On September 9, 2009, I attended my son’s soccer game at one of our local sports complexes in Colorado Springs. While watching the game, unexpectedly, a sense of urgency came over me and a word flowed from my mouth out loud.
“Dan, I command you in the Name of Jesus, to get back in your body and live.”
I didn’t find out till the next day, that at the moment I blurted those words, just north of where I was at the game, my friend Dan was in ICU and coded. For almost 15 minutes, Doctors worked frantically on him to restart his heart and revive him.
It was during a call I made the following day, I found out what had happened and shared with Dan and his wife, what I had done. I was the first of three calls they received, with testimony of the same sense of urgency and command for Dan to live and not die. The two others were a friend in Kansas City and Dan’s sister in Pennsylvania. None of us knew at the time what was going on, but only that we needed to pray.
There were some follow up tests which produced no evidence of anything being wrong with Dan. He was in his house heading up the stairs one minute and the next, was appearing to have a massive heart attack. Finally after being revived, doctors could find nothing wrong.
Lacking any more evidence other than the fact he died on the table and was brought back to life, it seems to have been an incident that could be chalked up to possible spiritual attack. At the time, Dan was struggling with attitudes concerning his intrinsic worth to God and family and talked himself into some very wrong ideas about who he was and the value of his life. He feels this may have opened a door for the enemy to attack.
A similar incident happened to my teenage daughter, where she faced her own medical emergency. Upon examination in the ER, doctors in her case also could not find evidence of anything being wrong. Here’s what happened there.
Thirty minutes before my daughter collapsed in the middle of a restaurant, I was in a local business which was filled with spiritually dark decor and symbolism. Reacting to that environment, I was worshiping God under my breath, rebuking the enemy and declaring God’s victory. I heard clearly in my mind, a threat from spiritual evil, that it was going to harm a family member.
Shortly thereafter, as the restaurant grew silent and wait staff stood over us, my wife sat on the floor, holding our daughter and gently calling her back. I have to say, it was very scary. I don’t wish to ever have to go through that again. But I learned important lessons from these experiences about operating in the government of God.
We are not to take spiritual warfare or heavenly declarations flippantly. It’s serious business which must be guided by God’s instruction. But where He guides, then we have confident assurance we are decreeing and governing in accordance with his word to us. But without His instruction, even though we may be standing on truthfully correct ideas, our decrees may be premature and may not carry the weight of authority we think they do. The son can only do what he sees and hears from the Father (John 5:19).
In the case of my friend Dan, I didn’t know what was going on. But God did. I obeyed his leading (without my personal understanding) and was able to release spiritual legislation into the heavenly realm, that Dan was not to die, but to live. I as a son heard the Father and released his word from heaven into the earth. And because it was me reiterating the thoughts of God, his power and authority backed it up.
I’ve shared this verse in another blog, but now is also a good time to review it again. Jesus says in these verses:
John 5:30 – “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” New International Version
John 8: 16 – “Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.” English Standard Version
God reveals decrees, judgments and commands which are meant for our discernment. It requires time and practice, making it a lifestyle of pursuit and listening. It’s those things we are called to release and thereby utter judgment. Not to be judgmental, but judging as we see him judge. There’s a huge difference between the two.
I feel this is the way we should also operate in the arena of spiritual warfare, which too is a matter of judging. We definitely don’t need to fear the enemy. But when dealing with him, we should be only speaking what we hear our Father in heaven speaking and not just flippantly throwing around challenges and rebukes. If you’re unsure of what His word is at the moment, I would say the same thing to you as I often instructed my children when they were faced with an unnamed fear, just worship God from your heart. There’s no better way to do battle than to put your focus on the beauty of God and declare that. Sometimes direct confrontation with the enemy is not needed but instead, direct interaction and worship of our Heavenly Father.
Jesus said he didn’t say anything or do anything that he didn’t hear his Father say or see him do (over and over, you’ll find this thought throughout the book of John). This implies also his rebukes of the devil. And if that’s how he did it, surely that is how we are to do it also.
We’re talking in this recent series of blogs about our faith in practice. The importance of faith, is a topic Jesus dealt with often when it came to his disciples. I feel like the disciples get a bad rap whenever it’s said that Jesus was fed up with them for their lack of faith, when they couldn’t cast a demon out of a boy. Jesus was irritated and asked something to the effect of “How long must I put up with this perverse and unbelieving generation?” I see it differently from how I’ve heard it talked about. You’ll find the actual account of this in Mark 9:17-29, also Matthew 17:14-20 and Luke 9:37-43. But here’s my paraphrase of the events that transpired.
Jesus had taken a trip to the mountains with a few of his disciples, leaving the rest at home. While he was gone, a man approached those left behind who were not out camping. He was looking for Jesus.
His son was demon possessed and he hoped Jesus could help him and cast the demon out. I imagine he was feeling pretty discouraged to find that Jesus wasn’t there. The remaining disciples were and so he asked them if they could do it.
So away they went, trying to remove this thing and nothing was happening. Also on scene were religious leaders who were always around, watching Jesus and his band of men. They saw what was going on and were heckling and shouting at the disciples and basically just causing trouble.
It was at this time that the mountain group were getting back to town and approaching home, saw the commotion happening. Jesus confronted the scribes as to what they were arguing about with his disciples and learning what had taken place, made his comment regarding “putting up with this perverse generation”. After talking with the dad, he proceeded to cast out the demon.
Later that evening when all the commotion had settled down, the disciples approached Jesus and asked him, why they weren’t able to cast the demon out. It was a very significant question I believe, which tells us much of what is going on in the disciple’s hearts. The answer is important as well. Jesus replied, “It’s because of your little faith.”
Think about the state of these disciples and where they were in the progression of their world view. Chapters earlier, they are in a boat about to be sunk by an aggressive storm. Jesus stands up and rebukes the wind and the waves. The storm ceases and all goes calm. These men are terrified and asking among themselves, “What manner of man is this that even the wind and waves obey him?”
They have no grid that any man, let alone themselves, can operate and function alongside the Kingdom of God in any shape or manner. These men see themselves as sinners, Peter, in the beginning, even telling Jesus to leave him, because he was a sinful man. He felt very uncomfortable in the presence of such holiness.
Then they get sent on outreach. Jesus divides them into groups of two and sends them ahead of his arrival, to multiple villages throughout that region. They are instructed to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. When they are finally all together again, they are besides themselves with excitement, because of all the miracles they’ve performed.
Now they find themselves confronting this demon possessed boy and what’s their first response when being asked to cast it out, “Bring him to us!” Do you see the incredible change and transformation which has happened in how they think, in how they see themselves and the world? Their response to that dad, along with their question to Jesus, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”, shows us they actually think they can do this. Is Jesus angry with them? I don’t think so.
Sure they failed to cast out the demon, but they are not the “perverse generation” Jesus is frustrated with. The disciples were actually miles ahead of their generation, in understanding their place in relationship to the Kingdom of God. I think He’s referring to the religious leaders who were there causing trouble. They were the spiritual leaders of Israel and had no clue about true heavenly matters. In addition, I suspect they actually knew more about who Jesus really was, but were not being honest with the people about him, for political reasons. I used to wonder why I was seeing in the Gospels, the religious leaders always hanging out and following Jesus wherever he went. Now I understand why. But that’s another blog post I’ll do in the future.
There are definitely some parallels going on in the hearts of the disciples that I relate to. I, much like them, have experienced a transformation of self identity and world view. I know more about who I am in Christ and I know I too can do these things. I know how capable God is, in love and in power. But like the disciples, I sometimes find myself in a place where what I think is faith, may really be just belief. Belief plays an incredibly important role in our functioning of faith, but belief is not faith.
Hebrews says faith is the substance of and being sure of what is yet unseen. But, it’s definition doesn’t stop there, it’s expanded upon by Paul when he says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” This answers the all important question of where faith comes from. It starts with knowledge from the realm of the spirit, which is God’s word to us. This is one of the most important things we must understand since the entire foundation of our encounter with God, past, present and future, is by faith and stands upon him speaking to us and us hearing.
When we hear his word to us, then we can believe his word and begin to call out and decree it as what is, even though we may not yet see the actual, tangible manifestation of it. Together, I believe these things forms the substance of faith. And until we see it come to pass, we continue to believe and as James puts it, to do works that are appropriate of our faith. Jesus told his disciples, they couldn’t cast the demon out because they lacked it.
What they lacked was a direct word from God, which is the foundation of faith, concerning that boy’s specific situation. They were operating solely on belief. They believed they could make a difference in this world and help this boy and his dad encounter heaven. Excellent belief! Nothing wrong there so far. But the problem was, they were relying on past experience rather than a fresh word from the Father.
They had already lived this earlier, casting out demons, healing the sick and raising the dead. But all of that was in direct obedience to the word of God, through Christ, sending them out with specific instructions to function in those capacities. For that outreach, they had direction from God. Go do these specific things.
But here, now confronted with this boy who has a demon, they can only lean into their past accomplishments, taken directly from that outreach. They correctly believed God could use them, but they lacked God’s specific word for the current situation and therefore did not have the necessary ingredients for faith needed in that moment. “You lack faith” is what Jesus said. But they were definitely not short on belief. The issue was, they were not seeing through revelation from the Father.
Did the disciples not even have a mustard seed size of faith? Jesus said with even that little, they could move mountains. If we go back to some of the parables Jesus told, we find that seed is referred to as God’s word being sown in the earth.
So if we equate seed as synonymous with God’s word, we see that even if we have the smallest of words from God, it’s enough to move mountains. But they didn’t even have that. The important thing here is not how much of the word we have, just that we have at least a mustard seed size. It doesn’t take much. With even so little, we have the all important foundation for faith with which to then mix our belief and action and accomplish beyond what we think we can.
My self identity and world view has been incredibly restructured through my continual and ongoing relationship with Christ. I’m constantly learning how to hear God’s voice better and cumulatively seeing and hearing more of what my Father in heaven is doing. This takes time and practice and plenty of mistakes. But doing is how we learn.
Jesus only did what he saw and heard from the Father. This is how sons operate. This approach is what made his judgments true and effective in the legislation of spiritual laws to govern sickness, sin and demonic oppression. It’s the grid to which my eyes have been opened and what now guides me in my pursuit to walk in the same manner.
Jesus knew at the time, he was about to leave earth and the Holy Spirit to then come to all believers and lead them into truth and revelation of the Father’s word. Those disciples, just like me, when finally learning how to work with the Spirit, went on to engage the Kingdom of God and bring it down into the earth in ever increasing effectiveness.
Jesus wasn’t mad at them. I believe he was pleased in their transformation up to this point. He understood, they weren’t there yet. But the Holy Spirit was coming and the time was getting near when they would walk in true faith, as sons who could hear and see the Father, just as he could.