Monday, October 21, 2013

Light & Darkness

One morning recently I woke up with the distinct thought on my mind that we have to pray and ask the Lord to shine His light on those dark areas in our hearts that need changing. For only the Holy Spirit can reveal what is hidden in darkness: those things that hinder our growth, those long forgotten hurts that are effecting our emotions, attitudes and behavior; those mindsets which are blocking the entrance of light by the Spirit; those areas where the enemy still maintains strongholds of denial, doubt, fear or unbelief.

Why do we need to do that? Because those things that remain hidden in darkness will have control over us! Those things have to be exposed by the infrared light of the Holy Spirit so we can see them, repent of them and rid ourselves of their ungodly influence. As long as we refuse to acknowledge the presence of sinfulness, remain in denial or justify our behavior, we will be controlled by it. These areas will rob us of the fruit of the Spirit or inhibit us from being fruitful in the kingdom of God. We can be blinded by the god of this world, our own self-centeredness or ignorance. Therefore, it takes supernatural revelation to brings those hidden things into the light.

Night time infrared camera
Our home in North Carolina is located on the edge of a large wooded area where many night time creatures live. During the daytime they remain motionless and hidden in the deep woods away from predators and humans. But after dark they venture out looking for food. This fall the deer were attracted to the ripening grapes in the vineyard and the beautiful hostas we planted in the backyard. Before we realized it, they had eaten about 25% of the grapes growing in the vineyard and nibbled the hostas down to the ground. This unseen predator robbed us of the fruit of our labors as they foraged for food under the cover of darkness. This is exactly how the enemy works to destroy us-- under the cover of darkness through deception and denial. Our enemy feeds off the negative emotions still hidden in our heart. This is why we need the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit leading us out of darkness and into His light.

When we are born-again we are delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light. Our spiritual position, entitlements and destiny in God's kingdom change when we decide to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for OUR sins and invite Him to come live in our hearts. However, our hearts still need to be circumcised and our minds need to be renewed by the Spirit of God; a process which can take place over a lifetime.

We are no longer subject to the control of Satan and his evil powers. With Christ living in us, we finally have the divine enablement to make godly choices, resist Satan, be delivered from old bondages and walk in newness of life. We are instructed to walk in the light as Christ is in the light.

Col_1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. 1
Eph_5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
1Th_5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Through Christ's death on the cross, we are no longer bound to our old nature-- the person we were before we invited Christ to live in us. Being no longer “bound” means no longer in bondage to the powers of darkness we were exposed to and controlled by earlier in life. However, the old, negative thoughts and wounded emotions stored in the heart will need to be transformed as well. That is not an automatic process, nor something we can do by ourselves. Transformation is a joint effort we undertake with the assistance and anointing of the Holy Spirit. An illustration from nature would be the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The old worm-like body is transformed into a new delicate one with the ability to fly about freely and reproduce life. All things become new in Christ. Through Jesus Christ we are given new attributes, new freedom and new purpose.

Jesus Christ died for our sins and comes to live in us so we become the children of God, the heirs of God's salvation. But sanctification is the job of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to correct us, to teach us, to remind us of the truth in God's Word, to bring to light those thoughts and emotions that are controlling us in harmful and some times sinful ways.  Sanctification is the process whereby we are made holy, of drawing closer and closer to God so that we turn away from all sinfulness and embrace the righteousness of Christ. Jesus baptizes us with the power of the Holy Spirit so we can experience the deeper work of sanctification. Sanctification takes place gradually over our lifetime as we are given new opportunities to make godly decisions and to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. The quality of holiness increases in us as we submit more and more to the loving control of the Holy Spirit. For the Lord tells us to be holy, as He is holy.
Lev_11:45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
Lev_20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Just because we invite Christ to live in us, our mind and heart is not completely renewed, healed or delivered from all the negative, dark thoughts and emotions stored there. Yes, we become new creatures in Christ and many changes take place: our desires, our behaviors, our relationship to God and His kingdom. We make a conscious decision to follow the commandments of the Lord and to make Jesus Christ our Savior. But our understanding of how to walk out that decision requires enlightenment: wisdom and guidance from the Scriptures and from the Holy Spirit. We need the Spirit of Truth to shine His flashlight on those yet dark areas of our soul that need healing and deliverance. The term enlightenment means to give light to, to gain greater understanding, to give intellectual or spiritual light to; instruct; impart knowledge to. It takes the indwelling, revelatory work of the Holy Spirit to reveal the dark things hidden in our hearts from the past so we can be set free.

What are those “dark areas” stored in our heart? Some common examples would include: fears, anger, rejection, unworthiness, unforgiveness or trauma we experienced in life. These dark areas can be summarized as all forms of shame, fear and control issues we still struggle with in our relationship to the Father God, our relationships with others and what we think about ourselves. Darkness also comes from our participation in idolatry, false religions, or occult organizations. When we take part in these ungodly activities, we open ourselves to the powers of darkness or demonic influence on our hearts and minds. The dark areas of our soul are where demons take up residence and feed off the negative energy stored there.

Yes, it is biblically correct to say there is a dark-side within all of us that still wants to control our mind, will and emotions. And the dark-side of us controlled by demonic spirits can manifest and temporarily take over our attitudes and behavior when triggered by current events. Are Christians possessed by demons? Of course not, because Christ now lives in us! But we can be unduly influenced by demonized thoughts and emotions if we fail to recognize and deal with them properly. It is our responsibility to renounce their power and break agreement with the enemy trying to control us. To do this we exercise the authority of Christ and release the power of the Holy Spirit in us to be rid of their influence.

Christians are not totally transformed or delivered over night from Satan's influences just because we pray the sinner's prayer. We have a mixture of light and dark influences residing in our soul. Our heart contains a mix of good and evil emotions. When we are born-again we are given a measure of light, a measure of freedom, a measure of victory over our issues. Of course, we can also be subject to demonic influence from outside our bodies until the day Christ is formed in us. The good news is that the more deliverance we receive in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, the more freedom we achieve. The more freedom we achieve, the fewer devils we will have to contend with. The fewer devils to contend with, the more righteousness, peace and joy we will exhibit in our life. Kingdom living is being able to walk in freedom from demonic influences, walking in holiness and demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. That's truly living in the light as Christ is in the light!

Luke_6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Rom_14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

About a week after the Holy Spirit spoke to me in the early hours of the morning on light and dark, I received an email newsletter from Pastor Francis Frangipane. He is the founder of “In Christ's Image Training”, Cedar Rapids, IA. Pastor Frangipane has been serving the Lord for many years, but he said there are just two truths that have become the most important in his life. God “has led me to seek for two things and two things only: to know the heart of God in Christ and to know my own heart in Christ's light.” 2
Frangipane went on to say that as he positions his heart before the Lord, “it is with a sense of trembling that I pray the prayer of King David: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way" (Ps. 139:23-24).It is this upward call of God that we pursue. Yet the soul within us is hidden, crouching in fear and darkness, living in a world of untruths and illusions. This is our inner man, the soul God seeks to save. Have you discovered your true self, the inner person whom truth alone can free? Yes, we seek holiness, but true holiness arises from here; it comes as the Spirit of Truth unveils the hidden places in our hearts. Indeed, it is truthfulness which leads to holiness.” 

A common error being perpetuated in the body of Christ is that a Christian cannot have demons residing on the inside of them after they get born-again. Sinful people come to Christ with all kinds of problems and issues in their life. When they enter into the salvation process, they are given the power to overcome Satan, but they have to appropriate their deliverance from satanic influences.They are given the keys to the kingdom, but they have to use the keys to obtain their victory. They are given the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation, but they have to break agreement with every demonic entity still influencing their mind, will, emotions and behavior.

The power of Satan and his evil spirits was defeated by Christ on the cross at Calvary. Jesus overcame death, hell and the grave so we could potentially do the same. He paved the way for our deliverance, but we also have to appropriate freedom for ourselves. Often the Lord does provide a new believer with a truly remarkable salvation experience where they are set free immediately from drug or alcohol addiction, sexual sin, the occult, suicide or some other issues. At other times, however, our transformation is accomplished over a long period of time as our mind is renewed by the Word of God, our heart is gradually healed and our flesh is delivered from power of the enemy. As we abide in Christ, we will not continue to sin willfully. Christ in us does not sin, but our heart and flesh are still capable of sinning if we give into temptation and do not resist the power of the enemy. Any areas of darkness remaining in our soul will continue to try to destroy us and make us renounce the finished work of Christ on the cross. However, Christ gives us the enabling power to submit to God and resist the devil so that he eventually flees from us.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Through our salvation experience, we enter into a new covenant relationship with our Father God. The Lord has promised to take out the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh-- a pliable, loving, tender heart. Healing and deliverance represents a fulfillment of the new covenant and we are transformed gradually into the image of Jesus Christ.

Jer. 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 
 Heb.12:24  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 

How many Christians do you know still struggle with a sinful lifestyle, bad habits, unChrist-like temperament, poor identity issues, or not being able to get along with others? Over what personal issues do you still not have the victory? As Christian counselors serving the body of Christ for over 30 years we have prayed with 1,000s of Spirit-filled children of God for healing and deliverance for issues they could not overcome by themselves. And sadly to say, neither could their church pastor or elder help them be victorious overcomers in Christ, because they were not walking in freedom themselves and did not know how to help the sheep in their pasture.

Here are some real-life examples we have dealt with where Christians needed deliverance:
  • Married couples who could not stop fighting and arguing
  • Individuals in bondage to sexual sin, pornography, homosexuality, adultery
  • People in bondage to obesity, smoking or drug and alcohol abuse
  • The church worship leader in bondage to homosexuality and was suicidal
  • The missionary who served in the Philippines and returned with occult demons
  • The woman who switched into a 14 year old, rebellious teenager overnight
  • Pastors and elders who have been caught in adultery
Thankfully, we also have areas of light residing in our hearts. The light areas would be where we are walking in the marvelous truths found in the scriptures. We are walking in obedience to God's commandments, trusting in God's promises and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5.

Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 

Francis Frangipane talks about the virtue of humility in his book, The Three Battlegrounds. “Satan fears virtue. He is terrified of humility; he hates it. He sees a humble person and it sends chills down his back. His hair stands up when Christians kneel down, for humility is the surrender of the soul to God. The devil trembles before the meek because in the very areas where he once had access, there stands the Lord, and Satan is terrified of Jesus Christ.” 3

Yet not all our battles are demonic as Frangipane points out. “We need to recognize that the immediate source of many of our problems and oppressions is not demonic, but fleshly in nature. We must contend with the fact that one aspect of our lives, our flesh nature, will always be targeted by the devil. These fleshly areas supply Satan with a ready avenue of access to undermine our prayers and neutralize our walk with God.” 3

The word the Lord gave me early in October was that we needed to ask the Spirit of Truth to shine his light on those dark areas so He can bring healing and deliverance. We have to do this in our prayer closet with the help of the Holy Spirit. It will take some personal time of seeking the Lord and getting quiet so we can hear what the Spirit has to show us. He alone can reveal the secrets hidden in our hearts. That is one of the beautiful ways the Holy Spirit works with us to lead us into maturity in Christ. For complex issues, we recommend you ask an experienced minister or counselor to pray with you. The power of agreement with a trained, anointed minister can bring greater results.

Today's message focused on the importance of knowing that our loving Heavenly Father desires for us to walk in the light as He is in the Light. He has made a way for us to be rid of the darkness that still remains hidden in our soul through His Son Jesus Christ. As we submit to the indwelling power of The Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, He enables us to be transformed into the image of Christ. It is our responsibility, however, to pray and ask the Lord to shine His light on those dark areas in our hearts that need changing.

Luke_11:36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
2Peter_1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day star arise in your hearts. 

May the Lord Jesus Christ arise in our hearts to enable us to walk in the light as He is in the light. May we be able to discern the negative influence of our flesh and demonic spirits on our minds, wills and emotions with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. May we appropriate God's divine grace to walk out of the darkness and further into the Light. Arise and shine for your Light has come! 

1. Scriptures are taken from e-Sword Bible Search Program, King James version, 2012. 
2. Frangipane, Francis. The Three Battlegrounds, 
3. Frangipane, Francis. Holiness Truth and the Presence of God. Published in The Elijah List newsletter. October, 2013.