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I want to just comment first of all on the coming of the Lord. Sister Pavlina said that He is coming with a hammer, breaking locks. The Lord showed me a revelation (a vision) last night as well (as we were singing this song, “Swing Wide Ye Everlasting Doors”). I saw that He burst right through the wall. It was like the wall melted and He just came bursting through the wall. His coming was like a king and I saw His train of glory following Him. But as I thought about it later, I believe that He burst forth from the words that were up here on the screen and I think that is what really happened; the Word became reality. We called for His coming. We opened our doors and He burst forth in Spirit reality.
Brethren, we could have missed that He was actually here and we could miss that He is actually present this morning as well. He came and manifested His glory last night. Today He is coming again with His hammer and He is going to break up some fallow ground in the soul.
Now we are going to deal with some things that I hope are not going to be terribly embarrassing, because we are going to dig deep. Let me start off in Ephesians 4:
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Now we are not talking about natural Gentiles here, brethren. We are talking about spiritual Gentiles. Most of us would say that we are probably natural Gentiles. But you see that this word “Gentile” means “a man of the world.” Paul is describing Gentiles here in the letter to Ephesians and he is saying that there is a vanity in their mind. Now the mind is that aspect of the soul that is the window (the door, the opening) into our soul. God does not expect us to continue with that kind of vanity, that lack of hope, that lack of vision, in our soul.
Here in the next verse is a further description of the vanity of the mind.
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, (ignorance means, a lack of knowing) because of the blindness(hardness) of their heart:
Now brethren, if you do not intend to follow the Word of God, if you do not intend to obey, it would be better if you remained in ignorance. Because once you have heard the Word of God you have a responsibility to walk in that which you have heard. A man who has heard the Word of God and has rejected and turned from that word, if he then chooses hell then his torment will probably be greater than the man who only heard a little or had a small glimpse.
“Having the understanding darkened”
“through the ignorance that is in them”
“because of the blindness(hardness) of their heart:”
Blindness of the heart. Darkness. Inability to see. So many times we speak to people and they say,
“I just don’t see it. What are you talking about?”
“I don’t get it?”
“I can’t see it?”
There was a time when we as well were unable to see the things of the kingdom of God. Not everyone who is born again is able to immediately see the fullness of the kingdom of God, to fully comprehend the gospel of the kingdom. I remember when I first began to hear kingdom truth. I believe it was Brother Campbell that first began to bring that word to New York. While he was here and preaching the Word, I could see and I began to understand, but one week after he was out of town I couldn’t see the things any more. I went back to my old level of understanding. Then I remember how he came back again, and again I was able to see the kingdom truth that was being brought. Again perhaps two weeks after he left town, it was gone. I would read the Word of God but I could just see the natural things and I could not see the spiritual things. I don’t know how many times it took me to hear this word, but after a while I began to cry out to the Lord, and I said, “God, I need to see this thing!” You know that there is a price that we have to pay to have the oil. Amen. There was a pressing in that I had to go through, and it opened up and I said, “Thank you God. I can see now.”
Now, brethren, I was born-again all along, but I couldn’t see the spiritual things. I only saw the natural lower level things. Amen.
Well, let me go on in this passage here. Verse 19,
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
It describes a terrible condition, does it not? Even the feeling is gone. You know, the people of the world are getting harder and harder. I remember a time in the 1950’s when men would come into the area and they would put up a big tent and preach the Word of God. It didn’t matter what church they belonged to, people would come from different churches. There were feelings; our emotions were moved as well as our heart by the Word of God and we responded to the Word of God. People of the world gave their heart to the Lord. Amen.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Now this next verse is the key verse to what I want to bring to you today. If you want to, get a pencil or pen and underline this word, or put a star by it in your Bible.
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
What does the Word say? “Put off!” “Put off!” Does that mean that there is something that I have a responsibility to do? I don’t know about you, but I am finding people who want to come into the deep things of God, but they want to come in with one or two easy steps.
“Give me the recipe. Give me the formula! Step one. Step two. Step three…”
“Okay, do it to me. Just cast some devil out of me! I don’t want to have to do anything! You do it for me!”
But the Word here is saying that we must put something off about our old man. Now who is the old man? I think that there was a time in our life when “old man” was how we referred to our natural father: “Well, I don’t know. Ask the old man.”
Well the old man is our father all right, and his name is “Adam.” To my surprise, he lives here—he lives in my flesh. He is my natural-man oriented thinking. I inherited him; he comes from many generations ago and he faithfully follows even into the next generation. So I haven’t completely eliminated him yet, but I am in the process.
Now just putting off the old man is not all that is necessary. Let us go one more step.
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
“in the spirit of your mind.” You see, there is a spiritual nature to your mind. What needs to be renewed? The mind. You see, we came into Christ (if I can I use the term) with a “warped” frame of mind. It was bent, it was twisted; and a good carpenter wanting to build something square on this mind is going to have trouble with it.
Brother Burt came one time to help us with a building project. The frame of the foundation had to be straightened out and leveled, and he spent three days just looking at it and trying to fix it. You see, it is that important. And if we want to have the proper building of the kingdom of God in our soul, we cannot build on the framework of Satan’s kingdom.
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Old man = Adam.
New man = Second Adam = Christ.
Amen. To help demonstrate this, if I had a coat here I would take it off for you so you can see how to put off the old man; then I would take another coat and I would put it on and you could see that I am now wearing a new garment. I am covered with something new. Amen.
Now let me just go a little bit further here (and now there is going to be a list of things we are going to be talking about when we get into this word).
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
Let me just stop here a minute, and let us look at the 30th verse in John 14, where Jesus said,
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
Now He didn’t say a whole lot more about it than this: “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” All right, who is the prince of this world? He wasn’t talking about Caesar, was He? He was talking about the Devil coming. The Devil is a “person” of darkness—not just a principle of darkness, not just a concept of unrighteousness, but a personality of darkness. “He is coming and he has nothing in me.” Hallelujah.
Now we are going to talk about that, because going back again here to Verse 27 in Ephesians, it says,
Neither give place to the devil.
That means, do not give him ground; do not give him any opportunity in your soul. You see, there is more to it than just, “Okay, we are going to lay hands on you and put all those devils out and it is going to be wonderful, and that will be the end of all your troubles.” Because if you continue in the way that you have been going, you have the same ground; you have the same vulnerability in you. You will have the same vanity of your mind; you will have the same Adam ways in you. That will be an attractive foundation for Satan to come in and begin to build again in your soul.
We can come back perhaps later to Ephesians, but let us go to John 20, where Jesus had some interesting things to say. These are some of the last things that He was saying before He left.
Now this is after the crucifixion and after the resurrection, and before He went to heaven.
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
Brethren are we open enough to believe that this is being spoken to us? I mean, to you and me, ordinary Christian people? I have had people tell me, “Oh, He just said that for His disciples. He didn’t mean that for you and me. He only gave the authority to the special twelve.”
Come on! Why record it if it wasn’t meant for us? So what did He say?
“as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
I don’t know what the Amplified Bible says, but I will amplify it for us. I am going to say that it says,
“In exactly the same way that the Father has sent me, that is exactly the way that I am sending you.”
The Father sent Jesus Christ with power. He sent Him with authority. He sent Him to deal with the terrible condition of man. He is sending us in that same anointing to deal with the terrible fallen condition of man. Now let’s get into this next Verse 23,
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Now I hope that your Czech Bible has words that are easier to understand than the words “remit” and “retain” in English? Your Bible uses better words perhaps, but in our English Bible these seem to be old English words that are little understood by most people today. They are words that have a kind of legal understanding in a court of law. I believe judges and lawyers would be able to understand these words in their old English context.
So let’s look at the word “remit.” A judge would use this word if you were a prisoner and you have been charged with a crime, and somehow you have been found that you were not guilty. Maybe you really did do something wrong, but the judge might say to you, “I find you not guilty.” Basically he is saying, “I “remit” the charges against you.”
Did that get the meaning across? Now basically Jesus is doing more than the judge would do. What Jesus is saying is,
“I am also taking away the guilt that goes along with that. You don’t need to carry that burden of guilt anymore. It isn’t just that I am finding you not guilty anymore, but I am taking away the feeling and the pressure of that sin that has lain upon you.”
So that much I can understand from the English word “remit,” but here we come with this word “retain.” In my old natural understanding, I would think, “Well, if I choose to forgive you then okay, but if I don’t then you are going to be in trouble and you won’t be forgiven. I have the power to do it either way I want.”
Here is the word now that we need to redefine. In the Greek, “retain” is the word krateo (krat-eh’-o). Again, it is kind of a legal word and it refers to a power of a government. It means:
“To take control; to prevail; or to become a master of a situation.”
It sort of speaks of a nation coming into another nation and taking over control of the government of that other nation. I suppose that was the goal of England and the United States and those allied nations when they came into Iraq. They were coming in to take over the government of Iraq (of Saddam Hussein) and to put it under another system of government. I believe this is what Jesus meant in that He has given us the ability to bring a new government into the sinful man’s life—“the government of the kingdom of God.” (A ministry that has the power over sin to break it’s dominion over us.)
Now, Jesus said,
“for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”
I like the pattern of Jesus. So often I think of how that there was “no ground” in Him—No ground! What do we mean by no ground? “No basis.” That is what we are going to talk about too. We will define it in the next hour.
Years ago, I used to use Velcro as the example whenever I was talking about “No ground.” There are two parts to Velcro. One is made up of many, many little hooks. The other side of this Velcro is this little wool: a type of fabric that has much place for hooks to attach. Now the part with the little hooks comes and grabs hold of the wooly part. But when you take the part with the little hooks and put it on something smooth, it doesn’t stick. With the smooth part there is “no ground”; there is nothing there that is attractive to all these little hooks. That is what we are talking about: Jesus had nothing in Him that Satan could attach to. Satan tempted Him with pride; he tempted Him with, “Go ahead and use Your power!” He tempted Him to do something independent of the Father; to do something the Father never showed Him to do; he threatened Him—but he could find NO GROUND! In other words, Jesus might say,
“Satan, you can make all the noise that you want. I am not moved by it. Just get behind Me! I am not interested! There is nothing you can offer Me that is of any interest to Me at all.”
I am going to describe four basic grounds that relate to the old man. I am a word-smith, so we deal with words. Now these are grounds that will attract troublesome unclean spirits into our soul. Let me say, brethren, if we want to be walking as sons of God, we are going to have to put this out of our soul. By the way, the first two that I am going to give you are actually weapons that Satan has. How many of you know that Satan has weapons? There are some brethren that claim that he has 13 weapons. I don’t know. I kind of made a list one time of 13 but I thought there might be more. Then I began to consolidate them and some words kind of overlap and have similar meanings to others.
Considering distraction, Brother Burt had a vision at one of the conferences in Nebraska several years ago. Satan came before the throne of God accusing us and he said that we were “easily diverted and subverted.” The word “diversion” falls in the category of distraction. I think we have to be “distracted” in order to be diverted.
Let me talk about different forms of distractions now. We are going to get into some. The first one is a simple, uncomplicated distraction. These things are done by other people, but they are not done with any malice or any intent to harm us. They are just things that irritate us.
Let’s suppose that a brother were up here this morning and was playing with his cell phone. This might annoy you if he is really using it: “You know, we are preaching the Word. Why does he have to do that? Doesn’t he ever pay attention?”
“Then we have all these cell phones going off (ringing) all the time.”
That is a new type of distraction. It isn’t just the noise of the cell phone; it is the thing that begins to come into our mind about the noise. And we think:
“Is his business so important that he has to be doing it here?”
“Does he have to get so loud about it and everybody else has to hear him give instructions to employees?”
“You know, it is just rude!”
“And then she keeps tapping that pencil all the time.”
I have nervous habits too, yes I do. You hadn’t noticed had you? Well, my wife knows what they are. I am talking on the phone and she says, “You are drumming your hands again.”
Well these are simple things, but do you know what? It can bring other things into our mind and we begin to think. It isn’t just the noise; it isn’t just the activity that is being done. We are talking about our soul now, as sons of God and believers.
Simple distractions, and we get annoyed, we get critical, we get resentful: “Who does she think she is?” Then we take on a spirit of accusation, we get suspicious. These are things that open our soul to other spirits. So this isn’t just the tapping and playing with your hair, this is something more now.
Let us talk about persons that draw attention to their body by the way they dress. Do you suppose that we could be vulnerable to that kind of thing?
“Why? Why does she have to wear that? What is she trying to advertise anyway? Isn’t there anybody that can tell her how inappropriate that is?”
Then we go out in the world and we see others as we walk in the mall: “Isn’t there another space where they could put another ring in that ear?” “Aren’t there some new colors they could put in their hair?”
And our mind gets going. Do you understand? But you see, it is other people, and it is not just the way that they dress, but they do things. Sometimes we see them doing unkind, cruel things. It opens us up to unclean and lustful thoughts. Really unclean and lustful thoughts. Why? Because we have been distracted.
The Devil hates this word. I tried to bring this word in New York and I got so distracted that I forgot to turn the microphone on. I turn it on very carefully now and I look to make sure that it is really on. The good news is that if I had previously successfully finished ministering this word I wouldn’t be bringing here it again. It is as if the Lord said, “You are not finished with this word.”
Quarreling; anger; bitterness. Wishing evil on others; jealousy; hatred. Hopelessness. Do you understand that when we get distracted it opens up the soul to all these kinds of spirits.
Let’s get into it a little deeper here:
People who do us wrong.
Now it is not just their nervous habits. It is not just the way that they present themselves, but now they are actually doing something that hurts you. For example, people who don’t keep their promises. Have you ever had that happen to you?
“Oh yes. I will be there.”
“I will support you.”
“I am behind you 100%.”
“8:00 o’clock tomorrow morning. You can count on it; I will be there to help you.”
Then: 9:00 o’clock… 10:00 o’clock… and “Oh, something came up. I am so sorry.”
“Look, I needed you! I was depending on you! I couldn’t get this done without you.”
But people break their word and let you down and it can distract you.
People that speak against us.
“I don’t know what the matter is. Why are they saying this about me? They have completely misunderstood me.”
“Why this gossiping? Why this tale bearing?”
“Lord, You are my Judge. You stand before me, but this man is hurting me.”
Well, it is another distraction isn’t it? It is a little heavier distraction and it plants in us seeds—seeds of fear, anxiety, depression, nervous disorders, self pity, and self condemnation.
“Oh, nobody loves me.”
“I don’t know, what is the matter with me?”
“Everybody misunderstands me.”
“Well, brother, do you have a right to feel that way?” “Yes! If it happened to you, you would feel that way too. I have a right to feel sorry for myself.”
You know, in Jesus Christ you do not have any rights. Do you really think that this kind of thing can enter into the kingdom of God? “No!” Absolutely not!
Look at Jesus! Did He have a right to feel all this self pity? Not in God! He didn’t and He would not. Satan had no ground in Him. They were cruel to Him; they were unjust; they lied; they were deceitful; what they did against Him was illegal—but it didn’t move Him to sin. It did not change His focus on the Father’s business.
Another distraction is lust; and you know, lust isn’t just sexual. There are other kinds of lusts. Let us take the “lust for power and authority” first. That too is a lust. Did you know that? Some people are very lustful for power and authority. My goodness, just look on the news channels and watch everything that is going on in America in this time of year, and all these people lusting for power and to have dominion over others.
Also, do you know there are people who have a lust for “recognition in front of others”? I would use perhaps the term “attention.” It seems that in everything that they do they want to be seen by other people. You have never had people like that in your fellowship, have you? They get an opportunity to pray and they are loud; they are not really praying but instead they are just announcing their own agenda. Very lustful. The message is:
“Look at me!”
“See how religious I am!”
“Look how I can pray in King James English.”
Well, that is a kind of a lust. I want to tell you something, brethren, when you come up against that spirit you have come up against something that is pretty strong. Recognition: attention: your own agenda—these are all types of lust.
Now there is another kind of lust, which is the unclean sexual kind of attraction. These spirits hang out in bars, pubs, nightclubs and those kinds of places. They attach themselves with these kinds of people who are given over to this kind of uncleanness. When you expose yourself to the sexually explicit and pornographic books, magazines, pictures, television and the Internet, you give Satan the basis of the foundation (or ground) upon which he is going to build. So that which begins with an imagination or image in the mind will go beyond just the thought process and you may actually begin to act upon the thing that you see with your eyes. You know, sometimes in this world you can’t always avoid a quick glimpse. It is everywhere. But we don’t have to dwell in that place. James says that sin, including this kind of sin, begins with our being drawn away and enticed by our own lust.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
You take a look at somebody, and there may be a distraction that comes from the way that they are dressed. The next thing is that your mind is going down some road of imagination. You begin to think about this; you begin to think about that. You know, brethren, you don’t have to go down that road. Here is where, as sons of God, we need to take control over our thought process.
I am going to ask you a question. Let’s talk about the last twenty-four hours, if you can remember. Would you be embarrassed if the thought processes and the pictures of your mind from the last twenty-four hours were all projected here on this screen? I am not just limiting it to sexual lust. I am talking about the things that you have been thinking about other people as you looked at them; as you observed their manner of behavior. I see from some of your smiles that you would not be pleased to have that projected for the whole group to be viewing.
Do you remember in the 8th Chapter of Ezekiel how the prophet Ezekiel was digging down into the wall and he was seeing into the secret things and the imagery of the soul. Now the imagery is the imaginations of our mind. He saw things that were not pleasing to God. You know, brethren, we have to put an end to it.
I want to ask you another question. How many times now were you distracted and you found your mind starting to go somewhere, but you said, “No!”
“No! I will not go there. No! I am not going down there either. I am going to focus my mind on the things of the kingdom of God. My mind is governed by the principles of the kingdom of God. I will not walk in the vanity of my mind as Gentiles walk.”
“I will not think like the people around me at work are thinking and talking. Their coarse jesting will not move me down to where they are.”
There is a lust for money in these things too. You know, the lust for money is a pretty powerful lust, isn’t it? People are really driven by it.
There came a time in my life when I had to make a choice. You know, when you go to school and college and all that, I think that they try to put in you the goal of being a success and having a great income. I had that in me at one time. I graduated with a nice Master’s degree in Hospital Administration:
“I’ll be the number-two man for a while, but as soon as I get my foot on that ladder I am going up. I am going up the ladder and I am going for the number-one position. I am going to take myself up to number-one in a big organization.”
Then the kingdom of God came along and interrupted my plans. I began to discover that there is only so much energy in me (I was going to say “There is only so much that I can lust for,” but I had better not). I can spend my energy in the lust for power and income and money, or I can spend my energy for the kingdom of God. However, I cannot give all that I have to both kingdoms. If I am going to make success in the world as my goal, then they are going to want to own my soul. They will want me 24/7 and I don’t want to give them the entirety of my soul. So I had to make a choice. Hallelujah.
Let me say this, there are these drives. If they have not been dealt with already, they still remain in us. Unclean spirits dwell on this ground. We have been pushing it down, suppressing it; but those lusts, those yearnings are still there. These unclean spirits are just patiently waiting for a weak moment, when you are tired, when you are lonely, when you are irritated with someone else—and until there are suggestions coming to your mind that are stronger than your determination to resist them. So you try to become religious and you try to cover it up with religious activity, but religion doesn’t drive it out of your soul, brethren. It just covers it up. It takes the power of God.
Let us look at 1 John 1,
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Let me try to amplify that again a little bit. When we tell Him all of our sinful thoughts and desires, hiding nothing, we will find that He is faithful; He is fair. He sets us free and He cleanses us from every unclean thing. We can be honest with God. We can tell Him things that would be difficult to tell other people. He understands. He is ready to forgive you and set you free; and He will not condemn you. Then you will find freedom.
“Lord, I have been bothered by these kinds of thoughts about this person. My God, I repent of that. Cleanse me!”
“Cleanse me, O God, of that attitude.”
“Please, Lord; deal with me.”
Do you know that when you tell God your sin, that isn’t when He finds out about it? When you confessed it, that is not when He found out. It is probably when you found out about it, but God saw it all along.
Now we have come to the point of realizing the problem that we have, and we have gone to God. Maybe we need the help of others. Let us go over to James again.
(By the way this is still the first distraction, and there are four of them altogether. The others won’t be so long, but you will have the picture.)
All right, we are going to go to James 5:16,
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed….
Do we have the kind of relationships within the kingdom of God where we can trust other people? Could I come to you and be honest with you and tell you what is troubling me, and ask you to pray for me and to ask God to forgive me? And can I ask, “Will you help me?” That is a good question, isn’t it? I wonder how often we really do this. It says to do so in James. Do you know it links this thing to our healing?
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed….
The first time we went to Nigeria there was a sister that came to the meeting. She was bound, she could not conceive. There were problems in her marriage. The elders got together and we thought we were just going to pray for the sister. But as the elders began talking and counseling with this couple they discovered that they had ought one with another and there was unforgiveness and bitterness amongst themselves. When they confessed and repented, healing came into their relationships. It was quite a surprise to us that before we came back the next time this sister had conceived a child. The child was named “Victory.”
Let us continue with the next of the grounds here, which is ACCUSATION. Now accusation is another weapon of the enemy. If you want proof, you can go to Revelation 12:10,
Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
That means that he carries on his business without stopping. The nature of the accuser is such that he wants to bring his nature into us, that we also take on accusation. So if this business of distraction has accomplished what he wants, then accusation takes over and we begin to find someone to blame for our failures. I’ll give you some examples:
A man has been distracted by sexual lust. Maybe he has even given in to that distraction and has gone way too far. So who is he going to accuse?
“Well it is my wife’s fault. If she were only thus and thus I wouldn’t have done this, you know.”
“Well it is my parents, you know. My father was such and such of this kind, and I have the nature of my father.”
“Well, the church, the fellowship has failed me. If they had only been thus and thus and helped me properly. And that preacher, it is his fault really.”
“No, it is society! They just flood everything with graphics and temptations. I just can’t get away from it. It is their fault.”
“Then, it is my job too. It’s those people down there where I work.”
“Especially my boss, it is his fault for my failure. If he would only get off my back. He just makes me too…. I can’t work right the way they are after me all the time.”
“Well, it’s my friends. It’s just the kind of friends that I have, you know?”
Oh, I’ve got a better one: “The Devil, the Devil made me do it. It’s not my fault. I’ve got a pure heart. It’s the Devil’s fault.”
“You know, it’s the television.”
“It’s the internet.”
“It’s other people”
“It’s my background.”
And here is the best one of all: “It’s God’s fault. He made me the way I am. I can’t help the way He made me. It is His fault.”
You know the word “Devil” in the Greek is diabolos. Its definition is: “Someone who hits at another person in accusation.” So that is why in both 1 Timothy and Titus, when it is talking about the wives of the elders and the example that the older women are to give, it says that they must not be slanderers or false accusers. It says this in the King James Version, and these are both correct translations of this Greek word, “diabolos.” If you are a diabolos then you are a false accuser, a slanderer. An accuser is a gossiper and a talebearer.
Guess where accusation started? In the Garden of Eden.
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to bewith me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
“It’s my wife’s fault. You gave her to me, so it’s Your fault, God. If you had given me somebody else, this would not have happened.”
Of course, Eve took it real good, didn’t she?
13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
So they are both blaming and accusing their failure on someone else. Basically neither of them are taking the responsibility for what they have done in their own life. As long as you are accusing, you are not going to be dealing with it in your own soul. You are busy accusing someone else.
RESENTMENT. Now resentment isn’t so much of a weapon of the enemy, it is more of our own response to these things. Now if the enemy can get us involved in resentment it will also attract more unclean spirits, and there is a nice foundation here for him to build a project. And the project might be called “revenge” or “retaliation.” Do you know what this means? It means waiting for “the right moment” when we can get even. You might have to be very patient to wait for them to make one mistake: “Yes! Yes! I knew he was going to do that! I was waiting for that to happen. Now I can get even.”
You see, this is a “whispering campaign” against the offender.
“Whisper… whisper… whisper.”
“Just wait! Just wait! I know what they are like, and I’ll just wait. Yes, I want a pay-back.”
You know this resentment thing can come from way, way back in your life. For example, people can resent being poor.
“I grew up so poor. I never had anything to eat; I never had the right clothes to wear. Oh, I am so resentful of that.”
People can resent other people’s success; they can resent being rejected. Some of you have been rejected in life. Someone very important to you turned you out; has turned you away; has turned away from you. Some of you resent the loss of a loved one. So many of us, even if we are adults in our natural age, we have within us a child that is full of resentment:
A girl resents her parents for something.
A boy continues to be angry and resentful about his father leaving his mother.
A girl is not beautiful, her sister is beautiful. She is very resentful for that.
A boy is crippled in life. He is very resentful of that: “Why did God make me crippled like this?”
A girl is resentful: “Why wasn’t I born a boy? They have all the privileges.”
We could go on and on. There are so many things that you can resent. The bottom line is that you can’t take it with you into the kingdom of God! Resentment will not fit in the kingdom of God.
Now here is the last one; if we continue with resentment, guess what happens next? BITTERNESS sets in. What is the difference between these: bitterness and resentment? Well one blends into the other one. Resentment leads into the bitterness. The first one (resentment), is it like rebellion? Rebellion is more of an acting out. Resentment is a way that you feel. Bitterness is the condition of the soul which can go to such an extent that you don’t even know where it came from any more. Bitterness becomes part of your nature.
You know that there are some people that are so bitter that every time they speak, they overflow with curses, anger and venom. It just oozes out of them. It affects everything; it affects all relationships that they have. It is bitterness.
Actually, when a bitter person begins to love somebody, guess what happens? It becomes jealousy. Now they don’t trust that person to go out of their sight. If someone else talks to them: “What did he want?” “Where have you been?”
Let me take you to Romans 3.
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouthis full of cursing and bitterness:
Now this is a description of bitterness, and it equates with what comes out of the tongue. What comes out of the mouth is cursing. So these are people who are continually cursing others; praying and hoping for evil upon others.
Let’s compare this with where we started as we go back now to Ephesians 4.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Hallelujah. Now we know that fear cannot exist with faith; and (as Brother Burt has already said here) “faith is the absence of fear.” The two cannot live in the same place. The same is true with bitterness: faith cannot dwell in the midst of bitterness.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Now look at the things that Paul puts in the same category as bitterness,
31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
How did Paul say to deal with these things?
“Let (them all) be put away from you.”
Now if you have been wanting somebody else to deal with this (your problem) it is really something that you are going to have to deal with. Put it away from your own life. Put it away from your own soul. Put it away from your own mind.
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
A couple of quick verses here and then we will close up.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
You see bitterness is not always manifest immediately, but it is there; it is a root. The kind of roots that I know of grow under the ground. That means if you cut the top off, the root is still there. If you cover it up with religious activity, sing nice songs and fellowship with brethren, it could still be a root down under the ground waiting to manifest.
“lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”
What happens to this root? At the opportune time, it springs up. It doesn’t just trouble you; it defiles and troubles many people. Have you ever had that happen? You were so surprised. Somebody that you thought was just so sweet and nice; all of a sudden they just exploded. I mean the darkness that came out was unbelievable!
“What happened to Brother So and So? Where did all that come from?”
It came from a root of bitterness; it just sprang up and troubled everybody.
Now let me just close with a couple of more verses.
Brethren, let us not accuse anyone because of our failures or because of the difficulties that we have had in our life. The things in our life come from the hand of God. Did you know that? I will go back in my life probably to the early 1970s; which thank God, was a time before any of you knew me. I had terrible circumstances and I cried out to the Lord. I said,
“Lord, when are You going to change these circumstances?”
I was just learning to hear the voice of God. It was the first time I think I ever heard the voice of God speak to me. I was down on the floor. I know that my nose was touching the floor and I was weeping. My tears were all over that wooden floor and I was so distressed at my life and my circumstances. I said,
“Lord I am not going to get off this floor until I hear from You.”
I meant it. It was not a religious thing. It was not a twenty-one day fast or anything like that. It was very spontaneous. The grief of my life just overwhelmed me to the point where I didn’t know how to deal with it anymore; and I was making so much noise before the Lord that He put a trumpet right here to my ribs, and He blasted the words right through me. He had to get loud for me to hear. He said to me,
“Will you bear with Me a little while longer?”
(Now, what are you going to tell the Lord when He asks you a question like that? Are you going to say no? Do you know that the words “No” and “Lord” do not go together? You cannot call Him “Lord” and say “No” at the same time.)
I said, “Yes.”
But do you know what He was really doing? By the way, it took about six more years. That was His definition of “a little while longer.” I was thinking, “Six months and it will all be over.”
He said, “Will you bear with me…?” That means to say that the Lord is saying, “I am in charge. I am in control. All things are of me.”
What are you going to do about your circumstance, and how are you going to deal with it in the context with the word that says “this is of God”?
2 Corinthians 5:18
All things are of God…
Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks….
“But Lord, this is terrible.”
“But there is darkness in my life.”
“Lord, there has been sin in this thing.”
“Lord, how can I give You thanks for this?”
“Lord, how can I give You thanks for every thing?”
At one time, I thought, “Okay I’ve got it: ‘In all things.’ I am not going to thank Him for what is going on, but in the situation that I am in I will thank Him. Okay, I thank You Lord, because You are God.”
But then the Lord comes and He says, “give thanks for all things.” “Lord, I don’t like that. I don’t like what is going on in my life.”
Now what is going to happen in my life if I refuse to give thanks to the Lord? How am I ever going to break the hold of bitterness in me without thankfulness? Without praise?
Fast-forward a couple more years to another time in my life. I had been hearing this word about giving thanks in my circumstance for all things. I won’t tell you the whole story, but it began with me one day when I was having to get up at 5:00 o’clock in the morning, which I do not greatly enjoy. (It is easier now than it was when I was forty years old.) My life was a mess and I had to get into my car and drive down to Albany (the capital city) where I was the president of the Assistant Administrators Group. I remember getting in the car and the Holy Spirit was saying to me, “Give Me praise and give Me thanks.” In my mind I was saying, “I don’t feel like it, I am just going to be grumpy and miserable.”
The Holy Spirit is saying, “It doesn’t matter whether you feel like it or not. I want you to learn to give Me praise and thanksgiving.” And I am thinking, “But my mouth is shut and it doesn’t want to be opened?”
The Lord is saying, “Open it anyway.”
“But I am not in a mood to sing praises?”
“Mood has nothing to do with it. Obey Me.”
“Praise the Lord.” (through my clenched teeth).
“Praise the Lord.” (through my nearly closed mouth).
“Open your mouth, son.”
“Praise the Lord!”
“Now, you know, that didn’t hurt.”
“Praise the Lord!”
“Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
You know, I finally really got into it. I mean I was rolling down the road and my car was almost jumping around. I mean, it began to feel good.
I got to the meeting. There was to be a speaker that morning that I had arranged for several months earlier. We wrote in our calendar that he was going to come to speak to this group on Thursday morning, the 14th of February. But guess what he wrote in his book? Thursday, the 14th of March. I am pacing around while the other guys are in the back room having their breakfast, waiting for the speaker. We were at a fancy motel. By the way, this is before the days of cell phones, they didn’t exist then. We had to call upon the name of the Lord.
So they are all finished with their breakfast now and they are waiting, looking at their watches, thinking that, “We have to go back to work soon.”
“Hey Jantzi, where is your speaker?”
I am out by the reception desk and I saw the man (my speaker). He came with his suitcases. He stopped at the reception desk. He gave his credit card and he walks right past me and goes for the door.
“Oh, Dr. Noble?”
He turns around.
I said, “Oh, Dr. Noble, do you remember me?”
No, he didn’t know who I was.
I said, “Do you remember that you were going to speak to our group?”
“Oh, yes, yes. You are that guy. Yes.”
I said, “Well, today is the day.”
“No, no, no. It is next month.”
I said, “No Doctor, it is today. The guys are in the back room.”
I said, “Do you have a minute? Can you come in and share a little?”
He said, “Why, yes. Let me make a phone call and I will be with you.”
So he makes his call and I walked in with him. To this day I don’t know what he talked about, and nobody in that meeting knew what I was going through.
I went home that day and I said, “Lord, did I have a miracle today? Did I have an answer to prayer? Is this okay to call this a miracle?” I mean I was really naïve, I didn’t know.
I asked the man, “Why were you at this motel?” He said, “Well, I was up in the North Country and last night I was driving down through here and I was going to drive all the way to New York City. But it was late and I was tired, so I thought I’ll just stop here for tonight and I’ll spend the night at this motel.”
You see, God knew the night before that I was going to need that man at that place, the next morning, at 7:00 o’clock. And God put him there, and God taught me a lesson:
“You praise Me in your circumstances when you don’t feel like it; and I will take care of things that you can’t take care of.”
Blessed be the Lord! Thank you for your kind attention. I pray that the Lord will use this word. Somebody said that there is repentance that is needed. Take the time to deal with these things (these distractions; these accusations) and let us not take on the nature of the enemy in resentment and bitterness and this type of thing. We can be cleansed of them, brethren.
God bless you.