Demonic Oppression, Addiction, and Freedom - Purity 928
Purity 928 12/30/2022 Purity 928 Podcast
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Today’s photo of a green ghostly entity floating through the night sky is not the disembodied soul of a long lost loved one, a demonic spirit, or an intergalactic cruise ship. No today’s photo are of the Northern Lights and it comes to us from my sister-in-law, who is on a post-Christmas vacation with my brother in Iceland! There are more on the blog today, here:
Well, it is THE last Friday of 2022 and very soon just like those Northern Lights, this year will slowly fade away as tomorrow evening the countdown will begin and 2022 will come to an end.
While I talked about how some are mourning the bad fortunes of the year that is ending and looking to the new year with fear, I guess since coming to Christ I would be considered an optimist – what some would call a “glass half full” person, but I would have to disagree. Because I know who I am in Christ and have experienced and continue to walk in my freedom in Christ, if we use the “glass analogy” – I would insist that you call me a “glass full” guy for what we would see as a glass filled to the half way point with some liquid, I would insist that because God is omnipresent, everywhere at once, the “empty” portion of that glass is actually full with the unseen presence of the Lord. So because there is a God who lives – there is NEVER a real or “conceptual” glass that is half full or half empty – of liquid, “good things”, “blessings” or “hope”. God fills in the empty spaces. God gives us “good things”, “blessings” and “hope” that not only fills the glass but who’s presence and love spill over to fill the entire universe.
God is all around us. If you have put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, The Holy Spirit indwells you and the word of God encourages us to be “filled with the Spirit” continually. And this indicates that God’s presence is also yet another paradox of our faith. He is omnipresent – everywhere at once, all the time – but if you have ever experienced the manifest presence of the Lord or the “refilling of the Holy Spirit” in your life, you can understand experientially how God can be “more present” at particular times depending on the circumstances and according to His purposes.
Anyone who has said “And God showed up…” as part of their testimony, knows what I am talking about. Don’t take the word of me and other “ultra-Christian Pollyanna optimists” for it. Scripture tells us repeatedly all about how the Lord makes his presence immediate and powerfully experienced.
In the Old Testament, the patriarchs and prophets demonstrated the presence of the Lord by speaking for Him with a “Thus saith the Lord…” and to prove they were legit, the Lord backed up His words with miraculous signs and wonders and magnificent victories over “impossible odds” to show everyone that God was “with them”. He was present in a major way.
In the New Testament, God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. God wanted to demonstrate the He was with us in such an extreme way that people could physically reach out and touch Him, and sometimes with miraculous results.
When Christ ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be “God in us” and the book of Acts documents how the Holy Spirit was poured out not only on the faithful Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah but also upon the Gentiles demonstrating that God would be “with” and “dwell within” everyone who put their faith in Jesus.
God is not just in a church building, in the Bible, or “somewhere out there” – He is everywhere and His presence, love, and power can be experienced by us when we call on Him and when we follow Him.
Sometimes when we have a bad year or things go wrong, people ask “where is God in all this?”
To them I would marvel.. “Right here, right now. Don’t you see Him?”
Things aren’t worse because of Him. The good things, heck all the things, we experienced before this latest calamity were because Him. This is His created universe and He shapes its history. And although this world is broken by sin and death, He has a plan for that. His word tells us that if we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we will have power over sin and we will never die. In Christ, we receive a new life of freedom that never ends.
So if you ask me where God is in all of this… I have to ask you: “Where are you?”
The joy of the Lord is our strength. But if you are not with Him, if you are not In Christ, you won’t know His joy, His love, His peace, or His strength.
If you are focused on this world and this present moment only, You don’t know the future hope that trumps everything.
God is with us… but are you with God? Did you seek the truth in His word? Did you put your faith in Jesus? Are you walking and talking with Him?
I hate to sound trite but when we understand the Lord’s kingdom, there are no tragedies. The dead go where they have chosen to go and our sufferings on this planet are temporary. This is true for all of us but for those in Christ there is hope as our futures are guaranteed and we will one day experience the reality that God was working all things together for our good, because we love him for loving us and we have been called for His purposes.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) encourages
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
So start walking by faith, believe what the word of God tells us, and start living according to the reality of what you already have received by the power of the Holy Spirit lives in you.
But as someone who struggled with just about everything in life, you may be like I was: afflicted with doubts, disbelief, low self-esteem, the sins of this world, or just plain old selfishness.
But just as I have found my freedom, you can find yours by abandoning the course of your life that has led you to question where God is and to instead seek Him and commit yourself to finding Him and receiving all those “good things” that the word of God promises you.
If you have “believed on the Lord Jesus”, you are already there. If you put your faith in Jesus, you just need to follow Him by agreeing with His word and living according to it.
If you haven’t put your faith in Christ, you can do that – Right Now – with an act of faith – say a prayer – and ask for the Lord to forgive you and to make Jesus your Lord and Savior.
For the both of you, now you have to renew your mind and resist the devil.
Oh yeah, this might not just be a matter of memorizing some Bible verses and deciding to be a “good boy or girl” now.
The difficulties that we have in “believing”, “obeying”, and “repenting” can the result of a combination of things including:
· The world - Bad examples – corrupted environment – worldly influences /philosophies – the world taught us some bad ways to think, believe, and live and we need to reject those lies and commit ourselves to believe and live by the truth of God’s word.
· The flesh - our individual biological makeups may give us certain advantages or disadvantages – talents or predispositions that have either made us weak toward sins of the flesh or strong in the sin of pride – both are bondages that teach us to live independent of God – but can be retrained – With the power God gives us, our weakness can be overcome and our strengths can be used for good
· Spiritual forces of darkness – demons – who accuse, condemn, tempt, and deceive us - whose sole mission is to lead us away from the Lord and who uses the world and flesh to lead us astray. By Christ’s authority, we can cast out demons.
I was reading Karl Payne’s book, “Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance” yesterday and his work provided me with food for thought, weapons for spiritual warfare, and the follow insight.
Payne suggests a deviation from the common “possession/oppression” paradigm. This paradigm suggests that only Non-Christians could be “possessed” – completely controlled by demons, and that Christians could be “oppressed” – tempted, accused, deceived – by the spiritual forces of darkness.
The remedy for both of these situations is faith in Christ and “putting on the whole armor of God” and using the word of God as an offensive weapon, like Jesus did in wilderness, rebuking the devil when he shows up with some timely Bible verses and either fleeing from sin or standing firm to deny the lies and temptations that the enemy brings. Christians the world over have used these tactics of spiritual warfare with great success.
However, Payne’s book documents the fact some Christian’s battles with the enemy are unrelenting, thus his suggestion for a third category of demonic involvement: “demonization” – where people who have put their faith in Christ – Christians – have unwittingly given a ‘foothold” to the enemy – and have unknowingly given the spiritual forces of darkness a “place” in their lives – where they are free to remain and to wage a war of unrelenting torment.
Demonization would be categorized by Christians who can never maintain freedom from besetting sins or who never mature in their faith because of demonic interference and continuous interior dialogs of condemnation.
Payne asked us to wonder:
Why is it that some Christians can have victory over addictions or other sins of the flesh, while others can’t?
Why is it that some Christians have a rich relationship with the Lord while others continuously remain unsure of their place in His kingdom?
Why is it that some Christians can pray with confidence and others don’t think their prayers go anywhere?
Why is it that some Christians love to read the Bible and others find no joy in it at all?
While it certainly is possible that these differences can be explained by individual biological or volitional differences, Payne suggests that we should also consider the demonic as a contributing cause in these struggles.
But there is good news to this dilemma as well. As state above Christ has given us the power to overcome the spiritual forces of darkness. So even in this troubling “worst case scenario”, we can have hope.
Ask me how I know…
In the 38 years prior to coming to Christ, I was inundated with the sins of the flesh, a rebel spirit, addictions, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness and depression.
While I was “saved” in 2010, I still struggled mightily with the sins of the flesh, doubts, and those negative mind states despite having a strong commitment to learn all I could about my faith and was actively attending and serving in my local church. As I continued to seek the Lord and His will for my life, I made some progress but it wasn’t until I trusted the Lord with my addictions by going to a Christian recovery group did the real work of repentance and spiritual warfare begin.
I don’t remember where in my journey that I read Dr. Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker. It was probably after I had a year of sobriety but I refer to those days as the “white knuckling days” where I had to constantly be on guard against temptation and feared an eventual relapse.
But in Anderson’s book, I discovered “the Steps to Freedom in Christ” which is a series of prayers, proclamations, and renunciations that guides you through a repentance process where you commit yourself to Christ and where you renounce the spiritual forces of darkness and resolve any conflicts of unconfessed sins, pride, rebellion, ancestral baggage, and the bitterness of unforgiveness.
While I can’t say I ever thought I was “demonized” before going through the Steps to Freedom in Christ, I admit that I was at least “oppressed” by the enemy afterwards because the condemning, blasphemous, tempting dialog of mental chatter that seemed to be a part of “me” was gone!
Anderson states that many of the Christians that He leads through the Steps to Freedom in Christ are amazed at the peace and the “silence” they experience. And that was me. To this day, I can stop what I am doing and just listen to the silence – of no thoughts, no condemnation, no “noise” and I know that I am still free. The Lord has not only lead me out of the darkness of the flesh but he put a stop to the mental torment that I always thought was “just me beating myself up.”
Since then I have become trained to lead others through the Steps to Freedom in Christ I have seen the enemy face to face in others and have seen people get set free when they came to know who they are in Christ and when they used the authority that Christ gave them to walk out of the darkness.
So if you had a bad year or a bad life, if you just can’t “believe like others do”, or if you are filled with fear or depression, let me encourage you that the “glass is full” when you make Christ your Lord and savior and when you choose to follow Him into the abundant life of freedom and victory that He has for you.
It’s going to be a new year, so why not make it the one where overcome the struggles? With God you are never alone but we also need others to help us along the way. So while I would first recommend becoming a part of a Bible believing church where you can worship and serve, I would also encourage your freedom by pursuing the wisdom and methods that have helped me at Freedom in Christ Ministries (www.Ficm.org). There you can find a free book “Restored” that can tell you all about the Steps to Freedom in Christ, or you can even join an online course that will guide you through the process with a trained encourager.
The biggest lie that the enemy every told us is that somethings are just “impossible” and that somethings will “never change”, but with God you can find your freedom and discover all the “impossible” things you can accomplish with your new life in Christ.
Well, I’m short on time this morning because I think I wrote “too much” and I had to find a “new resource” to share so I’m taking a vacation from sharing the “Bible Verse of the Day” but I do encourage you to read the Bible every day, for yourself.
I am including a link to Ligonier Ministries: “Bible Reading Plans for 2023” ( https://www.ligonier.org/posts/bible-reading-plans?fbclid=IwAR0aVs0a31ebdwexS1-N9i-dwV5v45fVTH5zoKCHsnmCPJnDks9fY9AjWsQ) as an encouragement to read the word this year - to have a plan, if you need one, to draw close to God through His word to experience the power that He wants to unleash into your life.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we begin sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men in their philosophizings and theorizings relegating God to the background. Take the material realm. Not only is it denied that God created everything by personal and direct action, but few believe that He has any immediate concern in regulating the works of His own hands. Everything is supposed to be ordered according to the (impersonal and abstract) “laws of Nature.” Thus is the Creator banished from His own creation. Therefore we need not be surprised that men, in their degrading conceptions, exclude Him from the realm of human affairs. Throughout Christendom, with an almost negligible exception, the theory is held that man is “a free agent,” and therefore, lord of his fortunes and the determiner of his destiny. That Satan is to be blamed for much of the evil which is in the world is freely affirmed by those who, though having so much to say about “the responsibility of man,” often deny their own responsibility, by attributing to the Devil what, in fact, proceeds from their own evil hearts (Mark 7:21–23).
But who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world. What a scene of confusion and chaos confronts us on every side! Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds; evil men and seducers are waxing “worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13). Today, everything appears to be out of joint. Thrones are creaking and tottering, ancient dynasties are being overturned, democracies are revolting, civilization is a demonstrated failure; half of Christendom was but recently locked-together in a death grapple; and now that the titanic conflict is over, instead of the world having been made “safe for democracy,” we have discovered that democracy is very unsafe for the world. Unrest, discontent, and lawlessness are rife everywhere, and none can say how soon another great war will be set in motion. Statesmen are perplexed and staggered. Men’s hearts are “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). Do these things look as though God had full control?
But let us confine our attention to the religious realm. After nineteen centuries of Gospel preaching, Christ is still “despised and rejected of men.” Worse still, He (the Christ of Scripture) is proclaimed and magnified by very few. In the majority of modern pulpits He is dishonored and disowned. Despite frantic efforts to attract the crowds, the majority of the churches are being emptied rather than filled. And what of the great masses of non-church goers? In the light of Scripture we are compelled to believe that the “many” are on the Broad Road that leadeth to destruction, and that only “few” are on the Narrow Way that leadeth unto life. Many are declaring that Christianity is a failure, and despair is settling on many faces. Not a few of the Lord’s own people are bewildered, and their faith is being severely tried. And what of God? Does He see and hear? Is He impotent or indifferent? A number of those who are regarded as leaders of Christian-thought told us that God could not help the coming of the late awful War, and that He was unable to bring about its termination. It was said, and said openly, that conditions were beyond God’s control. Do these things look as though God were ruling the world?
Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What impression is made upon the minds of those men of the world who, occasionally, attend a Gospel service? What are the conceptions formed by those who hear even those preachers who are counted as “orthodox?” Is it not that a disappointed God is the One whom Christians believe in? From what is heard from the average evangelist today, is not any serious hearer obliged to conclude that he professes to represent a God who is filled with benevolent intentions, yet unable to carry them out; that He is earnestly desirous of blessing men, but that they will not let Him? Then, must not the average hearer draw the inference that the Devil has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than blamed?
But does not everything seem to show that the Devil has far more to do with the affairs of earth than God has? Ah, it all depends upon whether we are walking by faith, or walking by sight. Are your thoughts, my reader, concerning this world and God’s relation to it, based upon what you see? Face this question seriously and honestly. And if you are a Christian you will, most probably, have cause to bow your head with shame and sorrow, and to acknowledge that it is so. Alas, in reality, we walk very little “by faith.” But what does “walking by faith” signify? It means that our thoughts are formed, our actions regulated, our lives moulded by the Holy Scriptures, for, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). It is from the Word of Truth, and that alone, that we can learn what is God’s relation to this world.
Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? Ere we consider the direct reply to this query, let it be said that the Scriptures predicted just what we now see and hear. The prophecy of Jude is in course of fulfillment. It would lead us too far astray from our present inquiry to fully amplify this assertion, but what we have particularly in mind is a sentence in verse 8—“Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion and speak evil of dignities.” Yes, they “speak evil” of the Supreme Dignity, the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Ours is peculiarly an age of irreverence, and as the consequence, the spirit of lawlessness, which brooks no restraint and which is desirous of casting off everything which interferes with the free course of self-will, is rapidly engulfing the earth like some giant tidal wave. The members of the rising generation are the most flagrant offenders, and in the decay and disappearing of parental authority we have the certain precursor of the abolition of civic authority. Therefore, in view of the growing disrespect for human law and the refusal to “render honor to whom honor is due,” we need not be surprised that the recognition of the majesty, the authority, the sovereignty of the Almighty law-giver should recede more and more into the background, and the masses have less and less patience with those who insist upon them. And conditions will not improve; instead, the more sure Word of Prophecy makes known to us that they will grow worse and worse. Nor do we expect to be able to stem the tide—it has already risen much too high for that. All we can now hope to do is warn our fellow-saints against the spirit of the age, and thus seek to counteract its baneful influence upon them.
Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They affirm, again and again, that God is on the throne of the universe; that the sceptre is in His hands; that He is directing all things “after the counsel of His own will.” They affirm, not only that God created all things, but also that God is ruling and reigning over all the works of His hands. They affirm that God is the “Almighty,” that His will is irreversible, that He is absolute sovereign in every realm of all His vast dominions. And surely it must be so. Only two alternatives are possible: God must either rule, or be ruled; sway, or be swayed; accomplish His own will, or be thwarted by His creatures. Accepting the fact that He is the “Most High,” the only Potentate and King of kings, vested with perfect wisdom and illimitable power, and the conclusion is irresistible that He must be God in fact as well as in name.
It is in view of what we have briefly referred to above that we say, Present-day conditions call loudly for a new examination and new presentation of God’s omnipotency, God’s sufficiency, God’s sovereignty. From every pulpit in the land it needs to be thundered forth that God still lives, that God still observes, that God still reigns. Faith is now in the crucible, it is being tested by fire, and there is no fixed and sufficient resting-place for the heart and mind but in the Throne of God. What is needed now, as never before, is a full, positive, constructive setting forth of the Godhood of God. Drastic diseases call for drastic remedies. People are weary of platitudes and mere generalizations—the call is for something definite and specific. Soothing-syrup may serve for peevish children, but an iron tonic is better suited for adults, and we know of nothing which is more calculated to infuse spiritual vigor into our frames than a scriptural apprehension of the full character of God. It is written, “The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits” (Dan. 11:32).
Without a doubt a world-crisis is at hand, and everywhere men are alarmed. But God is not! He is never taken by surprise. It is no unexpected emergency which now confronts Him, for He is the One who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). Hence, though the world is panic-stricken, the word to the believer is, “Fear not!” “All things” are subject to His immediate control: “all things” are moving in accord with His eternal purpose, and therefore “all things” are “working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” It must be so, for “of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Yet how little is this realized today even by the people of God! Many suppose that He is little more than a far-distant Spectator, taking no immediate hand in the affairs of earth. It is true that man is endowed with power, but God is all-powerful. It is true that, speaking generally, the material world is regulated by law, but behind that law is the law-Giver and law-Administrator. Man is but the creature. God is the Creator, and endless ages before man first saw the light “the mighty God” (Isa. 9:6) existed, and ere the world was founded, made His plans; and being infinite in power and man only finite, His purpose and plan cannot be withstood or thwarted by the creatures of His own hands.
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