Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shades of Gray

At the park, one of the moms in our group suggested that we give ourselves a break from talking about our husbands and kids all the time and instead read a book and then discuss it.  Her book suggestion was the monstrously bestselling series that, as she explained to another woman unfamiliar with it, is essentially "porn for housewives."

The mom who proposed this is involved with the local youth group at her church and is a professing Christian.

Her remark brought to mind the temple precincts and its outer court, where Gentiles (non-Jews) were allowed to go.  They could walk within this outer court so long as they showed deference,  but were permitted to go no further.  Under threat of death by a sign that was posted in Latin and in Greek, any non-Jew who sought to go beyond this would have himself to blame for his execution.  Beyond the outer court was the Court of the Women, then the Court of the Israelites, and finally the Holy of Holies.

The boundaries between these courts were significant because they distinguished God's people as set apart.  (It was for the alleged crime of bringing Gentiles into the temple that Paul was nearly beaten to death in  Acts 21:27-32).  Paul states to the church in Ephesus that Christ's death "brought down the dividing wall" between the Jews and Gentiles, bringing near those who were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenant of promise" (Ephesians 2:12,14).

The temple setup is a picture to me of so many Christians who go no further than the Outer Court.  Because they are not set apart in their own minds and in their actions, they do not know real fellowship with Christ.  They prefer to stay on the outskirts, mixing with the world and simultaneously enjoying only the fringe knowledge of Him, never accessing the Holy of Holies for which His blood paid such a price.

There are choices one must make that are not always defined by scripture as sin.  Yet neither are they holy. One could say that these "shades of gray" are worldliness.  Worldliness prevents believers from going further with Him and keeps them from deriving true satisfaction.  The deadliness of worldly behavior is that it's not always immediately recognizable as transgressing, but rather somewhere along the way a line has been blurred.

In actuality, there are no gray areas for a believer.  As the first letter of John says it, "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him" (1 John 2:27).

So the question for the choices of life for Christians, including what to read, what to watch, what to wear, is not whether it is permissible, but whether it will keep us shuffling around in the Outer Court, separated from the surpassing splendor of the Holy of Holies.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My people perish from lack of knowledge

As mentioned in my last blog, roughly a year ago marks the date when I was healed of insomnia - instantly, miraculously.  All I knew at the time was that a woman who had a gut-wrenching testimony and apparently a gift of healing had prayed over me; then there was a sensation like a physical release, and she said "there it is."  I never saw or spoke with Marlene Klepees again, but I left that little chapel, first and only time I was there, with the realization that I was going to sleep beautifully that night.  And for the first time in months, I did, and without a prescription sleep aid.

At that time, I knew almost nothing about healing, about the supernatural works of God, nor was I even familiar with the term "deliverance" as anything other than a Burt Reynolds movie.  But I was hungry for the things of God, and the LORD sent Bible teachers into my life at exactly the right time.  For the first time ever, it was pointed out to me by one Bible teacher that Jesus spent His time on earth doing four primary things: preaching, teaching, healing, and delivering people.  This same teacher pointed out that Jesus spent as much time casting out demons and healing as he did teaching and preaching - but when was the last time your church  taught on deliverance or miraculous healing?  When was the last time you witnessed someone being set free from an evil spirit, or watched a leg suddenly grow two inches longer and thereby correct a back problem?

Personally, I'd never seen or so much as heard a message on either of these subjects - comprising no less than half the ministry of Jesus - in all my years of church, retreats, prayer meetings, camps, and Bible studies.  At first I was a little wary.  However, the teaching of the Bible teachers God sent me was solid in every other area, and the one pastor was a close friend of our youth pastor.  As far as I knew, neither were in the business of peddling snake oil or swinging from the chandeliers, and both were men of deep integrity.

Understanding that the Greek word translated by most versions of the Bible as "demon-possessed" actually is better translated "demonized" was the first step in realizing that a Christian can be demonized.  That is, a Christian can suffer depression and oppression caused by evil spirits, although a believer cannot be possessed by a demon. Christians are inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

Further learning that we human beings, Christians included, can open doors to the spirit realm, intentionally or not, and thereby give the enemy legal access to areas of our lives (Eph. 4:26), was another key to realizing what had happened to me.  My insomnia had started not from anything that a physician could cure or explain, but by lying in bed, fearful.  We are instructed to be anxious for nothing, and I had taken on anxiety. Repeatedly doing this opened up a door for a "spirit of fear," which in turn meant that I was harassed mercilessly for several months, going entire nights without ever falling asleep.

I could go on at length about all that I have since learned about healing, demonization, and deliverance, but I will summarize by sharing that most of the church, like me, "is perishing for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).  Knowledge in this area especially.  For whatever reasons pastors, priests, and Bible teachers fail to teach on this subject and administer in it, the church continues to walk around hobbled.  Depression, mental illness, and so many other forms of sickness are works of the enemy that the church should realize are under His feet (Eph. 1:22).  I am not at all against the use of counselors, physicians, and medication.  However, the church needs to start "fixing our eyes on what is unseen" (2 Cor. 4:18) and realize that many of these ailments that rock our lives have spiritual roots, and only Christ can set us free from them.  We should not be walking around in this handicapped state of perpetual incompleteness!