There is a danger among seriously committed Christians to slip into passivity. They think that if they're sold out to Jesus, all they have to do is wait for Him to tell them what to do, what to think, what to say. Watchman Nee describes this person, "He has a mouth but refuses to talk because he hopes the Holy Spirit will speak through it. He has hands but will not engage them since he expects God to do it. He does not exercise any part of his person but waits for God to move him. He considers himself fully surrendered to God; so he no longer will use any element of his being." (The Spiritual Man, vol. III, p.93) This passivity leads to the loss of self-control and the loss of free-will.

Nee continues, "God wants His own to exercise their wills actively to cooperate with Him. This is what is implied in such Scripture verses as: 'if any man's will is to do his will, he shall know ...' (Jn 7.17) and 'ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you' (Jn 15.7)." God never violates our will nor desires that we place it in His hands. Rather, He wants us to actively use it as the center of our being to collaborate vigorously with Him. (See my Mustard Seed Book for a full treatment of the use of the will.)

Those of you who have known me a while are familiar with this graph. It is, as I like to call it, Biblical Anthropology 101. The chief point is that faith is a function of the will. The shaded portions--Spirit and Will--indicate those parts of us that our enemy does not have direct access to. But they are his target, and the arrows indicate ways in which he attacks our spirit and our will. What is a temptation but a thought which the enemy uses to get us to make the decision to sin? What are illicit feelings but an addendum to those thoughts designed to emphasize the weight of the temptation? Satan even uses our bodies against us when he can.

Let me share how to apply this and take control in two areas. First, physical health. Over the past 7 years I have been engaged in a faith experiment in which I willfully rebuke my own symptoms of illness; I also rebuke thoughts which are accepting that I'm going to get sick; I also rebuke emotions which also accommodate the sickness. Sometimes this is a grit-your-teeth exercise. I must alert you that on intellectual and emotional levels, it seems futile. There is little in my thinking or feeling to support that this rebuking stuff is going to do any good.

But what I've discovered is that our loving God has equipped us with enough chutzpah to overcome the objections of mind, emotions, and symptoms. If we just willfully persist in using our authority to rebuke these things for a couple minutes, over 98% of new symptoms disappear within hours. When an illness is thoroughly entrenched, it usually takes longer. I've staged this for others in conferences. About 80% of peoples' pain flees after just a few minutes in which their neighbors lay hands on them and willfully rebuke their pain. When rebuking doesn't take care of it, we shift to the 5-step healing model to sort out the cause of illness in order to bring God's power against it.

Second, about thinking. I used to be tortured by my thoughts, for I assumed that they were an undeniable and unopposable part of me. I'd have a wretched thought of some kind and immediately sink into a rather fatalistic self-condemnation: "how awful I must be to have had such a thought!" I even mis-applied "as a man thinketh, so is he" to justify a hopeless condemnation of myself. I certainly agree that thinking is crucial. But what I found is that I can take control of my thinking. "Think on these things," Paul exhorts, and I have found that I can willfully direct my thinking towards the good and away from the evil. When an unworthy thought comes to my mind, now I just say, "Lord, I rebuke that thought and refuse to let it have any influence on me." That takes care of it. The evil thought fizzles away. End of episode. And if a feeling of guilt accompanies the thought, I rebuke that too.

My task is to bring my thinking into conformity to that of Jesus Christ. How do I know that a thought is unworthy? I read the Book (See bible reading schedule elsewhere in this issue). And I willfully agree with the Book. And that frees the Lord to give me peace and joy and power and fun and usefulness.
What kinds of thoughts bother you? Thoughts related to temptation; thoughts designed to produce fear in you; thoughts of superiority over others; thoughts of self-condemnation; thoughts which counter the revealed Word of God; thoughts of lust; thoughts which promote dishonesty. Take authority over them. Don't be passive or fatalistic about them. When you exercise your will against these things, God swings into action to augment your decision and His power is released against that which is attacking you.