Yahweh's Plan for
Inner Healing and Deliverance
Sabbath School: Saturday 7 June 2003
Have you ever had this experience: someone is trying to tell you something important when suddenly a great heaviness and sleepiness comes over you? Have you ever had this experience: someone is trying to tell you something important and it's as though this huge wall suddenly appears between yourself and the person talking to you and all you want to do is change the subject of the conversation? Have you ever had this experience: someone is trying to tell you something important when suddenly, from within yourself, voices started yelling at you so that you cannot hear what is being said to you? If you have had this experience, or others like it, in which 'something' invisible tries to forcefully stop you from hearing something important that someone else is trying to tell you, then the chances are you have a demon problem. And uncomfortable though that may sound, insulting to your pride though that may be, frightening to your sense of security that that can be, it is nevertheless something that has to be faced.
The idea that there is something nasty inside us when we believe we are basically good people is, of course, bound to be upsetting. Most people will simply deny it. Most just don't want to know. And they will find 'explanations' for their behaviour which minimise their need to exercise responsibility for what is actually a very common phenomenon indeed. People usually think - and they're quote wrong - that you have to do something terrible to have a demon inside you. The idea of being 'demonised' usually means to them (assuming they even believe in the existence of demons) that they are devil-worshippers, murderers, rapists, or something equally obnoxious. However just as there are common colds and cancer in the world of diseases, so there are different kinds of demon problems in people. Just as some illnesses are imaginary or psychologically induced, so some of our mental and emotional problems have nothing to do with demons at all. As I am sure you will agree physical health is important, so also is spiritual health.
I literally went through hell preparing today's sermon. An invisible power did not want me to write it. My family will know how I was yesterday. And then when I got up early this morning to prepare the sermon only three hours before the meeting, a terrible heaviness came over me and all I wanted to do was go back to bed and sleep. Whatever the force was, it wanted me to believe that I was ill and could not prepare the sermon. And I nearly believed it. But once I said 'no' and I started to work, the heaviness began to lift.
I've decided to base my talk to you today on a passage written by the Apostle James which some of you will be familiar with. It reads thus:
"Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
"God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble."
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:1-10, NKJV).
Now this passage may, at first glance, sound as though it's coming from a killjoy. You might be tempted to think to yourself, "Oh, this is just so typical of the way Christianity destroys all joy. Just listen to it! We're told to mourn and be gloomy!" Well, my friend, there are times to mourn - when a loved one passes away, for instance. That's natural. The Book of Ecclesiastes says there are times when certain emotions within us need to be released. There are times to be sad, and they are natural and healthy. Those who refuse to mourn are, in fact, bottling healing feelings away inside themselves.
I have been reading the life story of Adolf Hitler again. He was a normal, feeling human being, like you and I. But a series of events combined in his life to make him the ruthless tyrant that he became. At some critical points in his life he stopped feeling love and became a mass killer. And when he did that, invisible powers started taking control of him. He came to believe that having emotions was a sign of weakness, and in so doing believed a lie. And when you believe a lie, you open a door in your soul to the invisible realm of demons.
The apostle James very clearly tells us the source of inner conflicts in our souls. He tells us that they all start when we start eagerly desiring pleasure. Now there's nothing wrong with pleasure. There's nothing wrong with having fun. We were created by Yahweh to enjoy the good things of His Creation. But pleasure can be a slave-driver when it so consumes us that we start turning away from the crying needs of others all around us. Pleasure is good, but forgetting self and serving others is better. Why is that so? Because that is the way we were made to be. That's the way we are structured inside. We have been made in Yahweh's image, like Him.
In our home we have some plastic model aeroplanes. They're scaled down replicas of the real thing. Occasionally, however, my smaller sons forget that and think they can - and should - fly. The result is that they get broken. Similarly, some youth think that motor cars are for racing around town at great speed. They go as fast at they can crashing into everything. They are called 'joy-riders'. I remember in Oslo one such 'joy-rider' crashing into my parked car. Well, the 'joy'-ride wasn't such fun when the culprit got caught. He had to pay the damages to my car and to others he had thoughtlessly inflicted misery on. It took him seven years to save up the costs to pay for all he had done. That wasn't so much fun. There are consequences - unpleasant consequences - for losing site of our responsibilities to one another.
The apostle James tells us that those who turn away from Yahweh are spiritually reckless. They don't consider the long-term. They don't plan ahead. They are too busy squeezing all the pleasure out of each moment that the future seems light-years away. He says: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." And do you know what he calls that? ADULTERY! Yes, adultery. Are you surprised? "Isn't adultery sleeping with another man's wife?" you ask yourself. Yes, that's right. That's what adultery is. Adultery is using sex for something it was not intended for. But the word 'adultery' has a much broader meaning than that. Adultery is also used in the Bible of people who turn away from Yahweh and give their interests to things other than Him. When we give our attention, affections, love, devotion and passions to activities, things or people that were designed to be given to Him, we become ADULTERERS. We are perverting something inside ourselves that was made for the Creator. And when you do that, you are swinging wide the doors of your minds and hearts and saying: "Demons, welcome!"
That is why the Apostle James says further: "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God". Now these are not light words, are they? He doesn't say: "If you become worldly, God will be slightly annoyed with you." He says that to yearn after the world's way of doing things - the world's way of being - the world's way of building (or destroying) relationships is to make yourself an ENEMY of Yahweh! And why? Simply because Satan - whose name means "adversary" or "enemy" is the one who made this world system with its greed, evil and preoccupation with self. He is the one who designed, conceived, nourished and has brought to maturity what we call 'worldliness'. And you only have to read a newspaper to know what that means.
And yet the world - the world system - is what so many people - the vast majority, in fact - choose. They make the conscious decision to resist the power of godliness inside themselves and turn away. Without realising it, they declare independence from their Creator and say, in the words of Frank Sinatra: "I'll do it my way." And their way - the world's way - is plain for everyone to see.
Now you may not think that simply deciding to have fun at the expense of obedience to Yahweh is a very serious thing. When we read the recent accounts of terrorists in Rwanda and Burundi who go around hacking off the limbs of small children and eating them in front of their parents while the children bleed to death, we don't make the connection to 'worldliness' that this actually is because it is just too ghastly. But the fact of the matter is that the decision to turn away from God puts you on the path that leads ultimately to such things. And though it may deeply offend your moral sense of self-righteousness, the fact is it's the truth. The difference is only in degree. The difference between rejecting God and becoming a brutal murderer and cannibal is simply time and a number of other choices which causes you to reject more and more of the truth. This may enrage you, cause you to shake your head in disbelief, and likely even turn away, but it's the truth nonetheless. And you can know it's the truth by a simple test that James gives, as he quotes from the Old Testament, saying:
"God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble."
Now pause and think about it. What is the common denominator between that first decision to turn away from God and becoming a killer? What leads us to begin the journey away from Him? And the answer is pride. The pride of self, the pride of life, pride in me. Any kind of boastfulness of what 'I' have done, or will do, sets us off on a course that leads to destruction.
Now you may think that God is not so cruel but pause and think for a minute. Let us say that I am a basically decent man but make the decision to go and support someone who is not. In my studies of Hitler I have been reading how the German Army decided to support Hitler because they believed they could control him and do good for Germany. The men who made this decision were, for the most part, good upstanding Christians with high moral integrity. But they made a fatal mistake that they would bitterly regret. They were seduced by Hitler's cleverness with words and his magnetic charisma - his demon-mediated psychic powers. He offered them a beautiful-looking fruit and they took it even though it was poisoned inside.
Let us imagine there are two armies, the one righteous and the other unrighteous. They are facing each other on the battle field. Let us say that you are basically a decent person but made an unwise choice and find yourself in the wrong army. Can you blame the other side for shooting at you? Can you expect of the other side to point their rifles at the others around you because they are more evil than yourself? Of course not! When you choose sides you take the consequences, even if you are basically a good sort of person. And yes, there are many basically good people who choose Satan's army by choosing the world and worldliness, but they have only themselves to blame when they find themselves in the line of fire. They don't have to be there. At any time they can desert Satan's army and place themselves in moral safety. But they must choose for themselves.
That is why James says you become an enemy of Yahweh when you jump into the world system and do things the way the world does things. You have made a conscious choice to join the enemy even if you don't necessarily agree with the enemy's excesses. And typically such people are amongst the first to complain against God by demanding to know why there is so much evil in the world! How stupid can you get! They are the cause of the evil by propping up the whole rotten evil edifice. And yet they refuse to see it. Why? Because of pride. They won't admit they were wrong. They won't admit they are responsible.
What, then, is James' solution? He rightly says: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Submit to God, resist the devil. Step 1: Start living your life the way Yahweh expects. Obey His commandments. Obey Torah. Step 2: Actively resist the devil, because you can bet your bottom dollar that he isn't going to quietly walk out of your life. You have to fight! You have to get rid of those demons you casually invited into your life. You have to break the curses that come upon a soul when they wilfully break the commandments. To which James adds a third statement - a promise which we must not forget: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
Yahweh will not work for you in a mental, emotional and spiritual vacuum. He says He will draw near to you so that you can know and experience Him as He really is. You can have a relationship with Him as a son or a daughter does to his or her father. But you have to make that decision to first draw near to Him. That is the first principle in all relationship-building. Try it sometime. Lock yourself away and see if anyone comes to you. If you want friends you have to seek for friendship. If you want God to draw near to you, you have to draw near to Him.
But breaking old relationships is not always easy. When we form wrong relationships with either people or demons, we create what psychologists call 'co-dependency'. We find ourselves in a kind of symbiotic relationship. A drug addict gives money to the drug dealer, and the drug dealer gives drugs to the drug addict. The money the drug dealer gets enables him to buy and sell more drugs so that more addicts become dependent on him. At any time he can raise the price and because the addict is so dependent he has no choice but to agree. If the addict doesn't have enough money, he has to go and get it. But because he is so ill because of his addiction, he can't hold down a normal job. So he is forced to steal or obtain money by other means, such as prostitution. And so a vicious cycle of co-dependency is created.
Whenever we turn away from Yahweh and allow ourselves to 'fit' into the world system, a co-dependency with the world is created. You start wanting the things the world offers. To do that you need money. To get money you need to work or steal. To get enough money you need to work more, and more, and more, until there simply isn't enough time for God anymore. I know people who are working seven days a week to finance their materialistic addictions. They take out loans, send their wives out to work too, and pawn their children off to strangers to raise them. They are prisoners of the world system. In the end, they get caught up in a meaningless cycle that leaves their souls starving to death. No wonder people turn more and more to wicked pastimes because there is such an emptiness in their souls from such a lifestyle.
So what do they have to do to get out of the quagmire? It looks pretty drastic, but it's the only way. They have to sober up. All the deceptive 'fun' has to end so that a time of serious re-evaluation can start. They need to grimly face the battle ahead. And it is a battle. Satan won't let go of you easily. He wants you in the system where he can put pressure on you. I was in that system, I know what it's like, and it nearly killed me. Those in my family know how my job nearly destroyed me until Yahweh told me to get out and live a life more pleasing to Him. It entailed big sacrifices but it brought peace of soul. It meant lowering my standard of living but at least I was no longer a slave. I became free to serve God. I became free to be me - the real me, the me that was created to bring glory to my Maker.
"Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded", James said. And what he meant by that was that when you try to live a life for Yahweh and in the world system, you end up serving two Masters. And that is double-mindedness. And I don't care what anyone tells me, you can no more drive a car in two directions simultaneously than you can live your life in two mutually exclusive ways: Yahweh's way and Satan's way. You have to choose one or the other. And that is the path of being cleansed, of washing your hands of the lifestyle that leads to spiritual death, and of purifying your hearts so that your First Love is unreservedly the Father, Yahweh, through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus).
That is where you have to start. All primary loyalties have to be transferred. Even 'lawful' loyalties. If your career, your hobbies, your husband, or your wife, or your lover are No.#1, they have to be immediately demoted to No.#2. And until you do that, you will be double-minded. It doesn't matter how wonderful they may be, they do not have the right to occupy the place which is reserved exclusively for God. So long as they are there, you are committing spiritual adultery. You become a spiritual whore and an enemy to God.
Let me explain. My wife is mine and no one else's. She can become another's friend, another's sister, another's counsellor, but she can never be their wife. That position is reserved for me, and me alone. They can be wonderful people but they can never be her husband or mate.
That is all Yahweh is saying. He warns us not to rationalise away the simple truth that He is the Creator and has certain rights, just as I have rights as a husband over my wife. These things are simply non-negociable. You either accept this as truth or reject it. Indeed, your devoting your whole life trying to rationalise your spiritual adultery doesn't change a thing. You aren't going to change God's mind. It's simply a question of your aligning your life with Him or going your own way into hell. Because this is such a serious matter, James says: "Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom" until this matter is resolved. This is not something to be frivolous about. This is no laughing matter, nothing to make jokes about. It's a matter of spiritual life and death. There is another time and place for humour and fun. This is the season to "humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up".
You are going to find demonic opposition in changing direction in your life, even if you are a professing Christian who has compromised with the world to some extent. A life without God is a life of inner chaos. Yes, it has a kind of structure, but it is a weak one which you have to work hard at preventing from falling down. To have one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom of God is like trying to keep a house of cards from falling down. Satanists call this Ordo ab Chao which is the Latin for "Order out of Chaos". Our inner world appears to be solid but it is anything but that. It is chaotic and yet it possesses an 'order'. That is what demons specialise in. They reorganise our thinking and feeling so that this 'chaotic order' can be maintained. It is a stressful way to live and in the end it all breaks down. Why keep up a structure that will fall down? Best to let Yahweh demolish it and build you a solid spiritual house on the rocky foundation of Christ.
The demons, however, play on your fear. They want you to believe that if your house of cards falls down that your life will collapse irredeemably also. And that's a lie. As your old world collapses - as it must - the loving arms of Christ will be there to bear you up and take you to safety. That is where your real faith has to be exercised. Faith in the Christian sense isn't just mentally affirming that you are 'saved' but involves the handing over of the whole 'you' to a guardian who will take care of you and show you how to build your life correctly. As we have seen from James' admonition, we have our part to play. And that part is as follows:
- 1. Submitting to the rule of Yahweh - obeying His Torah;
- 2. Resisting the devil - engaging in spiritual warfare for your soul; and
- 3. Drawing near to God, with the promise that He will draw near to you.
That means sorrowing over your folly for a short while and humbling yourself. If you will do these things, great miracles will begin to happen in your life. You will be transformed into a being of radiant spiritual beauty as you leave the world system behind, expelling demons as you do so. You will become truly free, not having to worry about propping up your house of cards. A life of double-mindedness will end and for the first time you will have a singular mind and heart devoted to purity and goodness, have the assurance of salvation in the next world, and know what real happiness and contentment is in this one - and this in spite of all the sorrows around us in the world. And whilst this happiness will not make you indifferent it will mean that you no longer need to have the foundations of your soul disturbed by demons any longer.
I think that one of the primary reasons people fail to choose Yahweh is because they feel He is too demanding - and the path the world offers, divorced from responsibility as it is, is much easier. That is one of the biggest lies of all. Yes, the truth does indeed make great demands of us, but they do not enslave us. The world, however, is like taking a loan or credit. It is easy to get but as the interest accrues so the debt never seems to end. And if calamity should come your way - like losing your job - and you cannot pay the loan any more, you risk losing everything.
The spiritual life is just like that. Yahweh demands much from you in the beginning but the load gets less and less as time goes on because what He demands becomes natural and sheer pleasure. Satan is the opposite. He presents 'special offers' and promises you something for nothing. But the world - and the demonic powers behind it - in truth just demand more and more. Look at the plight of Third Word debts today. They are slaves to their debtors, just as those who follow the world become slaves to Satan.
A few days ago I had a beautiful dream of someone I know well and who has been struggling all her life to be free. In the dream she was wearing a long, flowing white dress and was holding a white rose. She was finally free.
You too can be free if you choose to be. But the choice, as always, must be yours. Amen.
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