Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 7)

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 7)

 Rebuking the Devil

11. Deadness

“They think he has leukemia,” my heart stopped as a lump formed in my throat. The news seemed, well, unbelievable, “How can that be?! He’s only thirty years old,” I responded to my sister. But deep down something in me just knew. My brother-in-law was going to die. And in fact, less than a year later he passed away. His death was an awful thing to witness. It challenged my faith and even some of my moral convictions. I left the hospital only hours before his last breath, but that final day was dreadful. I’m not even sure what was worse: watching his chest rise and fall awkwardly, or hearing the wails and cries of his mother and sisters who wept as those with no hope. As much as I loved him and would miss him, I prayed for God to take him quickly during those final, torturous hours. The only comfort came in knowing he was leaving his pain and entering the eternal rest of Jesus’ arms.

But it almost didn’t work out that way.

In the minutes after receiving that first phone call, my world began to change as I wrestled with the way I had lived my life and how my choices could have directly affected the eternity of my brother-in-law. He knew I claimed to be a Christian, he knew I was raised in church, he knew what I said I believed, but he also knew that my actions were the exact opposite of everything I had been taught. In fact, it was only a few months after my “prodigal return” to Jesus that I found out he was sick.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, I fell to my knees in prayer for his salvation. He was not saved, he did not know Jesus, and frankly, I couldn’t blame him with the type of Christian examples he had in his life! Unfortunately, this scenario plays out all too often in many families. We find out a loved one is sick, we worry over their soul; we pray for their salvation, we cry out to God in desperation for their physical healing. But where were we and our prayers before we found out about their illness? Tragically, many of us were Christians whose faith was dead.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead,” (James 2:17, NIV). The Greek rendering for “dead” in the passage is literally, “like a corpse”. It’s like a body without a soul—it’s an empty shell, completely ineffective.**

When I started to witness to my brother in law, he was skeptical to say the least. Sure I had “repented” and been going back to church for a few months, but the whole of my life (as far as what he knew) was nothing but a giant hypocrisy. What was so great about the God I was reflecting in my life? Why should he want that? And now here I was pleading with him to accept Christ before it was too late. Maybe I should have thought about that, oh, say ten years earlier when I was chasing the lusts of the flesh.

In the end, after much prayer and witnessing (and yes, much confession and asking of forgiveness) my brother-in-law did accept Jesus as his Savior before he lost the ability to communicate. I’ll never forget one of the last things he said to me as his face radiated peace during those final days, “I’m going to be with Jesus! I’m going to Heaven!” I had no doubt about his eternal security, but man, that was close! Too close! And for many, sadly, the story does not have a happy ending.

Spiritual deadness is merely the result of spiritual dullness left unchecked. Living as a complacent, lukewarm believer eventually leads to an ineffective faith. What the world needs to see is Christians practicing what they preach (love, grace, mercy, forgiveness), and exuding the peace that passes all understanding in their daily lives. When we choose sin over obedience, self over surrender, and bondage over freedom, our behavior will absolutely reflect those choices—and our choices will affect other people. It may even affect their eternity.

“To suffer deadness is to forget Revelation 3:1,

‘To the angel of the church of Sardis write: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”’”¹

Our lives are ravaged with trial, suffering, and pain, but that doesn’t mean we should lose hope, abandon our faith, and walk away from God when circumstances don’t turn out the way we’d like. A lot of times our spiritual estrangement is a result of an “entitlement” mentality. We believe God “owes” us a certain way of life, and when He fails to meet our expectations we get angry with Him and rebel. I plead with you to take caution with such an attitude. Satan will tempt us to think our influence doesn’t really matter, or that our choices aren’t hurting anyone else, but that is a lie from the pit. Our spiritual freedom matters, our faith matters, and it matters not only for you and me, but for our families and friends, and anyone we come in contact with in our daily lives. The bank tellers, the grocery store clerks, the other drivers on the road (ever see a crazy driver with a Jesus fish or church sticker on their car?)—our decision to choose to pursue truth and live by it matters to the world.

If you’ve struggled with a dead (ineffective) faith, please pray this prayer out loud, “Jesus, my attitude, actions, and choices do not always align with your truth. In the name of Jesus I now choose to believe what your word says about me, and how you see me, and I reject the lie that my choices and behavior do not matter and won’t hurt anyone else. Give me a heart that is willing to walk by faith while boldly rejecting what is false. When I trusted you as my Savior, you made me alive in righteousness and dead to sin, now create an experience in my life that reflects that position of freedom. Help me live every day as one dead to sin and alive unto righteousness. Thank you for your forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. I choose to reject the voices of condemnation and embrace your word of truth that says simply, ‘Go, and sin no more.’² In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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  1. Dr. H.L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, ©1981, 1984 by H.L. Willmington–all rights reserved.
  2.  See John 8:1-11
  3. **Before you send me angry emails or attempt to post argumentative comments, I know this verse is often used to prove that one needs works in order to be “truly” saved. But without getting into a theological debate, I will merely state this: in relation to the whole of God’s word and contextual interpretation, I do not believe this verse says faith without works is not a “saving faith”. In fact, if it did, it would contradict many other passages and examples of “carnal” Christians in the Bible. (And that’s as much as I care to comment on this subject. This post is NOT intended to be a doctrinal debate on soteriology!)

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(To review the previous Deadly Ds of the devil, simply click on the “D” of your choice:

#1—Disappointment; #2—Discouragement; #3—Despair; #4—Doubt; #5—Disbelief; #6—Distraction; #7—Double-mindedness; #8—Dishonesty; #9—Deceit; #10–Dullness)

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Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 5)

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 5)

Rebuking the Devil

 

To review the previous deadly ds of the devil, simply click on the “d” of your choice:

#1—Disappointment

#2—Discouragement

#3—Despair

#4—Doubt

#5—Disbelief

#6—Distraction

#7—Double-mindedness

8. Dishonesty

Lies are lies whether they are outright blatant deceptions, careful manipulations to overstate or understate a situation, or words that have been omitted to avoid a particular consequence. Many times I have been advised by Christians to not tell my husband something that might upset him. Usually this is justified in their minds because of our faith differences, “He won’t understand because he doesn’t have the same faith as you.” But no matter how good the intentions behind the advice, I know I am to respect my husband, and part of that involves being honest with him, even if it means I may get a response I don’t like.

Dr. Willmington wisely states, “To be less than we should be as pastors, parents, or workers is to cheat our people and children and thus become dishonest.”

When we choose to believe the word of God and walk by faith, the people around us will be blessed (<<< Click to Tweet)—especially our children and immediate family members. Likewise, when we fail to trust God or walk by faith, the relationships around us will suffer, cheating those people of the blessings God wants us both to receive. It’s an issue of spiritual integrity that needs to be addressed and dealt with in each of our hearts.

“To be dishonest is to forget 2 Corinthians 4:2,

‘But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.’”¹

If you recognize a spirit of dishonesty within your heart, pray out loud: “Lord, thank you for bringing this issue of honesty to my attention. I realize I have been dishonest by __________ (not speaking the whole truth, exaggerating circumstances, minimizing feelings/circumstances, omitting details, etc.). In the name of Jesus I now renounce the spirit of dishonesty and choose to embrace a life of spiritual integrity. From now on I will concern myself with having a clean conscience before you, God, rather than worrying about how I am seen in the eyes of people. Lord, continue to teach me how to walk with integrity in both word and action as I seek to glorify you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

9. Deceit

Deceitfulness is yet another one of Satan’s weapons of mass destruction, not only for unbelievers but for the Christian as well.

•Non-Christian (Unbelievers)

Many of us know people who are living according to the deceptions of the god of this world through cults, New Age teachings, astrology, atheism, indifference to God, or false doctrines of salvation, and we need to pray for them:

“Lord Jesus, I come before you believing that if I ask anything according to your will, you will hear me.² I know you desire that none would perish but that all would come to repentance³ but I also understand that your gospel is veiled to those who are perishing because the god of this world has blinded their minds. In the name of Jesus I now ask that this veil of deception be lifted, and all demonic interference hindering ________ (name of person) from coming to a saving faith will be disrupted and abolished. Give _________ (name of person) a hunger and thirst for righteousness that will bring them to a complete freedom through Christ. I ask this with the authority of the blood of Christ, Amen.”

•Christians

When we contort the word of God to fit into our ideologies and human reasoning then go and teach that message to others, we are both deceived and deceitful. We have the will, as humans, to agree or disagree and to obey or not obey God’s written word. But we do not have the authority to add to, or subtract from the Word of God. And that is exactly what occurs when we twist the meaning of Scripture to fit our purposes.

As a writer and Bible teacher, it is my responsibility to accurately interpret the word of God to the best of my ability (see 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17 and James 3:1). This includes careful preparation and research before I write/teach on a subject. I am not to grab a random verse and try to squeeze a devotional out of it, or worse yet, take a verse out of context and develop a doctrine out of it! I am to take what is clearly stated in the word of God and make it more easily understood and applicable to those I share with.

Each one of us will be held accountable for how we treated the word of God in both personal application and teaching (<<<Click to tweet!)—it’s serious business! In that light, we are to remember to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, and not to add to or subtract from it. We are not to be deceived nor are we to deceive others.

“To be deceitful is to forget Jeremiah 17:9,

‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’”¹

Don’t follow your heart, your feelings, or your ideas of God. Follow the facts as presented in the Bible. (<<<Click to tweet!)

Accept the word of God for what it is and don’t twist it to fit into your human reasoning. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (see Isaiah 55:8). (<<<Click to tweet!)

If you have been deceitful, whether intentionally or unintentionally, pray out loud: “Lord, I confess I have tried to twist your words into something more comfortable for me to accept. In the name of Jesus I now renounce the spirit of deceit and choose to live by your word alone, not my ideas of your word. I will accept the authority of the Bible as a whole instead of picking and choosing what I want to believe while tossing aside the less palatable portions. Guide me into all truth and convict me when I stray from, or misuse your precious Word.”

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1- Dr. H.L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, ©1981, 1984 by H.L. Willmington–all rights reserved.

2- “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15

3- “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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You can support Rebecca with one click! If you enjoyed this post, please take a second to click the FOLLOW button on the space provided on the right hand side of the computer screen (or scroll to the bottom of your screen if using a smartphone) and you will receive new posts in your email inbox. This is absolutely free and your information is never shared!

If you were encouraged by what you read here, please share with your friends and/or leave a comment.

Why You Might Need to Stand on Your Head

 

“I was so desperate; I would have done anything they told me to do, even if they had told me to stand on my head in the corner of the room for a week straight. I would have done it—anything to be free.” My sponsor shared her own story of recovery with me the first night we met. She had been sober from alcoholism for over ten years, and here I was, a newbie to the whole thing. At the time, though, I had not quite reached that level of desperation, and it would be two more years of addiction, bitterness, depression, mental illness, and overall internal misery before I experienced freedom from such things. In other words, I had to get to that level of desperation, that level of desire, before an authentic lasting change of behavior could take place. Until I reached that point, I continued in a “double-minded” state of living, oscillating between what I knew from God’s word and what I actually experienced in my day to day life.

And I’m not the only one who has experienced this tragic tug-of-war over the mind. Often, the mind is far more willing than the heart. Unfortunately, the two must meet in agreement in order for a real transformation to take place. And by transformation I don’t mean a temporary lapse of obedience to God’s word, but a true sustained inner peace that passes all human understanding. A peace that is characterized by freedom from entanglements that exudes through one’s countenance, which brings us to:

The Countenance Test

You can learn a lot about a person through their countenance. Luke 9:28-36 recounts the events surrounding Jesus’ transfiguration, and in verse 29 we’re told, “As [Jesus] prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered.” Even the Son of God was changed when in the presence of His Father through prayer. Much the same, when we wear the person of Jesus Christ (spending time listening to Him and believing what He says about us—experiencing life to the full) our presence (how we carry ourselves and how we express ourselves) will be affected.

When my family spent a day at Disneyland for our daughter’s fifth birthday last September, we had to cram as much in as we could in one short day. We arrived when the park opened and stayed until they closed the doors. We only sat down to eat one time during the entire day. No joke, folks, it was brutal. At first we entered the park practically skipping along with excitement. We were all smiling from ear to ear; we could hardly contain our enthusiasm. But by the time midnight rolled around we were exhausted, sore, hungry, and sunburnt. It wouldn’t have taken a psychologist to figure it out, either. One look at us would have told the story.

Most Christians have that sort of skip-a-long attitude when they first come to Christ. They’re excited and full of energy, “I’ve been redeemed! WOOOO!” But over time, as the reality of life kicks in, the believer wears down emotionally. Sometimes having to drag themselves to church through the doubt and discontentment they feel on a daily basis. The same is true for those who have experienced a personal revival or rededication to Jesus. The excitement eventually wanes and things go back to “business as usual”.

Week in and week out believers are walking into churches with saddened countenances. Their body language and facial expressions tell a far greater story than their words. And that story is not exuding peace, joy, and contentment. Instead, the countenance says, “Jesus, your burden is so heavy and your yoke is more than I can bear. You want too much from me. I want to give up. I’m tired.” How sad that Christ-followers are settling for this kind of existence!

When Truth Doesn’t Set You Free

I recently received an email from a stranger who had stumbled upon my website. This person was desperate for freedom (or so they said). But I had an uneasy feeling from the get-go, and in my correspondence I tried to pay careful attention to the responses I received. It became apparent that the struggling person was not, in fact, even a Christian (one who has trusted in Jesus alone for salvation). They were dealing with demonic interference and had dabbled in the occult/Satan worship.

When I presented this person with the gospel, their whole demeanor changed. They became angry and aggressive, even switching personalities and claiming to be someone else. At one point they told me the original author of the email was no longer allowed to communicate with me.

I assured this person that they could be set free, but only through Jesus Christ. But that wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear and submitting to Christ was not an option for them. In fact, it enraged them every time I mentioned the name of Jesus.

I’ve had experiences of a similar nature with other believers who come to me with their struggles. While they are willing to read books—especially the Bible—do studies, attend conferences, and join groups, they are unwilling to believe what God says about them or their circumstances, and they are not willing to allow God to circumcise their heart and purge the things that are holding them back from a full experience of freedom. Many times these individuals also get angry and defensive when presented with the truth. Unfortunately, they want the result (peace) without the effort (choosing to believe and live by the truth despite circumstances).

The only truth that will set you free is the truth you are willing to apply. <<<(Click here to Tweet this!)

If you want to experience a freedom that exudes through your countenance (in other words, it’s infectious to those around you), you need to reach that point where you’re willing to stand on your head to get results. You’re willing to choose not to be a victim, not to have rights (because your rights are in fact God’s, not yours), you’re willing to be humbled, you’re willing to admit your way isn’t producing the fruit you’d like it to, you’re willing to listen to truth without defensiveness, you’re willing to embrace the relationships God has placed in your life—even the tough ones (some of my biggest spiritual epiphanies have come through the voice of my accusers); in other words, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to be free. You’re willing to believe God’s word and live by faith.

Are you weary, worn, tired, fearful, anxious, depressed, despairing, discontented, embittered, angry…? Are you tired enough to let God change it? Will you stand on your head if He tells you to? You can experience life to the full but you need to ask yourself how willing are you really?

If you are willing, but need help with the “how” of all of this, feel free to email me (RebeccaAarup@mail.com) with your questions. Please, don’t settle for anything less than perfect peace.

Related articles:

If You Really Want the World to Change, it Starts with This

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

_______________________________

You can support Rebecca with one click! If you enjoyed this post, please take a second to click the FOLLOW button on the space provided on the right hand side of the computer screen (or scroll to the bottom of your screen if using a smartphone) and you will receive new posts in your email inbox. This is absolutely free and your information is never shared!

If you were encouraged by what you read here, please share with your friends and/or leave a comment.

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack is the true story of three Mexican fishermen lost at sea for more than nine months. The fishermen were believed to be dead, but in a shocking turn of events, a Chinese fishing crew happened upon them near the coast of Australia, where they had drifted more than 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Woven within this amazing story of survival is another “survivor” tale. The story of Joe Kissack, successful TV media mogul, tells of a man so wrapped up in his own success and wealth he finds himself lost in his own personal sea of misery. Enveloped in addiction and depression, Joe finally hit rock bottom. It was there that he found salvation and recovery in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Fourth Fisherman is a compelling tale of an incredible, almost unbelievable, story of survival and hope. Not just for the fisherman, but for Joe—the “fourth” fisherman. Eventually Joe and the fishermen meet face to face where their stories finally converge. Joe fights for several years to make sure the fishermen’s story of faith is appropriately represented in the media. He finds, however, that the majority of Hollywood is only interested in the gruesome, and often completely inaccurate, details of the fishermen’s story. A story—the true story—of faith which led these men to persevere is nowhere on the media’s radar.

This in an amazing book, and truthfully once I started it I could not put it down. Not only is the tale of survival amazing, but also how God worked out the intricate details to allow the lives of Joe and the fishermen to cross, enabling the story of their faith and perseverance to be told. This book reads a lot like a novel and there is not one dull moment to be found in its pages. Joe is honest about his struggles too, which I especially appreciated. I can’t think of a single person who would not be blessed and encouraged through the reading of this story.

The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack was published by Waterbrook Press in March 2012 and is currently available for purchase.

(I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.)

A Little Inspiration from Isaiah

“Don’t fear anything except the Lord of the armies of Heaven! If you

fear Him, you need fear nothing else.”

Isaiah 8:13

 

“See, God has come to save me! I will trust and not be afraid, for the

Lord is my strength and song; He is my salvation. Oh the JOY of

drinking deeply from the Fountain of Salvation!”

Isaiah 12:2-3

“But the Lord of Hosts is exalted above all, for He alone is holy, just,

and good.”

Isaiah 5:16

To Be An Encourager….

Suggested Reading: Acts 15:36-41

Many of God’s greatest servants screwed up. They were not perfect or instantly sanctified; their growth in Christ was a process. We see that clearly in the story of John Mark (also referred to as “Mark”).

After deserting the cause, Paul had completely lost faith in Mark and refused to take him on another mission. However, Barnabus decided to give him another chance. He was an encourager. I find myself relating to Barnabus because I want to be “that guy” who swoops in and encourages the faltering believer. It’s never too late to be used; it’s never too late to make a difference in the world; it’s never too late to walk in the freedom Christ gave you on the cross. Never.

We don’t know why Mark deserted the ministry, all we’re told is that he did and Paul no longer trusted him. We’re also told Barnabus gave Mark another opportunity, even disagreeing with Paul over the issue. Imagine if Barnabus had shrugged Mark off as an unworthy reject and moved on? But he didn’t and Mark played a pivotol role in Paul’s ministry; no doubt many were delivered to the kingdom of light through his work.

Barnabus gave Mark a second chance, and we see later that Paul’s trust was restored and they served together once again. (Philemon 1:24, 1 Timothy 4:11) It is widely believed that Mark went on to write the book of Mark, a gospel that has reached millions for the kingdom of Christ over countless generations.

I want to be a Barnabus. I never know what struggling believer could be the next Mark, and I certainly don’t want to shrug them off in contempt for their failures. It’s been made clear in God’s word He is glorified through our weaknesses. In humility I want to always remember the atrocities I was delivered from, and be thankful for the very few who never gave up on me.

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

For By His Grace

For By His Grace

Our debt was paid
A free gift to all
Freedom is ours
For by His grace
We have life

In His presence
We come
Humbled by His love
For by His grace
Our burdens He takes

How can we ever be
All for His glory
On our own we fail
For by His grace
Our strength comes

Created for His pleasure
It’s all of us
He desires
For by His grace
We worship through our life

No more bondage
For by His grace
Christ in us
For by His grace
Purpose for living
For by His grace

He took our place
For by His grace
We forgive freely
For by His grace
We offer His love
For by His grace

Joy overflowing
For by His grace
Peace has come
For by His grace
Hope is made
For by His grace


Perfect justice
Completed on the cross
The gift is ours
For by His grace
We are free