Last week we looked at that amazing thing called 'personality' which defines both us and God. We discovered that we are inscrutable - meaning that we can probably never really know ourselves completely - that we are introspective - meaning that we are disposed by nature to examine ourselves - and finally that as individuals we are accountable. Only Yahweh our Father-Creator can fully understand us, and our prayer ought ever be to ask Him to search us so that our personal darkness - our own point-of-view - is replaced with light - the point-of-view of Yahweh in Torah. The path of true shalom (peace) is lives yielded over to our Heavenly Father so that the illusion of who we think we are, and the illusion of what other people think we are, are replaced by the truth of what we actually are.
As we all know, there are supernatural powers and agencies of which we are largely unconscious unless we are dwelling in the full consciousness-awareness of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And unless we walk in this fashion, these demonic powers can play with us like toys whenever they choose. Paul declared:
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph.6:12, KJV).
All of that is usually outside our normal, human realm of consciousness. Of course, Satanists who cultivate these powers through their evil works are more than aware of some of these powers, though in my experience they are never aware of all of them, otherwise they would wish to break free. But your ordinary unbeliever and nominal Christian is largely not aware at all. If as human beings we are looking for spiritual results in that which is visible, then we have been badly taught, especially in the realm of prayer. A praying believer performs far more havoc amongst the unseen forces of darkness than we have the slightest notion of. "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much," said the apostle James (James 5:16, NKJV). We have not the remotest conception of what is done by our prayers, nor do we have the right to try and examine and understand it. All we know is that Yah'shua (Jesus) laid stress on prayer. He said:
"Greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My Name, I will do it" (John 14:12-14, NKJV).
It is only when these speculations and terrors are awakened in us that we begin to see that the Atonement of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) means. It means safeguarding in the unseen, safeguarding from dangers we know little or nothing about. It means to be "kept by the power of God".
As a person who has been given the gift of see and discern people and demons through visions and impressions on my spirit, it painfully grieves me when I observe someone - especially someone I love dearly - labouring under demonic influence and not being aware of it. There is nothing you can do to "show" the demonic influence because it is invisible to them. However, demonic influences - which occur in the unconscious for the most part - lead people to subtly modify their thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns in such a way that by carefully pointing them to Scripture you can show them that "something" is taking them away from Yahweh. It can be a long a painful process unless they too are blessed with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) so that they can "see" and understand the invisible realm for themselves. That spirit of discernment is indeed promised to true believers but only on condition that they walk faithfully and obediently in Yahweh's Torah or Law. The Ruach (Spirit) cannot strive effectively in a disobedient soul. She may lead a soul to truth, but if at any time subsequently that truth is rejected because the unconscious mind listens to, and believes in, a lying demonic spirit as Eve did in Eden, then the Ruach (Spirit) must depart so as not to be defiled. From that point onwards the defiled soul - for that is what a person is when he is inhabited by a demon - cannot properly discern the truth because his thoughts are not as Yahweh's - they are not biblical - and therefore the only way to correct him is to show him the truth in the Word, and challenge him to accept or reject it. If He accepts it and repents of the false thoughts and feelings arising out of both his conscious and subconscious personality, then the Ruach (Spirit) will act upon his conscience and influence him to expel the lying demon. Once expelled, the Ruach (Spirit) may once again occupy the space previously taken by the demon and give the person a spirit of discernment in that area again.
I mentioned last week the problem of personality interfering with interpretation of scripture and belief. It can do that in one of two ways: (1) Through ignorance - in which case his wrongly programmed thinking will lead him to false feelings and actions; and (2) Through a demonic presence. The former is much more easily corrected than the latter, because the demon is a power or principality whose sole purpose is to lie and deceive in order to lead a soul away from Yahweh. In order to maintain the lie, the demon will attempt to impersonate Yahweh by giving supernatural feelings and experiences. Demons will show people visions, give them transcendental experiences of bliss and well-being, and maybe even do supernatural feats like making physical objects move. I knew one boy in Oxford who had a demon problem that used to make the taps automatically turn on and off in his home, something we call a poltergeist. Though a demon can impersonate many divine powers, it can never counterfeit the supreme hallmark of God, namely true love. Counterfeit love, yes, but true love, never. Demons are the instruments of hate and division whose soul purpose is to cut off a soul from Yahweh, and believers in Yahweh from each other. Demons cause souls occupied by them or influenced by them to align themselves socially and religiously with other persons possessing other demons in order to replace godly bonds with ungodly ones. That is why those with demon problems are often attracted to questionable company and whilst, if they still claim to be Christian, they will offer some such excuse that they are just befriending sinners in order to evangelise them, but more often than not it is because they actually need the demonic reinforcement in such people to justify their own false path.
A personality that is demon-free may still be on a false path but such a soul will at least have greater freedom to make right choices. When a person is under the influence of a demon, the personality changes. And that is because that personality is no longer just itself, but the combined personality of the original person plus the demon. When a soul receives the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in his heart, the human personality is similarly transformed but this time into the image of God. Indeed, the human personality was not designed to be by itself: it is so structured to either receive Yahweh or Satan, and it is free to choose one or the other. Even if a person does not acknowledge the existence of Satan or demons, his thinking may lead him into a mindframe and set of feelings that will automatically open a door to demonic influence, and from thence on he will begin behaving as one who has a demon problem, because he does. He may be entirely unaware of it, and swear blindly that he is an atheist, but the demon presence will be there. Some of these are reviling against Yahweh and His Torah. When this happens this is more than human agency, for men in their own right minds do not revile but enquire. It is the power of darkness which causes goodness, holiness and the things of God to be attacked. Man in his own nature "knows" that there is a God.
Before the last war a Christian missionary was labouring in one of the scores of villages that line the mighty Yang-tse Kiang River. This river, as many of you will know, is prone to burst its banks and flood during the rainy season. Many people lose their lives each year because of it, and many more at that time before huge dams were built to contain the river. The river had recently flooded and the missionary heard a man crying out to God to be rescued, as he had been swept into the raging torrent and was clutching on to a flimsy branch which showed every sign of giving way and sweeping the hapless victim to his doom. The missionary, at great personal risk to his life, engineered himself into the dangerous waters and managed to rescue the man.
Some days later the missionary was passing through a town where he heard a great debate taking place. An atheist was standing in a makeshift podium and explaining why there was no such thing as God. After the atheist had finished his speech, the people, recognising the missionary, asked him what he thought of the atheist's speech. The missionary replied: "This man is not an atheist." The speaker was very angry and shouted at him: "I am most certainly an atheist, for I believe there is no God!" The missionary replied: "You are not telling the truth. Not three days ago I heard you crying out to God to be rescued from drowning in the river, and I came and rescued you. You most certainly believe in God, for I heard it with my own ears. Your heart believes. But it is your mind that has chosen not to believe."
Even if there are demons in a person, a part of him believes there is a God, because every human being believes in God. The only reason we disbelieve in God is because we choose to. And if there are demons inside, which have been admitted because of wrong choices, then those demons will whisper to you and press your spirit to reject that truth. There is no thing as a born atheist. Every heart knows that there is a God. It is built into the very fibre of our personality. But we can choose to disbelieve.
Some years ago another missionary was witnessing in an airport in the United States. He went up to a woman and asked her if she believed in God. "No," she replied. "When you die, will you go to heaven or hell," he continued. "Oh," she replied unhesitatingly, "to heaven, of course!" You see, people believe, but some parts of them choose not to. They are divided inside. A soul never finds peace until he chooses, with every part of his soul, to release all doubt and simply trust, because that is his natural state of being. A divided person - one who cannot decide one way or the other, or who is tossed between two positions - is under the influence of dark forces in some way or another. There is no such thing as a peaceful atheist. Something at some point will disturb that artificial peace. But when a soul comes to Yahweh and releases his life, fully trusting in His Word, he knows a peace that nothing can disturb.
Yahweh will meet you where you are at. So will Satan. A few months ago I was involved in very difficult and demanding deliverance ministry that involved very powerful and high level demons. Prior to going into deliverance Satan set temptation before my path. He led me to the website of a former minister and theologian who had concluded that the Christian scriptures (the New Testament) were partly fabricated to teach a false doctrine that nearly all Christians today believe. It was a brilliant piece of work and very convincing. The upshot of his conclusions were that Yah'shua (Jesus) was indeed the Messiah but that he was a mere mortal, never rose from the dead, and never atoned for our sins. The man has a huge website and churns out several long and detailed articles every day.
He sounded convincing, and yet it went completely against the grain of everything I believed in and had experienced. And there I was faced by someone utterly demonised in need of deliverance. I had to make a decision. I chose to believe the Bible as we have it and what has personally been revealed to me through my long years as a minister. The deliverance went ahead. It was tough, but all those demons were expelled by the atoning blood of Christ. And without the blood of Christ there would have been no deliverance for that person.
Now this is my point. Our minds are not the same as Yahweh's. We cannot think as He does (Is.55:8). By the same token, our hearts and feelings are not like His either. Indeed, our hearts by themselves are desperately wicked (Jer.19:9), and our thoughts foolishness. Even the thoughts of the wisest men on earth are foolishness. How do we know? Look at Solomon, the wisest man in the world who became the greatest fool. So what, then, is available to us? Simply this: the mind of God. We cannot think or feel like Yahweh in and of ourselves. We may be made in His image, and think and feel like Him, but this is only ever on a lower level. And in our own strength we can never understand demons, who are much more powerful and clever than we are. Had we been left in this condition, we would be a mess. But ... and it's a big 'but' ... just as every soul has a God-shaped vacuum in his soul, so each and every part that soul has vacuums that can only be filled by Yahweh for them to function properly and to their full potential. Our minds can only think, and our hearts only feel, the same way that Yahweh thinks and feel when Yahweh is living in us. And He does that through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). The Ruach (Spirit) comes by invitation in stages - and at each stage She impresses upon the soul to progressively align itself with Torah until that soul is fully obedient. When that soul is fully living Torah, then the Ruach (Spirit) takes full occupancy, and the man thus indwelt is able to think and feel as Yahweh does. Not until there is a full indwelling can a person trust his personality enough to reveal all truth to him. Before then, he must constantly measure his thoughts, feelings and actions against what is written in the Bible. As he reads it, accepts it, and adjusts his life to it, so the Ruach (Spirit) enters to an ever greater degree, penetrating not just the visible island but the invisible mountain of the soul under the waves of the unconscious.
I have met so many souls who have been led astray because they have presumptuously said that they have been filled with the Ruach (Spirit) and have no need of instruction anymore. I would not care to point to anyone who is 100% perfect, but I know some who are close. That means we have to walk with great care in our spiritual walk and not be presumptuous. For there are legions of deceiving spirits everywhere looking for the slightest excuse to infiltrate. And in these the last days the deception has never been so strong. There are few people walking with Yahweh today, and it will get worse, until they are but the tiniest of remnants.
Because of the tendency of people to be deceived, because they walk in vain confidence and arrogance, we have been given not only the corrective Word of God but also prayer. If your prayer life is defective, weak, or irregular, then I guarantee you have a spiritual problem. And I say this as one who has been through this problem many times in my life. In the end, the only way we can be preserved from deception is by being kept in the supernatural power of Yahweh. Our own strength will never achieve it. It means we have to safeguard the unseen part of our personalities as much as that which is visible. Indeed, the unseen part is the biggest and actually the most important part, which is why the invisible influence of prayer is so vital. But Yah'shua (Jesus) did not just die and rise again for the unconscious - He died for the whole personality. We have to be greatly aware of estimating Yah'shua's (Jesus') salvation by our experience of it. Our experience is a mere indication of the conscious life of an almighty salvation that goes far beyond anything we ever can experience, let alone see. Salvation is for the whole mountain, not just the little island above the waves.
Please reflect soberly on these things. We live in a world saturated with New Age doctrines of man coming to self-realisation and consciousness in his own latent strength. It is a terrible lie. Nobody - I repeat - nobody can come to enlightenment, self-realisation, or full consciousness- awareness through his own efforts, and even less by invisible spirits claiming to be 'guides' or 'ascended masters'. These are but demons. Moreover, the emphasis by modern charismatic 'Christianity' on experience, as if this were the whole personality, is a terrible delusion. Our experience is but a tiny fraction of the complex reality that is 'me'. Experience, as Solomon discovered, was not the "main thing", but obedience. In his famous book about the vanity of people, this brilliant man came to a very simple conclusion indeed about what really matters for human beings. And this is what he wrote:
"Now all this has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man".
But he did not end there. This is his last word:
"For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Eccl.12:13-14, NIV).
We are fools if we neglect that huge mass under the island - that giant mountain of our unconscious. It is from here that everything we think, feel, and do springs forth. And we cannot possibly hope to understand it all. And yet we are going to be judged because of what lies there, in terms of what we do on the surface of the island in our consciousness-awareness. That means, quite simply, we have got to get the mind of God through His Torah and obedience to His commandments, so that the Ruach (Spirit) will indwell us and work salvation throughout our whole personality, visible and invisible. It means walking in faith, not expecting a "confirmation" or "spiritual experience" from the Ruach (Spirit) before we obey - that is not faith, that is tempting God! That is demanding signs! And the only person who will give you such signs is SATAN, and he will do so spectacularly. Nearly the whole of the so-called 'prophetic movement' in charismatic Christianity has been swallowed up whole by this lie and they are being fed all kinds of lies beautifully dressed in godliness and wonderfully sounding words. God is no longer restraining it. It's a terrible deception and will worsen.
"For the mystery of Torah-lessness (lawlessness) has already begun to work, however [it will work] by itself when that which now restrains is taken away from its midst" (2 Thess.2:7, HRV).
The Gospel is so simple: it is "trust Christ and obey Torah". More next week. Amen.