The Slumbering Spirit
Part 3: Struggling to be Free
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 21 February 2004
Click here for Part 2
We continue today with our examination of the slumbering spirit by asking ourselves a question to which the answer should now be obvious: why are people nowadays not content with their marriage partners? Why do they keep leaping from one bed to another ever looking for a sexual 'high' that was better than the previous one? Why is all the spam email we get either advertises Viagra, porn, or drugs that will enlarge the mail reproductive organ? Why the total and utter obsession with sex? And the answer is that sex is the next best thing if your heart is turned off and slumbering. And yet riotous sex can never substitute for the essential self. Once the 'high' is over, all that is left is an emptiness and a compulsive drive to find the next 'high' with a better partner. I'm not saying that people don't have feelings or great emotional surges - but I am saying that their spirits are asleep.
Sex will never be satisfying or find its true place within the marriage covenant until the slumbering spirit is awakened. The compulsive urge for more and more sex can start in many different ways. It can begin with a very happy marriage with hearts and spirits awake and joyfully in tune with the Creator. Then one of the partners listens to the whisperings of Satan and decides to have an affair. This results - because it is a transgression of Torah - in progressive demonisation, rationalisations that leads to mental bottlenecks, and a denying of the conscience which leads the spirit to fall asleep. The more ungodly sex is entered into, the more the spirit and heart are anaesthetised to the truth and life.
The seventh function of our spirit is to live the glory of holy sexual union in marriage. Listen to how Paul puts it:
"Don't you realise that when a man joins himself to a prostitute he makes with her a physical unity? For, Elohim (God) says, 'the two shall be one flesh'. On the other hand the man who joins himself to Elohim (God) is one with Him in spirit. Avoid sexual looseness like the plague! Every other sin that a man commits is done outside his own body, but this is an offence against his own body. Have you forgotten that your body is the temple of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), who lives in you, and that you are not the owner of your body? You have been bought, and what a price! Therefore bring glory to Elohim (God) in both your body and your spirit, for they both belong to Him" (1 Cor.6:16-20, Phillips).
Understand, then, that sex is either an act of worship or an act of profanity and blasphemy. It was never intended to be something 'outside' of our relationship Yahweh. It was designed to be a function of the spirit. When it becomes detached from your spirit it becomes lawless and destructive. And it becomes detached either because the laws concerning sex have been broken, allowing demons to come and mess up your internal system, or because your spirit was asleep in the first place, cutting you off from your conscience and from the life of the soul.
Lawful sex in an awake spirit results in an intimate knowing of one another (Gen.4:1) which can only be described as 'glorious' because it enables your whole person to meet the whole person of your marriage partner. In no other human relationship is there such a 'knowing', in no other relationship can there be such spiritual exhilaration between two people quite apart from the physical sensations of pleasure. I am sure when you were a boy scout or a girl guide you were taught to make fire without matches. Well, in sex anyone can rub two sticks together but not everyone can generate fire. For sex to fulfil its divine function it is supposed to generate fire within the hearts of those consecrated in holy wedlock, for that is the only relationship in which it can realise its purpose (Prov.5:19).
Once husband and wife have discovered the glory of holy sex they will never be tempted to look elsewhere for 'extra' stimulation and so commit sin. Sexual union outside marriage defiles, demonises, and confuses. The act of sex actually gives a husband his identity because marriage completes him, and vice versa. Fornication and adultery lead to inner spiritual confusion because they are a violation of the divine order. Thus the Scriptures tell us that a person committing adultery "destroys his own soul" (Prov.6:32) and throws his glory away. He gives demons right to mess around with his thoughts and feelings, cheapen the sacred, send the spirit to sleep, and ruin his and others' lives. The sexual life was created for one place only, and only in that place can its glory and exhilaration be experienced, leading to sanctification. Through a lack of knowledge and trust in Yahweh's Torah, two generations of youth have all but been ruined (1 Thess.4:3-7). People are no longer as conscious as they once were. They have substituted spiritual life with more brain power and ungodly sex. Instead of the centre of their beings being the heart, it has become split between their brains and their genitals.
I could say more about this subject for there are other forms of sexual dysfunction stemming from a slumbering spirit. When Christians who have slumbering spirits marry, sex can become an uninteresting 'duty' or a 'right' until finally the couple are turned off each other and get divorced because of so-called 'sexual incompatibility'. In both men and women, slumbering spirits miss the glory of marriage. For them, sex is no more than a little physical titillation and emotional arousal, so when someone else comes along with the lure of more physical and emotional pleasure, they are seduced, and do not listen to their conscience which would lead them to be faithful to their spouse, because that conscience is asleep. There are no memories of the glories of sacred sex with husband and wife to warn them of the dangers because they have never known sex with an awakened heart. And the excitement of the adulterous union drowns out whatever residual conscience might be left. Such a soul has "descended to the chambers of death" (Prov.7:27).
Fornication and adultery are death. Not only spiritual death within but practically speaking they can lead to ruin - loss of family, job, reputation, ministry. Never in the Christian world has there been more adultery amongst pastors than in the last 40 years! How can responsible men be falling into sexual sin so casually? It is because their spirits are asleep. They are trying, like others, to fill the vacuum in their lives. When a spirit is slumbering the hedges of protection in Torah seem like a prison rather than the means to save them, and that is why so many Christians hate Torah. They are asleep. They want titillation. They want physical and psychic stimulation. And rejecting the Torah is a convenient way for them to rationalise sexual sin. But what they really need is an awakened heart. And not until that happens can a sex life become joyful and fulfilling within the covenant of marriage.
The eighth function of our spirit is to protect us from disease. 'What about the immune system?' you might ask. Well, the immune system occupies the same position relative to the spirit as the brain does to the heart. Just as our thoughts originate in our heart, so health originates in our spirit. Common sense will, again, tell you this is true, as the writer of Proverbs so clearly understood:
"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones" (Prov.17:22).
The condition of your heart can mean the difference between throwing an illness off and ending up a cripple. People who become self-absorbed in sickness take far longer to recover than those whose spirit is sustained, led and directed by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). When a person's physical ailments become the dominating centre of their lives it effects others around them too, and both are dragged down into a negative atmosphere. This is a great temptation that old people fall for. Having said this, I realise that I am not always a good example. In spite of my many ailments, however, I have discovered that my placing the Kingdom of Heaven as my #1 priority in life has enabled me to retain vibrancy in my spirit and be productive in what I do, and I am quite sure that I would be far more ill now had I let go of that focus. The thrill of serving Yahweh invigorates me and keeps worse illnesses at bay. It is very easy when you are ill to descend into self-pity which serves only to create a negative atmosphere for recovery. I know, I have done it myself. The last two winters I have ended up in hospital and as a result I have come to loathe winter. But this year I made a firm decision that I would not let myself sink into that sort of gloom again. By an act of will, sustained by prayer to view my condition in the right light, I made the decision not to end up in hospital again. So far it has worked, praise Yahweh!
The ninth and final function of the spirit is a good conscience which works before the event to keep us out of trouble and not merely afterwards to make us aware of sin. It is the function of Yahweh's Torah to make us aware of sin which is why studying your Bible is so very, very important. If we know what sin is, we are more likely to be responsive to our conscience which was designed to persuade us that sinning is bad for us and bad for others as people. Torah is the abstract aspect of sin-awareness whereas conscience is the living personal aspect of sin-awareness. But more than that, Torah teaches us the abstract aspect of the awareness of good just as conscience teaches us the personal awareness of what is good.
||Makes us aware of the principles of sin
||Makes us aware of the principles of righteousness|
||Makes us aware of Torah sinning against people
||Makes us aware of Torah righteousness towards people|
Torah gives us a knowledge of sin (Rom.3:19-20). However, knowledge alone is never enough to stop us from sinning because it is impersonal. Our conscience is a gift from Yahweh, sometimes called the Light of Christ, which allows our personal spirit to identify and empathise with others so that we are informed about their feelings, especially if we hurt them.
The Ten Commandments were given to us teach us, amongst other things, not to steal (Dt.5:19); but our conscience was given to us so that we might feel in advance of committing a sin what it would feel like for the one being robbed. Our conscience allows us to creatively place ourselves in the position of someone else. And it can do that in one of two ways. It can recall the pain that we may have experienced in being robbed, and that sorrow will be enough to deter us from robbing someone else because we ourselves would not want them to experience that sorrow. However, conscience alone is not enough. Some people, for instance, couldn't care less about adultery. I've met people who have boasted about their adulteries and claimed not to care less about their wives doing the same. For conscience to function in any absolute sense, there has to be more than empathy - there has to be truth. Truth is defined by Torah. Therefore a function of Torah is to shape conscience. We need to know the principles of righteousness and of sin before we can infallibly live them.
Torah and conscience function as a kind of divine synergy. Alone they do not work well. Knowledge enough is not enough to create empathy with someone else. We can slavishly obey rules with a slumbering spirit. Being obedient to Torah with a slumbering spirit is surely better than disobeying it, but better still is to have an alive conscience at the same time. People whose hearts are awake but who are in rebellion are in just as desperate a situation as those whose hearts are asleep but who are obedient to truth. We see this very much in Messianic circles where fanatical Torah-observers ram Torah down peoples' throats whilst their spirits are dead, and at the other extreme we have the vibrant charismatics whose hearts are alive but who are in rebellion against Torah. Thus there is a conflict between those who adhere to the letter-of-the-law and those who are alive in their feelings but remain lawless. That is why Christians on fire for Yahweh continue to sin and why those who are spiritually slumbering sin as well. The one lot is not governed by Truth and the other simply can't connect to people to empathise with them.
What keeps me from stealing is (a) a knowledge of Torah which tells me it is wrong; (b) my spirit informs me through my conscience that I would grieve the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and pains me in advance by causing me to know my brother's hurt.
Now I am not saying that slumbering spirits have no conscience. The only people who have no conscience are those who have committed the unpardonable sin, namely, the demons and those for whom there is no longer any redemption. Rather, conscience may be said to operate on two different levels. The first level, which is connected to the heart as well as to Torah, is the spirit which is connected to the spirit of eternity, enabling it to see forwards into time as well as backwards, because it is connected to the Eternal Ruach (Spirit).
A slumbering spirit does not have this connection to past and future. A slumberer may have remorse after sinning but not before. It may be aware of the written letter of Torah which alone can only convict after the event. If it has no sense of Torah then conscience may not operate on this level very well either. Such a person works well through the mind by recall, and emotions. But it almost never works powerfully enough before the event to prevent it. It remínds us that we have failed Yahweh and ourselves but it seldom makes us aware of our brother's hurt. It makes us aware only that we failed to be what we set out to be. It seldom moves us to repentance. Repentance only happens when we put ourselves in the place of others and especially in the place of our Heavenly Father. Remorse is self-centred because it is seen in terms of our own failure to perform. Repentance, on the other hand, is the result of the gift of love.
That is critically important to understand. If I love someone, and my spirit is awake and alert, it checks me before the event to prevent it! Love constrains me because I cannot stand to hurt the one I love. If the brother is a stranger to me, Yah'shua (Jesus) in me loves him, and sends warning signals through my spirit not to do what might grieve Yah'shua (Jesus) and him.
But if a man's or woman's spirit is paralysed or asleep, how can he be warned by it? It's as though he is wearing a blindfold. If possible hurt begins to rise to consciousness, greed and desire, often mediated by demons, block that out. But an awakened spirit sings out too loudly to be silenced without considerable effort. That is why John said:
"Everyone who sins breaks the law (Torah); in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him" (1 John 3:4-6, NIV).
Really knowing Yah'shua (Jesus) in our spirit awakens such a love in us for all others that we cannot bear to cause injury to another. If a man does sin, even if he knows what Torah says about it, it is because in that area he does not actually in his spirit know and abide in Yah'shua (Jesus). Torah only becomes written on our hearts as a living principle when we are connected to the Author of Torah, Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself, and the Ruach (Spirit) does the writing.
How many people have you heard excuse themselves and all Christians from the call to perfection because, they claim, we are all sinners (and may quote Paul and John to support their claims)? Such do not understand what John meant when he said:
"No one who is born of Elohim (God) will continue to sin, because Elohim's (God's) seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of Elohim (God)" (1 John 3:9, NIV).
Does understanding slumbering spirits explain this apparent contradiction? When we are converted we are positionally born anew. But what we are seeing here is that in some areas of the inner being, that new birth has not been effective, and overcoming remains yet to be done. We haven't worked out that salvation "with fear and trembling" (Phil.2:12) - we have accepted the initial gift but not put it to work in every area of the soul. It remains a fact that in every area in which a spirit slumbers, that area of his spirit has not yet received the good news of the new birth. Therefore in those areas where the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) still has not been received, he continues to sin! In those areas where the Ruach (Spirit) really is resident, his spirit will not allow him to sin, for love of Yahweh, for love of Yah'shua (Jesus), for love of Torah, and for love of his neighbour. Thus in these areas of his being he will never wilfully or habitually sin. He may make blunders and leave things undone that ought to be done, but in the sense of wilful wrong-choosing, he cannot sin. His awakened spirit has too powerful a tool through his conscience to suffer him to fall. Love overcomes him through his spirit and will not let him choose to wound Yah'shua (Jesus) or other people.
But if a man falls away from the disciplining of the Way - worship, study of and obedience to Torah, self-sacrificial giving to others, affection, and so on - his spirit can fall asleep. Conscience then fails. The needs of others around go unnoticed. You see, most of the promises of Yahweh are conditional - they depend on our staying in a position to receive them.
I am going to talk a bit more about this in a few weeks' time after Purim. I would be willing to stake my reputation in saying that everybody in this meeting hall has a slumbering spirit to one degree or another. Anyone who is not responsive to any area of the Gospel because they feel no need to, or because their conscience is untroubled, is showing evidence of a slumbering spirit. Some people may be so disconnected that they have had little or no idea what I have been talking about over the last three weeks. And yet this subject is so critical that to ignore it is to put ones soul in grave peril. To survive in these end times so much depends on our ability to prophetically respond to the things going on around us both locally and globally. Indeed, it is only the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) which allows us to always stay one step ahead of Satan, so obviously putting our spirits to sleep by making us careless is one of his high priorities. None of you here may be committing any really serious sin - you may even think of yourself as quite righteous - but if you are insensitive to the needs of others because you have allowed your spirit to sleep, then in the end you will grow hard and callous, and the more readily embrace evil. As a pastor, husband and father I am naturally concerned about everyone in this congregation. The Ruach (Spirit) has alerted me to many of your problems and the dangers facing you. Some of you have I seen down the road into the future - and some of you are yet in very real danger of losing your Way if you don't take active steps to get your lives right.
Until I talk to you about this subject again, please seriously reflect on what I have said. Is my spirit asleep? Do I really passionately care about those around me? Does my heart lead me in love? Or do I do things out of a sense of 'duty' only? Do I do the minimum in order to convince myself that I am doing all I need to do? Please consider these things, ask Yah'shua (Jesus) into every area of your mind, heart and spirit, and bring you life eternal, is my prayer in His Name. Amen.
Click here for Part 4
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Last updated on 3 February 2004
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