Thursday, February 21, 2013

Musings on Indwelling Sin (It Usually Is Not a Demon)

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Pastor Jim “Thanks for coming in the office today Sam—what’s on your mind my friend?”
Sam “Well, it seems like ever since I decided nine months ago to really love Jesus above all else, that is when the troubles began.”
Pastor Jim “What kind of troubles brother?”
Sam “I feel this battle inside—heck, I don’t even understand my own actions. Often-times, I do not do what I really want to do…and I end up doing the very thing I hate! Pride, lust, and anger are things I wrestle with—a lot. It happens so often I feel depressed.”
Pastor Jim “Sam, I know you are a godly man—so there must be some outside influence that is oppressing you. Sounds like you have a demonic attachment. Why don’t we set up an appointment to deliver you from those demons of pride, lust, and anger?”

The above is a compressed composite of many complaints I have heard from earnest Christians over the years—ongoing frustration with sin. The diagnosis and treatment suggested by the spiritual physician (the pastor or deliverance minister) has become standard operating procedure.

My heart is broken over this because I do not like to correct brothers, but I have to say the following—the vast majority (not all) of deliverance ministers and books are harming more people than they are helping. Why do I make that dreadful comment? Because if our diagnosis is way off, then so will be the treatment…and our diagnosis above is an example of how awful the situation has become. Of necessity the above conversation had to be brief, but even after hours of counseling and questionnaires, it accurately depicts the final outcome—almost always demons are found to be the culprit. Categories frequently ignored are the fall (and its psychological consequences), and indwelling sin, which is the focus of this analysis. Even if personal sin is mentioned, it is almost never discussed in the manner in which we will.

Do you realize that the problem Sam mentioned (which got him diagnosed as having a demonic attachment) is a quote from the apostle Paul regarding his own struggles with sin??!! (see Romans 7:14—8:1) The existential, psychological anguish which Paul expresses over his battle with sin—specifically v.15 (which Sam quotes almost verbatim), is a major reason why the pastor thought he was experiencing demonic oppression. I’m convinced that if Paul were alive today and writing as he did then, he would have deliverance ministers claiming he was diabolically oppressed. 

My dear friends, I hope and pray this discussion will bring comfort to some troubled souls. Demonologists and deliverance ministers are causing incredible carnage amongst Christians due to an epidemic of shallow understanding of theology and the bible. We know that Satan and his demonic hoard are our sworn enemies, and to be ignorant of their schemes will cause all sorts of significant problems for us. The bible tells us that Satan is a defeated foe, and yet we are engaged in a battle royal every day !! (Eph. 6) Likewise with sin—it is a defeated foe (not blinded or enslaved anymore), but we are engaged in a life-long battle royal with indwelling sin. Why do we recognize the former, but not the latter? 

The united voice of scripture states that the vast majority of hateful thoughts, lustful thoughts, covetous thoughts (fill in the blank) are not caused by demons but from indwelling sin. It is vitally important for demonologists to know this…it is equally imperative that every Christian know this!

Tragically, the compressed hypothetical conversation above is repeated many times everyday by deliverance ministers, who are abysmally ignorant of the bible’s teaching regarding indwelling sin. Listen to God’s word…
“…every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5) Lest we think this was just a pre-flood observation, “…for the intentions of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Gen. 8:21)—written AFTER the  Flood.
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps: 51:5) This reference to “original sin” is not the original/first sin of man, but the sin nature passed on to every human being.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9) So much for following your heart type advice!!
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt.12:34)—according to James, NOBODY has their tongue properly trained, so what does that say about the heart? (James 3:2)
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matt. 15:19) Out of the heart…not demonic influence/projection.
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire…” (James 1:14-15)…do you see demons anywhere in this text on temptation???
“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you for doing the things you want to do.” (Gal.5:17)
This text in Galatians encapsulates an excruciating, extended exposition of the battle with indwelling sin in Romans 7: 14-:8:1)…”Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”(v.20)

This side of heaven there is a tension between the “already” and the “not yet”. Much harmful, shallow teaching regarding sanctification/spiritual warfare disregards the fact that some aspects of our salvation are true “already” (or now) and some are “not yet”…their full realization will not be experienced till heaven. When these are “telescoped together” (already and not-yet), then disaster often occurs. In 1 John 3:2 we are told that when we go to heaven, then we will finally be able to see God face to face because will be sinless.

In wiser times, the universal testimony of notably godly people was how sinful they saw themselves to be, and how they yearned for heaven to see Jesus face-to-face, and to be free from the presence of sin. If a Christian were to admit how sinful they were in many Christian circles, he would be rebuked for not being “victorious”!! I have said this before but the greatest deficiency in modern preaching is the dearth of God-intoxicated messages. The heresy of the prosperity gospel has affected most TV preachers. A deficient understanding of the holiness of God, will lead to a deficient view of our sinfulness, and a deficient view of our sinfulness leads to a deficient of grace-as well as leaving us woefully out of touch with reality. Perhaps this will help: justification (past tense already/now) deals with the GUILT OF SIN,  sanctification (present and on-going or progressive) deals with the POWER OF SIN,  and glorification (not yet..future) deals with the PRESENCE OF SIN.

Let me use an analogy to illustrate what happens as we mature in Christ. Picture an iceberg—nine-tenths of it is under the water line..only a small portion is visible. That is an apt analogy of how many see sin. The focus is on the visible behavior—do certain things, and avoid others, then you are seen as godly. But under the water line, in the cold, dark, murky depths lies our impure motives…covetousness…critical attitude..and so on. As we mature, more spiritual nerves are exposed, and we become increasingly aware of what is going on “under the water line”. The sin was always there but was overlooked.

In Rom.7:17,20 Paul laments that sin indwelling inside of him causes him to do that which he hates, or not do what he loves.(the law helped him see below the water-line) Demons or Satan are nowhere in sight in this discussion. Friends, we are very capable of being tempted FROM WITHIN because indwelling sin never leaves us—it corrupts everything we do. As one saint said, “He had to repent of even his most fervent of prayers.” Our motives are never utterly pure. But back to demons—they are finite in number and localized…they come and they go (unless oppressed or possessed), but indwelling sin is always present. There does not have to be a demon within 100 miles, and we still have to be on guard against indwelling sin, which can flare up at any moment and destroy us if we are not careful.

I dare say that if a person paraphrased Romans 7 (or just Gal.5:17) to the average deliverance minister, they would be convinced that person was under demonic oppression! And worse, they (as has happened countless times) will try to cast out demons from inside this struggling Christian. No time to elaborate, but demons cannot physically indwell a Christian…PERIOD!!!

What is indwelling sin? The simplest way of answering that is to say that after we are saved, there remains sin in our hearts. We are new creations (Gal.2:20) with a new nature—we do NOT have a battle between two natures, because the old nature is gone. But that does not mean indwelling sin has been eradicated. There is a nexus of anti-God and selfish inclinations lurking within us—and it will be a battle royal until the day we die. Though not a personal being like a demon, it is still an energized cesspool--a network that vitiates or pollutes EVERYTHING we do—even our best actions with best of intentions are corrupted by this radical despoilment of our entire human nature. As we mature in Christ we should become more aware of how radically and comprehensively indwelling sin corrupts everything we think, do, and say. Please believe me when I say there was a time when a humble school child could elaborate on indwelling sin. Anemic views of God lead to anemic views of sin.

Indwelling sin operates much like demons do—there are two main functions…force of  temptation and deceit or deception. Though it is inanimate, indwelling sin is an active energy pulsating and polluting everything in its path. In James we see that the “intent” of indwelling sin is our destruction—much the same as demons. All sorts of temptations bubble up from within, and indwelling sin will also seek to deceive us that it does not exist.

PLEASE…if you are struggling, don’t assume it is demonic. It may very well be demonic, but examine yourself…chances are you are simply struggling with indwelling sin. But praise God for the daily beauty of the gospel and that we stand perfect in Christ’s righteousness. Much more could be said, but I need to stop.

Curses, Yokes & False Covenants

By Kirby Robinson

I'll focus on three tools that the dark forces/demons use against us in the never-ending battle, and as the saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” I want to empower you on the pervasive subject of curses, yokes, and false covenants.

A curse is any act, spoken, or mental thought that seeks to produce harm or injury towards someone or something. When the demons out there pick up the scent of a curse they go to work on the curse and the person who makes the curse. (The simple act of cursing anything is an invitation to the demons to enter your life and you opened up the door to them). A curse can take many different forms.

1. A curse as an evil declaration against a person, group, place or thing, so be careful when you say such things as: "I curse this job." "I curse that relationship to fail." "I curse this office." This is the act that leads to most curses being cast and often people don’t even realize they are casting curses, until years later, if ever. And of course there is the other way, that of finding a trained individual who will cast the curse for you, or the do-it-yourself method of buying or checking out a library book and casting it yourself.

2. A curse is the polar opposite of a blessing. When you say "I love you" that’s a blessing. When you say, "I hate you" that’s a curse. Blessings are positive wishes, hopes, and prayers for good. No curse can ever produce such things.

3. A curse can be our own personal actions. Let’s say you drink alcohol. Then, by the simple act of drinking you opened up the door for possible legal, personal, and health related curses. These can range from being arrested for DUI, to becoming addicted, and such alcohol related diseases like depression, cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure and AIDS. Conversely, good conduct, such as abstaining from liquor, produces the opposite results, which are blessings.

4. A curse is a judgment against a person, place, or thing. How often have we felt good about a task we set for ourselves, then someone attempts to undermine us, saying: "That’s too difficult." "Your goals are unrealistic.""What makes you think you’re good enough?" We as mere humans hear the curse of the negative words and buy into them.

5. A curse can be placed on a physical object and thus effect everyone who comes into ownership with that object. I can’t count the times I’ve been called into a case and while moving through the home, I find some little object and ask where did you get that? And hear answers such as "My boy bought that statue thing back from Iraq" or "I dug that up at some burial ground." Objects can have curses placed on them that can last for thousands of years.

6. A curse can come from the simple act of saying the words: damn, hell and any other cuss word, or in reality curse word, with a negative intent in mind. When you get cut off in traffic and say "damn you" to that driver of the sports car, you’re cursing the driver of that foreign sports car. When you say "damn you" to your spouse when you fight, you’re cursing your spouse. When you say "damn" or "dammit" when you get mad at yourself, you’re cursing yourself. And whenever you curse someone, even yourself, that curse will return to you.

7. A curse can come from a negative wish. For example, you wish someone dead, or to go to hell after they die, then that also constitutes a curse. 

The yoke is the outgrowth of the curse that binds the cursed one physically and spiritually. It’s like the ox that pulls the cart, with that big, heavy wooden yoke binding his neck. Someone who has been cursed is prevented from finding peace. They only know suffering via physical and emotional pains and inner turmoil. They suffer physical, emotional, and oftentimes sexual abuse. Shame and disgust will rule every thought they have about themselves. Coldness, fear, hopelessness, and confusion will rule their minds. We also need to understand that our own inactions can produce curses that saddle us with yokes. These would be traits like refusing to forgive, refusing to engage in a spiritual path, and refusing to stop self-imposed negative thinking. That trio of inactions produces curses that saddle us with yokes. We end up cursing ourselves.

A covenant is an agreement that is entered into by two parties. If party A does the thing that Party B asks them to do, then Party B will reward them for their actions. As in the Christian act of salvation, the person goes through the process of accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior in body, mind and spirit, makes a public confession, and in turn Jesus Christ will stand up for them in heaven. Covenants are good things, but there can be "false covenants" that we don’t realize that we’re entering into. "I'd give my soul for that job." "I'd give up my five years of my life to date him/her." "I would give up everything to see him/her lose." You’ve heard those expressions before, or maybe you even spoke those words. At some time, quite often in our youth, we make pacts with the devil. I’ve seen it so many times in my cases where I find out that at some time they’ve asked for something from the devil, got it, and years later their life literally went to hell. Folks, the devil doesn’t play by the rules. He may get it for you, but you’ll never be able to keep it. And the price you end up paying is immeasurable. 

False covenants can also be simply wishes such as: "If I only had that job, my life would be complete." "If I married that person, I’d be whole." These are also false covenants because you’re seeking happiness outside yourself. And only true happiness is inside. Curses, yokes, and false covenants can all be multi-generational. In Numbers 14:18, the Bible reads: "The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." Additionally, this can also mean their mothers, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles. And I‘ve seen some curses run as long as twenty generations. 

Appendix: There’s something I wish to add here concerning curses and a person’s ability to curse total strangers. It can’t be done. You simply can’t go through the phone book, newspaper or any website and cast curses on people that you don’t share some form of a metaphysical interaction with. But, at the same time, you still suffer the consequences for intentionally or unintentionally casting a curse on a stranger. 

From the book Paranormal Teachings: The Best of Shedding Some Light