Merry Christmas to all! This is not really a Christmas article, but it's one that, nevertheless, conveys the incredible "gift of freedom" that we all receive when Christ becomes our life. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:11-12)
Over the last few issues of Personal UPDATE, we have been exploring Solomon's Temple and its unique similarities to our own internal architectural design. Last month we focused on the secret, hidden chambers of Solomon's Temple where the priests stored their own idolatrous worship items, thinking that no one would see and no one would know. We compared these hidden recesses of Solomon's Temple to the hidden part of our own souls where we, too, hide and bury our hurts, insecurities, fears and memories, thinking just like the priests, "no one will see and no one will know."
God loves us so much, however, that He wants these hidden chambers of our soul, in His perfect timing and in His perfect way, to be cleansed, healed and then filled with intimate knowledge of God. (Proverbs 24:3-4) This cleansing, healing and filling comes only by constantly renewing our minds-putting off the debris and putting on the Mind of Christ, even in this hidden part.
Why the Hornets?
In our past newsletter articles, we have spoken much about the power of sin. The power of sin is an energy force that Paul tells us in Romans 7:20-21, 23, dwells in our unrenewed bodies, and whose whole intent and purpose is to cause us to veer off course and "miss the mark" (of being conformed into the image of Christ). Satan uses the power of sin in the hidden chambers of our soul (i.e., a part of our "flesh") to accomplish his own means.
God, on the other hand, uses the power of sin as His tool (or His pawn) to accomplish His own purposes. He allows the power of sin access to these hidden chambers of our souls as a means of exposing and unearthing the false assumptions, the lies, the insecurities and the fears that we have unknowingly tucked down there. He wants to expose exactly what's there so we will see it and then choose to have Him remove it from us completely.
Deuteronomy 7:20 explains, "Moreover the Lord thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed."
God loves us so very much, that He wants us freed from the power of sin's control in our whole man, not just superficially, but in our innermost part. Therefore, He sends the hornets to expose and bring to light what's hidden in these secret recesses of our souls. He wants to expose these hidden things, so we'll see them for ourselves, choose to deal with them the proper way and then, be rid of them for good.
Now, God can be very creative in the ways that He chooses to reveal some of these hidden things to us.
A Perfect Example: "Nightmares"
Many years ago, a dear, committed Christian sister of mine came over for a visit. I had just begun studying the secret, hidden chambers and how they paralleled the secret part of our soul, so I shared with her some of the incredible things I was learning. As she listened very intently to what I was saying, she felt prompted to tell me about some very scary things that had been happening to her recently. She said she had been having some horrible nightmares that had sexual overtones (dreams about her single life before she was married). They had been troubling her terribly because they wouldn't go away.
She said she had prayed and asked God to take them away, because they were so evil. But, again and again they returned. She prayed harder and harder, but still they returned. Finally, she said, she began to feel that something must be very wrong with her because God hadn't answered her prayers. She felt dirty, guilty and absolutely convinced that God didn't care about her anymore. Not knowing what else to do, she just began to "bury" everything: the dreams, her guilt, her doubt, her thoughts of condemnation, everything.
See, if we don't know how to "put off" the garbage and give these things to God, what other choice do we have, but to bury them? As Christians, many of us have been taught that we're not supposed to have bad thoughts or feelings. Then, when we do, we think, "Well, I'm obviously the only one who has these bad thoughts-something must be very wrong with me." And since we don't know of any other option, we push these thoughts down deep, thinking no one will see and no one will know.
This is exactly how these hidden chambers get filled in the first place. And, of course, it is just what the enemy wants-more strongholds to get his hands on and to build even stronger. As a result, we become his captives and, eventually, in complete bondage to his schemes and tricks.
Anyway, as I sat there and listened to my dear friend, I was grieved for her because it was obviously a very painful and hurtful situation. I prayed for her and then began to share some of the things God was doing in me. I showed her the Temple model and the hidden chambers and told her how God had begun to open up some of my own "secret places." And, how He was revealing things in me that had been influencing my choices and actions for years.
I hinted to my friend that this might be exactly what God was trying to do in her case, even through her horrible dreams (the "hornets"). I explained that often God has to unearth some of our own past experiences (that He knows are still motivating our present actions), so that we'll see them and choose to give them over to Him.
A few weeks later, my dear friend called and said, "Oh, Nan, you'll never believe what's happened!" You could hear, even on the phone, how excited she was. She said that she had gone home, confessed to God that she had been burying all her "real" feelings (her guilt and unbelief) because she didn't know what else to do with them. She gave God full permission to expose everything that He wanted to in her. She told God that she would trust Him to do whatever He needed to do to cleanse her and to heal her.
Sure enough, another dream came, but this time my friend was ready for it. She didn't bury it, but took a long, hard look at it and called it for what it was. God gave her insight as to how some of the buried things of years ago were still affecting her relationship with her husband even today.
She recognized some of the bad things; she cried over them; she confessed them as sin; she repented of them (she changed her mind about holding on to them) and chose instead to give everything over to God (the Inner Court Ritual that we talked about in the last issue). She then excitedly shared that she hadn't had any more bad dreams and she knew that God had freed her from some major strongholds of the enemy!
(Now, she didn't have to "wade in" the garbage of the past or again "live through it," she simply recognized it for what it was and gave it to God.)
Our God is so wonderful! He says that He will remove our transgressions (anything that is not of faith) "as far as the east is from the west..." when we choose to hand them over to Him. What an incredible gift!
God is a "gentleman," however, and He won't force these things from us. We must make the faith choices to willingly open ourselves up to Him and hand these things over. He then will cleanse us, heal us and fill us. As 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Twelve Full Years!
Years later, in one of my seminars, there was a young lady who always came in last, sat way in the very back row and looked miserable the whole time. This poor girl hadn't wanted to come to the retreat in the first place, but was dragged there by her sister. After the second session, she desperately wanted to leave, but she didn't have a ride home.
When I told the story of my friend's nightmares, this woman was absolutely spellbound, because she, too, had been in the exact same place for 12 full years! She too had prayed and prayed for God to take away her bad dreams, but again and again they had come back. As a result, her faith had evaporated and she was convinced that God didn't love her because He hadn't answered her prayers. In response, she simply let go of God's hand.
God poured His Love out on this lady in a very special way that night, as she began to see that she had done the exact same thing as my friend had done-buried all her hurts, doubts, guilt, etc. That night she chose in the privacy of her heart to trust God once again. She gave Him permission to search her innermost part by His Spirit and to expose all that was down there that was not of faith. There was a prayer meeting after the teaching session and this precious girl went forward and cried and cried and cried, as she confessed her innermost thoughts and feelings to God.
The next morning, this young girl was sitting right up in the front row looking like a "turned on light bulb"! She said she felt as if a 1000-pound weight had been lifted off her shoulders-one that had been there for 12 years!
Now, there were no psychiatrists, no psychologists and no counselors there that night, just the Spirit of God. And, as He was given permission to search her hidden chambers, He exposed and revealed to her the "secret faults" (Psalm 19:12-13) that had quenched His Life and had kept her in bondage for so many years.
Don't Bury Real Feelings
Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 that we are to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him. But "to deny" in this Scripture does not mean hide, bury, or push down our real thoughts and feelings, even if they are negative, ungodly or evil. As Christians, I believe many of us have been doing this, again out of ignorance, because we haven't known what else to do with them.
The truth is that God has made us emotional and feeling people. The truth is we have no control over what we "initially" think. Remember, the sin does not occur until after we have chosen to follow, entertain and keep those negative thoughts and emotions over what God has prompted us to do. This is where the Spirit of God gets quenched.
So, the first bad thought is not sin, it's what we choose to do with it that makes it sin or not. Therefore, real feelings and thoughts need to be examined, they need to be expressed, they need to be brought forth and given to God before they lead us to make wrong choices that will quench God's Life.
Jeremiah Chapter 30 tells us that our wounds (all our hurts, fears, insecurities, rejection, etc.) are incurable without the Lord's intervention. In other words, these things won't go away on their own. They will just continue to accumulate, trigger more negative thoughts and emotions and eventually produce ungodly actions, unless we allow the Spirit of God to search our hidden chambers, expose these things, unearth their hold on us, and free us completely from their influence.
See, if God is allowed to expose the hidden root cause and allowed to remove it "as far as the east is from the west," then we can be assured the conscious negative thoughts and emotions (the symptoms) will not occur again over the same issue. Now, not everything we think and feel has a root cause, but much of what makes us angry and bitter and resentful, does! So, as Christians, we don't have to work at cleaning up our past as psychology teaches, but simply giving God permission-moment by moment-to expose the root causes of our present problems.
God's Gift of Freedom
God loves us so very much that He wants us freed-freed from our selves; freed from other's reactions, freed from our circumstances, and freed from the enemy's influence in our innermost man. This freedom comes only by constantly renewing our minds-putting off the garbage and putting on Christ, even in the hidden part. "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered (freed) me from all my fears!" (Psalm 34:4)
Merry Christmas and, thank you, Jesus!
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This article has been excerpted from Chuck and Nan's new book, Be Ye Transformed. Next month, more on the hidden chambers: "True Deliverance"