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.