In our society, beliefs about the spiritual realm tend to take one of two directions.
One view has become wildly popular in the US in recent decades, as Eastern mysticism has fed New Age thought. It may not be the approved stance in your church, but it’s rampant in our culture and, knowingly or not, many Christians have adopted it.
According to this view: The spirit realm is alluring and often deliciously frightening. Exploring every nook and cranny brings thrills and chills – and maybe also secret knowledge and power – much of which is beautiful and none of which causes any real harm. What’s more, people can happily embrace whatever they find there that satisfies their view of god.
Wayne Muller, a Christian pastor, espouses this view in his book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives.
Paradoxically, Muller says many things that are true. He gives helpful insights into our need for rest, exposes the reasons we fight against rest and offers creative ways to practice it. As he rightly indicates, anyone who makes time to stop and be still, regardless their religious persuasion, can experience the benefits rest gives us, body and soul.
But Muller does not make clear that it matters very much which spirit you seek when practicing Sabbath. In fact, Muller says just the opposite.
He writes of his steadfast belief in “a persistent luminosity of spirit, an unquenchable resilience” within people. He adds, “Through my seminary training and meditation practice I would learn that the spiritual traditions of the world dearly love this inner resilience, and call it by many names: inner light, still, small voice, Buddha Nature, Kingdom of God, Holy Spirit” (p. 41).
Thus seeking to be inclusive, Muller ventures where the truth will not let us go. The Kingdom of God does not equal the Buddha Nature. Further, the Holy Spirit, the human spirit and evil spirits are dramatically different from each other – not different ways to describe the same thing.
The Holy Spirit is God. He, the Son and the Father are one. God the Spirit is beautiful, comforting and fierce. He’s past finding out, yet he reveals mysteries. He’s filled with explosive power, yet he alone gives the rest that refreshes completely – spirit, soul and body.
Your human spirit is your truest essence as a person created in the image of God. You owe your being to the Spirit of God. You were made to relate to him:
- “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
- “The Lord … forms the human spirit within a person” (Zech. 12:1).
- “God’s ways are as mysterious as … the manner in which a human spirit is infused into the little body of a baby while it is yet in its mother’s womb” (Eccl. 11:5 TLB).
- “The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being” (Prov. 20:27).
Certainly, God has endowed the human spirit with great inner resilience, but your spirit is not God. In your inmost being, you can seek and receive rest; but the Spirit of Christ, not your human spirit, gives the rest you seek.
All other spirits – all other beings that exist in the spirit realm – are not neutral, and they’re not God. Some are angels, who worship and serve the Lord. They adamantly refuse to be worshiped themselves. When the apostle John prostrated himself before one of these beings, the angel cried, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!” (Rev. 19:10).
The remaining spirits are demons, evil spirits who lust for worship and will take it any way they can get it.
None of these beings, not even the angels who serve God, can give you rest. The spirits who do not serve God, but who rather proclaim themselves to be gods, will go to any lengths to deceive and destroy you. They promise rest – and then give torment. They promise to lift your burden – and then crush you with heavy loads.
When you encounter the view that any spirit you welcome can give you rest, remember: That’s backwards. You’re headed toward enslavement, not peace, when you pursue the occult or any false religion. Ah, but you’re also barreling toward bondage when you try to serve Christ with a divided heart. Either way, you open yourself to deception and oppression by evil spirits and the brutal sabotaging of rest.
Adapted from Return to Your Rest: A Spirit-to-spirit Journey, by Deborah P. Brunt. E-book to be released in early 2014. © 2013 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.
Posts from A Spirit-to-spirit Journey Series:
#2 – East meets West
#4 – Spirit meets spirit