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Lesson 39 of 127
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Obstacles to Spiritual Warfare

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Obstacles to Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

I’d like to talk for a short time slowly, and kind of thoughtfully about spiritual warfare. And I’d like to mention five obstacles that there are to us entering into spiritual warfare. I think that the first three we did mention briefly last evening, so I can move through them fairly quickly.

The first one — and I know it sounds almost humorous — is that we are not born of the Spirit. I know it sounds wild to suggest that, because one would take it for granted. But I think many of us have not experienced what Jesus mentions in John 3:6. It’s good to look at God’s word even if you know the verse by heart — because the Holy Spirit can make it real to you through eye-gate.

John 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” But I do think that many of us get into the position where we are in fact not born of the Spirit. We can come and be stimulated intellectually by the kind of teaching that we share on a Sunday evening — just because our minds are curious minds, want to see things whole, and are not satisfied with some of the explanations that we have received.

So I think it is possible to come to services even like this on Sunday evenings and not be born of the Spirit, and treat it as almost a mind contortionist experience. In that case, that’s what spiritual warfare becomes. It becomes a tricking of yourself with your mind, playing around with ideas, a throwing of one idea — over ascension with Jesus — against another idea of Satan somewhere in the background trying to make our life difficult. So it is possible not to be born of the Spirit, and yet to think that you’re engaging in spiritual warfare.

Now spiritual warfare is not fighting Satan within us. You remember it was Jesus who said, “The evil one has nothing in me.” And it’s pretty important to be clear of what you have to deal with in the new birth – a guilty conscience. Spiritual warfare is not fighting a guilty conscience.

It is not trying to repress or suppress guilt within you. It may be fighting false condemnation, but false condemnation is readily distinguishable, as you know, from real guilty conscience — because it’s normally a vague sense of guilt — whereas a guilty conscience comes from the Holy Spirit convicting you of a definite sin. Moreover, false condemnation does not disappear after you have done something. It continues — whereas a guilty conscience disappears once you turn from the sin that the Holy Spirit is convicting you of.

So spiritual warfare is not fighting a guilty conscience. A guilty conscience is dealt with by Jesus’ death. It’s dealt with by seeing that God has put us into Jesus, destroyed us in him, and therefore is able to remain a just God and a holy God and yet accept us to himself. And it’s dealt with by belief and repentance. It is important to see that spiritual warfare is not fighting a guilty conscience.

Spiritual warfare is made very difficult and impossible, I would say, by not being baptized in the Spirit, or you could say not living by the Spirit. So many of us are born of the Spirit, but we do not really live by the Spirit. The importance of not only being born of the spirit, but living by it, is mentioned in Galatians 5:25a: “If we live by the Spirit.”

In other words, many of us fail to engage in spiritual warfare because we aren’t in fact living by

the Spirit. We are living by our body. We’re living by the desire of our body to get things, the desire of body to enjoy things, and the desire of our body to rule over our own life and dominate our own life.

Now spiritual warfare is not fighting the flesh. It is not fighting your own desire to get, and enjoy, and dominate. That’s not spiritual warfare. That is something within you that is dealt with, you remember, by our death with Jesus. It is not dealt with by spiritual warfare.

So you don’t rebuke anger, and envy, and jealousy. Instead you enter into the death of the old self with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit fills you, or baptizes you and cleanses you. It’s experienced, you remember, by belief that we were crucified with Christ (mentioned in Romans 6:6), and submission to the Holy Spirit. Now you can’t engage in spiritual warfare if you’re not living by the Spirit. If you’re still living by these things, then you can’t really involve yourself in spiritual warfare — because Satan has still part of your life.

One of the other things, and the third one that I’d like to deal with quickly that prevents us entering into spiritual warfare, is not walking by the Spirit. That’s mentioned in that same verse, Galatians 5:25. Galatians 5:25 runs, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Many of us do not walk by the Spirit. What do we walk by? We walk not by our body, but by the power of our own souls. That is, we try to do Gods work. We are clear in our motive life, which we weren’t when we weren’t born of God. The problem then was motive. We lived for self instead of for God. But when we’re born of God but not walking by the Spirit — we’re living for God but trying to do his work by the power of our mind and our emotions. It’s good to say we’re living by our own willfulness. If we’re involved in that, we can’t engage in spiritual warfare.

Some instances of that are using our own abilities to try to achieve what God wants to achieve. A good example of this is Christian Science. Christian Science attempts to fight sin and to fight sickness by the power of the mind — not by the power of Holy Spirit coming down from Jesus.

In Christian Science, the mind says, “There is no such thing as sickness. There is no such thing as sin.” So, many people in Christian Science experience a very complete degree at times, of victory over sin and over sickness. Because there is a latent power in the soul that remains there even from creation, and it’s possible to live by that power and to do certain things by it. Telepathy obviously is that power. Extrasensory perception is that power. Mind reading is that same power.

Another example is the experience of The Children of God, whom many of us I think had great love for in the early days of Christian Corps. I remember Bruce in London going and spending an afternoon with them when we were there the first year, and coming back terribly impressed and miserably condemned — because he felt that they were living with more self denial than we were.

Of course, The Children of God went right overboard on that very fact. They emphasized self-denial, self-denial. I remember a dear girl called Faith, whom we met in Hyde Park {in London} that first year. She was sharing Jesus, but they were emphasizing, “You must give away all your possessions. You must sell all that you have.” And that seemed almost more important to them at that time than Jesus. So they made a God out of self denial, out of willfulness.

You can try to serve God with willfulness. If you do that, you begin to put yourself under the power of Satan — because Satan is the only one who will attempt to do good works by the power of

the soul. You can get willfulness in the emotions too. There are many eastern religions that believe that the way into peace is to negate the emotions, so they attempt to annihilate them by passivity. And again, they come under the power of evil spirits — because they’re in fact trying to walk by the power of the soul.

At the beginning we talked about the problem being a selfish will. Now you cannot war against the selfish will. You simply have to allow it to be dealt with by the cross. We just talked about the problem of an independent soul. The only way to allow it to be dealt with is by the daily cross — the daily application of Jesus’ cross to your old soul life every time God reveals that you’re using the power of the soul. So brothers and sisters, those were the three that we mentioned last day, and correspond more or less to many of the kinds of stages of the Christian life that some of us have passed through.

You may look at them and say, “I have to pass through those three exactly.” No — you listen to the Holy Spirit. You don’t get under condemnation on these stages. But it may help some of us who have experienced some of these things, to understand a little where we’re going.

Loved ones, I’d like to get on really to the main issue we’ll talk about tonight. Some of us are not able to engage in spiritual warfare because of a weak spirit. In other words, after you begin to walk by the Spirit in some sense, it is very important to obey what Paul says by God’s inspiration in Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” You remember he prays in another place that we will be strengthened in the inner man.

Now many of us have weak spirits — that is, we are born of the Spirit, we are baptized with the Spirit, and we are beginning to walk by the Spirit and not by our souls. But our spirits are still very weak. Our bodies are strong because that’s what we’ve used for years. Our minds and emotions are very strong, because those we have used for years. But our spirits are very weak, and really are baby spirits — but we are beginning to walk by them.

Now loved ones, the important thing is to begin to strengthen our spirits. Now all I can do with you tonight is it share some of the ways that I have found God strengthened my spirit. But you really have to go to the Holy Spirit yourself and say, “Holy Spirit, none of what another human being shares with me can enable me to strengthen my spirit. Only you can strengthen my spirit.” It’s very important to go to him and trust him to do it.

These are some of the ways that the Holy Spirit has used with me, and the first one would be there in 2 Corinthians 4:18: “Because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” That’s one way the Holy Spirit has used with me — to teach me to look at the things that were unseen in different situations.

I think I’ve shared with you how in the first year of the body here, we used to say, “Summer time. We may as well close down because the University will be closed and some of us will be out abroad, and there’ll be nobody here.” And the Holy Spirit just baffled us by bringing more and more people. So we carried on during summertime.

But I said, “Yeah, but Christmas — we’ll all be away and at our homes at Christmas. There’ll be nobody here.” So the first Christmas there were 200 people in the theater {where the services were held}, and gradually the Holy Spirit got it through our thick heads — that we were to look at him,

and look to him, and to stop looking at circumstances and calculating what was reasonable in the light of other people’s experiences.

Repeatedly the Holy Spirit has done that with me. In my life, he’s got me to look at the things that are unseen in situations, and to refuse to look at the things that are seen. So really it’s something that you almost have to get used to doing.

I remember following the Watergate Senate hearings play-by-play, so that I think my wife and I could have told each other exactly what Senator Ervin said, and exactly what John Ehrlichman {an aide to President Nixon} said, and exactly what everybody else said. We followed it for a while, until we began to see that our minds were being drawn out to calculate the chances from a human point of view.

We were beginning to say, “Do you think Ehrlichman sold them on that? Do you think Ehrlichman was right when he said that?” And we began to calculate the chances humanly speaking. Moreover, we began to lose some peace, as we began to feel some justice was not being established here, or was not truly being explained or expressed here. And the Holy Spirit said, “Draw back. Stop looking at the things that are seen.”

Now loved ones, you can see that it is a question of your will – you can choose what you set your mind on. It’s no miracle. You may be sitting there tonight and think, “Ah, walking by the Spirit, or strengthening my spirit — how can I do that?” Well, that’s simple to do. When the Holy Spirit prompts you, and tells you you’re being drawn out too much after the things that are seen, or the things that you’re hearing around you — then it’s the time to look to God.

It’s the time to look to the one position in which God has placed you — which is that position in Ephesians 2:6 {seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus}. And if God really has raised us to that position, then we should be able to get from the Holy Spirit some understanding of what all the angels and archangels are doing up there — because we’re up there also. So it should be possible for us, in some real spiritual sense, to dwell in that place, and be more concerned with what’s going on in heaven, than with what’s going on down here. So that’s one way the Holy Spirit can often do it — by driving you away from the things that are seen.

I think sometimes the Holy Spirit allows an excess of feelings to come to you, so that, for instance, you can get utterly sick of really reveling in either feelings of excessive depression, or feelings of excessive exhilaration. Sometimes it’s possible to do that.

I think all of us had experience of almost that animal kind of exhilaration that we used to feel at times. I know I used to come down in the morning, and sing to my mother, and tell jokes, and back and forward, and it can go for a while, or you can do it at a party, or with a group of people. But by the end of it you get pretty worn out and exhausted, and sometimes it’s kind of flat afterwards. And the Holy Spirit I think will allow you at times to fall into that. It’s really just a human exhilaration, to really tire you and sicken you and exhaust you off of yourself. Or, in the middle of it, finding yourself so displaying the ego, and it just shames you beyond measure.

Now at times the Holy Spirit will allow you to come into that excess of feelings, to drive you into the Spirit — or the same with depression. I think at times we can just revel or wallow in depression and in self pity. The Holy Spirit will allow us at times to come into that to show us, “Look! There is nothing in the feeling life that is worthwhile.”

I think many of us will revel in the past. We will look back to when we were children. We will think about that and think about it, and think of the good times. We kind of think, “Well that’s a good thing to do.” Well of course, Jesus’ word is always: you don’t look to the things that are behind — even the good things. You look to him at this moment. So the Holy Spirit will allow us at times to come into that, so as to drive us into our spirits.

I think at times the Holy Spirit will do the opposite thing, dear ones. He will withdraw feelings from us, in order to drive us into our spirits. I’ve mentioned this before, that many of us have experienced a burning sense of Jesus’ presence, a great sense of joy as we approach the throne of God — and suddenly the Holy Spirit in a certain time of our life will withdraw those feelings from us in prayer — in order to drive us into walking by the will in the spirit. That phrase is so important that I pray that the Holy Spirit will make it real in your life and not just real to your mind — to walk by the will in the spirit. The Holy Spirit will often withdraw feelings of God’s presence from you, so that you’ll believe that God is there on the strength of his word alone, and of your own obedience to the Holy Spirit.

I think another way is that God can allow you to come into problems, so that you see that every problem has only one answer. That answer is a corresponding facet of God’s nature that brings the answer to that problem. Often the Holy Spirit will bring you into those situations so that you will have no one to go to and you will have no power yourself — but you will be driven to the spirit alone, and driven actually to fight with the one weapon that Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

So, often the Holy Spirit will bring you into difficult situations where there is no answer, and you have to go to the great Psalms that have just been a tremendous blessing to all of us at different times. Psalm 121:3 is just one of them that God made real to my heart. There are situations when either you’re working very hard, or you’re involved in difficulties in your job, or you have certain problems in family life or in the home.

It’s so good then when the Holy Spirit shows you there is no answer but God, and he drives you into the Spirit in a verse like Psalm 121:3: “He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.” And everything seems to be slipping away, but the Holy Spirit will drive you into the spirit – and show you that God will not let your foot be moved. And the Holy Spirit drives you to God and to some facet of his nature.

The same is true, if you look at Psalm 125:1: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides for ever.” And it came to me one morning, “Yeah, Mount Zion would be pretty hard to move even with a couple bulldozers.” Then I realized that God was saying that if I trusted in the Lord, I would be like Mount Zion, and I would not be moved, and cannot be moved, but abide forever.

Now often the Holy Spirit will allow incredible problems to come to you in order to drive you to the corresponding facet of God’s nature. So problems really are a blessing to the person who is beginning to enter into strengthening of their own spirit.

I think another thing that God will do is often to let Satan attack you in various ways, so that you have to resist him. That’s James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” So the Father will often lovingly let Satan attack you, so that you have to

resist him or go under. At that moment, the vital thing is to refuse to let your spirit be repressed. Whenever things are at the most difficult, that is the greatest moment for your spirit to rise up.

There are gurus that you may have read about in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday. They want to suppress the flesh by the strength of their own souls. So there are some of them that stand on one leg for months, without ever sleeping, just dosing slightly, but stand on one leg. There’s another one who has held his hand out so many years that it is completely atrophied, and will not move, and all the muscles are limp, and it can do nothing.

Now that’s what happens to your spirit, if you allow it to be suppressed by difficulties. It will atrophy, so that your spirit will grow weaker and weaker. So God often will lovingly allow an attack to come to you, so that you will be forced to exercise your spirit against Satan, and to stand against him and resist him. The only way to really strengthen your spirit is to stand firmly against Satan and to attack, attack, attack at all times. Never allow your spirit to be suppressed.

There have been moments I think for all of us when everything seems to have broken loose. The house seems to be falling down on top of you, and everything seems to be breaking loose. That’s the glorious moment for a person who is able to stand against Satan for no reason at all. “I can’t see any reason, Lord, how I’ll get through this. But you’ve told me to stand, and I will stand in Jesus’ name.” And you stand there, and the wind howls and the rain blows, and your clothes are almost ripped off and you’re almost utterly overcome. But you stand there against Satan, and you resist him, and your spirit begins to grow strong.

Those are some of the ways in which the Holy Spirit strengthens your spirit. Of course, you could take the weak attitude to it and fall down into self-pity, or say, “Ah, how poorly, and how unfairly the Lord is treating me.” Then your spirit will just crumble and will in fact atrophy.

The last thing I’d like to mention, one of the greatest obstacles in spiritual warfare, is not only a weak spirit, but just a wrong spirit. There are many brothers and sisters who have been baptized with a spirit — but it has not been the Spirit of God. And often they’ve entered partially in the Spirit of God, but because they have not obeyed God day-by-day, gradually they have entered into another spirit — in fact the spirit of Satan or the spirit of the world.

That’s mentioned in 1 Corinthians 2:12. So it is very important to realize that there is a warfare that can be waged by counterfeit work of the elemental spirits of Satan. 1 Corinthians 2:12: “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.”

There are spirits of the world. I think it’s very naive of us to think that everything that seems spiritual or supernatural comes from God. There are many counterfeit experiences that the elemental spirits of Satan can bring.

How do you distinguish between the Spirit of God and the spirit of Satan? It seems that there are two great plain signs to help you distinguish between the Spirit of God and the spirit of Satan. One is the Spirit of God always works from within you. The Spirit of God always directs you and constrains you from within. The spirit of Satan works from outside. Works through circumstances, or through the experiences of your body, or through the experiences of your mind and emotions coming

into you.

That’s why I’ve often shared with some of you brothers and sisters that bodily experiences need to be treated very cautiously. Those warm waves that come over you — you need to be wise about them. It’s very easy for Satan to roll in upon you, by moving you into bodily experiences, or by moving you by circumstances. The Spirit of God always moves from within, in quietness, and in peace.

In other words, the Spirit of God moves when your mind and emotions are in a state of recollection, peace, and quiet. If your emotions are aroused or your mind is in confusion, the Spirit of God cannot work, and will not work. He works from within when those parts of your personality are in peace and quiet, and your mind is stayed on God. That’s one way to distinguish the Spirit of God from the spirit of Satan. The spirit of Satan normally works from without. The Spirit of God usually works from within.

I think there is really another clear sign: the Spirit of God always requires your active cooperation. The spirit of Satan encourages you to be passive. So there are many brothers and sisters who think that the Spirit of God will take over the activity of their minds. So they make their minds passive, and they say, “I’m waiting for God’s Spirit to tell me what to do.”

The Holy Spirit is there to give us direction in the way we use our minds and use our emotions. He will not substitute himself for the mind and the emotions — but the spirit of Satan will. And if the spirit of Satan can get human beings to give up active cooperation of their minds, their emotions, and their wills with God’s Spirit, then he can move in and he can bring all kinds of counterfeit spiritual experiences.

I think many of us think, “Oh the spirit of Satan within us will always move us to do something dreadful, will always fill us with terrible and evil thoughts.” No, the spirits are very capable of moving into what is thought to be a believers’ meeting, and move them into all kinds of spiritist experiences — so that they become preoccupied with this gift or that gift, or the way that gift was ministered last night, or the way that person gave me a reading of my mind the previous week. It’s possible for the spirit of Satan to move in and give many apparent supernatural experiences, and give us great senses of being in a direct presence of Christ.

So it’s a very short step from that to people saying, “Oh well, I’ll let the word of God come to me. I’ll just read through the Bible and wait for a word of God to direct me what to do.” So they come into a situation where they want to know what to do in a certain problem, and they just open the word of God and they expect the Holy Spirit to speak that word out to them.

Loved ones, when we were children in Jesus, often God was gracious to us like that. But as we learn more and more that he wants us to cooperate actively through our minds with the Holy Spirit, then he will cease to work that way. But Satan will work that way. And many dear ones have got into hideous situations because they’ve said, “Oh I’m waiting for a word of the Lord,” — instead of getting down before the Father, and worshiping him, glorifying him, and then letting their minds and emotions work naturally in the situation. They try to make their minds and emotions passive, and hope that the Spirit of God will speak through and override the gifts of mind and emotions that God has given them.

So of course it’s not long before they begin to disregard their conscience. As soon as they do that, the spirit of Satan really has got hold of them. Then soon you come up against them and you

say, “Why are you doing that?”

It’s important not to knock certain groups, but it seems to me obvious now that those dear Children of God are way out, and far from what Jesus meant them to be. But you know that their prophet is now encouraging nudity in certain situations, and you know that they have written the most hideous things about what is just a Muslim leader. He is their hero because he serves Allah, their God. Now that came about through disregarding conscience.

Of course, it’s very easy to go out after those apparently supernatural experiences, which are so like the experiences the Holy Spirit brings — and then begin to do what this spirit seems to be saying. 1 Timothy 4:1 talks about this: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared.” And they’ll excuse this apparent disregard for God’s law by saying, “We’re living by a higher principal. We’re not using our intuition or conscience — we’re listening to a higher principal — a supernatural external voice that is speaking to us.”

Now brothers and sisters it’s very important you see that you can end up in an impossible position regarding spiritual warfare, if you once begin to disregard the directions of the word of God itself, and begin to be governed by a wrong spirit. Now if you say, “How do you avoid that?” The word of God — that’s it. You walk by his word, and you walk in obedience to it. That’s why I tend to emphasize so strongly obedience to God’s word. It’s what will keep us free from deceitful spirits, and keep us trusting in the Holy Spirit himself. Because these deceitful spirits or wrong spirits are simply part of the spirit of antichrist that you remember John said is already in the world.

Now loved ones, those are some of the obstacles to entering into real spiritual warfare. The way to enter in is what we outlined there in regard to a weak spirit — to really strengthen our spirit as God has told us to, and to strengthen them in these ways: through beginning to look at the things that are unseen; through beginning to withdraw from just a life of feeling; through looking at every problem as an opportunity to see some element of God’s nature, and through resisting Satan when God allows him to come against us.

Loved ones, I’ll just stop and ask you if you have any questions, and I’ll try to answer them.

Scott asked: would not the test of time help to expose a wrong spirit? It would — and I was talking here primarily in relationship to the person himself or herself, because after time has passed it’s not much good for them. But certainly I agree with you, Scott. It seems to me that would be what God is pointing to when he says, “Be careful that you build on the foundation of Jesus — whether wood, hay, or stubble, or gems, or precious stones. It seems to be that the work is tested as by fire. So you can see whether it’s real fruit that has been born, or whether it’s just counterfeit work.

Question: In connection with the problem of letting your mind go passive — can you then explain what waiting on God is? And, show how that differ from a passive mind?

Re. O’Neill: It seems that waiting on God is clearly explained by the verse, “Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” It seems to me that when you’re waiting on God, you stay your mind clearly upon God, and you perhaps use words of scripture that describe God, such as,

“The Lord is my refuge and my fortress, a very present help in time of trouble.” You think of those things in your own mind, and you dwell upon God actively in your thought life. In other words, you make your thought life consistent with what you believe would be the state of your spirit if you were right before God, and so your mind is in that sense active. Now passivity, it seems to me, was what certainly I experienced in the days when I didn’t know any better, and was in mysticism — where you would simply let your mind go limp and you would get beautiful shades of blue at times and beautiful shades of yellow. And then you would begin to just let the mind go, and let it follow almost the law of free association. Where you let the mind just get drawn out from one thought to another.

Now it seems that that’s it. The one is definite exercising of your will over your mind to dwell upon God. The other is no exercise of the will –letting the mind go wherever it wants. That is what I think that the yogis and the spiritualists attempt.

[Question is not audible]

Rev. O’Neill: What I’m mentioning when I talk about a passive mind sounds like daydreaming. I think many of us do not realize that half the trouble we get into in our prayer life with wandering thoughts, is because we actually practice daydreaming. We practice it. We know we’re doing it, but we keep believing, “Well, that’s an innocent thing that my mom used to laugh at, when she saw me sitting in the sun just looking at the ground or looking up into the sky.” And we kind of think, “Oh it’s nothing very bad.” It is. Daydreaming is mind passivity, and it is Satan working on you. He is subtle, and has used the most harmless things.

But loved ones, there’s never a time for daydreaming. When you’re daydreaming you’re beginning to exercise yourself after Satan. You’re beginning to prepare your mind for his indwelling, because he will come into the mind. I have often quoted that verse of Wordsworth: “And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air, and the blue sky, and in the mind of man.” Wordsworth, in the Lake District of England, used to go out skating on the lake, and he would describe the sky reeling above him, and the black shadows of the hills, and he would enter into some kind of communion with nature. It’s daydreaming. It’s mind passivity. It’s entering into experience of the elemental spirits of the universe.

Question: When things seemed to be falling down all around you, is it a good test to check on your mind and see is it in depression, and see if you’re therefore in the right place? Or, could that depression not be put upon you by Satan?

Rev. O’Neill: I wouldn’t for a moment check it out. If there’s depression there I would stand against it. I would reject it as from Satan. Satan wants you to accept the depression as part of yourself, and once you accept it as something natural — that’s half his battle over. No, our place is to say, “Father, I know I’m in Jesus. I know there’s no depression there. Therefore I know whatever depression I’m experiencing is from Satan. So I resist you Satan, in Jesus’ name. And Holy Spirit, I trust you to show me if there’s any attitude in my mind, or my spirit, or in my emotions that is giving this ground to Satan so that I’m experiencing this depression.” So it’s always resisting Satan, taking our place in Jesus, and listening to the Holy Spirit so that he can show us where we’ve given the ground.

Question: Often, I have been interceding for a person, but Satan has so beaten the person into a

state of passivity that I hardly knew what kind of prayer to pray in order to get them to use their wills.

Loved ones, I think it’s very important for us as we share these things, to see that finally only the Holy Spirit can bring us into what I’m talking about. Because if you all go home and say, “Well I’ll try Pastor’s trick – see if it works,” — then obviously that’s all it becomes. It just becomes a soulish trick, and you’re putting yourself in the same position as Christian Scientists or anybody who is manipulating the spirit world.

So it’s very important to see that only the Holy Spirit can bring you into this and you need to pray to him, “Holy Spirit, will you bring me into what I should be in here?” So finally I’m sure the answer has to be from the Holy Spirit, Gary, but it is true that there are principles that God has laid down. If you think about it, what got us out of our deadness of our wills was the conviction the Holy Spirit brought to our consciences. I think what one does is to pray that the Holy Spirit will begin to disturb the person’s conscience and will to bring God’s absolutes before them somehow or another. Either by bringing little things that their mothers taught them to not do when they were young, and that they’re now doing, or by bringing home God’s word to them, or by bringing home something that they’ve seen in your life to them. But at all costs to begin to disturb their conscience. God’s method always is that the conscience is the most alive part of our spirits. Our spirits are dead but our conscience is the most alive part. It’s the remaining part of God’s image that’s still there. So that’s what the Holy Spirit can deal with. The will is often, as you say, just in bondage.

Question: What is the place of the imagination?

It seems very close to daydreaming. It seems to me that imagination is an activity of the mind, and therefore of the soul, and therefore is something that has to be under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Again, I say under the direction, because you by your will govern your mind and your imagination. You get into difficult areas if you say, “Holy Spirit, you govern my imagination,” — because that’s kind of psyching your will out of it again, and going into passivity. But it is important, it seems to me, Marlene, to trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in your mind so that with your will you can govern what your imagination does. Frankly, I think that it has to be very, very, carefully limited and disciplined.

Leslie Weatherhead is a Methodist minister in England, who is also a psychologist. He wrote a book called Transforming Friendship. It struck me very forcibly when I read it, because I was searching after reality in my own personal relationship with Jesus.

He talked about the importance of imagining Jesus right there with you in your room. So for many years I did that, and in fact, preached that as a good thing to do. I think in many ways it was a crutch that maybe did some good, but eventually it became a real problem to me, because there came a time when I could no longer imagine Jesus present. And indeed, the imagined presence of Jesus did not seem powerful enough to constrain obedience from my will. I began to see that I was playing a soul game, a mental game. So it seems that even using the imagination for good has to be something that’s very carefully governed and disciplined by the Holy Spirit. Certainly letting the imagination go loose is just the same as daydreaming.

Why I say all that is: it seems to me many of us in interceding for other people have thought, “We are to try to imagine ourselves into their position.” But we are not to go beyond what the Holy

Spirit tells you to do. Because, if you do it as far as you want to, before you know it you’ll be in the depths of their depression and their despair also. So it seems very important to allow the Holy Spirit to direct us in the use of our imagination and to be very careful about it. Otherwise it can be just a soul power. In place of the burden of the Holy Spirit, it can just be our own soulish power.

[Question inaudible]

I agree. As Flip Wilson {comedian from the 70’s} says, “the devil made me do it.” Isn’t that it? Where they’re blaming something on the devil that is really just the old carnal self. It seems to me the Holy Spirit is able to show us that Satan cannot make you do anything that you don’t want to do. I think we should never blame Satan. You may say, “I see what you may be meaning: if depression comes upon us, can we tell whether that depression is a result of our own refusal to turn from some sin, or whether it is an oppression that Satan is throwing upon us?” That was what you were asking by your question. I think John, you’d ask the Holy Spirit to show you if you had done anything wrong. That’s simply it. You’d ask the Holy Spirit to convict you if you had disobeyed God in any way, and then he would show you, and you would turn from it. And if he didn’t show you, then you would resist Satan in Jesus’ name.

It seems to me it’s the same with condemnation, John. It seems to me if we’re unsure if it’s false condemnation, we simply ask the Holy Spirit to show us, “Holy Spirit show us plainly — point out the thing we’re doing wrong. We’ll turn from it.” Now if we turn from it, John, and there’s still condemnation, then it’s from Satan. It’s a false condemnation. It seems turning to Jesus is the answer to Satan’s accusations of the brethren. It’s always, “The Father accepts me because of Jesus’ blood, and I’m walking in the light, and if I’m not, Holy Spirit, then show me.” So the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sins.

[Question inaudible]

Brother is sharing how Agnes Sanford — a well-known minister of Jesus in healing – in her book suggests that you picture the person whole for which you are praying. It seems to me, brother, that is often one of the mistakes that many of us make to whom God has shown something. We often perhaps write it down to share with others in shorthand version. I think that Agnes Sanford, if she were pressed, would say that the Holy Spirit will lay a person upon her heart, and will give her a burden for that person’s sickness, and the Holy Spirit will virtually draw her mind to see the person as whole in Jesus, and it will be a revelation of the Holy Spirit. And often the way she shares it with us, it seems as if it’s something we ought to simply do by the exercise of our own minds.

But, brother, from my own little experience of healing, I would think that she would say that a prayer of faith is what heals, and the prayer of faith is when the Holy Spirit plainly shows you that Jesus has borne that person’s sickness. Then it’s natural to see the person as whole.

Now in kind of attempting to bridge the gap there, I suspect that she might have put the thing in a shorthand version. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that anybody could see more deeply than she can. But I think often those of us who have talked about spiritual things have not foreseen all the misinterpretations that people can cast upon those things. And I think if she were pressed, she would say, “Yes, when the Holy Spirit shows me and reveals to me that this person is already healed in Jesus, I picture them healed. That just comes naturally.” So it’s a case of whether you’re doing it by the exercise of your will over your mind without any revelation in your spirit, or

whether you’re doing it as a result of revelation in your spirit — because you’ve sat before the Father and know his mind about that person. I believe, I dare to say, that’s God’s answer.

Question: Is it good to pray for any spiritual or physical healing if you haven’t been specifically told to do it?

I think it’s just always dangerous, sister, and I don’t know how much value it has before the Father {to pray for someone’s healing if God hasn’t shown you to do so}, because he has given Jesus to remove all work of Satan and sin and sickness in the world. And he has the right to explain to us in what order he wants the sin and sickness removed from the world. And he knows the way to remove it, and in what order to remove it, to give him glory. It seems we should always look to the mind of God, and receive from him direction about what we should pray for and whom we should pray for. It seems it should always be that.

What happens to most of us, is that out of human sympathy for the person, or because somebody else has asked us to pray for them, we do pray for them. Then no answer comes because it isn’t a prayer of faith that has come from God’s own will, but is wishful thinking coming from our wills. All we bring is disrepute to God’s name because they say, “There you prayed and the person wasn’t healed.” So it seems there should always be direction from God’s Spirit.