In recent decades, many in US culture have embraced a New Age view of the spirit realm, as explored in the post, “East meets West.”
Centuries ago, when Greek thinking met the Enlightenment, another view gained popularity. Today, it’s still the predominant stance in the US church. According to this view: The spirit realm is superstition. Exploring it is foolish and dangerous. And rational people will leave the subject alone.
Thus, across our church culture, people try to grow spiritually, while:
- sidestepping any real relationship with the Holy Spirit,
- denying the existence and workings of evil spirits, and
- ignoring and pushing down the human spirit.
We see the devil and his demons at work in Scripture but cannot see them doing the same things today. Often, we explain away evil spirits using psychological terms, as if there cannot be both soul and spirit components to people’s inner woes.
At the same time, we do everything we can to control the Holy Spirit, rather than to be filled with and controlled by him. We do everything we can to “figure out” God’s will, without having to know the Spirit’s voice. Deep within, we fear that opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit will open us to evil spirits – the same evil spirits that we tell ourselves do not exist and cannot bother Christians.
We feel justified in avoiding the Holy Spirit when we see people who identify themselves as “Spirit-filled” being moved by spirits we’re just sure are not God.
And so, we quench the Spirit. That is, we who might call ourselves evangelical reject what God is saying and doing because his ways don’t fit into our box.
And we grieve the Spirit. That is, we who might call ourselves Spirit-filled demonstrate something quite different, because we too are trying to control the Spirit, rather than to be controlled by him.
Know this: When deception and oppression happen in charismatic ranks, it’s not because people are opening themselves to God the Spirit, but because they’re seeking him with an impure heart. Some try to manipulate the Spirit in order to gain special revelation, significance or power. Some seek the Spirit like an addict seeks drugs, to experience a spiritual “high” or to numb inner realities they don’t want to face.
The Holy Spirit refuses to relate to us in such ways, but other spirits who want our worship come running.
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 in A Spirit-to-spirit Journey Series:
#2 – East meets West
#3 – Greek meets Enlightenment
#4 – Spirit meets spirit