The Inner Court Ritual

The King's High Way Series

How Do We Renew Our Minds?

We have had numerous requests to put "the Inner Court Ritual" from our books, The Way of Agape and Be ye Transformed on the net in the interest of promoting spiritual health and unity in the Body of Christ. With this purpose in mind, here is a condensed version of Chapters 14 and 15 of Be Ye Transformed.

Romans 12:1-2 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed [how?] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove [in your actions] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

This Scripture tells us the way we are transformed (the way we are conformed into Christ's Image), is by the constant renewing of our minds. Practically, what does this mean?

What are the moment by moment steps to renewing our minds? As David Needham, author of the book Birthright, states, "The big task is not the finding of the truth, but the living of it." In other words, what good are God's principles if they really don't change our lives? With this in view, let's explore the practical steps to be renewed in the spirit of our minds.

The steps that we are about to learn are not just something that I have "made up" or found in a psychology book or a self-help book. They are the actual steps that the priests took in the Inner Court of Solomon's Temple in order to deal with their sin and be reconciled to God.

The first four steps are simply attitudes that we need to form daily. These are not steps we have to do each time we quench God's Spirit, but simply attitudes we need to have "on" daily in order to be transformed. We might go over each of these attitudes prayerfully every morning (just like getting dressed) to remind ourselves of the need to be cleansed vessels. The attitudes are:

1) Present our bodies as living sacrifices.
2) Deny ourselves (our self-life).
3) Obey God's will in action, no matter what.
4) "Take every thought captive" and deal with those things that are "not of faith."

These attitudes are simply "predispositions" or ways of thinking that will keep us "willing" and "open" to putting off the garbage of our thinking and putting on Christ. These attitudes put us in a mental state of openness and readiness.

Romans 8:6 tells us we can be "spiritually minded"--having an attitude (phroneema) which results in life and peace; or, we can be "carnally minded"--having an attitude that results in separation from the source of life.

The final four steps (that we will cover in detail) are essential steps. These are ones we must do each time we quench God's Spirit and find ourselves separated from Him. I call these last four steps the Inner Court Ritual, because they are the actual steps that the priests took in the Inner Court in order to deal with their sin. The essential steps are:

1) Recognize, acknowledge and experience our ungodly thoughts and emotions as they come in. 
2) Confess our sins and choose to "turn around" from following them. 
3) Give over to God all that He shows us is "not of faith." 
4) Read God's Word and replace the lies with the truth.

I call all of these eight steps my Survival Kit because I literally go through these steps at least once a day--and, the last four (the Inner Court Ritual), sometimes as many as two and three times--if I am dealing with something very difficult or extremely painful. The reason I call this my Survival Kit is because the word survival actually means "keeping alive against all odds." And, that's exactly what these steps allow me to do in the middle of hard circumstances--keep alive against all odds.

The Inner Court Ritual

Let's explore in detail the four mandatory steps (the Inner Court Ritual) that we must do to renew our minds so our lives can be transformed. These steps are our "readiness to revenge all disobedience," as 2 Corinthians 10:6 exhorts. These steps are critical to do each time we recognize we have quenched God's Spirit and have blocked His Life in our hearts. Again, this is what the priests of Solomon's Temple did in the Inner Court in order to deal with sin.

The ritual went like this: First, the priests went to the ten Bronze Lavers to wash their hands and feet before worshiping. Then, they went to the Holocaust Altar where they offered their sacrifices. And finally, they bathed totally in the Molten Sea. I believe this is the cleansing process that the Lord would have us go through each time we have thought, said or done something that is "not of faith."

I recommend putting each of these essential steps on 3x5 cards and keeping them with you at all times. Because things will happen when you are out on the road and away from your Bible and notes. So, you'll want to keep these cards handy--in your purse, briefcase or in your car, until they become first nature to you. God is always faithful and when we do our part, He assuredly will do His.

Going through these necessary steps every time we are confronted with a hurtful remark, a painful situation, pride, fear, anger, resentment, bitterness, and so on, is the only way we can stay cleansed and prepared vessels for what God might call us to do next. These steps are our responsibility. If we don't cleanse our feet, we'll not have any part of Him (like we read in John 13) and also, we'll end up contaminating everyone we come in contact with (i.e., "making a stink" as Isaiah 3:24a says).

(Something important to remember is that, unless we have asked Jesus into our hearts to be our Savior and have been "born again" as John 3 tells us, these steps will not work. We must not only have a brand new power source or life source within us (i.e., the Holy Spirit), but we must also have a brand, new heart (God's Life in us) in order to produce something different than what we naturally think, feel and desire.)

So, if something has just occurred, and we are already feeling hurt, angry, bitter, resentful, fearful and so on, but we desire to turn around and go God's way. What are the steps we must take in order to "revenge all disobedience"?

(Note: the first and second steps of the Inner Court Ritual are really only one step (it all happens at the Lavers of Bronze). But, since there is so much that occurs in this first step, I've made it into two separate steps to make it easier to remember.)

Recognize Self-Centered Thoughts (Lavers of Bronze)

The first thing we must do is to recognize and acknowledge the negative thoughts, emotions and desires (self-life) that have just occurred. We must not vent how we feel or push our real feelings down, but simply ask God to "expose" what's really going on inside of us. We have lost our peace. We know it's sin (something not of faith), but we don't know what exactly it is yet.

Remember, this is what the priests did at the Lavers of Bronze. As the priests bent over the lavers to wash their hands, they actually saw "their own reflection" in the mirrored lavers. And this is just what the Spirit does with us. He exposes truth, so that we'll see it for ourselves. And, that's the key!

At this point, we are to ask God not only to bring to light what's going on in our conscious thoughts, emotions and desires, but we also need to ask Him to shed light on the hidden things in our soul (things we are not aware of). In other words, are there any root causes for these self-centered reactions. Often, the conscious, surface emotions are really just the symptoms. If the real root cause can be exposed and gotten rid of, then the surface emotions will not occur again either.

Now obviously, not everything we think and feel has a hidden root cause, but much of what makes us angry, bitter and resentful, does!

Get Alone with God

It's also important at this point, if we can, to get alone with the Lord so we can go through these steps and deal with our sin the proper way. Try not to put this off. Remember, Jesus is the only One who can expose and cleanse our sin, and the only One who can heal us completely. The times that I have put off going through these steps, are the times I do seem to "contaminate" everyone I come in contact with. As Isaiah 3:24 tells us, "...Instead of [a] sweet smell there shall be [a] stink...."

So now, whenever I find myself hurt, angry, resentful, critical, self-centered, prideful, ungrateful, anxious, afraid, confused, bitter, judgmental, or filled with any negative emotion, and I try to stop, get alone with God and go through these steps.

Even in the middle of an argument, if I find myself getting emotional and over-reacting to something, I stop the conversation, and I simply tell the other person, "I need to go and be with Jesus." The first time I did this with someone, they were offended, but now they say they like me so much better after I come out from "being with Jesus," that they freely let me go.

It's so critical to be "cleansed" in order to respond the way God would have us to do. Don't ever "take a stand" or confront someone, unless you are a cleansed vessel! If you're not clean, then it will be self-life out there and not God's Life at all. And, the other person will immediately sense your judgmental attitude, react from his defenses (not his heart), the truth will be hidden, and you will sink even further into the pit than you were before.

If you can get "clean" first and respond from God's Love and His Mind, then the other person will sense your acceptance, respond from his heart not his defenses. The truth will have a chance to be exposed and the situation righted.

Even if I can only go through these steps "mentally" at the time, I do so. By "mentally," I mean, because I am busy and I'm not able to pull away from the situation to be alone with the Lord, I can only go through these steps in my mind. Even if that's the case, I do it, because it's critical that I not let the sin accumulate in me.

Acknowledge Real Thoughts and Emotions

It's not only important to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge our pride, fears, insecurities and doubts that we are experiencing, but it's also important to be honest and truthful with God. He knows it all anyway. He just wants us to see it and acknowledge it.

One woman, not too long ago, asked me if we're supposed to let our real emotions out. "Does God want us to do that?" she asked. I told her that God has given us a perfect example in Scripture. David was called a "man after God's own heart," and yet we read in Psalm 55:15, Psalm 109:6-20 and other places, how he expressed his very volatile thoughts and feelings to God.

One of the reasons I love the book of Psalms so much, is that David makes me feel like he has been there! He seems to know exactly what I'm feeling and thinking, when I have been hurt, or I'm fearful or insecure. When I've identified with him and cried with him, then my heart is open to receive what God wants to say to me next. If I were given all of God's commands first, without His empathy and compassion, His principles would probably be hard to accept. This is just another example of the importance of God's Love ministering along side of the Mind of Christ. Together, they are that perfect "balance" that God designed.

Remember, we can't give something over to God if we don't know what it is. This is why it's important to describe and name what we're feeling. Call it for what it is: "I am angry; I am resentful; I feel betrayed; I am fearful." Experience your thoughts and feelings. Cry, scream, or yell if you want to. (Remember, we're only doing this to God alone.) This will not only help us understand what we are really feeling, but it will also help us recognize exactly what we're to give over to God.

Experiencing our emotions, I believe, is part of "dealing with our sin" and part of the healing process. We're all human, and we all experience negative, self-centered thoughts and emotions. Now, I don't mean going back and reliving the actual experiences of the past, or putting Jesus in the middle of them or visualizing them, I just mean crying about what God has just revealed as the root causes that are affecting our choices today.

Often times, I will go through these Inner Court steps, but forget (either because of time pressures or a lack of opportunity) to really let my true emotions out. After a day or so, I wonder why my peace has not returned. More often than not, it's because I have forgotten to really "experience my negative feelings." They are still bottled up within me. Therefore, I have to go back and once again go through these steps, only this time, I cry and acknowledge how I feel. Now again, I am not choosing to follow these emotional feelings, but simply recognizing what they are, so I can give them to God.

We Must "See" Our Sin

It's important to recognize what God brings up. "Name" the emotions and the thoughts as they come up; and then, go through the steps we are now learning and get rid of them for good. Remember, God must "expose" our negative, ungodly thoughts and emotions before we're able to hand them over to Him. We can't give things over to God if we don't really know what they are!

Scripture never says we won't have negative, bad and self-centered thoughts, emotions and desires. We all are still human and we'll all have negative thoughts and feelings until the day we see Jesus. However, we can have victory over the "desires of the flesh," if we constantly make faith choices to give these things over to God, and not allow them to motivate our actions any more.

Galatians 5:16 says, if we choose to "walk in the Spirit," then we won't carry out the desires of the flesh.

Three Choices

As Christians, we have three choices as to what to do with our negative thoughts and emotions:

  • We can vent them to others
  • We can tuff them down in our hidden chambers, or
  • We can give them to God and be rid of them forever.

(This last choice is what we do through the Inner Court Ritual.)

It's important to understand that we can't "hold on" to negative thoughts and feelings without eventually acting out of them. In other words, undealt with things do influence our actions and our behavior. Some examples in the Bible might be: Esau with Jacob; David with Bathsheba; John and Peter in the New Testament; and Rueben and his brothers with Joseph in Genesis.

Even if we try to keep our real thoughts and emotions buried, they still will become the "motivation" for many of our actions, whether we are aware of it or not. Burying our hurts, memories, fears and so on, does not get rid of them. Only allowing God to expose them and giving them over to Him, does.

In order to be truly free of our past and be able to act out of God's Life, we must get rid of our ungodly thoughts and feelings the proper way: by allowing God to expose them, by looking squarely at them and calling them for what they are, and then by choosing to give these things back over to God and be rid of them forever. (Psalm 103:12)

Confess and Repent (Lavers of Bronze)

The second step of the Inner Court Ritual is to confess and repent of all that the Holy Spirit has shown us. And, in addition we must, by faith, unconditionally forgive anyone who has wronged us, just as God has forgiven us.

[Note: If we have caught the negative, ungodly thought and we have not entertained it or mulled it over, then we can skip this step of confession and repentance because there is no sin or disobedience involved. We can just unconditionally forgive the other person involved and go on to the next step.

If, however, we know that we have held on to self-centered thoughts and emotions for awhile, mulled them over and entertained them, then we do need to confess them as sin. They have already quenched God's Spirit in us and separated us from Him and we need to repent of them (i.e., change our mind about holding onto them), and choose to go give them to God.]

This step of confession and repentance is our own responsibility. As 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, [then] He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins...."

We must acknowledge that what we have done (ignorantly or knowingly) has quenched God's Spirit in us. We need to confess "ownership" of our negative thoughts and emotions and then simply choose to "turn around" from following them.

An Example: "I confess I am Depressed"

For example, if we are depressed (and I am assuming that this depression is emotional and mental, and not physiologically caused), and we have been following this emotional way of thinking for some time, we can't simply say to God, "Help me with my depression," and expect Him to automatically take our sad thoughts away.

We must say, "Father, I confess I am depressed (I "own" these thoughts and emotions). I confess I have chosen to entertain and follow these morose feelings over what You would have me do (i.e., give them to You), and it has quenched Your Spirit in me. I've sinned. I now choose to turn around (I repent) from following what these things are telling me and I choose instead, to follow what You want."

How many times in the past, I've given my feelings of depression to God and asked Him to please take them away. But nothing ever happened. At the time, it made feel even more depressed, because it reinforced that God didn't seem to care. Now, I realize I was leaving out the most important step of all, confessing my own responsibility and choosing to turn around from following that way of thinking.

Remember, we are not responsible for changing our own real feelings. We can't do that. We're only responsible to put in charge the Person who can change our feelings, and that's God. And, we do that by confessing we "own" the negative feelings and then, by repenting of them. After that, it's God's responsibility to change our feelings by aligning them with our faith choices.

Forgive Others

Now, a part of this step of confession and repentance, is that we must also unconditionally forgive (or release) others for whatever ill they have done towards us. God is hindered from working in us and through us, if we hold on to unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is one of the many things that quenches God's Spirit in us. So, the way we release God to work, is by unconditionally forgiving the other party, whether they have asked for it or not!

Now, don't misunderstand me, we are not pardoning them. We don't have the right or the authority to do that. That's God's responsibility. When we unconditionally forgive them, we are simply releasing them to God, so that He can judge them righteously. And, also so that our response to their sin won't become a stumbling block in us. (And so that, "Satan won't get an advantage" as 2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us.)

A perfect example is Joseph in Genesis 45. He unconditionally forgave his brothers way before they ever repented or asked forgiveness. (That doesn't occur until Genesis 50.) By unconditionally forgiving his brothers, Joseph remained a cleansed and open vessel before God, and then, he trusted that God would judge his brothers righteously.

So, there are really two parts to forgiveness: 1) our relationship to God (where we unconditionally forgive in order to remain clean and useable before Him, just like Joseph did; and, 2) our relationship to that other person.

Now, if that other person comes to us, repents and asks forgiveness, then our relationship with him can be healed and we can end up even closer than before. If however, that other person never repents or asks forgiveness, like Joseph's brothers, then there will be a breach in the relationship and only God's wise Agape Love can operate'luke 6:24-28 even tells us we are to "love our enemies" with God's Love. Again, it will be "wisely", just like Joseph. (Note all the ways Joseph wisely loved his brothers, before they ever repented (Genesis 45:5-15)).

It's important to remember, we can never genuinely love that other person, until we have unconditionally forgiven them (released them to God and become that open vessel for God's Love to flow through)!

2 Corinthians 2:10 tells us exactly how we are to forgive and love these kinds of unrepentent people, " the person of Jesus Christ." Think of it as a "triangle. We are on the bottom left side of the triangle; God is at the top; and that other person is on the bottom right. We are to unconditionally forgive which then releases that other person to God and cleanses us; God then, gives us His Love and His forgiveness for that other person; and then, prayerfully that other person will eventually be convicted, come to us and ask forgiveness. In the mean time, we are free to go on, and live and love as God would have us.

Receive God's Forgiveness

It's also imperative, at this point, that we receive (by faith) God's forgiveness for whatever sins we may have committed. 1 John 1:9 again says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [all] our sins."

If you have trouble believing and receiving God's forgiveness, make a list of all the Scriptures you can find on forgiveness and read them over and over again. By faith, make those contrary choices to believe what those Scriptures are saying. (Remember, we walk not by "feelings," but by "faith.") God, in His perfect timing, will align your feelings to match what you have chosen to believe by faith.

Give All to God (Holocaust Altar)

The next essential step of the Inner Court Ritual is to give everything that God has shown us (that is not of faith) over to Him. God will not violate our free will by forcibly taking these things from us; we must willingly choose to hand them over to Him.

God wants us to give Him. to sacrifice to Him. everything that is not of faith, so it can be purged (and cleansed) by His Blood. As we willingly give these things over to Him, He promises that He will take them from us, "As far as the east is from the west...." (Psalm 103:12)

A fascinating verse in this light is 2 Chronicles 7:1, "Now when Solomon had ceased praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices,

and the glory of the Lord filled the house." This reminds me of how God reaches down from heaven, removes our sin (consumes our offerings) "as far as the east is from the west" and then fills us with His Spirit.

A Miracle

We so often take for granted the incredible miracle that God really does take away our sins (both the symptoms and the root causes) "as far as the east is from the west...." Do we really understand what this means?

It means that we are allowed to begin each day with a clean slate. A new, fresh start. It allows us to "blow it badly" with each other; and yet, if we confess and repent of those things and choose to forgive each other. God really will wash us, cleanse us and heal us. even with the memory of that sin wiped away. What a miracle!

Just think, if we were non-believers, all our fights with loved ones, all our guilt, our failures, mistakes, ungodliness, errors, wrongs, immorality, and every sin we have ever committed would always be with us. We would try to bury them in our "hidden chambers" but they would always be there to motivate our actions. We could never get away from them or have a fresh, new start. No wonder so many relationships "without Christ" fail. I weep at the thought, because that miracle, that answer, that cure, that Love is there, just for the asking.

Give as "Love Gifts"

In Luke 11:39-41, it says: "And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms [give as "love gifts"] of such things as ye have [within]; and, behold [then] all things are clean unto you [without].. "

Alms in the New Testament were love gifts "with no strings attached." I think of giving our sins over to God just like giving Him "alms." As we sacrifice or offer up to God our alms. everything that is not of faith. He, then, makes all things clean for us from the inside out.

Do Something Physical

It's sometimes helpful to do something "physical" with the things that we give over to God, in order to truly experience getting rid of them. A dear friend of mine writes down on a scrap of paper all her hurts, wounds--memories, whatever God has shown her is "not of faith." Then she literally wraps these pieces of paper up in packages and presents them to God as "love gifts."

Personally, I like to burn these scraps of paper! I write down everything I give to God and then burn that scrap of paper. I like to watch it evaporate. To me, it's a graphic picture of how those things are really gone forever.

Most of the things that God shows us are "of the flesh," and will usually go away immediately, or at least within a few days, if we are faithful to go through these cleansing steps.

But some of the things that will come up, however, are long-standing strongholds of the enemy and he won't let these go easily. So, don't be dismayed if these thoughts and feelings reappear. Remember, God takes the things we give Him the moment we release them to him, however, often our feelings don't align with that choice for awhile. That's when the enemy gets in there and inserts doubt in God's faithfulness. God wants to strengthen our faith by the lapse in time, Satan wants to defeat us with it.

So, don't fall into the trap of thinking, "Oh, this just doesn't work for me!" Because, that's exactly what the enemy wants you to do. Recognize it's a battle. Know you will win if you will just persevere, Luke 10:19 says that we have authority over all the power of the enemy.

Read God's Word (Molten Sea)

The final step in dealing with our sin is that we must read God's Word. God is the only One who, by His Word, can cleanse, sanctify and heal our souls completely. He is the only One who can replace the lies with the truth.

Remember, it was at the Molten Sea that the priests actually immersed themselves bodily, in order to receive a total cleansing. They had gotten all "blood splattered" at the Holocaust altar where they sacrificed, and now, they needed a complete bathing in order to be cleansed.

And it's the same thing with us, after we have confessed, repented and sacrificed all to God, we too are "bloody" and "torn apart" and in desperate need of God's complete healing power. It's only God's Word that can totally restore us. God is the One who washes us "...with the washing of water by the Word." (Ephesians 5:26)

As I read God's Word, I literally picture myself being bathed in God's Love. One of my favorite Scriptures to read at these times is Psalm 18: "...In my distress I called upon the Lord...He heard my voice out of His temple...He bowed the heavens also, and came down...." (verses 6 and 9)

Another suggestion: Try to memorize appropriate Scriptures. Often, we must go through these steps when we are away from home and we don't have our Bibles at hand. If we have memorized Scriptures, then we can bathe in His Word anyway. Most importantly, truth must be put back in where the lies have been removed, so that more lies don't return. Read Luke 11:24-26.

Now we can step out in faith, knowing that God will be faithful to align our feelings with our choices, give us the Love and the Wisdom we need, and to perform His Will through us.

Example: Putting It All Together

One person came up to me after a recent seminar and said: "Okay, this is great material. I love the class. But I need one last simple example of how all these steps work together. Can you please tell me an example that points out all the steps?"

Here, then, is a hypothetical story which shows all these steps in action:

Your mother-in-law (who is not a Christian) comes over for dinner. You are sitting across from her at the table when all of a sudden, in front of everyone, she makes some very derogatory comments about your dinner, your house, your kids and so on.

At first you get very flustered, then humiliated, then hurt, and then just plain angry. At this point what should you do? Do you continue to sit there and hypocritically smile at her when you would really like to sock her and tell her off?

Remember, we are not responsible for the original ungodly thoughts when they first come in. It's what we choose to do with them that produces the sin or not. Now, if we don't do anything with our negative thoughts, they will automatically stir up bitterness and resentment, which will definitely