He was my Lord, my answer was this: “No one is going to be my Lord but me!” I did not realize at the time that there is no deeper section of hell than that. The essence of sin manifests itself by declaring it is god and not God Himself. We don’t have the right to be our own gods, or anyone else’s for that matter. We cannot spend our lives lavishing our attention on ourselves or any other icons we make.
When God made Adam, the two of them did not have to take the time to get to know each other. Adam had been aware of every pat of that Hand that put him together. God knew Adam in more detail than Adam knew he had. They started out as soul brothers, best friends forever, inseparable. It was only when Adam sinned that he became afraid of God. That’s the purpose of sin—to separate us from God. We don’t run to someone we fear. What was Adam’s sin? He disobeyed. Then he blamed his action on Eve. Two sins in a row sent him running for cover in the bushes, hiding from God.
In the natural life, we are born as such weak babies that we can’t even lift our head by ourselves. But we grow, slowly it seems to us, as we want to be so independent. “Mine,” is one of the first words we learn. “I’ll do it myself,” is one of our first sentences, and our parents are proud when such vocalization takes place. After all, we raise our children to be independent, able to take care of themselves, individuals with a sense of self-worth. But the child of God takes it a step further.
Underneath all those negative attributes I saw in myself, like Competition, I saw one stone on which they all rested: Murder. It is no accident that the story of Cain and Able is in the Bible. That one incident of Cain killing Able is the example of every action we take against someone else, when all we’re trying to do is promote ourselves. And that’s the whole point. We don’t have to promote ourselves. Our God has planned everything, if we’ll just follow His directions. He is the lifter of our heads.
As a young woman I loved playing tennis, but I don’t remember ever winning a match, or even a game. I loved the action it took to play, and I was happy for whoever won. That’s the only activity I could say that about; for the rest I was out for “the kill.” I don’t want that kind of competitive spirit to be in me; I don’t want to defeat anyone, so I asked the Lord how to get rid of it. He said to starve it. Don’t feed that spirit, and it will go away. When I participate in life by enjoying the action, promoting other people, without focusing on who will win, my Creator enjoys me, and He is the one who wins.
What did I see in myself? Competition. Manipulation. Defiance. Control. Self-Interest. Pride. I mustn’t forget Greed! And many more. I tried to put up a good argument, after all Lord, these are human attributes. Society teaches us that if we want to succeed, we'd better develop these things in ourselves. But Society is wrong. Let me paint a picture for you.
My daughter-in-law sent a picture of my grand-daughter, age six, standing on a dais, waiting to receive her gold medal for having won a lengthy foot-race. Her stance on the dais was humble, almost embarrassed to have won, although happy to have won. Then I looked at all the children surrounding my grand-daughter. Not a single face reflected love, peace, or joy. No one celebrated my grand-daughter’s win. There was anguish, anger, despair, envy, rage, and a few other negatives I could name, on every single face. That’s what competition does. That’s why the Bible says to prefer your brother. Let the other guy have the best seat. Am I saying don’t compete? Certainly not. I’m saying that when I lose, I want my face to shine with love and joy for the one who won, just like Jesus would do.
Because of attitudes, words, and actions formed against me by others, when I was first born again, I was filled with lies that I believed about myself—lies that had haunted me from my early childhood. Because of the turmoil within me, I asked the Lord to help me sort things out. He said, “It’s not what has happened to you that created this turmoil (I was an illegitimate child, my stepfather raped me for years, etc.); it’s because of the lies you’ve believed about yourself that has created the chaos.” He then gave me a prayer process to expose the lie (one at a time), recognize the damage it had done and where it came from, and then to receive the truth, pull out the lie, and plant the truth in its place. I used that process to pull out more than 200 lies.
I have been changed, and yet I could see quite clearly that I was not the very image of Jesus Christ. Though my mind was renewed and my emotions were healed, where was the nature of my Lord? I wanted to be like Him. What more was required of me? Then I saw it. Beneath that layer of lies lay the mass of myself. No one had inflicted on me the disgusting matter that I saw; I had created myself to be like that. I probably entered into a state of what the old-timers called “Dying to Self.”
To be continued. . . .
The new creation we become is hungry for The Word. Like a baby cries for milk, the only food that satisfies our new spirit is The Word of God. We want to live up to it. We plant the Word of God in us simply by reading it, and then the Spirit of Christ, who lives in us, uses the Word to rebuild our lives. If we read it enough, we’ll start talking like it does, and believing what it says, and we will have and be what God created in us from the beginning. His Word is Jesus. His Word is life. His Word is light. His Word is love. His Word is clear and emphatic, and when we live His Word we bring Him satisfaction and He says of us, “It is good, very good. . . .”
Jesus said we sow The Word, we speak it out of our mouths, and that Word produces a harvest, slowly but surely. Just like a stem cell has the full, mature life of the baby in it, that cell must divide and multiply—grow, in other words—and it will produce a harvest. The seed we sow is The Word of God, words coming out of our mouths that agree with God’s Words, and we sow them into the Wind of the Holy Spirit. Every seed, every Word from God, contains a full, mature life, and when it is sown, other forces come along side to promote the maturation of the seed. A seed of wheat needs soil, water, and sun. A seed of the Word needs perseverance, loyalty, and faith. Loyalty means He can count on me. Faith means I can count on Him. Usually, only adverse conditions can produce the other forces we need.
This new life that we live will work itself out from the deep place in us where it has been planted. Just like a seed sends forth a shoot, The Word will begin to grow in that deep place and illuminate our thoughts. Just like leaves will unfold from the new stem growing out of the ground, our words will be formed by the Word growing in our spirits. Just like fruit will ripen for harvest, our bodies will reflect our Lord Jesus Christ. We will react to adverse conditions with the love, the tenderness, the honesty, the forthrightness, the boldness, and the humbleness that Jesus taught just by living among us as our example.
To be continued. . . .
It takes the Bible a long time to present Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is a long progression of introducing the Son of God to the world as He is found in every book, becoming more and more real, and the world more and more ready to receive Him, though not all. But when the Light of God opens the eyes of man, his first reaction is to see himself as being full of sin. He sees the devastation he has made of his life, when the Creator had set before Him true existence, yet he chose darkness. Most people, when they see the Son of God, want to be just like Him. Some prefer the dark road, the sinful path that makes man an enemy of God. However, the soul of the man who chooses the Light is then broken up, the whole creation he made of himself goes back into chaos, and the Holy Spirit starts to build him once again, building him into the very image of Jesus Christ.
God’s creation satisfies the Creator, and what the Holy Spirit re-creates in a man satisfies God. It may take time. In fact, the time it takes depends on the surrender of the man. Did he surrender all to the Light? Or did he harbor some darkness on the side? Once the Holy Spirit has been invited in, He never leaves, and eventually all the darkness will leave. How does the Holy Spirit work? By The Word.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63).
To be continued. . . .
Writing has been in my blood, so to speak, but when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and He told me to write, all my trepidations rolled away and I began in earnest! After all, if God Almighty says it was His idea that I be a writer, who am I to stand in His way? My hope is that you not only like what I write, but that your life is moved by it, and that your party to Jesus and with Jesus turns your life into days of Heaven on Earth.