The Awakened Spirit
Part 1: The 7 Keys to Awareness
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 19 June 2004
Three months ago I preached a four-part series of sermons called The Slumbering Spirit. If I might briefly refresh your memories, we examined the different ways in which the spirit of man can fall asleep even when he is physically awake. In the world there are millions of people who are processing information with their heads but whose hearts are cacooned away within themselves so that they cannot make contact with other people. They may have an emotional life but they are frustrated by their apparent failure to make contact with other's feelings save on a superficial level. The Bible teaches us that the essence of life is in the spirit and that to be whole there must be a divinely ordered connection between spirit, mind and feelings.
We saw how when a man's spirit is alive that he can rise above life's difficulties and pain, because it is through the spirit that we make the ultimate connection to the One who nourishes and sustains us, Yahweh, our Father in Heaven. A spirit which is alive is rooted in eternal life itself. When a spirit is asleep it obtains its nourishment through the fleeting and unsatisfying things of this world.
In this next series of sermons I want to look not at the ways in which the spirit falls asleep but at ways to awaken it. I want to look at life and what it means to be truly alive, and how to accomplish it.
Some months ago I published an article that sought to explain the psychology of the Muslim suicide-bombers who today are everywhere threatening the peace of the world with their violent terrorism. What is it that leads young men and women to strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves up? Why are they willing to throw life away with such apparent reckless abandon? We know, of course, the political and religious reasons - we know that they feel this is the only way that they can supposedly 'liberate' themselves from political and national oppression. We know that their religion perversely teaches them that those who die in Jihad - Holy War - are automatically assured a place in the Islamic heaven. We know the men have been promised licensed debauchery the likes of which they could never know on earth. But none of these things are enough to drive a person to his death, and to kill others - behind every resolution and action lies a spirit. And I am going to suggest to you today that what these deluded men and women are doing subconsciously is searching for their absent fathers - their longing to be united to Allah in death stems from this (see Jamie Glazov, The Suicide Bomber's Search for the Absent Father).
The moment a baby is born, it needs both its mother's and father's presence. Even the secular psychologists know this. Marshal L. Hamilton shows conclusively that when a father is absent there is a detrimental effect on children's aggression, dependency, degree of adjustment, delinquency rates, moral behaviour, premarital pregnancy rates, masculinity in males, and intellectual performance . These things are beyond dispute. Children need father and mother together.
Both boys and girls look to their fathers for a philosophy of life. From relating to fathers comes much of our zest for life, creativity, ambition, destiny and purpose. When children cannot drink life from their fathers, they are starving and crippled in spirit. To the degree of parents' failure, most especially fathers', children's spirits fall asleep. From then on they live by half-emotions and brittle thoughts, much like having good sails unfurled to catch the winds, only to flap listlessly without breath from then on, a ship hung in irons. They cannot function. ... Children bereft of affection, most especially from their fathers, cannot meet God, embrace people or life or themselves fully. And in this sense they have never become human. They cannot enter into another's heart by their spirit. They cannot love by spiritual sensitivity to the other. They are isolated, going through life's motions like zombies. Many are unaware that there is more to life than they have known. They are like eight-cylinder engines which have never run on more than two.
Since conscience cannot function except by remorse or fear, the result becomes callous disregard for life, progressively less and less regard for law. Before the First World War, the nuclear family was not isolated. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins took up the slack when fathers were called to war and mothers went to work in war plants. Infants born then could still receive affection from primary relatives. It was a romantic and affectionate age.
Then increasing industrialisation and mobility dehumanised and decentralised the family. By the time of the Second World War, many nuclear families had become isolated. Heads of families had gone to war and their infants did not know them at all. An entire generation fell asleep spiritually. Religion was still popular, but more and more by rote and by rite, less in true piety. When the charismatic movement came, many who had no faculty for real encounter experienced emotional release. Multitudes of charismatics who lacked the real hungered for more, but could not enter the 'holy of holies'. Thus the charismatic movement has been characterised by immaturity and great pendulum swings from one imbalance to another. What is wrong is so simple. Slumbering spirits cannot meet Yahweh until healed in the Body of Christ.
Entire generations of incapable people have filled the divorce courts. Children have less and less human spirit, let alone 'Holy Spirit', and as a result exhibit more and more open rebellion and debauchery. Look at the crime rates. In Britain today the mobsters carry machine guns like they did in Chicago in the 1930s.
This is one reason Satan promotes war, because war deprives families of the paternal care that infants need. The social mess that we have inherited today was predicted by the apostle Paul 2,000 years ago when he prophesied:
"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Tim.3:1-5, NKJV).
Of course, war is not the only thing to blame. There are many factors involved here. Fathers often choose to place their career leagues ahead of their families for the sake of wealth when Yahweh says pure family bonding is worth infinitely more than any money could ever buy. My first father-in-law devoted his life to earning as much money as he could in order that his family could love in luxury but in the process was away from home so much that he became a stranger to his own wife and children. His motives may have been well-intended but his life philosophy was all wrong. And all his daughters have been damages as a result resulting in mutliple divorce in their lives
In his prophecy, Paul states that religious people in the last days will have "a form of godliness but deny its power". Please note the word 'form' which translates the Greek morphosis which can also mean 'appearance'. In other words, people are acting religious without any real contact with Yahweh - there is no spiritual power in their lives. And isn't that true today? So much of religious observance is just play-acting. People find comfort in rites and liturgies in the place of real salvation. Rituals and liturgies may appeal to the intellect and feelings but they cannot cause the spirit to personally embrace Christ. To be able to embrace Christ requires a functioning spirit - an alive spirit. And that is why people who are spiritually asleep need a welcome embrace from other humans - they need that contact that their parents either never gave them or contact which is pure in place of that which was impure. We read in Isaiah:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
"Prepare the way of Yahweh;
Make straight in the desert
John the Baptist prepared the way of Christ by preaching repentance from dead works. We have to do that too, but before people will embrace the path of salvation they must first be awakened. And the only way you can awaken someone is by loving them so that their heart-lives, which are walking around in a desert of loneliness and emptiness, can be prepared to meet Yahweh personally. Of course, they have to choose whether or not they open their hearts in trust to receive this nourishment. Often we have to wait patiently for them to do so while they bite the hands trying to feed them in the meantime! To do that, one needs grace, and grace in abundance. That means in practice a determination not to give up on people however obnoxious they may be, remembering that what they do is usually reflexive and learned as a way of coping without love.
I know we are rightly concerned about the occultic influence in many of the fairy tales we have heard but I think some of them teach some very fundamental lessons, which is why children love them so much. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for instance, contains a message that speaks to every generation because instinctively we know it's about us. Snow White eats the poisoned apple, which represents the poisoned fruit of life without affection, and falls asleep! The seven dwarfs represent our dwarfed talents - who needs to be told who the wicked queen represents? Or Prince Charming - Yah'shua (Jesus)! And how does he bring Snow White to life? By a kiss! It's love alone which can awaken us from sleep.
What about Sleeping Beauty? The princess pricks her finger on the distaff - work without expressions of love becomes drudgery - and falls asleep. All the servants and creatures in the castle sleep for a hundred years, like our talents and capabilities. Hedges and thorns surround the castle, much as we grow defensive prickly walls around our inner being. Prince Charming (Yah'shua/Jesus) hacks his way through the thorns with his flaming sword (of truth), slays the dragon (Satan), and enters our castle. Again, it is by a kiss of love that the princess and all her court awaken.
What about the story of the frog who tricks a princess into keeping him by her bedside and feeding him until he bursts forth as a handsome prince - when he is kissed! We only hop and croak until our spirits are awakened by love to be the sons and daughters of the King. It is this sick world with its demons who have bewitched us - put us to sleep - and turned us into frogs, caricatures of what we were meant to be.
Do you see how essential human love is to the awakening of the human spirit? It is not enough to pray that God will enter someone's life to awaken them and sit passively in the sidelines.
Well, let's get to practicalities. How do you know whether a spirit is slumbering or not? And perhaps even more important, if you are the one with a slumbering spirit, how can you know if you have a slumbering spirit? Well, let me give you seven important keys which you can use to privately test yourself - recognising that one has a problem in the first place is the first step to getting healed. So let's begin - please consider these questions carefully and honestly:
- 1. When you are in a worship service or a prayer meeting, do you feel the anointing of Yahweh flowing over you and through you, or do you only know He is there by faith?
- 2. When you have private devotions, do you enter into His presence? Can you abide in His presence? When you read the Bible, do the pages leap with meaning off the pages at times? Or does Bible reading run dry?
- 3. Do you ever hear Yahweh or have spiritual dreams or visions? Does He talk to you?
- 4. When you are in a conversation, do you enter in and feel what the other person feels, or do you have to figure out with your mind what to say?
- 5. Are you a creative person? Do you have new ideas? Or do you always have to follow the manual?
- 6. Have you (if you are married) experienced a glory in marital sex in which you feel your mate's spirit flowing into yours?
- 7. Does your conscience warn you strongly before you do anything, and keep you out of trouble, or only work by remorse afterwards?
What I am essentially asking you to consider is whether you are able to form relationships (a) with God, and (b) with others. Now remember, someone who is slumbering may think he is talking with God when he is in fact talking with himself - he is really guessing who God is or what God is like. And remember also, people can get false supernatural revelations that are psychic in origin and not spiritual. The fact that you have experienced something supernatural does not necessarily mean your spirit is awake - remember that Satan and his angels deal on the level of the psyche - your thoughts and feelings - and not the spirit. Which is why we need to begin with other people, because you can at least ask other people whether your perceptions of them are right or wrong. In other words, you can - at least at first - more easily test your spirit with others like yourself.
Consistently misjudging someone else because you have no idea what is going on inside of them after lots of conversation and contact is one of the most reliable signs of a slumbering spirit. Yet if we feel that God is distant and can only be perceived by faith, this is surely a stronger indication that something wrong. And do you know what the biggest obstacle is to fixing a slumbering spirit? Pride - our unwillingness to admit that we have a problem that needs to be fixed. In my life I have met many people who know they have a slumbering spirit but who choose to live in denial, and who then wonder why all their desires to get nearer to our Heavenly Father are consistently met with frustration. It is not because Yahweh does not care or has ceased loving them - it is because they are not willing to sacrifice their supposed 'dignity' in order to let Him communicate in their lives. And perhaps, for some, this is the biggest obstacle of all.
My work as a Pastor is a failure if I cannot persuade souls to open their hearts to Yahweh and face the truth about themselves, others, and the world. My primary job is not to cram you with theology and morality. Yes, the minister is called to educate, but he is never a substitute for God because slumbering spirits won't awaken. Under the New Covenant he is not supposed to be an intermediary - a Pastor's job is to show how people can enter into relationship with the Most High and find out the truth for themselves. Why do people resist? Well, pride is one issue, but another equally crippling attitude is fear: people are afraid to meet Yahweh for fear of what might happen to them. These fears have to be honestly confronted because you will discover that almost all of them are not founded in either truth or reality. Satan wants a slumbering spirit to remain asleep - he does not want you to change. He wins when you sit still and do nothing spiritual. He wins when you fail to make one-to-one contact with His children. He wins when you fail to make one-to-one contact with Yahweh because it's then - when you make contact with Heaven - that Satan's Kingdom is shaken and toppled.
I am persuaded - because I have experienced it time and time again in myself and in others - that no effort should be spared to help sleeping souls to awaken. No amount of religion will do them any good so long as they are in this condition. Remember also that a sleeping soul will misjudge you because they have no idea what is going on inside you. The only tools they have are their eyes - they can see what you do and hear what you say - but this is never enough to understand someone's motives. Real relationships are only made when we know a person's soul. In my life I have met people who have tried to analyse me who haven't a clue who I am or what I really feel inside. They take external data and totally misinterpret it. And this includes people I have known all my life. How is it they are able to so totally misjudge someone? It is because their spirits are asleep.
The good news is that spirits can be awakened. It is Yahweh's will that they awake. It is in the best interests of the whole world that souls awake, because when souls are awake and can feel what their neighbours feel, they will have no desire to abuse them. So much of our frustration and anger against others stems from the fact that they cannot understand us (because our spirits are asleep) or we cannot understand them (because their spirits are asleep). When spirits are asleep they interpret others through the lenses if their own slumber and totally distort reality. And when we distort reality, we naturally treat people wrongly and hurt them. When spirits are alseep they can hurt others without feeling the pain of those they hurt.
Next week I want to continue with this theme, perhaps one of the most important gospel themes there is. Awakening the spirit is the key to a happy and meaningful life because then we can see truth as it really is, make meaningful choices and not those that trip us up, and finally come to meet the One whom our souls deeply yearn to know - our Creator and Father of all. Amen.
Click here for Part 2
 Marshall L. Hamilton, Father's Influence on Children, Nelson-Hall, Chicago, 1977, p.51.
John & Paul Sandford, Healing the Wounded Spirit, Victory House, Tulsa, 1985, ch.5.
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Last updated on 14 July 2004
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