Many seduced by unbalanced grace theologies misunderstand the desperate need for the church to contend for a move of God.
“I felt such release when I realized I didn't need to work and contend like I had been taught by pastors and preachers. Instead I'm just relaxing in God and it is so freeing!”
“There's no need to work, war or battle. God's love for you is immeasurable! Nothing you can do could cause God to love you more!”
“Your identity isn't defined by what you produce, it's in a revelation of God the Father.”
“God is with you in your struggle. No need to beat yourself up over sin.”
I've heard these defenses of grace-centric ideologies many times, and while some of the statements do absolutely contain irrefutable truth, there is still some serious concern to deal with.
Of course it's true that our identity is in Christ and not in what we produce, but it's honestly not as simple as that. To dismiss the command to respond to the directives of God, to be productive, would raise the question of whether we are in Christ at all. The parable of the talents makes that clear.
26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:26-30 (ESV)
I believe there are churches and ministries that are all in on the grace teachings of Scripture, and unlike false-grace doctrine there is legitimacy to what is being communicated. However, the problem comes when these grace truths are adopted to the exclusion of the full counsel of Scripture. It's dysfunctional.
I propose there is a radical misunderstanding of the purpose of grace, and today's translation of it can result in a self-idolatrous culture. If the focus is mostly on how we can benefit, on who we are and on eliminating Kingdom responsibilities from our lives we can know we have fallen for a distorted view of grace. Grace actually empowers us to do, to obey, to work, to move, to heal, to deliver, to respond to God's Kingdom mandates.
I was stunned several years ago when someone actually admitted to me that they were praying against the prayer movement! I'm not sure if they appreciated the irony. They rejected the idea that we have to do anything in order for God to be revealed in our lives. Our identity, he said, is not in proving ourselves or in coercing God to move. He believes the prayer culture is damaging to our ability to understand our identity. We are sons and daughters and we don't have to do anything to convince God to love us or to move in our lives, or so he argued.
News flash: movements of intercession have little to do with us, though it seems so much of today's grace movement is very much about self. When we contend in intercession, we are pounding Heaven and assaulting Hell. We are seeking and knocking, warring and resisting. It's a governmental position of authority where we stand in our identity in Christ and move mountains, rebuke demons, establish truth and tear down strongholds. It's about other people! We are fighting for the freedom of others, we are moved to tears as we contend for freedom in other people. When we contend for revival, it's a strategic advance in the spiritual realm against barriers, demonic strongholds and wickedness. We are not doing this to discover our identity or to convince God that we are lovable. That is ridiculous! We do this to expose the darkness and rescue the perishing! We do this to awaken the sleepers and to prepare the Bride of Christ for his return!
To all of my grace friends out there, I'm thrilled that you have discovered the wonder of resting in your true identity in Christ, if that has truly happened. I appreciate and promote that same revelation without reservation. It's impossible to do what God has called us to do without it.
And, that's where I probably lost some of you. You see little need to “do” anything. You just want to be. After all, we are human beings, not human doings, right? Yeah, I've heard that more times than I can remember.
RESOLVE THE LOVE ISSUE ALREADY
God loves you. It's settled.
While I agree that there are never-ending realms, expressions and revelations of God's love, and that we will forever be experiencing new encounters in his love, it's time that we simply understand that we are loved, and then get on with the mission.
The problem comes when people discover a supposed fresh revelation of God's love that removes the very mandates and responsibilities that Scripture reveals he has placed on us. A revelation of love that minimizes or eradicates God's assignments doesn't exist. You have been deceived.
It's possible to be deeply loved by God while not being usable to God. Both being loved and being available impact our relationship with God and our eternities. Heaven and Hell lay in the balance. Obedience plays a role just as enjoying intimacy with God does. The parable of the Talents along with many other truths in the Bible make this clear.
Our very purpose of living on the earth is to bring God glory and to advance the Kingdom. As we develop intimacy with Jesus and as we grow in revelation of his love, we cannot help but to emerge as mighty warriors advancing against the darkness and setting the captives free.
God loves you. Now from that place of love, serve the Master with passion. Don't sit around for the rest of your life celebrating how free you are while the extent of your relationship with God is soaking in his presence and sitting in his lap. God loves you, but from here on out it's not as much about you as it is those God has called you to rescue. Remember, you aren't attempting to coerce God to love you more. That argument from the grace camp is true. However, the identifying mark of the dys-graced camp is to stop doing anything that smells of work, effort, contending or sacrifice and to simply focus on enjoying him. The appropriate response is to settle the love issue and to get moving, get working and change the world!
BEATING YOURSELF UP OVER SIN
In all my years, I've never seen the a collective shrug that I'm seeing in much of today's church regarding sin. The dys-graced movement is perpetuating this by promoting the idea that God is unconcerned with our sin and, over time, if people discover God's love in greater measure, the sin will auto-magically take care of itself. This is deception.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:27-29 (ESV)
No we shouldn't beat ourselves up in condemnation if we are truly repentant. However, the above passage sure seems more extreme than an internal, emotional beat down—and God sanctioned it. He suggested it. The reality of eternity in torment, darkness and maddening terror in Hell is so severe that we must go to whatever extreme necessary to avoid it.
Note, he didn't suggest following more closely or becoming a part of the family as they “do life” together. Nowhere do we see him unconcerned with sin. Quite the opposite, he makes it clear that continued sin will result in never-ending Hell.
Stop and think about this for a moment. Today many Christians would say it's ridiculous to think anybody could be free from lust. I've had people rebuke me for suggesting that. In fact, a “Christian” sex therapist scolded me in a long email after I wrote about this in a Charisma Magazine article and confessed that he actually prescribes sexual fantasy about other people to struggling married couples!
In fact, it's quite common for those in the dys-graced religious system to lambaste those who would encourage people to stop sinning. An angry retort often follows: “You can't put such a burden on them! It's not loving! Quit judging!”
Tell that to Jesus, who also famously once said, “Go and sin no more.”
With the high percentage of Christians regularly involved in pornography, and a huge percentage of pastors involved in the same sin, and with lust, greed, apathy, unforgiveness, gossip and other spiritual crimes rampant, how can we not shout from the rooftops, “Repent!” We need loving, zealous hellfire preaching in the church again!
The reality is that the Bible gives very clear guidelines regarding all of this:
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)
When is the last time you heard of a church obeying God's guidelines regarding immorality? It's extremely rare. Why? The infiltration of dys-graceful philosophies into the church. Do we not understand that it's a powerful expression of love to trust God's wisdom in the handling of sin in the camp? He desires redemption and he understand that it takes severity to get people there at times.
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (ESV)
That is love in action. It should not be done with a heart of retribution, but rather with tears streaming down our cheeks we should intercede passionately for them. We have no choice but to obey God and administer his prescription for their behavior.
TRUE GRACE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND SHAKE THE PLANET!
True grace empowers us to do the impossible. Who wouldn't want to sign up for that? What a life we can live if we step into the current of the Holy Spirit's movement on the earth! As we trust God's Word, preach the truth and move in supernatural grace we will live miraculous lives that will pierce the darkness and topple demonic kingdoms…and rescue precious souls.
Arguments against the invitation to go deep in God are increasing…and it’s Christians who are leading the resistance.
re·li·gion /rəˈlijən/ Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
Slap the label “religious” on anything that threatens your theology or impacts your definition of freedom. It feels spiritual. It is spiritual. The demonic spirit realm is filled with unholy wisdom, and very often this is the source of such a defense. Today’s rallying cry seems to be fueled by the desire to be free from anything that places restraints, expectations or requirements upon someone. All of that, to them, is religious.
Many of the arguments are coming from those who have been duped into believing an unbiblical doctrine of grace. This false-grace ideology presumes that all has been completed by Jesus, and that nothing remains for us to do in order to be in relationship with him. Simply, his actions on the cross and at the tomb were sufficient. The result, if we only understood, they would argue, is that absolutely nothing can be done by us to increase our nearness to him, and, from the other direction, nothing can be done to decrease his nearness to us.
They argue that our sin is impotent. Our effort is both futile and unnecessary, and actually an offense to the finished work of Jesus. Their proposition is that we simply need a revelation of this supposed truth. When they discovered it themselves, burdens and weights were lifted and they began enjoying God as a good, good Father. They would say they do nothing, except believe and receive and live in that revelation.
The truth is that eliminating every burden (God’s burden is light, not non-existent) just may cost us our lives. If you are carrying a backpack on your three-day hike into the mountains, it’s going to get heavy. If you decided to take it off and leave it behind, it will feel like freedom! You are suddenly relieved of that irritating, uncomfortable burden. However, you will also be without food, water, a sleeping bag and shelter. The elements of the world will overtake you and you may very possibly succumb.
I celebrate with zeal every time someone I know encounters legitimate freedom and the immeasurable love of the Father! However, our experience in God cannot stop there. Those who do stop short need to be awakened to the deeper call of God on their lives.
You see, religion isn’t that which produces a barrier to freedom, it’s the attempt to use God in order to have the most pleasurable experience possible, no matter how selfish that pursuit may be.
Those who wanted Jesus to be their king one day, turned on him and demanded his death the next. Why? They were not set on worshiping Jesus but rather on using him. When he didn’t deliver what they wanted, they decided to eliminate him for a better option. This is religion in action.
9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9 (ESV)
12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Mark 15:12-15 (ESV)
A SIMPLE YET PROFOUND CALL
God is calling us into the deep.
The only way there is through radical surrender, fervent intercession, living in the Spirit and unapologetic holiness.
We must die daily. We must be living sacrifices.
I’m writing this from my hotel room during a ministry trip to Albany, New York, and I’m watching The International House of Prayer’s prayer room live on YouTube. I was on staff at IHOPKC for a couple of years and it was easy to see one specific reality: Most of these people were devoted to God at a level rarely seen in this nation. They weren’t perfect people, but they were hungry people with a level of consecration rarely seen in the church. I’ve known many people who are offended at this. They actually despise IHOPKC and ministries like them. Why? Because their own level of passion for Jesus and depth in God are exposed as lacking. The thought that much is required of disciples of Jesus is contrary to their personal pursuits of undisciplined freedom.
Understand, I know these words I’m writing are provocative. I also believe they must be written so I can most effectively make my point. As obvious as it seems, a growing number of people in this generation don’t get it: we can only experience the deep things of God if we are fervent, radical, surrendered and dying daily to the things of the flesh. There is no other way. There are no shortcuts.
At IHOPKC and other similar ministries all around the world, people are praying 2-4 hours a day or more. They are allowing the groans of the Spirit to erupt out of them. They are devouring the Word of God as they allow the presence of God to permeate them in the prayer room. The Holy Spirit is speaking to them with clarity. The prophetic atmosphere around them is electric. Dreams, visions and a powerful anointing become regular. The chambers of their heart are opened to the searching of the Spirit of God. These people are undone, hungry, desperate and relentless.
Yet, those who subscribe to the unbiblical “freedom theologies” that I addressed above somehow believe that they are as close to God as those who are giving themselves in a more deliberate manner, even if they make no effort in drawing close to him.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10 (ESV)
A POWERFUL ANOINTING
I’ll never forget the time I had a regional prayer meeting in my church. A well known mega-church leader was in the prayer meeting along with several of his friends. I was praying with my eyes closed when I felt this intense wave of the glory of God wash over me. I opened my eyes and this man of God had just walked by me. I waited for him to make another lap, and as he passed by again, the wave hit me a second time. This happened several times.
I knew this man knew God. There was a depth that was uncommon. He was living in such a way that resulted in a very powerful anointing swirling around him. I yearned to do whatever it took to carry that type of glory on my own life.
I’ve experienced similar manifestations several times, and each time leaves me crying out for a deeper hunger and a more resolute life.
Pastor John Kilpatrick was preaching at a Bay of the Holy Spirit remote event in Detroit. I was on the front row during this morning session enjoying the wisdom that John was releasing to us. Suddenly, in the middle of a point, he stopped. He simply said, “He’s here.”
As he gazed toward the rear of the auditorium, I turned my head and looked myself. You could see a wave of God’s glory moving from the back to the front, row by row. Then it hit me. If I had an unlimited vocabulary at my disposal, I would still not be able to describe that experience. Simply, God arrived.
There is no way that manifests except via a radically devoted life, a life that John Kilpatrick exemplifies. There are precious few who live this way.
1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:1-7 (ESV)
As we life consecrated lives, encounters are revelations will increase. The truth found in Scripture will explode off the pages. We will be undone. As with Isaiah, the revelations will result in a declaration of God’s holiness and our weakness and struggle. If there is sin in our lives, it will be instantly evident. Then, the fire will sear us and our redemption and deliverance will be made clear.
We will live with a never-ending burning in our spirits and a tremble that marks us forever.
If we want to experience the wonders of God, radical consecration is the only option.
5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5 (ESV)
Not only will we live tepid, powerless lives that are focused mostly on our own personal experience instead of laying our lives down for Jesus, but those who refuse to consecrate and devote in the place of intense prayer and surrender are at risk of eternal separation from God. There is a terror of Hell that the enemy is making ready for them to experience.
My book The Terror of Hell is a sobering message of how intimacy with Jesus and salvation in Jesus are related. In the encounter, I was dragged toward Hell. The terror I experienced was horrifying and fully indescribable. God spoke to me after the encounter and said, “John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”
It’s possible that a Christian may be in a good place today, but in the future they may grow apathetic or they may lose their first love. Here’s a portion of an article based on my book:
A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him.
This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves Born Again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.
We need a wakeup call, church. We can’t presume to be in a place of safety simply because we said a prayer, go to church, give offerings and talk about Jesus. An intense pursuit of holiness and intimacy is required.
This is a message that must be shouted from the rooftops.
I can’t imagine multiplied millions of people who are current following Jesus in an unsaved condition crying out in terror one day, “I’m going to Hell? That’s impossible!”
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:1-3 (ESV)
WE MUST DIVE INTO THE DEEP
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)
Unbiblical “freedom theologies” reject the call to the deep. I’ve had people actually tell me that going deep is unnecessary. Others have called people out of the prayer rooms! They argue it’s an unnecessary practice if we truly understand that there is nothing left to be done. They say we just need to rest in our fully resolved position in Christ. Still others reject prayer movements like IHOPKC because their devotion to intercession is a devotion to unnecessary works.
I’ll be honest with you, I never thought I’d see entire movements of supposed Spirit-filled Christians standing in opposition to prayer!
Someone connected with me on Facebook recently and shared her desperation to see a prayer movement emerge in her region. She actually said she’s been involved in a church that’s all about revival, but they haven’t had a prayer meeting in ten years! I simply responded by confirming her suspicions: you can’t be a revival church without a fervent, consistent and supernatural culture of prayer. It’s impossible.
THE SUBMARINE DREAM
My wife and I were in a military grade nuclear submarine following behind a second submarine that contained my Father and Mother-in-law.
I was analyzing the situation, trying to gain understanding on what exactly were were doing while my wife was playfully looking through the periscope. Both submarines were staying at the surface of the water, and they were being used as tour vessels. The atmosphere was playful and carefree.
After a short time everybody was done playing and we decided to park the submarines alongside a long pier. We climbed out and walked down the pier and onto an ocean side boardwalk. There were people everywhere enjoying a beautiful sunny day. The restaurants and shops were full of activity.
We walked onto the sandy beach which was about one hundred yards from the submarines.
As we gazed out over the water, both submarines suddenly began leaving. They headed out toward deeper water.
My in-laws immediately started running into the water giving chase to the submarines. As they did, I was thinking that it was impossible for them to get anywhere near to the fast moving vessels and I didn’t understand why they had tried.
Then, my wife ran into the water as well.
What I saw next can’t easily be described in a way that is true to the emotion I felt. The water immediately began erupting as if a powerful hurricane was upon us. I was terrorized as I frantically tried to devise a plan to help. What I saw next drained every bit of hope from my being. A whirlpool opened up underneath my in-laws and sucked them under. Then, a second whirlpool took my wife.
I was screaming for help. A few people gathered around but could offer no help whatsoever. I called 911 and all I heard was this recording, “We can’t send help for an hour. We can’t send help for an hour.”
It looped over and over. I knew that THIS was the hour. I couldn’t wait! The emergency was upon us.
As I stood on the beach, hopeless, the scene changed.
Only a few days had passed yet it was now bitterly cold and the water had frozen over. There was at least ten feet of snow on top of the ice.
I started moving slowly, though as quickly as I could, through the snow in the direction of where the whirlpools were.
It was my wife, frozen. She was gone.
I ran back to the boardwalk and into a restaurant. I saw someone who had tried to help previously behind the counter of a sports bar. He was a volunteer firefighter in addition to working at the restaurant. I yelled, “Help! Help! I found her! I found her! Come quickly!”
He just casually said, “Sorry man, I’m working.”
What? I couldn’t believe what I heard. I said, “No, you don’t understand! I found my wife! I need help!”
He just said, “Sorry.” and then looked at a customer and said, “How can I help you?”
I ran back to the snow where my wife was buried. I thought that maybe, just maybe, since she was frozen that there was a chance she could be revived. I’ve heard of people freezing and their heart beat is slowed to almost nothing before being brought back.
As I was thinking about this I looked down at her, and there was a piece of paper right next to her frozen face.
I picked it up. All it said was, “Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.”
Then I woke up.
When I woke up I was shaken to my core.
As I started to pray and analyze the dream, the following is what was highlighted to me:
- The submarines: Vehicles represent ministry, and I believe the submarines represented the church. The church is not meant for casual play at the surface of the water. It’s a military weapon of war designed to move into the deep as it advances toward enemy targets. When the submarines left on their own, that represented the truth that the church will most certainly advance on its mission with or without us. We can be left behind as we continue our focus on entertainment and leisure if we so choose.
- My family: Of course, this was a hard core part of the dream. The first reaction is to do everything I can to ensure those close to me are doing well and burning hot for Jesus. Beyond that, symbolically I feel they represented familiarity and presumption. It’s very easy to presume those who are close to us are most certainly doing well in their relationship with Jesus—and then to model our lives after theirs. What happens so often is that we can adopt their pace and their level of passion instead of staying locked in, on alert and advancing in the fire of God. The pressure of maintaining civilities and false-unity can result in a marginalized, lukewarm, casual disposition.
This verse best represents what I am communicating:
…I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1
We must be careful not to presume that we are alive and that others are alive simply because of the preceding reputations. There are many people with both a spiritual legacy and a name for being zealous who are doing little more than playing—and it’s possible that those people may be some of our closest friends, family, pastors and other personal heroes. Don’t measure your life by their grid. We must calibrate to the truth in scripture that will bring light to every issue of our heart.
Then, we can be true awakeners. If we think people who are are asleep are already awake, then we will have no need to step into our roles as end-time prophetic messengers.
- 911: I was sounding the alarm in a variety of ways including by calling 911. I also ran into the sports bar looking for help. Both rejected the alarm. It’s clear that the hour is now for awakening though even those trained as emergency responders won’t see it. What was the alarm? Those that have a reputation of being alive are dead! Wake up!
- The storm: It was sudden, violent and really out of place. It didn’t make sense, but it wasn’t obligated to explain itself. If we would have been in the submarines AND in the deep, the storm would not have touched us.
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; Matthew 24:36-38
So, what’s the call?
It’s simple, and it’s directed to the church, to those who are to be in the deep:
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:4-6
God instructed me to wrestle with Revelation 3:1. I've been burning hot for Jesus for over 20 years, yet, is it possible that my devotion is not as deep as I might think? Yes, it is possible.
God didn't accuse me of being dead. He didn't reveal that my passion was false. He simply wanted me to always consider the possibility that my reputation will always be at risk of being more intense than my reality.
…I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1
It's time to go deep, to be awake and alert and then to awaken the sleepers…many who may have a reputation of being very much alive…but are not.
It’s time for revival, not the promotion of selfish “freedom theologies.” This is the hour.
Are Christians more afraid than those in the world? Look out! It’s motorcycles, guns and diet soda!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 (ESV)
Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed that Christians tend to be an easily frightened bunch. Spirits of fear are in high demand in churches from coast to coast. Why is this? People take on these demonic spirits of fear because they very successfully masquerade as spirits of wisdom. The more afraid we are of anything that presents a threat, the more careful we will be, and the safer we will be, or so goes the logic.
In this article I want to offer a completely different method of confronting threats. Believe me, taking on a devilish anointing is not part of the plan. We can absolutely can live every moment of our lives without a troubled or afraid heart. The Bible tells me so!
Too many simply reject biblical truth as unrealistic, and fear is an all too familiar friend that can help with overcoming faith falters.
In fact, the carnal, unsaved people of the earth seem to exhibit more bold fearlessness than we see among those who have the most powerful, attentive and loving person that has ever lived on their side (Jesus!).
The “No Fear” mantra that took off years ago still emblazons T-shirts and bumper stickers across the land. Fearlessness is understood by those who don’t know God. But what about those who carry the immeasurable force of the universe within? What’s up with Christians who live in fear and worry every day of their lives?
MOTORCYCLES, GUNS, DIET SODA AND OTHER SCARY STUFF
“Worry shows God you are paying attention.” ~Frankie Heck, The Middle
God bless all of you who love me! I mean that with all sincerity. Being in church settings my entire life has provided me a never ending stream of suggestions and concerns delivered through some of the most wonderful people in the world. The more people love me, the more they worry. This is true for anybody. Frankie Heck (played by Patricia Heaton) revealed the wisdom, in humorous fashion, that many loved ones employ. They worry, hoping it will suffice as intercession. The truth is that worry is atheism. Worry decrees that there is no God. It’s evidence that we doubt any supernatural covering, provision or help is truly reliable.
One of the riskiest things any Christian can do is drink a diet soda in the foyer of the church when the resident essential oil/practitioner of health/organic foods promoter might be lurking. In fact, many years ago someone in the church I was leading jabbed me with a quick comment as I was drinking a diet soda. He said, “I hope you enjoy your brain cancer.”
I gave him a sharp, loving rebuke. I rejected his curse and made it quite clear that he may never say that again. He apologized and all was well. You see, I didn’t fear soda then, and I don’t fear soda now.
Today we are experiencing an increase in evil in America as mass shootings are becoming bigger and more devastating. Just as with the attacks on 9/11, the goal of the enemy is to instill fear. Of course, he’s out to steal, kill and destroy, but an even more effective strategy is to cause people to fear that he will steal, kill and destroy. That paralyzes us so he can finish the job.
So, the cry of many is to eliminate guns. Many Christians are saying the same thing. Instead of dealing directly with the spirit of fear while standing in our authority, we presume that dealing with the natural threat is the prime answer. It is not. If guns were done away with, fear would visit us in even more horrifying ways. The enemy would be sure of that.
Let’s see, so far I’ve dealt with diet sodas and guns. Oh yeah, we can’t forget the motorcycles.
Many years ago as a teenager I owned a motorcycle and I had a blast riding through the hills of Arkansas and Missouri. I’m 48 years old now, and I’ve wanted to buy another bike ever since my early years.
My wife, as many wives would understandably, was nervous about the idea, and we had many discussions. I was not winning any of our friendly arguments.
On a Saturday God spoke very clearly to me. He said, “Tomorrow morning at church, I’m going to speak to your wife through the message. You will own a motorcycle on Monday.”
I was unable to be at church that day. My wife went and God did speak to her quite remarkably.
She told me the message was breaking off a spirit of fear and entrusting your life and the lives of others into God’s hands. The time of our death or their death is up to him and we can rest in that.
I was stunned! The next day we drove to a motorcycle dealer in Ozark, Missouri and I bought a 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. Now, admittedly, my wife is still not in love with the idea of me on a bike, but we both agree to trust God with the lives of our family members and others we love.
Many other people have reacted to my purchase in love, but also in fear. Now, if you are one who shared your concern, you are off the hook. I appreciate your love! But, I just couldn’t hold back in dealing with an issue of fear that is devastating the church and keeping people both in bondage and with a very dangerous false sense of safety.
While there are natural cautions that we can take when dealing with risky endeavors, fear cannot be a part of that strategy. Fear does not protect, it exposes us for attack.
Of course, if you own a gun, keep it locked up. If you drink diet cola, don’t over do it. If you own a motorcycle, wear a helmet, a riding jacket, gloves, boots and riding pants every single trip. Take a safety course. Don’t speed. If you drive a car, wear a seatbelt. Don’t drink and drive. If you go boating, wear a life vest. You get the idea. But don’t be afraid! Don’t allow yourself to be possessed by a demonic spirit of fear! It will feel good for a while as the enemy deceives you into a false sense of security, but worry and anxiety will certainly overtake your life. The Holy Spirit will not have access and the Prince of Peace will not be felt. God has truly called us to be at peace always.
Remember, the enemy wants to masquerade as a spirit of wisdom. He wants us to be so concerned about life that tragedy is a certainty unless we cower and lock ourselves into our homes as we nervously nibble on our fingernails.
THE RIGHT RESPONSE
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 (ESV)
Instead of predicting a crash, instead of sharing horror stories of other motorcyclists who have died, instead of decreeing that I’m going to develop brain cancer because I drink diet sodas, instead of projecting spirits of fear on everyone who takes risk, a right Christian response would be to decree life! We have the keys of the kingdom of heaven! We bind! We loose! We have authority! We decree protection and believe that it will come!
Someone in a motorcycle video I watched mentioned people ask him how in the world he could ride a bike if he wants to live. His response (as a non-Christian, mind you) was, “I want to LIVE which is why I ride my bike!”
I’ve met a lot of Spirit-filled Christians who won’t go on missions trips to dangerous or third-world nations because of fear. Others fear death right here in America. Fear has imprisoned millions of Christians, people who have a good, good Father! Everybody, fear must go! The right response is to stare fear in the face and to decree that we will not be stopped!
An overcautious life is not the answer. The Bible is filled with truth that we should apply instead of holding to demonic wisdom of self-protection.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, Psalm 91:5 (ESV)
Instead of decreeing devastation out of fear, we should command life! We are blood-bought Believers! We have supernatural power burning within! As we intercede and declare protection as friends and family are living every day in a risky world, we will celebrate with them and rejoice that they have nothing to fear!
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4 (ESV)
We must wholeheartedly reject any reaction that is tainted by fear. If we consider the tragic possibilities, and that information drives our emotions, we can know that fear has gripped us.
Instead of fear, we must stand in authority! We command safety! We intercede! We exhibit the power and confidence and great faith that God has called us to function in!
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:19 (ESV)
I propose powerfully declaring Psalm 91 as a powerful method of encouragement and intercession for us and those we love:
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:11-16 (ESV)
No fear. Long life. That, friend, is our decree.
There’s nothing playful or innocent about these killers.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)
Fear. Lust. Anger. Hatred. Suicide. Oppression. Hopelessness.
Spirit-filled Christians are not immune to overwhelming assaults of the enemy, but we should be victorious at the end of the battle. Sadly, in today’s dark world, even some of the most passionate Believers are experiencing defeat after defeat. Many would admit that they have been unable to break free from strategic, continual, tormenting and demonic oppression. They force a smile on their face for Sunday morning and let it fade away as they walk out the doors at the end of the service. Depression and despair have dug into their soul and refuse to let go. They pray in tongues and stand in faith with no effect at all. It seems that God has abandoned them. The truth about their situation, however, is quite different.
I had a significant dream last night. It's a call for Christians to awaken and to repent and break alliance with unholy things.
Standing in the corner was a terrifying form. It was watching, threatening, alive though death screamed through it’s countenance. This being was so grotesque and evil that no true Christian would ever consider for a moment that it had anything of worth to offer. Quite the opposite. The terror that accompanied this otherworldly entity would make anybody franticly run while crying out for God to save them. No, there was nothing alluring about this beast whatsoever, until…
In the dark, haunting room that both the demon and I were having our silent confrontation was a dog. It was a fairly large dog, very possibly a German Shepherd. It was peacefully resting, curled up on the floor. It looked up at me, and I wanted to move over and pet this new friend. I could tell he was gentle and playful and would make a great new addition to my family. It was a bit strange to be thinking along these lines with manifested evil standing just a few feet away, but strangely the thought of having a new, furry friend brought some comfort. This made the evil force in the room happy indeed.
The demon suddenly took on the form of a wispy spirit. What looked like a misty cloud flew around the room and then entered right into the dog. It knew it would never be received in its previous terrifying form. It had to become familiar, alluring, and convincing instead of repulsive.
The animal that was moments ago wagging its tail, almost smiling at me, as excited as I was to have a new friend, was possessed by horrifying evil. No longer an innocent pet, this hell hound arched its back, fiercely growled and exposed its razor sharp fangs, ready to devour me. I could smell the stench of darkness emanating from this demon possessed animal. Destruction was its assignment and death was sure.
As a Spirit-filled Christian, I was well versed in the truth that “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” I understood that I have been given authority over the domain of darkness. In that moment, boldness rose up within and I lunged at the beast. I grabbed its upper jaw with one hand and the lower with the other, risking slicing my flesh on its teeth. Just like a lion tamer, I put my face right in its mouth. Just like a warrior in prayer, I started intensely and loudly praying in tongues, right down the throat of that dog.
The prayer had power, and it had effect. The animal settled down and I backed away.
No more than ten seconds later, evil manifested again as the dog arched its back, opened its jaws and prepared to attack.
Again, I aggressively ran toward the dog, grabbed its fangs, prayed in the Spirit and watched it again settle down.
This cycle repeated itself over and over again. It was exhausting. It was ineffective. True victory never came and momentary relief was brief.
My new family pet, furry, playful, innocent, was anything but. I wanted to enjoy my new friend, presuming I had enough spiritual strength to deal with the evil that came with it. I did not.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 (ESV)
FINDING RADICAL FREEDOM
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (ESV)
Do not be deceived. None of us are strong enough to resist the onslaught of a very evil, demented and deadly spirit if we entertain that spirit. Not only must it be cast out, it must be rejected in every form, in every area of our lives.
As I stated above, innumerable Spirit-filled Christians find themselves bound up, oppressed and without strength for a permanent deliverance in their lives. Yes, they are spiritually minded. They understand the power of prayer. They believe in the authority granted to them by Christ. They do their best to function as spiritual warriors, but at the end of the battle, they are beaten, desperate and hopeless. The enemy wins time and time again.
We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that evil is less threatening just because it takes the form of something familiar.
Many are in a cycle of warfare with the enemy, attempting to function spiritually, appearing to be bold and fearless as they engage him. However, they can never win unless they completely cancel their agreement with evil.
Both the spirit and the dog must go. Both the enemy and whatever vehicle it’s using to entice us must be eradicated from our lives. Now.
I have heard pastors, leaders and seemingly solid Christians tell me that cussing and violence in movies doesn’t bother them. Occasional nudity doesn’t either. They refuse to watch sexual situations, however. That’s where they draw the line.
They wonder why they can’t live free from lust. They can’t imagine living a life with no unrighteous sexual images (which would be anybody real or imagined other than their spouse) dancing through their minds.
They are watching the movies, they are entertaining the dog. The enemy is manifesting through unrighteous forms of media, something that seems so common, so familiar, so innocent, playful, something that’s a part of American culture.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)
Others continually wrestle with anger and hatred while playing violent video games. The spirit of hatred is nicely packaged along with the dog, the video game, a familiar part of most people’s lives.
The truth is clear. We cannot keep the dog and eliminate the spirit. We can’t watch nudity in media and stay free from lust. It’s more than cause and effect. The enemy chooses certain vehicles and methods to anoint as he works to facilitate his plan of destruction in our lives.
We need to cast the spirit completely out of our lives and never allow ourselves to be deceived into enjoying what they have to offer again.
Discernment must increase. Holiness must increase. The dog must go.
Only then will we find true freedom.
…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:8-14 (ESV)
The blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity. It grants us authority.
The rise of the unbiblical false-grace message has had predictable results: Christians are increasingly dabbling in darkness in the name of freedom. Those in that camp wrongly presume their casual response to sin has no consequences and that God’s love will cover every iniquity.
My recent Charisma News article on the dangers of engaging in cultural wickedness resulted in some Christians reacting in disagreement. Many vehemently resisted the idea that we should have any measure of concern about participating in Halloween due to our position in Christ—a position they believe cannot be compromised no matter how we behave. However, this emerging false principle reaches far beyond whether we should go trick or treating or not. Our entire lives are at risk the moment we dismiss caution regarding the unholy.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
This unbiblical, permissive principle that laughs at concern over evil in our culture gives license to careless playing with darkness. As a result, the aggressive defense against calls to separation and consecration very often comes in the form of an accusation. They presume to be standing for liberty and against religion as they boldly accuse messengers of holiness of legalism.
I actually believe it’s a severe offense to the cross when we reject calls of consecration in the name of freedom. This liberal position of casual unrighteousness is gaining wide acceptance in the Charismatic world. Instead of exposing the darkness, the evil in the land is resulting in a collective yawn.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:6-10 (ESV)
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians 5:11-12 (ESV)
The argument is that we as Christians should never be afraid of repercussions from entertaining worldly elements in our culture. After all, perfect love casts out all fear, right?
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ESV)
Perfect love doesn’t automatically manifest simply because we are saved and that we have a connection with Jesus. Not even close. Perfect love produces evidences and one of those evidences is a repulsion of anything that is unholy.
I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Psalm 101:1-3 (ESV)
Perfect and steadfast love, as declared in the above passage, results in worship of God AND living a blameless life. We won’t put anything worthless, or anything wicked as the Kings James Version puts it, before our eyes. We will have a hatred of anything unholy and will do all we can to ensure it doesn’t cling to us.Sadly, instead of hating the wickedness in our culture, many are working hard to validate their “innocent” participation as proof of their freedom. The result? Wickedness is clinging to them as they bring dishonor to the God they say they love. Deception is running rampant.
WHAT ABOUT THE BLOOD?
Many presume the mere act of repeating a prayer and inviting Jesus into their life makes them bulletproof. The idea is that a revelation of the power of the blood will result in a confidence that we are untouchable by the enemy. Thus, we can have no concern regarding our behaviors, what we are entertained by or the growing darkness in the land. We can participate without fear. Friend, that is a gross misunderstanding of liberty, love and fear.
Others have accused preachers of righteousness of inciting fear in people when they talk about the consequences of participating in worldly entertainment such as Halloween, immoral movies and television and music. The truth is that ungodly fear of the enemy is an expected result if we are aligning ourselves with him. The warning is to resist the devil, not to ignore him. If we resist, we can walk free from fear. However, if we ignore the enemy or dismiss worldly attractions as benign, we open ourselves up to a very real nightmare. We can’t embrace evil and avoid fear. It’s not possible.
If we are entertaining demons and the evil that demanded the slaughter of Jesus, we can be sure our love has not been made perfect. Further, we can have confidence that access to our lives has been granted to very evil beings.
The blood of Jesus absolutely does not grant Christians immunity from attack or from the influences of evil that we open our lives to. The blood of Jesus grants us authority to pierce the darkness as we live consecrated, blameless lives of perfect love.
Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die. Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight. Proverbs 11:19-20 (ESV)
Our connections, or alliances, or permissions can make us extremely vulnerable. They result in open doors for the enemy to access our lives.
A very important question comes from the Bible: Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:2-3 (KJV)
The moment we roll our eyes at those who are making calls for holiness is the moment we become aligned with evil. Further, our agreement with the enemy and his plans of destruction result in a hand-in-hand walk with him. We become partners. We further his cause while we shout freedom from the rooftops and mock those who are exposing the darkness.
No, the blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity. But, if we walk in authority the power of the blood is beyond our ability to imagine! Sin is eradicated in a moment. Disease is healed, demons are cast out and people are transformed for eternity!
HOUSE CLEANING AND DELIVERANCE
I’ve been involved in some incredible deliverances and house cleanings over my 25 years of ministry. I absolutely love it when I can participate in ministering freedom and deliverance to people who are bound up by the enemy.
Some amazing Christian people have been unable to break free until they went through deliverance or until they invited people to pray through their house. One person actually removed twelve large trash bags full of items from their home after such a ministry session with my wife and me. The items were acting as curses upon them simply because they brought them into their homes.
Others eliminated movies and other media from their DVR or devices that were resulting in oppression and demonic activity.
In fact, over twenty years ago I sat down to watch a very popular movie at the time, Silence of the Lambs. Common spiritual sense should have made it clear that I shouldn’t watch such a movie. Nevertheless, I did, and in the middle of it the Holy Spirit spoke very directly to me: John, you have to turn this off.
Some time went by and my new wife and I were vacationing in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. One night in the hotel I was exhausted and decided to go to bed early. As I was drifting to sleep I noticed my wife decided to watch Silence of the Lambs. I saw that it was on network television, so it was the “sanctified” version. I wasn’t too concerned and I fell asleep quite quickly.
I suddenly started dreaming, if you can call it that. It was real and it was pure evil. I couldn’t breathe as the demonic atmosphere overwhelmed me. In the dream I was in the same bed, in the same hotel room as I was in reality. I looked over and saw my wife next to me. She was watching Silence of the Lambs.
I then started levitating above the bed and was maneuvered above my wife. Somehow I had a very large knife in my right hand. As I was convulsing due to the inability to breathe, I took the knife and violently advanced against my wife with the intent to murder her.
Then I woke up.
My wife was extremely disturbed as she was shaking me awake. She told me I was convulsing and aggressive. Nothing like that had ever happened to me and it was disturbing.
As I came to, Silence of the Lambs was still on the television. I told her to turn it off immediately.
The room was filled with the thickness of demonic activity. Now awake, I could still barely breathe. The evil we somewhat unwittingly invited into the room had taken up residence.
Now, remember, my wife and I were blood-bought, Spirit-filled Christians. We were not immune to the attack of the enemy that we invited into our lives by watching that video. We opened the door and gave Satan authority to move in.
After turning off the television, we didn’t rely on immunity and ignore the myriad of demons in the room. That immunity wasn’t there. What we did, however, was move in our authority.
We repented for our sin and commanded every demon to leave, in the name of Jesus. Instantly they obeyed and left. The room was clean again and I could breathe.
Why am I sharing this? I want to point out how vulnerable we are to the enemy if we participate in unrighteousness. The evils of Halloween, most media and other forms of entertainment are saturated with demonic intent, and all it takes is an open door. Our participation is that open door. You can’t innocently, harmlessly go trick or treating, dress up the kids and eat candy. You can’t determine that certain types of movies don’t offend you if they contain forbidden content. We must not put anything wicked before our eyes. We must not adopt the evil in our culture.
“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. Deuteronomy 18:9 (ESV)
Depression, fear, anger, sickness and even death can come if we don’t aggressively resist the devil and his schemes while proclaiming to follow Jesus. It’s that serious.
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 1 Corinthians 11:28-30 (ESV)
It’s critical that we examine ourselves, live blamelessly and resist the devil. If we are careless in the name of freedom, we can only expect open doors to allow those who are bent on destroying us free access.
On the contrary, if we sound the alarm, reject wickedness and call people to righteousness, if we live in love and are zealous servants of the most high God, we can walk in extreme authority and annihilate the kingdom of darkness!
Run from the enemy and miss out on the dramatic, victorious promise God has in store for you!
We are in a generation of runners. At the point of crisis, God’s children tend to run from the battle instead of defeating the very enemy that has them fleeing.
People run from church to church, hoping to leave their past behind them. That never works. Their undefeated enemy, whether it’s a spirit of rejection or anger or outright rebellion, shows up the very first day they visit their new church.
Someone visited Revival Church in Detroit a couple of years ago. One of the first things this child of God said to me was, “I’ve been kicked out of every church I’ve been in. I’m determined that this won’t happen here too!”
That was a great plan, but, unfortunately, she was unwilling to battle the demons of old. Sadly, she didn’t last more than several weeks with us.
We so crave freedom from whatever bondage we are experiencing that we often demand an immediate yet premature resolution to our captivity.
In Portland, Oregon, a man was scheduled for release from prison in less than a week after 272 days behind bars. He couldn’t wait. He escaped with six days left on his sentence!
He was caught just hours later.
Sometimes the quickest route to freedom is not the most direct, or the easiest, or the most obvious. In fact, sometimes it’s to back up and entice our enemy to pursue us!
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. Exodus 14:1-4 (ESV)
They were already on the borders of the desert, and a short march would have placed them beyond the reach of pursuit, as the chariots of Egypt could have made little progress over dry and yielding sand. ~Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
The Israelites could have continued in the direction they were heading, and they would have been out of the reach of Pharaoh should he decide to summon his armies and chariots to pursue them.
It surely seemed to be madness for Moses to direct the people to turn back!
Freedom was to be had! It was right in front of them! But, their mandate was to turn back and to face the enemy they fled from.
I propose we embrace leaders like Moses today—those who aren’t trying to lead us into the Land of Promise while avoiding the challenges, struggles and pursuing armies that God desires for us to defeat. We need leaders who lead into trouble for the sake of victory!
It is a valid question: Why would God cause freedom to be delayed? Why would he put people he loves in grave danger? Two simple reasons:
- God will get glory.
- They shall know God is the Lord.
God is interested in our freedom. He’s also interested in his glory.
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:6-8 (ESV)
This is such an important lesson for all of us. God’s primary motivation is not to make our lives easier, nor to give us immediate satisfaction as we pursue freedom. As it always has been, and always will be, God is focused on his name being known for the sake of the generations.
We must trust God’s wisdom, his truth, if we desire to experience freedom. His truth will very often violate our own wisdom or common sense:
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (ESV)
Note how 250 years later Gideon had an important point of reference as he dealt with his own issue of captivity:
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13 (ESV)
Gideon heard of the of Moses and the Hebrews. That story would not have been the same if God hadn’t caused them to turn back and face a fierce enemy.
13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)
Instead of taking matters into their own hands, devising plans and strategies and moving according to their own wisdom, God was instructing them to stay put and be silent. How hard this must have been for them! What a lesson in faith this was!
15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:15-18 (ESV)
Quit crying and follow my instructions! Now it was time to advance, in the direction God revealed—right into an impossible sea. What kind of God was leading them? It sure seemed he was a monster, bent on their sure demise. How could any God presume to love anybody if he is pushing people to the limits of their sanity by toying with them as pawns on a great, seemingly demented game board. No wonder they would end up demanding to return to Egypt!
What they needed to understand, and ultimately would, is that freedom isn’t found at the place of safety. It’s found in God’s presence. Where he is there is freedom, even if that means turning back to face the enemy:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Exodus 14:19-20 (ESV)
The cloud that was moving before them moved to the back. It wasn’t simply a cloud, however. It was a mighty angel of the Lord!
We must learn to trust God’s wisdom as he leads us into threatening, deadly situations. There are angels. There is a Holy Spirit. There is a pillar of cloud and of fire that will go before us and guard behind us.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” Exodus 14:21-25 (ESV)
There it is!
The Egyptians acknowledged the Lord! That was one of God’s goals. It took a fearless heart on behalf of Moses and the Hebrews. It took radical obedience. It required a resistance to temptation to make a jailbreak prematurely. Faith was key. God’s name was made great among the Egyptians and the generations to come.
You and I will be much stronger, more free and God’s name will be glorified in our lives if we don’t run from the enemy. We must defeat the demons, the Goliath’s, the Egyptians, our fears, our rebellion, our rejection. Turn back and fight!
A young man named Gideon would pull on this amazing, ancient story at the foot of the Red Sea as God, again, encouraged someone to advance in obedience and in the power of God.
And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Judges 6:14 (ESV)
Go in this might of yours and watch God receive the glory as you advance into supernatural freedom!
Watch: Does fear grip your life? You can be free! Don’t let fear of loss rob you of the fire of revival!
Threat #10: Fear of Loss
If we fear loss of our our free time, finances, comfort and loss of command of our own lifestyle, schedule and plans, we will resist revival fiercely. Demonic fear must be replaced by a raging, shaking fear of the Lord!
The greater our fear of God which comes through intimacy with him, the less our fear that’s initiated by the enemy will be.
We won’t fear loss… we will understand that loss is a part of the process. Don’t protect what God may want to touch in your life.
Isaiah 8:11-13 (ESV) 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
The catch is this: If we fear God, the result is boldness and intimacy and power and confidence.
If we have a spirit of fear, the result is timidity, reclusion, weakness and insecurity.
Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
Exclusively for CoFI Media Partners—a brand new teaching series is available! “Orphans No More!”
No more excuses: Don’t let an orphan spirit keep you from fulfilling your destiny! Elizabeth had to be delivered from her barrenness to deliver John the Baptist and Mary had to miraculously overcome the fact she was a virgin to bring our Lord Jesus into the world. It’s time for the issue of fatherlessness to, in the same way, be overcome by the power of God!
I agree that it’s widely acknowledged today that there’s a serious problem with fatherlessness and orphan spirits in the church and in the world.
I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16
It’s true that spiritual fathers are needed, and it’s also true that sons and daughters must discover their true identities-and those identities are not dependent on whether fathers appear in their lives or not. It’s much deeper than that.
The sins of the fathers are significant, and they impact the succeeding generations dramatically. The call is for every one of us as sons or daughters to break off generational destruction and align ourselves with Father God. If we don’t, the devastation will continue. Children of God arise!
Are you already a partner? You can listen HERE!
Pray for Bruce (not Caitlyn) Jenner. If we don’t discover who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us, a crisis is all we can expect.
It’s easy to read about Bruce Jenner’s transition away from his God-given gender identity and experience a range of thoughts and emotions: sadness, compassion, anger, disgust, confusion
Certainly the appropriate reactions for blood-bought Christians should include intense intercession for Bruce, thankfulness for God’s power to keep us free from the enemy’s assaults in our lives and prayer for a better understanding of the issue of identity. Every one of us is at risk of losing our grip on our own identity if we don’t understand who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The answer to finding ourselves is to lose ourselves—to die. The old is to pass away so the new can come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
THE PURSUIT OF IDENTITY
Any youth pastor will tell you the issue of identity confusion, whether it’s gender based or not, is not unusual. Young people are famous for attempting to find and express their “true selves” by altering their bodies through tattoos, piercings, funky hair colors and various other methods. Of course, it’s not the outward manifestation that’s concerning. It’s the despair within that’s resulting in gasping for validation.
They are also experimenting with alternate sexual experiences, exhibiting attitudes of independence and becoming more narcissistic than possibly any generation in history. They are looking for life that makes sense and truly has meaning.
The problem? Without dying to self we can never discover our true identity.
Without Jesus, Bruce Jenner is hopeless—regardless of whether he struggles with gender identity or not. Eternity is a small and rapidly decreasing number of heartbeats away and he will live, as Bruce Jenner, not Caitlyn, for trillions of years (forever) in horrifying, unending torment—a never ending panic attack.
The same is true for every person who has ever lived on the earth. For those who don’t radically, completely die to their own pursuits and their own selfish identities and decide to make Jesus Christ the supreme loving master of their lives, Hell is their future. This is truth. This is terror.
However, the glorious promise for Bruce and everyone is that we can die to our flesh and experience a sudden invasion of love, freedom and clarity about the identity of Christ—and how that brings the definition to our own identity that is so fleeting without God.
John 8:32 (ESV) 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
With the increasing hostility toward God in our culture, people’s only remaining hope is to discover self through the magnification of their own desires and inclinations.
This confusion is being celebrated today with exuberance.
How often have you heard about a married man realizing that he is gay—and then leaving his marriage and his children to live life as he was “created to?” Increasingly that man is celebrated for having the courage to “come out” and live how he was supposedly designed to.
What if that same man abandoned his wife and children not because he discovered his homosexuality, but rather because he discovered his promiscuity? Would he be honored for having the courage to sleep with another woman? Just what is the difference?
Our culture is becoming increasingly nonsensical.
Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
This confusion is leading people to attempt resolution to past sins and struggles in some of the most extreme and bizarre ways. The enemy is most definitely stealing, killing and destroying in unprecedented fashion.
After admitting mistakes as a husband and father Bruce Jenner said, “I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce. I’m very much looking forward to that.”
He is hoping that a transformation into a new identity—his true identity—can bring healing and strength. He is right. However, the transition isn’t from Bruce to Caitlyn or from man to woman. It’s from old man to new. His only hope is Jesus.
His announcement that he is changing his gender identification shouldn’t bring a celebration. His confusion is heart wrenching—and all of us who have been at one time dead in our sins (which is all of us) should relate to it.
The answer isn’t to encourage and celebrate a humanistic adventure of self discovery. That will only lead to hopelessness and increased despair, even if it brings a short lived respite.
Bruce Jenner, talking about how people didn’t understand what he was going through even at the height of his Olympic success: “Little did they know I was totally empty inside.”
He then continues to share why he decided to go through with his gender transition: “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”
Bruce’s answer is not in becoming a woman in the hopes of starting over. It’s in allowing Jesus to forgive him and heal his past wounds. True peace can be his!
Hebrews 10:17 (ESV) 17 …“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Romans 5:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Without Jesus Bruce Jenner will always experience desperation. He freely admits he has been in trauma for decades.
How is it that such emptiness can dominate a person’s life for so long and Jesus is never invited in?
I’m not only talking about Bruce’s terribly sad situation. Countless others, including Christians, live every day in depression, despair, confusion, bondage to sin and powerlessness. All too often they turn to self-discovery methods and desire satisfaction in the hopes that they can find life. They transition not from man to woman, but from one deception to another, from one sin to another, from one attitude to another.
John 8:34 (ESV) 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
The answer is to surrender. Fully. Gloriously. Give Jesus leadership and refuse to seek after fulfillment in any way other than him. The love you experience will answer every question.
Romans 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
FALSE HUMAN RIGHTS
This spirit of entitlement convinces us to look inward and fight for our perceived rights. After all, we have a right to be whoever we want, right? We can express it in most any way we desire, according to today’s cultural standard. This attitude is fueled by pride that results in the pursuit of personal attention, gain and satisfaction.
Isaiah 14:12–15: How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Lucifer was focused on self—entitlement. This pride resulted in destruction beyond anything we could measure. He fell and weakened the nations simply because he was focused on self!
Because of Lucifer’s attitude, millions of people have been destroyed, the Holocaust terrorized a generation, an ancient flood destroyed the masses, 55 million American babies have been murdered and Hell is growing in size to hold the increasing number of people who will live there for eternity.
Yes, a spirit of entitlement destroys.
Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
Proverbs 18:12: Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
It’s easy to rally around one who’s operating in a spirit of entitlement, especially if they are pursuing a self-defining, self-satisfying identity that can be related to. People will champion another’s perceived rights if it means their own pursuits will be strengthened by it. The unity around false human rights is resulting in increased confusion, radical rebellion and an anti-Christ spirit growing in power in our culture.
Again, the answer is to surrender to Jesus. We need a move of God like no other time in history.
It absolutely breaks my heart that Bruce Jenner and others have seen no clear remedy to their many human struggles, fears, sins and disturbances. Where is the victorious church? They can’t find the power. They can’t imagine what deliverance would feel like. This, church, is on us.
PRAY FOR BRUCE JENNER
Bruce’s destiny is in Jesus, as a son. He is entitled to abundant life not because of his human determination to thrive, but because of Jesus’ determination to die for him.
John 1:12 (KJV) 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 10:10 (ESV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I once met someone who had quite a testimony. He was born a male and then underwent a complete sex change operation. After living as a woman he met Jesus—and made the decision to live in his permanently altered “female” body as a man, just as God created him. That man is a champion. That man should be celebrated for his bravery to die to self and surrender all.
There is always hope when Jesus is involved.
Bruce will never be a female. He can, however, be a son of God. Let’s believe together that he is touched by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit and falls in deeply love with him. His confusion will be replaced with clarity and his old man will make way for the new. What a mighty celebration we will have the moment that happens!
You are marked as a forerunner! Get equipped in fire and be provoked into reformation in today’s teaching!
I start out today’s teaching sharing about an INTENSE encounter with God that I had in the middle of the night last night. There was a healing mantle released, and I begin today’s teaching praying for those who need healing. I’m expecting powerful testimonies!
FOUR FIRES PART 4
Discover the call of the forerunner, the passion of those who are burning white hot for Jesus every single day of their lives…and those who are waking up the sleepers!
The marks of a forerunner include radical holiness, humility, boldness and freedom from fear. God is ready to move greatly in and through you!