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“Why Are You Staring at That Book?”

January 22nd, 2013

“I’m Right HERE!”

The other day a kid I know went on Facebook and complained that five pastors had pushed him down in order to make it look like he had been “slain in the Spirit.”

If you’re not a charismatic, you may not know what I’m talking about. Sometimes when people get into the presence of the Holy Spirit, it makes them a little dizzy. Some claim the Spirit makes them unable to stand. They collapse and lie on the floor for a while. I don’t know whether this is real or not. The dizziness part, I can attest to. But I’ve never fallen down. I had a highly dubious preacher give me a dose of this, and all I felt was a sweaty palm.

If you go on Youtube, I’m sure you can find videos of people essentially whacking people in the forehead. Generally, two helpers will stand behind the person, and he or she will be caught and lowered to the floor. Sometimes the preachers push very hard.

Maybe some people lose the ability to stand when God touches them. But there is no doubt that there are bogus “slayings.” Christians let their guard down, trying to let God in, and sometimes other things that aren’t as clean come through the door.

Here’s an appropriate video.

The young man who made the Facebook post is a friend of mine. He used to help me make pizza every Sunday at church. He’s a good kid. He’s sincere. His mom died a while back, and he has been very unhappy. And he’s stuck in a church that takes advantage of people and offers them nothing. I pray about him from time to time. I wish he’d come by my church. It’s not perfect, but it’s very good. It would undo a lot of the damage the prosperity pimps have done.

I told him this: when preachers lose touch with God, they start faking miracles.

Perry Stone often talks about a Tennessee preacher who got caught doing this. He had a man in a golf cart driving around the parking lot in a venue where he preached. The man had a computer, and he used resources available to repossession firms. He was able to take car license plates and get the owners’ names and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. Then he communicated the information to the preacher via radio, and the preacher announced it from the stage, pretending it came from God.

Now it looks like my friend’s church is doing the same thing, in a somewhat less egregious way.

It’s not a surprise. That church is a mess. God has not blessed it. The mortgage is huge, and the offerings are not. Strong Christians keep fleeing the place. They’ll teach just about anything in order to get people to give money. They do their best to enrich themselves using carnal tools, so why should God step in and help?

My friend is totally disgusted. Good for him! He has decided to look for the truth in the Bible and in his own experiences, instead of listening to carnival barkers behind pulpits.

I got very angry when I read about his experience. That church has nothing to do with the kingdom of heaven. It’s a family business. A place where a family of owner-operators go to make money and to be promoted. I wrote a few things that were highly critical of prosperity preachers. I had doubts about posting them, but I asked God what I should do, and I felt a powerful response, telling me to go ahead. I thought I was going too far, but it seemed that the Holy Spirit was telling me I wasn’t doing nearly enough.

A young lady who is a very serious Christian expressed concern. She worried that I might be becoming bitter, or that I was out of line. People come to me with these concerns, as though I had never thought about them. Of course, I do think about them. I don’t want God chastising me because I’ve been too hard on other people. I pray before I say critical things, and if the Holy Spirit tells me to hold back, I do it. If he tells me to go ahead, I do that. I have learned to recognize his voice. I’m not out there on a limb, doing what my flesh tells me to do.

This brings me to my subject. Christians still don’t understand what it means to be out from under the law. Jesus set us free, yet we have turned his own words into law. The irony is horrific.

Before Jesus, people were under laws. What are laws? They’re writings. Like books. What is their fundamental purpose? To replace living, thinking beings.

Imagine someone is looking to you for guidance. If you can’t be with him, and you can’t communicate with him in real time, what do you do? You record information for him to rely on. Some of that information will be in the form of rules. For example, if someone works for you as a house sitter, you might write things like, “Don’t leave the porch light on.”

What happens when the rules aren’t appropriate to a situation? They cause more problems than they solve. What if you tell the house sitter to leave a key under the mat, but then you learn that your sister the psychopath kleptomaniac is coming to town, and she knows about the mat? Suddenly, the rule is your enemy. If you let it trap you, you’re in trouble.

What if you’re in the house with the house sitter? Things are much better. When he has a problem, he can come to you and ask your advice. You can tailor your words to suit the situation.

THAT is the difference between the law and the Holy Spirit. When you learn to hear the Holy Spirit, God is with you. The things he tells you in real time supersede the law. The Holy Spirit told David to serve the temple showbread to his men, which was against the law. The Holy Spirit told Jesus to heal people on the sabbath. It told him his disciples were allowed to harvest grain on the sabbath. When the rulemaker is present, you don’t need the rules.

Jesus told us “Judge not.” Is that a law? How can it be, if it came from the man who set us free from the law? Remember, the Bible says this: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.” Is that a contradiction? No! It’s God, telling us the written law doesn’t work. He’s telling us we need to know him personally, so he can be our law.

This is why the Bible tells us, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” In the Bible, “son” doesn’t always mean what it means in the secular world. It means one who emulates and obeys another as though he were a father. If you emulate the devil, it doesn’t mean he had intercourse with your mother. It means you behave as though you were his devoted son. If you’re a son of God, you are like God in your heart, and you are guided by him.

Satan loves the law. It’s so useful to him. He can use it to tie us up and render us helpless.

Imagine you go to a church where the pastor is a low-down, worthless crook. Let’s say he sleeps with several women in the church, teaches that there is no such thing as sin, and steals as much money as he can. What do you do? Other Christians will tell you that you have to submit. “Judge not!” In this way, Satan uses them to hold you down while he rapes the church. He uses good rules to achieve bad ends, and he makes you his accomplice.

What if you’re above the law? What if the Holy Spirit communicates with you, clearly and quickly? Then you may be allowed or even required to speak up. If someone tells you not to judge, they’re out of line, because you have complete authority. You’re breaking written rules and traditions, but you’re obeying the living God. No one can touch you.

This is why we have to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. We have to pray in tongues and get to know God as part of us. This is what “born again” means. The Holy Spirit is like semen, if you will pardon the expresson. Like the DNA a man contributes during sex, the Holy Spirit shapes a new being so it becomes like its father. People think “born again” means you raised your hand and accepted salvation, or that you repented of sin. Those things are just part of the process.

God is not breeding pets he can enjoy. He is reproducing. Jesus came into the earth to make us sons and daughters of God. He calls us “heirs.” An heir does not exist until someone dies (look it up), and heirs are almost always descendants. I’m not saying each of us will get a universe and sit on a throne as God, but we will be like our father. The Holy Spirit will shape us and build us.

Satan can’t misuse the Holy Spirit the way he misuses the law. He can mask him. He can get people to do stupid things and claim the Holy Spirit is in them. But he can’t get a Spirit-led person to defeat himself by obeying the Spirit. If the Spirit truly tells you to do it, he is right, and what you do is approved. If you’re not baptized with the Spirit, and you’re not praying in the Spirit daily, you won’t be able to tell his voice from Satan’s. But if you’re on your game, you’ll be on a path that will always be straight. You’ll be on the highway in the desert, mentioned in Isaiah 35. Even if you’re a fool, as we all are in our own right, you will not err.

I’ve judged people’s actions at God’s request. People tell me this is wrong, and they cite the word of Jesus as though it were law. They miss the point. When I do what God tells me, I have authority. He will not always tell us to do the same thing, in similar situations. Today I may be required to be quiet. Tomorrow, I may be required to stand up and point out error. If you’re not in touch with the Spirit, you can’t judge my actions.

The ancient Jews didn’t understand this. When Jesus told them things that conflicted with tradition, or with their understanding of the law, they asked him where he got his authority. He refused to tell them, because they would not have understood. His authority came from the Holy Spirit, with whom he had been baptized by John. Modern Christians still don’t get it. They say we’re not under the law, but in reality, they think we’re under new laws. That’s not true. People who know the Spirit are children of God, and they are not under the law. People who accept salvation but not the Spirit? Still under the law, in their daily affairs.

If you understand these things, the book of Galatians makes sense.

Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

He says, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” Clearly, Paul had the same concern I do. Jesus bought us a hotline to the throne room, yet we prefer to live under laws we can memorize, while keeping God at a safe distance.

The law is a lot better than nothing, but the Spirit is a lot better than the law.

People need to quit worrying about me. I’m not bitter. I don’t sit around plotting death and destruction for people who have mistreated me. I do get angry, temporarily, when I see people doing rotten things. But that is a fleeting thing, and most of my life is very peaceful. I have absolutely no desire to punish anyone. I do speak up about bad things people do, but that’s not punishment.

Consider what happened to the man in the martial arts video. He faked power. He convinced others that he had it. Then he met a real adversary, and he was beaten and injured, with great ease. He was humiliated. That’s what happens to Christians who fake God’s help. We may be full of it, but our enemies are not. When they come against you, you better have something stronger than a phony anointing.

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