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Search for Spiritual Healing

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

 

James R. Davis 

 

The world is a hurting world. We hurt emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. We really do not understand the full extent of our wounds. We arenít stupid, but we do lack objectivity. Only God can give us the kind of objectivity we need to evaluate and correct our lives.

 

The world is in a messócall it whatever you want. The problem is not out there. It is inside us. The world is bad because we are bad. It seems as though we are determined to do what is wrong. Deliberately. Repeatedly. Defiantly.

 

The world seeks to hide this by saying, ďIím okay, and youíre okay.Ē Itís a philosophy seeking to blind us to who we are.  It is dishonest. It robs us of inner peace. We know it is a dishonest philosophy. Just watch the evening news, as the world impresses upon us we are not all we were meant to be. In spite of all our technological achievements, the fact of manís inhumanity to man always grabs the front-page headlines. The details change, the faces come and go, but the story is always the same. Something evil lurks inside the heart of every person. No one is immune, no one is exempt, and no one is truly innocent.

 

The Source of the Conflict

 

How we desperately long for peace. It is a passionate pursuit. We long for world peace, but we crave inner peace. The beauty of inner peace is that it isnít dependent upon world peace. Inner peace is found as we bring body, soul and spirit into harmony through Jesus Christ.

 

God created the first personís body from the dust of the earth. He gave that body a soul and a spirit as he gave Adam the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). He united spirit with matter and Adam became a living soul. There are angelic beings that have a purely spiritual existence apart from a body. There are animals that have only a fleshly existence. Humans are unique n that we have spirit, soul and body. 

 

We have opposing natures; we are spirit and matter; we have a heavenly quality and an earthly nature. We were given a twofold nature in creation. Spiritually, we are made in the image of God with eternity placed in our hearts. Physically, we have an earthly body. This twofold nature has been in conflict since Eden. The body desires to direct our souls to fulfill our fleshly appetites, which ultimately brings death. The spirit wishes to direct our souls to embrace the eternal God.

 

The struggle of humanity began when the body sought to listen to the voice of the world as the world spoke to Eve solely through the physical senses. When the soul listens solely to the body speaking to it through the physical senses disharmony of spirit, soul and body result. The fall in Eden destroyed the harmony of our physical, emotional and spiritual existence.

 

Spiritual healing is about regaining the harmony of spirit, soul and body. The apostle Paul speaks of Godís sanctifying work concerning the spirit, soul and body.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

 

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. NIV

 

Only God can bring the peace comes through the spiritual healing of the spirit soul and body. Spiritual healing is discovered through allowing God to enter every circumstance as we prayerfully seek to allow him to guide us to hold on to that which is good.

 

It was sad to hear of the passing of Peter Jennings. It was revealed that he never graduated from high school, which he always regretted. Barbara Walters said that she believed that was one of Peterís greatest insecurities as a reporter. She indicated that he was driven to excel because of what he believed he lacked. His insecurities played a massive part in shaping his career.

 

Sadly, when we allow our insecurities to drive us, we end up allowing our insecurities to shape our lives rather than the God who created us.  Peter, the disciple of Jesus, did this when he stepped out of the boat to walk on water. The disciples saw Jesus walking on water. Peter impulsively requested to come to Jesus on the water. Jesus said come on. Peter jumped out of the boat, but that is when his insecurities took control.

 

Suddenly he looked around. What am I doing? Look how stormy it is, and how deep the water! Panic! Then Peter began to sink into the circumstances.

 

Why? Had Jesus changed his mind, or run out of power, or lost interest in Peter?

 

No way! Peterís conflict began by simply shifting his focus from Jesus to his physical circumstances. He allows his fleshly fears to override Jesusí call. To solve the conflict he simply said, ďLord save me!Ē

 

Peterís insecurities took control of him in his circumstances convincing him his problems were bigger than Jesus could handle. Decisions made by faith often leave us doubting Godís guidance in the midst of trying circumstances? Faith quickly turns to fear as the fleshly part of us begins to ask doubting questions. Have you wondered if God really led you into this marriage, or this occupation, or this financial situation, or this friendship, or this location?

 

We begin to question God when things are not going well. We begin to question, ďWill God see me through? Iíve made mistakesówill he still help me? Will God finish what he started?Ē This is the insecurity of the fleshly body seeking to control its destiny. It argues with our best instincts, and sadly, too often it wins. It quenches the Spiritís leading. It is nothing new.

 

David the psalmist experienced circumstances when he thought God ran out on him.

 

Psalms 42:9-10

I say to God my Rock,

"Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,

oppressed by the enemy?"

10 My bones suffer mortal agony

as my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

"Where is your God?" NIV

 

The beauty of this was that David was seeking God in his experiences whether good or bad. He wasnít one to allow his emotional insecurities to drive him away from God. He brought his emotions to the forefront of his relationship with God.

 

Psalms 55:4-7

4 My heart is in anguish within me;

the terrors of death assail me.

5 Fear and trembling have beset me;

horror has overwhelmed me.

6 I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest ó 

7 I would flee far away

and stay in the desert; NIV

 

Rather than allowing his feelings of rejection to shape his life he communicated his distress to God.

 

Psalms 44:23-24

23 Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?

Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

24 Why do you hide your face

and forget our misery and oppression? NIV

 

Psalms 13:1-2

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me? NIV

 

David understood peace and healing were found in God.

 

Psalms 103:1-5

Praise the LORD, O my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits ó 

3 who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. NIV

 

Too often it is quite the opposite with us. Our faith runs out before we experience Godís graciousness. Our doubts turn to unbelief; our unbelief turns to bitterness. What starts as a faith venture becomes instead a detriment to our growth as we begin questioning God.

 

We Must Understand Godís Acceptance

 

Security doesnít come from seeking to hide who we are, or what we have done. My security doesnít come from fooling myself into believing that I am okay. Security comes from Godís estimate of me just as I am. To find spiritual healing we must know Godís willingness to accept us as we are. David cries out as he searches for spiritual healing ďFind rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from himĒ (Psalms 62:5).

 

Our greatest insecurities revolve around seeking acceptance. We know the importance of being accepted. The alternative to acceptance is condemnation, which we canít live under. The world convinces us that we are unacceptable. You are not smart enough, wise enough, rich enough, good-looking enough, strong enough, good enough, etc. We learn these lessons early in life through childhood peer groups. Most of the money spent in our country is aimed at keeping up our status for acceptance. I wish we had that money to invest in the spreading of the kingdom of God.

 

To discover healing we must understand that God accepts us just the way we are in every circumstance we find ourselves. How often do we see people who have placed themselves in dire circumstances and we refuse to help? We refuse to help because they did it to themselves. They are getting what they deserve. Of course, it is usually not a question of helping them, but about them allowing you to give them the kind of help they need. God is willing to accept every person in every circumstance. Of course, he is not here to enable you to live without changing your direction.

 

The Bible directs us to pray in all circumstances because God is in every circumstance we find ourselves. It makes little difference whether we have created the circumstances for ourselves or suffering because of the evil of others. The help God gives us enabling power to rise above circumstances.

 

Our misconceptions of ourselves play a major role in shaping us. These misconceptions are not always articulated, but they are real. Let me articulate some of them for you.

 

 

  • God doesnít really care about me.

  • I am an unlovable, worthless person. Nobody will ever love me.

  • Iíll never be able to change.

  • Iíve been a failure all my life. I guess Iíll always be a failure.

  • If people really knew me, they wouldnít like me.

 

Sin leads to self-hatred--self-hatred begins when we are convinced we have gone too far. We begin to believe we have outstretched the limit of God's forgiveness? This is when we begin to punish ourselves for our own wrongdoing. We begin to develop an unarticulated philosophy about ourselves, but it is ingrained in our souls.

 

We come to these conclusions because this is the message of the world. We project the condemnation of our world upon God as we turn him into someone who wishes to enter our lives condemningly. God condemns what sin has done to you. It has made you think less of yourself than you should; it has made you think you can never be acceptable to him. 

 

If there were the remotest possibly of outstretching the limit of Godís forgiveness, what would life be worth? The fear of outstretching the limit would fill us with misery and self-hatred.

 

Godís acceptance is not based upon what we have done. It is based upon who we areówe were created as his earthly children. We bear his spiritual imageóthis is our true self-image. Yet, it goes beyond who we areóit is about who God is. He is a God who wishes to salvage you from the philosophy of this world.

 

We find the peace of acceptance when we begin knowing that God accepts usóthat he loves us in spite of us. This is where our security and self-worth and well-being and spiritual healing must originate. God has given us his word so that we can see ourselves.

 

Living a Sanctified Life

 

The world seeks to teach us how to live a dignified lifeóGod seeks a sanctified life for us. There is a vast difference in a dignified life and a sanctified life. One is about building our self-worth on our ability to please others; the other is about discovering our self-worth upon the sanctity of God. You donít have to be dignified in the eyes of the world before you experience the sanctity of God. Listen to Paulís condemnation of sin, and in the same pen stroke his acceptance of those condemned.

 

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. NIV

 

God is here to sanctify you through and through. He doesnít want you to clean up your life and then invite him in. Christ died to sanctify you. He wants you to invite him in to clean up the mess.

 

Dignity is a cover upósanctity is about taking an honest look inward with the help of God. Do you know why we are afraid to take the inward journey? We donít take that inward journey because of what we are afraid we will find. Our fear of discovering awful things about ourselves drive us to take the journey without God. Taking the journey without God will definitely leave you feeling insecure.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

 

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit , soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. NIV

 

To give thanks to God in every circumstance means he is present in every circumstance. To experience Godís presence doesnít mean that all of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors will be pleasant and pure. It does mean that we can accept the reality of our circumstances honestly before God.

 

Spiritual healing cannot be realized by avoiding lifeís problems. An accurate understanding of Godís truth is the first step toward realizing spiritual healing. God is the only one who can correct our distorted misconceptions. Paul warns us saying, ďDo not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evilĒ (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). He is simply saying follow the leading of Godís Holy Spirit as you study the Bible. Test everything you do in light of the way God is seeking to lead you. Avoid every evil. This is sanctification.

 

Dr. Phil is putting a new and wholesome spin on personal counseling. He says, ďI canít help you until you tell me the truth.Ē He is encouraging people to take an honest look at themselves. It would do little good to tell him the truth if he wasnít willing to tell you the truth about your condition. In fact, this is why we are dishonest with ourselves. We know our need to hear the truth, but we donít want to listen to the truth

 

God desires to sanctify your lifeóthis means that he wants to clean you up on the inside. But you must remember to invite God to take the journey with you; he is not going to find out anything about you that he doesnít already know. Sometimes when I counsel someone I find out things I didnít know, and sometimes I wish I didnít know those things. Sometimes people reveal things they wish they hadnít revealed. With God you donít have to worry about all of this. He already knows everything about you. Nothing is hid from his sight.

 

God doesnít enter into our lives to inflate our ego so that we will feel better about ourselves. A positive mental attitude is about accepting our circumstances rather than rising above them.

 

Religion often points us to extremes. Too often religion pushes us toward seeking justification without sanctification. We want to be justified but fail to allow God to clean up our lives. This gives the body control of our soulís direction, there will be no peace found for this person. The other extreme is that we are pushed to clean up our lives without the help of God. We strive to clean up our lives and then let God in. It is impossible. Either extreme is futile.

 

There is another extreme to which we go as we seek to face ourselves. We begin to think we should hate ourselves in order to be good disciplesí of Christ. We think we need to develop healthy negative attitude toward ourselves. Many think this is humility. After all, isnít this what Jesus taught.

 

Luke 14:26-27

26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters ó yes, even his own life ó he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. NIV

 

The reason we cannot accept ourselves as God accepts us is simply because we are looking for love in all the wrong places. We seek someone to love us, we seek the praises of others, we strive for success hoping our sweat and sacrifice will cause others to appreciate us. We seek to live dignified lives.

 

We can seek to build our self-worth on our ability to please others, or on the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

 

Salvation is about accepting Godís forgiveness just as you are with the attitude that you are going to allow God to enter your life to clean up the mess. In doing so, you will discover strength and humility. You will discover sorrow over sin and joy over forgiveness. Most of all, you will discover a deep sense of the reality of Godís grace.

 

The conclusion is that God desires to heal you. 

 

Obedience to God's commands brought forgiveness to Noah the drunk, Abraham the liar, David the adulterer and murder, Peter the betrayer, to the Corinthians for their debauchery and dissipation and to the thief in his dying moment on the cross. 

 

God's promises are immutable, or should we say irrevocable! (Hebrews 6:17; Romans 11:29). "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.) A belief that accepts what God says and does what He asks will save anyone. 

 

Remember that you are a part of that world! Remember God's forgiveness is unlimited! 

 

God is not here to condemn us but to restore his order to our lives. He is here to establish his kingdom rule in our hearts.

 

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.      How deep is your need to discover spiritual healing?

2.      How would you define spiritual healing?

3.      What are some ways in which the world seeks to give us peace?

4.      How do our insecurities seek to control the direction of our lives

5.      What happened to Peter when he stepped out of the boat to walk on water?

6.      What happens when we begin to question Godís willingness to be present in our circumstances?

7.      Discuss how and why David questioned Godís presence in his circumstances? Did he allow his insecurities to direct his life? How did he communicate his concerns to God?

8.      What is the alternative to acceptance?

9.      How do we discover the peace of Godís acceptance? What is Godís acceptance based upon?

10.  How does sin lead to self-hatred? Where does self-hatred begin?

11.  How do our misconceptions about ourselves shape tend to shape our lives?

12.  What is the difference in a dignified life and a sanctified life?

13.  What are the extremes to which religion often pushes us to find peace?

14.  What is salvation about?

 

 

 

 

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