For our family's Christmas gathering, there were 9 children, ages 7 and under, running, hiding, playing, climbing stairs and enjoying their new Christmas toys all over our old 1920 home. There were still patches of snow around the house and the driveway was still coated with ice. One of my grandsons received a Nerf football in his stocking and several of the kids went outside to play with the brightly colored ball. Once they'd had enough of the chilly weather, they came back inside, tracking mud all over our hardwood floors. So, as soon as everyone was gone, Barbara and I began cleaning the house, just as we had BEFORE they arrived.
Upon awakening today, as my own life hit the half-century mark, I asked the Lord for some message that would help His people. It was then the Spirit reminded me of how much our Christmas “muddy feet” experience exemplified what our own spiritual lives are like. Planet Earth is a cesspool that bombards our five senses with all kinds of filthy and counterproductive information all day long. Once this garbage settles in our imagination – the biggest nation on Earth – we have two choices: 1) cast it down or 2) massage it and entertain it until it takes a foothold in our lives. Whether it's blatant pornography or just the negative details of the 6 o'clock news, gossip, or off-color humor, we are bound to “get some on us” simply by getting out of bed every day. For many of us, we have a lifetime worth of garbage to deal with.
I am 100% convinced that EVERY Christian walking planet Earth is in need of deliverance. Say what you will – and I apologize for upsetting anyone's theology - but every exorcism I have ever been part of involved Christians who knew something wasn't quite right and came looking for help. Some of these even included ministers and were complete with growling voices, sulfuric odors and other strange manifestations. Vomiting, tears, trembling, terror... in each case there were demons who had been assigned to torment the lives of these poor individuals. I call it demonic terrorism.
Now, I am NOT saying every Christian possesses a demon. As Followers of Jesus Christ grow in that relationship with Him, they will reveal the fruits of the Spirit – the evidence that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in them (Romans 8:11). We cannot be “possessed” by the Holy Spirit AND demonic spirits simultaneously, but we can certainly be oppressed by them, and far too many are.
Just yesterday, I heard about a local minister who is divorcing his wife for a woman young enough to be his daughter, with several kids of her own. Forgetting his church, the people who looked up to him, his reputation in the community – he wanted what he wanted and that seemed to be all that mattered. This man is oppressed by spirits of Lust and Divorce, Fornication and Dissension – to name a few. Jesus died for him, loves him, but there WILL be consequences for his actions. He will reap as he's sowing. People are watching, from his congregation to his own children and grandchildren, and some may stumble as a result of his hypocrisy and really bad choices.
He took the bait.
Don't we all? Whether it's criticism, rage, unforgiveness, gluttony, gossip, theft, bitterness, addictions – even Religion - we are ALL guilty at one time or another and are in dire need of a Savior. Praise God, we HAVE one! In Christ, we are the very righteousness of God! Thoough our spirit will witness with te Holy Spirit that we are God's family, sadly, where the five senses and our soul-realm is concerned, even that which was poured into us through our past experiences – during childhood, or even generationally, must ALL be dealt with, or it WILL hinder us day by day. Ask yourself “What comes out of me when my cup is shaken?” We can tell much about a man while he's untangling Christmas lights.
No longer must we carry the burden of guilt, thoughts of unworthiness, or consciousness of sin. No longer must we fear “flaring up” or acting differently in private than we do in Christian settings. We were forgiven and our sins for all time are forgotten forever.
But we reap as we sow.
If that adulterous preacher comes running to you in tears after his life has been turned to rubble, will you love him back into the Kingdom, or call him “unclean!” and run the other way?
Personally, I've been that man. No, infidelity was not my problem. What got me was worse for I turned my back on God repeatedly over the years. Actually, the god I served greeted me every morning in the mirror. I was likeable, a hard worker, a great family man, no nasty habits, but I totally neglected God even though I knew better. At times, I even tossed in some church attendance – threw Him a bone, as it were – in an effort to appease “the man upstairs,” as I foolishly referred to Him. I knew better; I just didn't care enough to get to know Him. At times, I dipped my toe in Religion, but that's like knowing about my wife through a book rather than getting to know her as a person. God is real and we SHOULD get to know Him outside of church traditions and Sunday sermons. Even when I thought I was a “good” guy, I read the verse: “there is none good but God.”
Yes, like myself, I'm certain all Christians need deliverance. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Though we may not manifest demons in every case (you probably won't), we MUST take off those muddy shoes, so to speak, and clean the house. Jesus is STILL in the foot-washing business.
Here's a tip that might help you as well: I was taught that, periodically, it's a great habit to practice some “self-deliverance.” This practice has served me well. There's nothing wrong with taking some time to do a bit of soul-searching, pray some renunciation against the stuff that's holding you back, and start off fresh. By God's mercy, you already have a clean slate every morning, unfortunately, most Christians don't own that concept. As far as the soul-realm goes (mind, will and emotions), we seem to have to “feel” that we are cleansed from time to time. So, go ahead. Take a stand against the enemy of your soul. Show him who's the boss of you (Jesus, I hope)! Submit yourself totally to God, resist the devil and he WILL flee. But you gotta stand firm and show him you're serious. Otherwise, though he may leave you alone for a while – maybe even laying dormant – he will return stronger than ever if you don't take care of business.
If being “free in Christ” does not describe your daily life among family and coworkers – even describing your Christianity - now might be a good time for this kind of New Year's resolution!