I Choose to Live
Part 2: Receiving That
Which is Your Own
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 23 October 2004
Click here for Part 1
"The Spirit of Yahweh-Elohim is upon Me,
Because Yahweh has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound"
Last week I told you the story of Jo, her spiritual imprisonment, and of her release in Christ. Since the sermon went on the Internet I have had a number of emails from people telling me how they were able to exactly relate to Jo's condition. In the passage from Isaiah which I have just read, we see how the Messiah has been sent to preach good news to the poor, heal those who are brokenhearted, proclaim freedom to the captives, and to open the prison of those who are bound. This is a well-known scripture which has at least three levels of meaning: for Christ does indeed free literal prisoners, as He did Peter and Paul, for example, when they were bound in chains. It is also talking about inner freedom - of the liberation of our minds from the chains of false thinking, of our hearts from misleading and deceptive feelings that cause us to view the world and other people through distorted lenses. But it is more than these - it is also talking about freeing the spirits of men and women from a spiritual prison as happened to Jo.
This is not the only passage of scripture that speaks of spiritual imprisonment, and what I would like to do now is show you something in Psalm 88 which I think you will find interesting and exciting. Finally, I want to explain how people come to enter this spiritual prison.
"O Yahweh, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand. You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out; My eye wastes away because of affliction. Yahweh, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" (Ps.88, NKJV).
It's quite a depressing psalm, isn't it? And yet it is the reality of more people that I would care to name. God appears so far away from people and they cannot understand why, even though they call upon Him day and night to speak to them. Well, today we're going to unravel that problem and shine a bright light on it so that we can see clearly what is going on.
The first thing we have to understand is that the pit that David is complaining about is real. It is not figurative. Neither is it simply describing something in the future after we have laid aside our physical bodies. The psalmist was experiencing that imprisonment there and then. And he wasn't just speaking figuratively, poetically or symbolically. You will remember that Jo was literally in a dungeon - not on the physical plane but on the spiritual. So the first thing we must understand is that this is a literal pit. Second, you will recall that David bemoans that "I am like a man who has no strength" (v.4). That is exactly how Jo felt. She also felt, like David, "cut off from [Yahweh's] hand" (v.5), unable to directly commune with God. David said: "You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths" (v.6) - Jo knew that too, and that it was literal. David said: "You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them" (v.8a). Jo knew that too - her friends seemed repulsed by her and so they kept away. Her social life was destroyed. Have you ever experienced that? People repulsed by you even though you have 'done' nothing in particular? David says: "I am shut up, and I cannot get out" (v.8b). This was Jo's dungeon and she could not escape. David said: "My eye wastes away because of affliction" (v.9). Jo grieved every day because she couldn't live. And worst, in many respects, is what David says next: "Yahweh, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You" (v.9). For David and for Jo it seemed as though Yahweh did not hear their prayers or answer them. And finally, David says: "Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You?" (v.10). In other words, he feels so dead that he asks Yahweh for a miracle - to raise him from the deadness that is within him, and give him life, the very same cry and prayer of Jo.
Now I know very well that vast numbers of people feel that they are living this inner hell. They call upon God to deliver them but seemingly get no answer. Most people stop asking Him to help them after a while and believe that He is not listening to them or that He doesn't care.
And now the explanation of the mystery. Now the answers. You see, at different times in my life I have experienced this too. This condition does not necessarily have to affect the whole of a person but only a fragment - a dissociated part of the self.
I remember a dream I had many years ago. In the dream I was visiting a prison. And in the prison was a lonely, little girl who had apparently been locked away all her life. I took her out of that prison and to freedom. I have forgotten many of the details of that dream now, but one thing I remember was that that little girl was a part of me, a part of the female side of me called by psychologists the anima (in women it is a male or animus). In men it is an unconscious part of themselves, the parallel in women being a little boy. It was a wonderful dream - the girl explored the world around her, never having seen it before, as she had been locked up all those years. I felt this tremendous love for her and rejoiced that she was now free to breathe the air outside that tiny confined space behind bars. She had been shut away, rejected.
So how, I can hear you asking me, do spirits become spiritually imprisoned as Jo did? The answer will perhaps surprise you - I am sure many of you are even now formulating scenarios in your minds. We become spiritually imprisoned when we experience overwhelming trauma in the womb that may cause that unborn soul to rebel against God. That unborn child, even while she is still in the womb, turns back from life, wanting to flee and hide, not wanting to be born, not wanting to come out of the womb and risk life.
Now we must pause a moment and consider this soberly. What possible trauma in the womb could possibly cause an unborn soul to want to hide? Indeed, many will be asking just what level of consciousness an unborn child actually has? Let me assure you that the unborn child is not only a human being in every sense of the word but also a living spirit. The brain and other organs of the body may not be fully developed (the excuse used by abortionists to justify prenatal murder) but the spirit is complete and fully conscious. Some uterine trauma can be physical but for the most part it is spiritual.
The child in the womb of his mother can sense what is going on around him. It knows whether it is loved and wanted or not. Children in the womb are just as vulnerable as those who have been born but we tend not to consider them too much because they are invisible to us. Satan knows this which is why he can do great damage to an unborn child simply by creating traumatic circumstances around that child. A child that is not wanted will feel rejected and want to hide - he must feel welcomed into the world. Unwanted pregnancy is enough to traumatise a child, particularly if the parents are debating whether to have an abortion or not. The unborn child will sense that - it will sense that the mother, or father, or both parents are contemplating killing him.
Try to imagine that for a moment - try to imagine how you would feel knowing that your life hung in the balance. Many a mother has hated her unborn child because it has 'interfered' with her career or love affairs - after all, pregnant women aren't that attractive to Cassanovas whose interest is only sex but not marriage or family commitment. There is nothing more catastrophic for a child to be aware that it is not wanted, except to be openly hated. The mother, for instance, who is debating abortion, may be experiencing a sea of conflicting emotions - one minute wanting the baby, the next, not. The child will sense that confusion - it will sense being partly loved and partly hated. For the child, this will all be trauma - that child was created by Yahweh to be accepted, loved, and cherished. Anything that would reject that child is unnatural, carnal and devilish.
Have you ever wondered why, in the parable of the talents (Mt.25:14ff), the man with only one talent went and buried it and did nothing to increase that talent? Do you remember what his overriding feeling was? Let's read that passage and see:
"Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours'" (Matt.25:23-25, NKJV).
That man chose to be slothful and did absolutely nothing. He buried his talent in the ground, just as we, when we get afraid, bury ourselves - our spirits - 'in the ground' and become fruitless. The child in the womb experiencing trauma can choose to hide, and when it is born and grows up as an adult, it can remain in hiding. I knew a lady who was constantly hiding away from people. Whenever visitors came, she hid in the bedroom, leaving her husband to entertain and minister to the guests. She was following a script - mental programming - that she had learned and chosen in the womb in order to deal with the trauma she had experienced before she was born, because her father had wanted a boy and not a girl, and in order to please him subconsciously that is what she tried to be. But reality and illusion are not the same and so when the two conflicted, she chose to hide.
We are so structured that we must take responsibility for the choices we make. When facing a trauma we can fight or run. If the trauma is really bad, and the pain great, the soul can split into multiple personalities in order to cope with the pain. Or we can simply run and hide to the deepest, remotest, darkest place we can find. And that is what happens when a soul becomes spiritually imprisoned.
The man with one talent rightly observed that God reaps where He has not sown, and gathers where He has not scattered seed, because we are the servants. That may appear 'hard' to us but there is a greater purpose which the servant did not understand - namely, the whole purpose of life down here, which is to mature us and make us into worthy sons and daughters of God. God may appear hard to the unredeemed - and especially to the lazy and indolent - man, but the illusion and the reality are not the same. Anyone who has met the living Christ knows the truth. And what is the truth? Yah'shua (Jesus) tells us:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:7-10, NKJV).
The universe is so structured as to give us maximum free agency. It is so structured that we live in interdependency. Parents are supposed to love and take care of their children - born and unborn - to desire them and welcome them into the world. Even in rape a child is an innocent bystander. Where people get confused over the justice and love of God is over this matter of mutual-responsibility. Because we are by nature selfish, we tend to view everything simply in terms of ourselves as solo beings with a whole list of needs and wants (and often confuse the two). However, what we want and need affects others too because no man is an island - no man lives in complete isolation of other human beings. Modern man may not like families, or the responsibilities of families and child-raising, but this is the way he was created by Yahweh, and he cannot get away from it.
When an unborn child gets traumatised by unloving parents it is not because Yahweh does not love that child but because the parents have a divinely appointed position of responsibility that cannot be circumvented. In the end, we all need each other one way or another, not because Yahweh has created us and then stood back to let us get on with things, but because the only way we can come to perfection is through becoming the Messianic Bride, as a family. Life is structured around this great principle and Satan, of course, seeks to spoil it at every opportunity.
King David knew what it was to be in spiritual prison, just as Jo did. In the end he was delivered, as his later psalms reveal. Jo was delivered too. But what most Christians don't understand is that when we speak of 'deliverance' we are speaking of salvation as well. A person who is in spiritual prison, even if they are trusting in Christ, is not yet 'fully saved'. That ought to be obvious to us yet we have been conditioned by a rather narrowly-defined theology. For Jo, it was not merely a fragment that was spiritually imprisoned, but her entire spiritual self. And she still needed to be delivered (saved) by Christ's personal intervention - He had to deliver her from that dungeon and bring her out into His glorious light and freedom. Salvation is no mere intellectual concept - it is a living experience. It is to be literally delivered as Jo was so that her life reflected the victory of true salvation.
Scripture tells us that Christians are normally hidden and protected. Paul says: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col.3:1-3, NKJV). David said: "The angel of Yahweh encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them" (Ps.34:7, NKJV - see also Ps.91). This is undoubtedly true of adults. But what of little children? Earlier we read: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy". And certainly Satan comes to steal salvation from believers and to destroy them. We know how he does this for we understand the importance of the commandments and our accountability to them. We also know that when we rebel, this opens doors to demons that allow Satan to plunder the soul. Parents are their children's spiritual covering and when they rebel, they open doors to their own children. Those demons can enter unborn children and imprison their spirit, and when they happens it is because the parents let them. Can you understand now why Satanists curse their unborn children?
Spiritual imprisonment may not necessarily take place in the womb - it can happen later in life too. But once those demons are in, and once that spirit is imprisoned, the soul cannot function properly. The guilty parties are the parents for not fulfilling their calling to cover their children. The fact that they may not know this cosmic law does not change the law. Who, then, is responsible for their ignorance? Their own parents, and their ancestors before them, for rebelling against Yahweh, and often up many generations. That is what a family curse is. If families are in darkness, it is because ancestors have sinned and not repented. We are all connected. The responsibility is ours, not Yahweh's. Yah'shua (Jesus) said of a deceitful servant and steward: "And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?" (Luke 16:12-13, NKJV). Like it or not, we are stewards of others - we have responsibilities for others, and our carelessness, negligence or outright rebellion can cost others dearly, especially children. And that is why the Spirit of Elijah has been given to Yahweh's ministers to help restore these broken relationships and destroy family curses.
As we grow older and come to understanding, we are able to choose deliverance and liberate those parts of ourselves which were spiritually injured or imprisoned when we were small and vulnerable. Christ brings a message of hope and of deliverance. If we are totally honest, we as parents - and that includes Christian parents - have not always fulfilled our stewardships towards our children and have been inadequate coverings. I know I have made mistakes and my children have suffered for that. I am doing my utmost best to correct all of that. This stewardship is sacred - so very, very sacred - and we are answerable.
"And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?" said Yah'shua (Jesus). Here is our clue for liberation for those in spiritual prison. Now turn that scripture around: If a man is faithful in that which is another's, he will be given that which is his own.
Jo, imprisoned as she was, was trying her best to be faithful with that which was not hers. And what was not hers? The Kingdom of Heaven! She was trying to serve. By her faith and obedience, then, Christ could give her what was hers, her own spirit, set free to live life.
The first stage in deliverance from spiritual imprisonment is by giving yourself in service to what which does not belong to you but to Christ, the Kingdom! People get their priorities the wrong way round. "When I am delivered, then I will serve," they rationalise. And so they remain undelivered. I have noticed this pattern time and time again with monotenous regularity: those who wait to be delivered before they will serve never get delivered. And that is because of our stewardship. "... he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt.10:38-39, NKJV).
Next week I want to get even more particular. For those who are in spiritual prison my message is: be encouraged and do not lose hope.
"... seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matt.6:33-34, NKJV).
Seek the Kingdom first and all things will be added to you, including your own spirit. Amen.
Click here for Part 3
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