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Perception - In and By the Spirit

(Mark 2:8 NKJV) But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?

(Acts 17:16 NKJV) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.

The spirit is the place of intuition, dreams, visions and revelation and of the deepest intimacy and the most direct kind of knowledge. It is the deepest part of our humanity and it is the place where we "know that we know..". The primary functions of the spirit are wisdom and perception and knowledge.

The Bible often talks about our spiritual eyes and ears and of people's ability or inability to perceive spiritual things. The spiritual man of 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 is the person who is most at home perceiving things spiritually and accurately. In a few places the NT makes the seemingly strange assertion that it would be a good idea if all Christians were prophets. What it most probably means is that all Christians are to become people of accurate spiritual perception and have a deep intuition of spiritual reality.

[This includes sensing what is God's will in the immediate situation like the New Testament prophet Agabus did (Acts 11:28, 21:11,12). The considerable difference between OT prophets and NT prophets is well brought out by the systematic theologian Wayne Grudem in his book "The Gift Of Prophecy". Again I will just refer the interested reader to this work and move on.]

What is clear is that Christians are to move from a place of very obscure spiritual perception prior to conversion to a place of abundant and accurate spiritual perception.

Prior to conversion – darkness:

(1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

(2 Corinthians 3:13-16 NKJV) unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. {14} But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. {15} But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. {16} Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

(2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV) But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, {4} whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

(Ephesians 4:18 NKJV) having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;

After conversion - universal and abundant spiritual revelation:

(Hebrews 8:10-12 NKJV) "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {11} "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. {12} "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

(1 John 2:20 NKJV) But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

(1 John 2:27 NKJV) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

(Acts 2:16-18 NKJV) "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: {17} 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. {18} And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

(1 Corinthians 14:31 NKJV) For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.

This is truly a vast transition in our nature. We go from being spiritually blind and without understanding, to being able to sense spiritual realities and both understand and enjoy them. We may even sense them so keenly that we are able to edify the Church. A whole new way of seeing things is opened up. This is variously called "being quickened in spirit", "having the eyes of your heart enlightened." or having one's spiritual eyes and ears “opened” to spiritual reality. This work of the Holy Spirit that is quite independent of human intellect (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1-4 ). Some very intelligent people are spiritually blind while some simple folk grasp the things of the Kingdom. Jesus rejoiced in seeing simple people grasping great spiritual realities by faith alone and being obviously taught by God.

(Matthew 11:25 NKJV) At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.

(Matthew 16:17 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Thus true spiritual perception which gives poise and balance to life and underlies true emotional stability is a gift of God. While spiritual perception is a sovereign work of God it can also be gained through prayer (James 1:5-8) and Paul prays for spiritual insight to be granted to Christians in many of the famous prayers in his epistles.

(Ephesians 1:18 NKJV) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

(Philippians 1:9 NKJV) And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,

(Colossians 1:9 NKJV) For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

(Colossians 2:2 NKJV) that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,

He asks for "all wisdom and spiritual understanding" for the Colossians and goes on His knees for it. The first place the biblical exegete must start is on his or her knees asking the Lord to break open the word of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Commentaries have their place but they are ineffective if the ability to perceive spiritual things is not there to start with.

Spiritual Sensitivity and EQ

Well what has spiritual sensitivity got to do with our emotions and our biblical EQ?:

1. Spiritual sensitivity opens our eyes to God’s love and thus allows us to be solidly grounded as persons..

(Ephesians 3:16-19 NKJV) that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, {17} that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, {18} may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; {19} to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

To be so able to perceive the love of Christ that we are rooted and grounded in love and even filled up to all the fullness of God (that stretches the mind, O God make it come true!) must be the ultimate in emotional stability.

2. Spiritual perception gives us the right spiritual passions such as Jesus beholding Jerusalem and seeing it with his spirit ,and reacting with compassion. With right spiritual perception we see the lost, our church and our city and our nation through the eyes of Jesus Christ. We will experience the vast range of spiritual emotions from weeping over the lost to indignation over cruelty and hardness of heart. Whatever our emotion - it will be the Spirit's emotion based on the Spirit's perception of that situation.

3. Spiritual sensitivity allows us to be grounded in faith and in the spiritual realm not on sight and human reason and sentiment alone. (For we walk by faith not by sight.) Moses was able be steadfast in the face of threats from a tyrannical Pharaoh because of his special spiritual perception. Hebrews 11:27 NKJV) By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Just as Moses did not fear the Pharaoh and all the pursuing chariots of Egypt because he could "see Him who is invisible" so spiritual perception allows us to discern situations so that fear and anxiety is removed from them. Under pressure and trials we still see the Presence of an all-loving God. A God who is working all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28).

4. Occasionally people of high spiritual sensitivity will be granted a revelation that turns the whole situation around and has an effect not just on their emotions but the emotions of all involved. For instance Paul's revelation from God during the storm at sea:

(Acts 27:19-26 NKJV) On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands. {20} Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up….. {22} "And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. {23} "For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, {24} "saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' {25} "Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. {26} "However, we must run aground on a certain island."…. (Acts 27:33-36 NKJV) And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. {34} "Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you." {35} And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. {36} Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.

The situation in verses 19 & 20 is such utter despair that "all hope that we would be saved was given up". Then in verse 22 an angel appears with a revelation from God to spiritually sensitive Paul. Paul's faith in this revelation caused him to be able to encourage others so they ate, acted appropriately during the crisis and had hope. Thus Paul's openness to the spiritual realm made him able to receive a revelation that had a profound effect on the lives of all aboard.

Errors in Spiritual Perception And Their Effect On A Christian's Emotional Life

I discussing errors in perception am not talking about errors in doctrine - that will be covered in the chapter on beliefs. This chapter is on perception, viewpoints, world-view, perspectives etc. that underlie our beliefs. For instance errors in spiritual perception include blindness - but the resultant beliefs of such blindness are varied. If you are blind to God and His salvation through Christ, then false beliefs of all shapes and sizes, can arise in the darkness within you. Thus the disorder of perception lays the foundation for the disorder in belief. In this section we will deal with what happens when our human spirit goes awry and how this distorts our whole perspective on life.

Inability To Perceive The Obvious: This is called " a spirit of stupor" and implies that the hearers are dull to the point of senselessness to spiritual thing. Those addressed in the epistle to the Hebrews were called "dull of hearing" and the synagogue Jews were warned by Paul:

(Acts 28:25-28 NKJV) …"The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, {26} "saying, 'Go to this people and say: "Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; {27} For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them."' {28} "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!"

(Romans 11:8 NKJV) Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day."

People in the "spirit of stupor" fail to "get it". They live life with practically no true spiritual awareness though they may be outwardly religious. If they are religious they tend to be stubborn and quite rejecting of anyone who has genuine spiritual experience. Emotionally they are at ground zero with a purely human perspective on life.

Paying Attention To Deceptive Spirits: Just as the Holy Spirit is our Teacher , Satan is our deceiver! Spirits can and do tell lies and Christians who pay attention to them can become unstable both spiritually and emotionally and be drawn away from the faith.

(1 Timothy 4:1-2 NKJV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, {2} speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

(2 Corinthians 11:4 NKJV) For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted; you may well put up with it!

(Matthew 24:4-13 NKJV) And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. {5} "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. …{11} "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. {12} "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. {13} "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

(2 Thessalonians 2:3-13 NKJV) Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, {4} who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. …{9} The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, {10} and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. {11} And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, {12} that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

(Revelation 16:13-14 NKJV) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. {14} For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Spiritual deception involves an opposite kind of error to hardness of heart. Those who are hard of heart miss seeing the good while those who are spiritually deceived miss seeing the evil. The carnal nature of false teachers, their lies, immorality and lust for money is overlooked. The deceived person does not love the truth and does not really seek it. (2 Thessalonians 2:10,11). Rather they pursue signs and wonders and good feelings. The promises of wealth and freedom mean more to them than finding out the truth about God and His Son Jesus Christ. They do not stop and look at the leader’s character , the fruit on the tree, and instead they follow wolves in sheep's clothing. (see Matthew 7, John 10, Acts 20 and 2 Peter). Those who are deceived in turn deceive others becoming increasingly unstable. They are described as "clouds" and "tossed to and fro" even downright bad "with eyes full of adultery.." (see 2 Peter 2:12 and following for some colorful descriptions) The cure for spiritual deception is to know and love God's Word, pursue truth, check basic doctrine and character and to test the spirits as in 1 John 4:1-5.

Spiritual Inflation

This term “spiritual inflation” was coined by Carl Jung but has good biblical antecedents. It describes the overpowering effect of suddenly encountering the spiritual realm on certain individuals who had generally not encountered much of the spiritual realm previously. Lacking a proper grounding in their inner being for spiritual things they become totally carried away with notions of spirituality. They almost seem to blow up like balloon, becoming overly obsessed with "being spiritual", and are often grandiose, clamorous, and frequently pompous. Their utterances, which they esteem as being of great value, are generally of dubious worth. An elegant and brief description is found in Colossians of people who are "puffed up". (In other words "inflated"!). They are wordy but powerless. Saying they know more of Christ, they are actually completely out of touch with Him. completely! They place their faith in "what they know" about spiritual things – which, according to Paul, indicates they actually know nothing at all. For it is not knowledge that justifies but faith working through love. Not infrequently they are also licentious in their morality. The Corinthians also seem to also have had a problem with spiritual inflation and were overly confident in their knowledge of spiritual things.

(Colossians 2:17-19 NKJV) {18} Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, {19} and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

(1 Corinthians 4:17-20 NKJV) {19} But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. {20} For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.

(1 Corinthians 5:1-2 NKJV) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife! {2} And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

(1 Corinthians 8:1-2 NKJV) Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. {2} And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.

Being Spiritually Enslaved To Rules And Regulations: This is known as a spirit of bondage and slavery:

(Romans 8:15 NKJV) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

(Galatians 4:6-11 NKJV) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" {7} Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. {8} But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. {9} But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? {10} You observe days and months and seasons and years. {11} I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

The spirit of bondage is characterized by a desire to observe "days and months and seasons and years" to take on aspects of the Law such as circumcision and to be much concerned with dietary regulations and minor laws such as the Sabbath. (Also see Colossians 2 and 1 Timothy 4 as well as all of Galatians). This produces a sanctimonious rigidity. It also produces fear , "the spirit of bondage again to fear…" and a terror of trespassing in even quite minor matters. This fear can be tremendously destabilizing and in my experience full-blown phobias are not uncommon in children from legalistic backgrounds. It is seen at its worst in victims of mind-control cults where flashbacks occur. In people recovering from spiritual abuse and coming out of the "spirit of bondage" quite biblical levels of freedom may feel sinful at first. They nearly always have bouts of fear over "breaking a rule" no matter how innocent - such as going to a G-rated family movie if all movies were previously "of the devil".

A Spirit That Lacks Courage And Assertiveness: Paul calls this is "spirit of fear" and it is counteracted by stirring up the Spirit within you and praying for boldness as the church did in Acts 4. It seems to be most common when there is real danger and persecution and the temptation is to go easy on preaching the gospel. Emotionally it produces the desire to back out of God's clear calling on one's life and is a perspective of 'safety first".

(2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

(Acts 4:29-31NKJV) "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, {30} "by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." {31} And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Timidity seems to have been Timothy's affliction and he is told at various times to "stir up" the gift that was in him, not to let people despise him, not to be fearful, to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus and so forth. This exhortation seems to have worked because Timothy was there through the last, and according to Hebrews even endured a bout of imprisonment himself.

Other Spiritual Errors

Below are 22 references to the human spirit going "out of true" .In each of them the person's perspective on life is deeply affected by their spiritual affliction. In some cases a spirit of jealousy, in others of ill-will. Others feel that they are poisoned in their spirit and bitterness colors their world. Some references seem to be what we would call "moods" and some would hesitate to attribute them to a spiritual cause. But the ancient Greeks - who invented the term "mood" thought of moods as inspired and as the work of the spiritual realm. They would even call on certain spirits when certain moods were desired (see Theocritus "Idylls"). Moods resemble spirits in that moods tend to come over us unbidden, dominate us for a while then leave suddenly. There is thus some spiritual tie up between the human spirit and moods, and that connection sometimes comes across in these verses. The human spirit is complex and interacts with the person, with God and with the various entities in the whole spiritual realm. [I will again duck and weave around the verses below that mention the Lord sending an evil spirit on someone and just say "Go look up a commentary!". ]The point I want you to get is that our emotions can flow from our human spirit which can go out of balance due to a wide variety of factors (we will see four main ones) and that many of these discordant emotions are grounded in our spiritual perspectives and out of balance perceptions.

1. A Spirit of Jealousy: (Numbers 5:14 NKJV) 'if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself;

2. A Hardened And Obstinate Spirit: (Deuteronomy 2:30 NKJV) "But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day.

3. A Spirit Of Ill-Will: (Judges 9:23 NKJV) God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,

4. A Sorrowful Spirit: (1 Samuel 1:15 NKJV) And Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

5. A Distressing Spirit : (1 Samuel 16:14-16 NKJV) But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him. {15} And Saul's servants said to him, "Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. {16} "Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well."… And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.

6. A Sullen Spirit: (1 Kings 21:5 NKJV) But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?"

7. A Poisoned Spirit : (Job 6:4 NKJV) For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; My spirit drinks in their poison; The terrors of God are arrayed against me.

8. An Anguished Spirit: (Job 7:11 NKJV) "Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

9. A Spirit Turned Against God: (Job 15:13 NKJV) That you turn your spirit against God, And let such words go out of your mouth?

10. A Broken Spirit: (Job 17:1 NKJV) "My spirit is broken, My days are extinguished, The grave is ready for me.

11. A Hasty And Compelling Spirit: (Job 32:18 NKJV) For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me.

12. An Unfaithful Spirit: (Psalms 78:8 NKJV) And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

13. A Spirit That Is Overwhelmed By Troubles:(Psalms 142:3 NKJV) When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk They have secretly set a snare for me.

14. A Failing Spirit: (Psalms 143:7 NKJV) Answer me speedily, O LORD; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.

15. A Haughty Spirit: (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV) Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

16. An Uncontrolled Spirit: (Proverbs 25:28 NKJV) Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

17. A Perverse Spirit: (Isaiah 19:14 NKJV) The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst; And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work, As a drunken man staggers in his vomit.

18. A Spirit Of Deep Sleep: (Isaiah 29:10 NKJV) For the LORD has poured out on you The spirit of deep sleep, And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.

19. An Errant Spirit: (Isaiah 29:24 NKJV) These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine."

20. A Spirit of Heaviness: (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV) To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."

21. A Grieved Spirit: (Isaiah 65:14 NKJV) Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit.

22. A Merely Human Spirit: (Ezekiel 13:3 NKJV) Thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!

This biblical data may be uncomfortable for many from overly rational backgrounds. However the realm of the human spirit needs to be explored if we are to understand the human person. After all our spirit is the deepest part of us. Without getting lost in all the details lets see if we can draw out a handful of general principles:

· The human spirit has a vast emotional range. It is not a cool, analytical, emotionless part of the human person. In fact the spirit generates the deepest and most powerful emotions we know.

· A person's fundamental outlook on life flows from their spirit and when the spirit is affected this affects the actions of the whole person.

· The spirit is vulnerable and can be damaged. Traumatic life circumstances and intense suffering can break the spirit or cause it to be overwhelmed.

· The person has some degree of control over their spirit, and this is a good and desirable thing. A person who lacks control over their spirit has trouble with maintaining proper boundaries. (Proverbs 25:28)

· The human spiritual realm is subject to change. Moods seem to be linked to a temporary state of the human spirit.

· God can cause both positive and negative changes in the human spirit. In Isaiah from a spirit of heaviness is changed into a garment of praise. In the case of King Saul he moves from being anointed with the Holy Spirit to being tormented by a distressing spirit.

The Four Causes Of Problems With The Human Spirit

To mine the biblical data above a bit further I have found the above list of spiritual problems can be put into four fundamental categories based on what causes them. The four main causes of problems with the human spirit are – sin, folly, trauma and spiritual attack. Each of these can affect our most basic perceptions of ourselves, life, others and God and lead to emotional discordance. By understanding these four causes we will be able to frame a wise and appropriate response as we minister the grace of God.

Problems Caused By Sin

Firstly there are those spiritual problems based on sin - such as the "haughty spirit" described above which flows from the sin of pride, and affects our perceptions of others. The others in this category is “a spirit turned against God”, which flows from the sin of rebellion, and affects our perception of God.

All of us sin but this is different. This is much deeper. Here the sin has got right down to the deepest level of the personality and gained a stronghold. In these cases the human spirit itself has been captured or defiled by a particular sin. Pride or rebellion has become deeply ingrained in the person’s nature and now affects their entire outlook on life. When our own inner spirit has become allied with either of these sins the only cure is deep repentance, confession and restoration. God repeatedly engineers painful circumstances in our lives until we realize the great hold such sins can have on us.

A third and special case of this is where the sin is the sin of unbelief concerning Christ in which case repentance and faith leads to conversion. Christian approaches that are repentance based and helpful here include: Jay E. Adams' Nouthetic Counseling, and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Indications Of When Sin Has Deeply Affected The Human Spirit :

Where there is a deep love of, or blindness to, clearly and obviously sinful behavior such as that in the sin lists in Paul's epistles.
Celebration of lawlessness, defiance of rules and authority. Rebellion. ( 1John 3:4)
Glorying in unrighteous scheming. (Prov 24:9)
A deep spiritual obstinacy. Consistently knowing the right thing to do and refusing to do it. (James 4:17)
A faithless and violated conscience. Habitually doing things contrary to one's faith. (Romans 14:23)

Dealing With Sins Of The Spirit:

The course here is fairly well known. Awaken the person to their sin, then ask them to repent from their sin and to confess it to God and to make restoration where practical. Repentance involves a turning around from the wrong behavior or attitude to the right behavior or attitude.

(Isaiah 55:7 NKJV) Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

Wrong ways are to be forsaken and an unrighteous thought life is to be put aside. Sin is not just confessed, it is also left behind. Awakening the person to their sin may be a difficult process and may even require some confrontation by the elders of the church. This should not be done lightly and the proper procedure is outlined in Matthew 18.15-20. The seriousness with which the apostle Paul took church discipline and its severity is almost unknown in the modern church (see 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 12 & 13). Above all pray that the Holy Spirit will help you help the sinner and will provide both the conviction of sin and the grace and power for change.

Problems Caused By Folly

Secondly there are those spiritual problems based on folly in the human spirit. This is an abiding disposition of foolishness rather than just a one-off mistake. People characterized by folly in their human spirit demonstrate a nature lacking in personal insight and basic wisdom. They are unbalanced and unwise and unable to rightly judge themselves or others. A foolish person lacks wisdom in one or more key areas of their life and makes the same mistakes over and over again. They are frequently stubborn and unteachable and education is of little avail until the errant spirit is fixed.

They seem to need discipline combined with a sudden transforming work of God that corrects the spiritual damage at the root of their folly. Once the error in their spirit is corrected and wisdom flows a whole major aspect of their character can instantly change. There is frequently a moment of realization when light dawns and they say "how could I have been so dumb!". Among them are those having an errant spirit, a perverse spirit, a hasty spirit, a sullen spirit, and an inappropriate spirit of jealousy as described in the bible passages above.

Proverbs describes a range of foolish people such as the naïve, the young men seduced by a harlot, the unteachable fool, the lazy sluggard, the scoffer, the person wise in their own eyes and the boorish fool. For these people loving discipline, fervent believing prayer for wisdom (James 1:5), good scriptural teaching and high quality ongoing discipleship may help correct the error in their spirit. Christian approaches that have proved helpful here include: Neil T. Anderson's truth encounters and various discipleship strategies, church discipline and accountability groups. Many men's ministries specialize in this approach.

Indications of when folly has overtaken the human spirit:

· When the person consistently makes unwise choices that are not so much "bad" as "just real dumb". They are characterized by an almost total lack of insight about themselves, their lifestyle and other people..

· Where they are naïve, credulous, gullible or always falling in love.

· A deeply derisive attitude to education, knowledge and learning and wisdom.

· They constantly show off their knowledge but do not listen to others and are quite unteachable.

· Foolish habits, erratic behavior, impulsiveness, wild schemes, dreaming, loud inappropriate and boorish behavior, lack of insight, poor decisions.

· The person does not set out to be immoral but finds themselves being easily caught up in immoral relationships or they seem unable to avoid bad company.

· Where a person is chronically lazy, slack and disorganized and their life drifts from job to job and failure to failure, when there is a great sense of wasted potential.

· Poor and very inappropriate communication such as boastfulness, an inability to listen or be corrected, hasty speech, quick displays of anger and provocation and little idea of how to be socially appropriate.

Dealing With Folly In The Human Spirit

As we saw in previous chapters wisdom is closely associated with the presence and teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom can be prayed for and is prayed for by Paul. James is quite specific in saying that a Christian can receive wisdom from God directly through prayer (James 1:5) This wisdom can be in ordinary daily things where wisdom may be lacking. An interesting passage that illustrates this is found in Isaiah 28:

(Isaiah 28:23-29 NKJV) Give ear and hear my voice, Listen and hear my speech. {24} Does the plowman keep plowing all day to sow? Does he keep turning his soil and breaking the clods? {25} When he has leveled its surface, Does he not sow the black cummin And scatter the cummin, Plant the wheat in rows, The barley in the appointed place, And the spelt in its place? {26} For He instructs him in right judgment, His God teaches him. {27} For the black cummin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, Nor is a cartwheel rolled over the cummin; But the black cummin is beaten out with a stick, And the cummin with a rod. {28} Bread flour must be ground; Therefore he does not thresh it forever, Break it with his cartwheel, Or crush it with his horsemen. {29} This also comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.

God guides and instructs the farmer in the humble daily routines of farming! God is thus concerned with our work as well as with our religion. It is His will for us to have wisdom in all aspects of our lives. This confidence that God loves to instruct His people should give us great hope when dealing with foolish Christians. It gives us a solid basis for prayer when we ask Him to give wisdom to those who lack it. He delights to do this and James says He gives ‘without reproach”. (James 1:5-8)

Foolish Christians first need to realize they have been foolish. Once the light dawns they need to be encouraged to seek wisdom from God. Finally they need to learn the basic disciplines that will enable them to correct their folly in the light of their new wisdom. This process takes place best in a Christian community where accountability and discipleship are lovingly practiced without harshness or legalism. [See the chapter on Learning Organizations later in this book]. In such communities personal change is normal and others around them are also working on aspects of their character. Support groups, bible study groups, one to one discipleship sessions, counseling and Christian communities all provide good contexts for the correction of folly in the life of the Christian.

However awakening a person to the fact that their behavior is foolish is not easy. Pain is the great awakener as well as honest and true Christian friends who speak the truth in love. One method that can work is to get a person to write out in a journal the consequences of the behavior you are trying to get them to correct. Then get them to do a cost-benefit analysis. This has awakened many gamblers once they have honestly done a calculation of the cost of their habit.

Some people know they are foolish but have no idea how to change. If you want to lead someone from folly to wisdom be prepared to provide careful, detailed step by step instruction and modeling. Going from folly to wisdom involves learning and learning requires a good and patient teacher. Do not dump a whole heap of demands and ideas on people. Give them bite-sized bits of counseling homework and encourage every step of improvement. As I mentioned earlier sometimes wisdom can arrive from God in answer to godly believing prayer. When it does it sometimes comes in a rush, in a huge "Aha" moment the person sees what they should have seen all along and suddenly changes. This is good, but a good structure of discipleship and the careful systematic teaching of biblical truth can help those moments to occur with greater frequency.

Problems Caused By Trauma

Thirdly there are those spiritual problems based on the effects of suffering or trauma. For such people the trauma of life has been so deep and so overwhelming that it has affected their human spirit. These people literally have a damaged spirit, which is in need of healing or comfort. The spirit of such people can be described as broken, failing, poisoned, overwhelmed, grieved or anguished.

This damage to the human spirit is far beyond the normal upsets of life and is a deep and personal wound such as those inflicted by rape, violent crime, death, divorce, deep injustice, cult involvement and torture. For these people there needs to be prayer ministry and an atmosphere of gentle encouragement. In some cases the damage may be so profound that the person has an "uncontrolled spirit" and is like a city with broken down walls - easily exploited, and easily manipulated. Such people will need much rebuilding of the walls and instructions in setting appropriate personal boundaries. For many damaged people the biblical truths that give hope and grace may need to be repeated often in an atmosphere of love, encouragement and healing prayer. Counselors operating in this area have to be especially gentle and caring and able to spend hours in healing prayer with a single client. Christian and Christian-compatible approaches that have proved helpful here include: Healing of the memories, inner healing, Theophostic counseling, many retreat centers and prayer ministries, Bradshaws’s championing the inner child, etc.

Indications of trauma having affected the human spirit:

· A distinct event that precipitated the problem.

· Painful emotions such as grief, bitterness and sorrow.

· Flashbacks, problems with memory.

· The person is overwhelmed by life, fearful, or consumed with anxiety.

· The person indicates they feel they are emotionally crippled and "lame".

· The person communicates that they are broken or damaged inside.

· The person pulls away from life and indicates a deep need for comfort and healing, space and privacy, gentleness and restoration.

· As you talk to someone you get the sense that you are dealing with both an adult and a damaged child in the same person.

· Unusual reactions to normal stimuli. A sense that the person is reacting inappropriately because some wound is being touched.

Dealing With People Whose Spirit Has Been Affected By Trauma

Go slowly and go gently. Traumatized people need care and comfort and support because life has already overwhelmed them. Dealing with severely traumatized people should be left to trained professionals. However many people can be helped and many ordinary Christians restored by appropriate and gentle prayer ministry and healing of the memories. One of the better Christian approaches is Theophostics (its not as New Age as the name sounds) by Dr. Ed Smith of Kentucky. David Seamands has also done good work with his "Healing Of The Memories" and "Healing For Damaged Emotions". Of secular approaches John Bradshaw's "championing the inner child" is among the better ones and is worth a read by those involved in ministry. A lot of research is now being done on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and on Multiple Personality Disorder which I believe are extreme forms of having a damaged and broken spirit. So you can see that this is a huge and specialized area in which a great deal of research is currently being undertaken and which is quite impossible top cover in a few hundred words in this chapter. What can we do then?

1. Be supportive, understanding, loving and caring. Give the person lots of freedom. Let them be angry but don’t let them dwell too long on it.

2. Be extremely patient, do not condemn, do not censure. They are bruised and hurting. Remember "a bruised reed He will not break and a sputtering wick He will not extinguish."

3. Avoid strong emotion. A gentle quite retreat atmosphere is generally far more healing for trauma than a hyped up evangelistic meeting. There is so much strong emotion inside them that they are already overloaded emotionally. Part of healing is to decrease this overloaded emotional level.

4. Above all do not suggest to them how they may have been abused or attempt to recover memories. False memory syndrome induced by zealous counselors is very real and very damaging.

5. Where necessary help them seek justice. Empower them to go to the police and through the court system. Many Christians are uncomfortable with this but people need to feel supported and protected and that there is justice in the world. If the offender is hardened and unrepentant and a continuing risk to the community then that offender should not be protected by "gracious" Christians. I faced this dilemma when I knew that a schoolteacher was a serial pedophile, lacked insight into his condition and was still around young children. He went to jail for eight years. The victims agreed with this course of action and were benefited by it.

6. If they are agreeable pray for them and soak them in loving prayer. Do not expect or demand immediate miraculous outcomes. Just soak them in prayer and let them slowly come face to face with Jesus who heals them. Repeat as necessary.

7. Encourage them to seek God's Presence in prayer and worship. Do not censure them for seeking God in ways that are outside your personal religious tradition. Many evangelicals are disturbed when a recovering person spends time reading the mystical writers or sets up a chapel at home with a cross and a candle. Remember that the spirit is a world of symbols and they are trying to reconstruct their symbolic realm. This is a complex task - let them be.

8. Encourage them to express their feelings via art, acting, music, poetry, writing, pottery, crafts, gardening, keeping pets and other non-destructive outlets.

9. Don't argue but do gently correct false perspectives on life. Much of the continuing damage comes from believing untruths about God, self or others. These need to be gently shown to be false and the person shown who they are in Christ and in the loving eyes of God.

10. Give them lots and lots of time to heal and realize that recovery from trauma may happen in bits and pieces over many years. Don't feel it has to be fixed right now. Let God heal them in God's time.

If you are someone that feels that you may have a broken and damaged spirit do not sit alone and try to heal yourself. You need grace and you need special people and places that have a healing effect on the emotionally damaged. Ask the Lord to lead you to the right people and places where you can find the grace you need.

Problems Caused By Spiritual Attack

Fourthly there are those spiritual problems which are the outcome of a spiritual attack that has affected the human spirit. For mostly Christians this is just harassment of the believer by an evil spirit external to them. For some people particularly those involved in the occult or grave sexual sin, exorcism may be necessary. For simplicity I will break spiritual attacks into two categories: minor attacks which are generally attacks on our mood, and major attacks that go deep into the spirit and involve a major change in consciousness observable to others.

The classic mood attacks are the suddenly swinging moods of King Saul who was afflicted by an evil spirit. These dark and evil moods often accuse the person, others or God and produce hopelessness, despair and discouragement.. They can also suddenly give rise to lurid and vivid temptations or can fuel abiding anger and cause an irrational "spirit of ill-will" to develop. These moods have the following characteristics:

· They come over the person without warning.

· They then control their thinking and emotions for a while and take it in a negative direction.

· They leave suddenly when rebuked in the name of Jesus

· They sometimes can be assuaged by Christian music such as when David played his psalms on the harp for Saul.

Please note carefully the above mood "attacks" are not the same as "demon possession"! In mood attacks the attacking spiritual entity is external to the believer and is engaged in harassment of the believer through their thoughts and emotions.

Other indications of spiritual attack on the human spirit include:

The sudden desire to give up the ministry or the faith.
Dislike to the point of hostility regarding the bible, prayer or communion.
Sharp painful feelings, doubts from nowhere, accusations of God, self or others. Fiery darts.
A floating seductive feeling that takes over the consciousness and blots out prayer.
Altered states of consciousness in which sinful acts are performed.
The evident presence of an evil spirit. Manifestations, voices etc.
A preoccupation with strange doctrines or bizarre dietary practices.
Involvement in the occult, death metal music, pornography, drugs, or Eastern religion.

Major attacks are where the consciousness of the person is greatly altered and it is evident that the person’s human spirit has been invaded in some way.. A second personality or consciousness may take over the person and speak in a different voice or the person may suddenly enter a trance state (which is often rather sweet and seductive) and which obliterates all moral consciousness. In this trance state the person may perform sinful actions of which they later have reduced or blurry recollection. In such cases exorcism by an experienced practitioner who has the recommendation of sensible and mature Christians may be called for.

Dealing With Spiritual Attacks

.Here is a general formula for dealing with minor spiritual attacks on the Christians emotional life:

· Become aware that it may be an attack of the Devil.

· Try and give it a name if you can e.g. "a mood of deep discouragement".

· Resist its effects on you and say a firm "No' to its lies and suggestions.

· If necessary counter its lies with the truth of Scripture or just plain facts. When Elijah was deeply discouraged and said "I alone am left" God just said "I have 7000 that have not bowed the knee to Baal" (1 Kings 19).

· Rebuke the harassing spirit sternly in the name of Jesus with the spiritual authority you have as a believer. (see Ephesians 1:20, 2:6, Colossians 2:13-15, Matthew 11:11-13)

· It should leave virtually instantly. If it tries another bout later on - then rebuke it again.

· If it returns you may have given ground to it by nurturing resentment or hatred, or actually liking the vivid temptations or believing there might be some truth in the accusations If this is the case then remove the ground the Devil is using to afflict you by repenting of your wrong attitude and then exercising forgiveness towards others.

When is exorcism necessary?

When there is clear evidence of an indwelling evil spirit. These indications include changes in personality such as a male person talking with a female voice or vice versa. They also include various peculiar odors and bizarre manifestations that are quite uncharacteristic of the person; a strong aversion to prayer and spiritual disciplines and especially to communion and an attraction to unclean behavior. Some people are overwhelmed by sinful obsessions and compulsions (unlike in obsessive-compulsive disorder where the obsessions are generally morally neutral acts such as hand-washing or locking up repeatedly) and unusual trance states where sinful acts are performed including a compulsion to suicide and dark obsessions.

Before engaging in exorcism make sure you are aware of your authority in Christ over the demonic realm. See the following verses Luke 10:19, 1 John 5:18,19; Ephesians 1:20, 2:6, Colossians 2:13-15, Matthew 11:11-13, Hebrews 1:14, and 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 and any good and reasonably recent systematic theology. You should also consult some of the books on deliverance ministry recommended in the section below. It is best to learn the art of exorcism from an experienced, wise and balanced practitioner who can show you how to go about it sensibly and effectively. Now to consider a special kind of spiritual attack - curses.


Curses are an unusual topic for a book on emotions, but they are real, and are profoundly emotionally disturbing for those who experience them. They are not just angry words or swear words; they are acts of power in the spiritual real. Curses are mentioned over 200 times in Scripture, and were foundational to the Old Covenant (see Deuteronomy 28-30). God Himself was the first one to pronounce curses – on the earth, on Eve’s fertility and upon the serpent. Curses are not just a primitive superstition; they are spiritual pronouncements recorded in Scripture, that profoundly affect the very structure of reality in some way.

The world was created by the word of God and is held together by the power of His Word (Genesis 1, Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:17-20). Thus God’s words can change creation and Jesus’ curse caused the fig-tree, representing barren Israel, to shrivel up. Blessings and curses are first of all God’s words that operate at this fundamental level of creation and “tilt the playing field” of life one way or another. Secondly curses and blessings can be from evil spirits or flow from the human spirit. Goliaths curses against David were “by his gods” (1 Samuel 17:43) and were ineffective for reasons we shall see later. The David and Goliath encounter was a power encounter of one spiritual system against the other and both contenders came in the name of their respective deities. Shamans and magicians such as Balaam were hired to curse people in OT times and still do this today. Though curses from evil sources much less powerful than curses from God they still were feared and were able to do much damage. There are 22 references exhorting believers not to curse others. Curses are finally ended in the new creation (Rev 22:3).

The origin of blessings and curses is found in the book of Genesis. The first blessing is upon the living creatures, which were told to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22). When God made mankind He also blessed them saying “be fruitful and multiply” and added a third blessing “have dominion over” (Genesis 1:28). These three basic blessings of: “be fruitful”, “multiply” and “have dominion over” form the basis of all future blessings, such as the Abrahamic blessings, and their reversal forms the basis of all future curses such as those in Genesis 3. Lets look at this a little bit further:

Fruitfulness is the ability to joyfully express your inner nature and feel that which you are doing is truly creative, worthwhile and significant. Its opposite is pain in creation especially barrenness.

Multiplication is exponential increase - increasing as in 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 not additively as in 2 , 4, 6, 8, 10, Multiplication is a huge increase in productivity for a small increase in effort. Its opposite is frustration and futility. Putting in a huge effort for little or no reward.

Authority to rule over means dignity, headship, authority, the ability to be ascendant, to be the head not the tail. Its opposite is being humbled, to eat the dirt, to be crushed and humiliated, to be unable to rise.

In Genesis 3 we see the first curses in operation. The woman is made unfruitful, the man is made to work in futility and the serpent is told he will eat the dirt. The three things that make life good are reversed. Life becomes unbearable. Thus when we are cursed we find life very difficult indeed. No matter how hard we try to rise we never quite make it. Time and time we get to the brink of success only to have it snatched away. Curses can affect health, particularly reproductive health. They can affect earning power and they can affect our ability to have authority and command over our lives and people who are cursed may have to endure life-long humiliation.

As a missionary I can say that curses are real and in some cases they are even lethal; Ezekiel talks of magic charms that hunted lives (Ezekiel 13:18-20). Curses are on the rise in Western culture as people dabble more and more in the occult and in organizations where people take secret oaths that invoke curses (such as the Masons). Emotionally curses produce deep confusion and despair and an inability to think straight.

[There is not a lot of good literature on the topic of curses and all such books need to be read critically and subjective material carefully evaluated. Derek Prince’s book “Curses and Blessings” is reasonable, Ed Murphy’s chapter is good but gives no hint on how to break curses, and Francis Frangipane has some very good books on living in the place of protection from curses and spiritual attack.]

On one hand we do want to acknowledge the reality of curses and to deal with them and to break them on the other hand we do not want to become overly superstitious and fearful seeing curses everywhere. If your life is affected by sterility, barrenness, constant lack of success and failure to gain any sort of ascendancy no matter how hard you try then a curse may be in operation. If you think this may be the case then do some research on your life and family history and take the matter before the Lord.

The good news is that breaking curses can be surprisingly easy for Christians because we dwell under the protection of the blood of Jesus Christ. Curses have greatest power where the person who has been cursed has committed some great act of wickedness such as involvement in the occult. The reverse is also true, curses have little or no power over a righteous person and Proverbs says that a curse without cause will not alight on the head of a righteous man.

Scripture reveals a number of ways in which we can break curses and/or be protected from them

1) Live a righteous life free from major sin and acts of injustice. Abide in the righteousness of Christ where no curse can penetrate. (Malachi 4:6, Proverbs 26:2, Romans 8).

2) Put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6 :10-21 which is actually armor against spiritual attack. Ephesus was noted for its magic practices (Acts 19) and its curses and witchcraft. The primary purpose behind Paul writing to the Ephesians was so they could have some understanding of their power, authority and degree of protection in their pagan and occult city. The armor of God is like the Kevlar of the spirit world protecting the Christian against curses, magic and occult practices.

3) God is able to turn a curse into a blessing. He did this when Balak tried to get Baalam to curse Israel. (Nehemiah 13:2, Deuteronomy 23:5, Numbers 22&23). A brief prayer by Jabez that has received a lot of popularity lately is a case of a person appealing to God to have a curse turned into a blessing and succeeding. David is particularly bold when he says in Psalm 109 where he seems to have been the victim of a curse (see verses 17 & 18) (Psalms 109:28 NKJV) Let them curse, but You bless; When they arise, let them be ashamed, But let Your servant rejoice. David did not fear the curse, but instead asked God to bless him and outdo the curse, and then to turn the curse back on those who uttered it. God can out-bless the most fearsome and disabling curses. It gives us hope that our prayers to God based on the name of Jesus can not only break curses but have them turned into blessings instead.

4) Understand and plead the fact that Christ has taken all the curses due to us when He became a curse on the cross (Galatians 3:10-14). In Christ that ground for curses to succeed against us is removed because on the cross Jesus became a curse for us and took all the cursing that may have been due to us due to our violation of God's laws.

5) Break associations with the sins of parents and ancestors particularly those involving the occult or idolatry. Exodus 34:6,7 says such sins bring a curse "to the third and fourth generation". We have to break ties with such sins by not participating in occult ceremonies that may be traditional and even confessing such involvement of your parents and ancestors and forsaking them in a prayer of renunciation to God. The essential thing is to make a clear break with the familial sin in your own heart, mind and spirit.

6) Get rid of objects that bring a curse particularly objects associated with pagan worship, idolatry or the occult. For instance if we have our Grandmothers pack of tarot cards we need to get rid of them. (Deuteronomy 7:25,26) The Ephesian converts were moved by the Holy Spirit to burn their magic scrolls and occult objects. (Acts 19:18-20).

7) Do not engage in secretive or dishonest sins that you think you can get away with unobserved. In Deuteronomy 27: 15-26 certain sins are singled out as bringing a curse notably the making of idols, incest, bestiality, treating parents with contempt, injustice against migrants, widows, the disabled or the poor, hiring a contract killer, and moving your neighbors landmark or boundary stone. Most of these are crimes that would never be tried in court because of the secret nature of the crimes, the lack of two or three eye witnesses willing to testify or the difficulty of proving of the case such as the “my word against yours’ case of the boundary stone. The curse was God’s way of making sure that such secret crimes did not go unpunished. People knew that if they did these things God would repay. Even in the New Testament God is referred to as the one who punishes those who defile the marriage bed. (1 Thessalonians 4:4-6, Hebrews 13:4). If you have done any of the things in the above list then repentance, restoration and an earnest appeal to God for mercy would be a good starting point in breaking the curse over your life.

8) Curses can alight where there is deep abiding injustice against an ethnic group. Saul’s bloodthirsty massacre of the Gibeonites, which lay uncorrected for years, later resulted in a curse and a famine in the time of David.

(2 Samuel 21:1 NKJV) Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites."

David broke this curse by going back to the offended ethnic group, humbly asking how they would like to see justice done and then enacting it. After ten of Saul’s sons were hung the famine ended. (2 Samuel 21:1-14).

9) Slackness in ministry can result in a curse. The priests in Malachi were under a curse because of their slackness in God's work (Malachi 2:2 ) and the prophet Jeremiah cries out "cursed be he who is slack in doing the Lord's work (Jeremiah 48:10). If you are in ministry do the work of the Lord diligently and obey His specific instructions if you have been given such instructions.

10) Put God’s interests ahead of your own. In the book of Haggai God puts a curse on the nation (Haggai 1:5-11, 2:16,17 )for being self-centered and neglectful of their duty to God. The curse is removed when the people obey the prophets and lay the foundation on the Lord's temple (Haggai 2:18,19) and a blessing is given instead.

There are over 200 verses on curses in Scripture and the above list just touches on some of the main causes and their remedies. Basically a curse can only alight on an area that God has already judged as being worthy of a curse – such as incest , idolatry or murder. Most curses generally last only 3-4 generations though some have lasted since Creation. Repentance from sin, breaking ties with the occult and taking refuge in Christ who has become a curse for us are the main strategies we can use to break curses. Part of this is putting on the whole armor of God, which is designed to protect us from curses leveled against us in the course of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). When the curse is lifted then the human spirit that has been affected by the curse and been bowed down with pain, confusion and futility will be quickly healed. The person will recover and emotional normality should soon follow.

References On Deliverance Ministry and Spiritual Warfare

There are no perfect books on this difficult topic but there are many good and useful books on deliverance ministry in most Christian bookstores. Among the better ones I recommend Ed Murphy's "Handbook of Spiritual Warfare" and the writings of Francis Frangipane, George Otis Jr. , John Wimber and C. Peter Wagner . Classics on spiritual warfare include "Born For Battle" by R. Arthur Matthews and "Screwtape Letters" by C. S. Lewis . My e-book "Praying To Move Mountains" available from has some short articles on the topic, and its free. Books to avoid are those written by conspiracy theorists or which sensationalize the topic. Especially be wary of books that "see a demon under every bush" or which place a great deal of credence on the testimony of demons being exorcised or which have extensive lists of behaviors that are supposed to get you demonized (especially if the behaviors are not listed as sinful in Scripture). Such books can bring people into legalism and bondage. God has made us to be aware of spiritual attacks and to have victory over them but not to be preoccupied with them, fearful or overly suspicious.

Concluding This Chapter

Our life perspective may be affected by a wide range of events that damage our human spirit, so that it cannot see God or life correctly. This damage tilts our basic perception of reality so that the whole of life, including our emotional life, is dysfunctional. Our human spirit can be deceived or brought into spiritual captivity and bondage by false teaching or damaged through sin, folly, trauma or spiritual attack. Curses can bring immense emotional pain and a feeling of constant struggle and futility. All of the above have scriptural remedies and can be dealt with and fixed. They are not necessarily permanent.

As they are fixed our human spirit will begin to function as it is meant to function. That is as the place in us that receives God’s truth and God’s wisdom and which works in co-operation with the Holy Spirit. As our human spirit heals our spiritual sensitivity will increase and we will see ourselves, others and God rightly. When this occurs the process of co-operating with the Holy Spirit to become Christ-like emotionally is made much easier.

Once our perception of life and basic stance on life is relatively OK we can then go on to create a more functional belief system. This will in turn help us to be stable emotionally as much of our emotional reactivity flows from what we believe is happening to us and our explicit, verbal, beliefs that we hear as "self-talk".

Once a person afflicted by a bitter and broken human spirit is healed they will no longer be bitter and broken. They will have a much better outlook on life and see themselves, others and God in a much more gracious light. However that dark and bitter period of life may have formed certain beliefs in them that have not yet changed. Hence the next chapter is on constructing a fully Christian and emotionally healthy belief system.

Discussion Questions

1. What is perception ‘in and by the Spirit’? How did Jesus demonstrate it?

2. What does Scripture indicate about the ability of non-believers to receive revelation and perceive spiritual things?

3. How much revelation and spiritual perception is given to Christians under the New Covenant?

4. How does accurate spiritual perception help our Christian lives?

5. How do legalism and/or spiritual deception damage our Christian lives?

6. What are the four main areas that cause trouble for the human spirit? What experiences have you had with sin, folly, trauma and spiritual attack?

7. Do you believe in curses? Do you think they can still affect us? How important are fruitfulness, multiplication and authority to success in your life?

8. How much love, joy and peace would fill your heart if you could accurately perceive spiritual things?