Monday, August 22, 2016

Spiritual Darkness Prospers in Silence

When the forces of darkness attack us, our natural response is to feel shame and guilt for having had such an evil thought or dirty feeling. But this is misplaced shame, which tends to isolate us. It isn’t a sin to simply have an evil thought flit through our minds, or have an ungodly feeling arise. This is what a temptation looks like! Spirits of darkness put their thoughts and feelings into us. The instant they flit through the mind, these thoughts and feelings are not sin on our part. Jesus Christ was perfect—sinless—yet, He was tempted, just like we are tempted (Hebrews 4:14-15).

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin, Hebrews 4:14-15. 

When we “own” the thought or feeling, thinking it came from within us rather than recognizing it as a temptation of the enemy, we tend to hide and shut ourselves off from others. The last thing we want to do is speak of our spiritual needs with others. We’re afraid of being judged or becoming too vulnerable. But actually, the opposite is true. We become spiritually vulnerable by secretly carrying these weights. Evil prospers in the dark, and sin is strengthened in the silence.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy, Proverbs 28:13.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, James 5:16.

(Escaping From the Dragon's Jaws, p 46)

Psalms 4 - Part 1: SOS Prayer

Psalms 4 - Part 1: The Most Powerful Intercessory Prayer in the Bible

Have you ever been in a crisis so great that you didn't even know how to pray? Have you ever tried to help someone who was so deep within the devil's clutches that they seemed unreachable? Have you ever had a situation that was so dire that it was truly life and death? If so, you need the Psalms 4 SOS prayer.

God first showed me this prayer on one of the darkest nights of my life. A member of my family, whom I will call Joe, was in despair and was planning to take his own life. The gun was laying on his bed. And I knew that Satan was doing all that he could to get Joe to end it all.

When I learned about Joe's intent to die I was horrified, yet I felt so helpless. When we had done all that we could to help Joe, it was plain to see that it just wasn't enough. It was about 1 AM when our last communication with Joe ended. The darkness surrounding Joe was so thick, it seemed impenetrable...

I sat upon my bed, unable to even think about sleeping, yet paralyzed by the awareness that Joe's crisis was deeper than the reach of ordinary prayer. I needed intercessory prayer that was "effectual, fervent and would avail much." (James 5:16). I knew the goal, but I didn't know how to get there on Joe's behalf. Thankfully, I knew that God did!

"God, please help me," I agonized. "I don't even know how to pray for Joe. Please help me, Father. Please help Joe. Please show me how to pray for Joe."

In that moment, I was impressed to open my Bible. Not knowing which passage to read amidst the blur of my tears and anguish, I just let the Bible sort of fall open, hoping God would help me to see what He wanted to show me. He did. My Bible fell open to Psalms chapter 4.

I can't tell you how many times I have read Psalms chapter 4, in my life. But I had never before seen that passage the way God showed it to me that dark night. First, I'll just let you read it, as it appears in the Bible:
"...Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness. Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.  But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto Him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. There be many that say, Who will show us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.  Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety," Psalm 4:1-8.
The first part of the prayer clearly shows that this is an intercessory prayer for extreme situations. It begins with, "Hear me when I call... I was in distress...  Have mercy upon me and hear my prayer."

Before I share what God showed me to do, in order to put this prayer to work on Joe's behalf, let's first look at the context of WHEN to use this prayer. What circumstances does David mention, are present when using this prayer? The passage even tells us what is so distressing, creating the need for this level of prayer. The person for whom David was praying was engaged in several destructive behaviors and attitudes. He listed them as:
1) Turning glory into shame.
2) Loving vanity.
3) Seeking after leasing.
To understand these difficult, Old-English terms, we need to look them up in the E-sword to get the fuller meaning. In so doing, we find the following conditions which made a Psalms 4 level of prayer necessary:

1) Turning the glory of God into shame is something we do when we lose His Image in our characters. We were created in the Image of God (Genesis 1:27). At its deepest meaning, this refers to having the lovely Character of God in the human soul. God's Character is beautifully portrayed in the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). These fruits include: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. The more we turn away from God, going our own way, the more self-centered we become, increasingly losing our ability to reflect these lovely Fruits. The more we look like God - in Character - the more we bring Him glory (Matthew 5:16). But the more we stray from God, disconnecting from His in-dwelling Spirit - the more we bring shame to His Name. Losing the in-dwelling Presence of God's Spirit means that we no longer display the fruits of the spirit - and it means that we are turning God's glory into shame. How does this show up in the life? We are turning God's glory into shame when we operate under the "works of the flesh", which are (Galatians 5:19-21):
  • Adultery - being unfaithful to our marital partner
  • Fornication - having sex or physical intimacy outside of marriage
  • Uncleanness - thinking and speaking in ungodly and impure ways
  • Lasciviousness - dressing or acting in a way that tempts others to lust
  • Idolatry - valuing anything or anyone above God.
  • Witchcraft - performing or being involved in occult practices, spells or demonic worship
  • Hatred - hating God or people
  • Variance - changing the Law of God in any way.
  • Emulations - acting or believing that some people or classes are better/more valuable than others
  • Wrath - having a temper problem
  • Strife - fighting (verbal, emotional, or physical) in the home or elsewhere
  • Seditions - rebellion against God and His Authority.
  • Heresies - believing false doctrines and idolatrous ideas. 
  • Envyings - believing that God is nicer and more gracious to others than He is to oneself. 
  • Murders - shedding innocent blood - this can include abortion.
  • Drunkenness - taking mind-altering substances
  • Revellings - worldly partying
Participating in some or all of these things is what it looks like to turn God's glory into shame.

2) Loving vanity is having affection for the worldly things which are empty, having no value and have no good purpose. Vanity is another word for idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). And idolatry is putting anything or anyone above God in our thoughts and affections (Deuteronomy 4:6-9). Vanity is acting like the "heathen" - which are those who do not love, worship, or honor God.
And they rejected (God's) Statutes (His Law), and His covenant that He made with their fathers... and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do (act) like them," 2 Kings 17:15.
3) Seeking after leasing is to pursue and try to learn more about things which are lies and are deceptions. Since the Word of God is Truth (1 Thessalonians 2:15), lies are believes and ideas which go against the principles of Scripture. In the last days, we were warned that many people would actually choose to be taught by teachers who promote false ideas. Many will want to discredit God's Word, and will purposely seek for teachers who will instruct them in ways that go against the Bible. Some examples of this might be choosing to be indoctrinated by the teachings of evolution or humanism, attending classes to learn the principles of New Age mysticism, witchcraft or seeking to learn any other philosophy that goes against the clear Word of God. This is what it means to seek after leasing.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
So, if you have a friend or loved one who is in great danger... if they are turning God's glory into shame by demonstrating the "Works of the Flesh", if they are loving vanity by seeking emptiness, death and idolatry; and if they are seeking after leasing by following after deceptions... than there is a mighty prayer formula which transforms lives and takes back the struggling one, who might otherwise have been devoured - as the prey of the terrible. That way to pray is the prayer formula given in Psalms 4.  

In my next blog posting, I will explain this formula and how to use it, just as I did for Joe that night - and praise God - it saved Joe's life from a spot where it seemed that he was beyond hope. Our God is mighty and able to save!
"Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children, Isaiah 49:24-25.