God is beginning to reveal something to my spirit that is both disheartening and encouraging. Let me see if I can share this insight, and if it makes sense to you.
I have made it abundantly clear that I see through different spiritual eyes than I did even three years ago. My heart and my spirit know that it is Jesus's deepest desire that all those who come to Him will be set free from their spiritual bondage. Of course, He doesn't want to lose even one person, and His invitation to faith and salvation is available for every human being. But we all know that not everyone will accept that summons to eternal life, and many will vehemently reject Him.
But my comments today are directed specifically to those who have answered His call and profess faith in Him as their Savior. Of course, we must understand that faith comes in degrees as we journey through our salvation process; not everyone is equal in living out their faith, although Jesus will accept each one of us on an equal basis -- all are welcome in His Kingdom. But we each must work out our salvation with fear and trembling; that's where the concept of rewards and inheritance comes into play, and that is a discussion for another day.
1) The people who are most desperate to have their "soul wounds" healed are the most receptive to allowing Jesus to heal these wounds and set them free from the lies satan has been whispering.
2) They have reached the end of their rope, and there is nowhere else to turn. They either do not trust the Church, or they do not believe that it can help them. They are willing to meet with Jesus, up close and personal, in a manner that the Church is not even willing to consider, and it is because He is their last hope.
3) As you can surmise, these are people who are generally dissatisfied with the Church, although many of them come from Church backgrounds. So they are not affiliated with any Church, although they believe in Jesus. So, in essence, at this stage of their healing process, the Church does not come between them and Jesus and their deliverance from captivity.
Now this is the part that might seem surprising, but so far, it has proven to be quite consistent ...
4) Christians who are faithful Church-attendees are just as likely to be desperate in their bondage, but are the most reluctant to let Jesus in. I am not a psychologist, so I cannot verify my conclusions, but it seems pretty clear that they have a hard time breaking out of the box that their Church doctrine and experience have put them in. I don't want you to misunderstand me ... they proclaim a real faith and belief in Jesus, just the same as their counterparts; often more passionately. But it has been our experience that the comfort and identity they have as "Church-going Christians" can sometimes get in the way of really believing Jesus's message of setting the captives free.
Somehow, it seems easier for them to live with their oppression when surrounded by others that share a similar "Sunday experience" and membership in the Church club. Sadly, I have seen too many wonderful, God-fearing Christians come to me with stories of oppression that they keep hidden from their Church fellowship. Is it because what Jesus offers [in healing those wounds] is outside the mainstream of accepted Church practices? Is it because their identity is all wrapped up in how the Church sees them, and they can't let the mask slip? Or is it, because deep down they don't really believe that Jesus can do what He says He came to do? ... to set at liberty those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18)
My husband recently listened to a podcast by a former warlock, John Ramirez; a man who was steeped in the occult, and who vowed allegiance to the dark forces of the devil. As a Satanist, he said that the first thing he would do to enslave a church would be to declare the spirits of Fear, Doubt, and Unbelief be manifested against it. He said that the first one to engage in the spiritual battle over a church was the one who would likely win, and since churches are usually devoid of Christians knowledgeable in, or strong enough, to take that first step and wage the spiritual war, he said that churches were an easy victory for him. This is a man who sees the "big picture" and has fought on both sides of the battlefield. Thanks to his conversion and the saving power of Jesus, he now instructs Christians on how to let Jesus help them defeat the Enemy.
In verse 28 of that chapter, Jesus says, I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him. Then Scripture tells us, As he was saying these things, many believed in him. But, as theologian Leon Morris writes, "This section of the [Biblical] discourse is addressed to those who believe, and yet do not believe. Clearly they were inclined to think that what Jesus said was true. But they were not prepared to yield Him the far-reaching allegiance that real trust in Him implies. This is a most dangerous spiritual state." That is so true! Remaining under the oppression caused by fear, or refusal to yield to His deliverance, only keeps the Christian from taking that life-saving step. And Satan wins!
And I believe that is where many Christians are today. Jesus made it abundantly clear when He said, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Yet, I'm afraid that Christians find it difficult to live their own truth, let alone Jesus's truth that He can set us free. Satan has been able to infiltrate the Church (in ways like the former warlock, Mr. Ramirez, described) and sow Fear, Doubt, and Unbelief, and thereby keep Christians sitting in the pews in restricted power and authority. They are either slaves to the hidden sins they are committing, or are in bondage due to the hidden sins committed against them. Either way, they are slaves to the lies that the Enemy uses to convince them they are unclean and living under false identities.
Somehow, I think they feel that if they face their truths, it will be more difficult to live as a Christian; that they are more comfortable in hanging on to the wounds while believing that Jesus has forgiven them, rather than taking the leap to a reality that they can finally be free of all the fear and anxiety and anger and bitterness and unforgiveness that clings to those memories of sin.
I will tell you that those who are willing to surrender their fears and their pride, because they are tired of living under the burden of oppression, are truly new creations when they are set free. Jesus is able to show them how He sees them; they are not bound by their own perceptions of how they appear to Him. That is not to say that the Enemy gives up and leaves the battlefield. He knows the areas in their lives that are vulnerable, and the lies they have believed in the past. But with each new attack that they repel through the Father's power and authority that Jesus gives them, they become stronger, and the devil soon learns that he has a formidable foe.
And it gives me great encouragement to hear from those who have received freedom! Some have completely changed their family dynamics, and others are planning on helping friends and family get set free in the Name and Power of Jesus. So, I am happy to see that Christians are being confronted with their need to live in Truth, and their need to surrender to Jesus's healing Spirit. While some come willingly, I believe that God is forcing the issue with others. All of us are slaves to sin in one form or another. But it is essential that we realize we cannot liberate ourselves. We cannot convert ourselves, nor can we be converted by any fellow-sinner. The Liberator from our bondage must come from outside the ranks of enslaved humanity. The only One who can do that is waiting for our agreement with Him. He is determined to set as many people free as He can before our time runs out. Don't waste another minute living in bondage!
John 8:34-36 “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."