The Healing Work of the Holy Spirit
in the Human Spirit
NEVER, has there been so much response to anything we've published, to the understanding I share in this article. Every time we go out in ministry, we find people still struggling with inner conflicts. These ever work toward their defeat. Therefore, we make no apology about striking again at something the Holy Spirit has long been impressing upon us: that it's possible to be free from inner turmoil.
One of our greatest points of instruction came a year or so ago when something happened to me that took me by surprise. It led to my deliverance from a seducing spirit that took advantage of a wound in my human spirit. Even though I've shared it, let me tell this again--even at the risk of exposing my own weakness a little too much.
For several days an oppression had been closing in, bringing a despair and weariness, along with an intense feeling of loneliness. I didn't know how to respond to what was happening inside but felt I must keep it to myself. After all, I was the one who always ministered to others.
As Glenda and I sat alone at lunch one day, I shared something of the warfare that was going on inside. I asked her to be praying for me. I knew a seducing spirit was making a bid for my life. The night before it had suggested to me that I drive my truck off the dam into the deep part of our lake. It said, "No one will know till it's too late." I did not even entertain that spirit's suggestion, but it did get my attention.
Later that day I walked into the office and grabbed the two people close at hand--Glenda and Mary Clark--and asked them to pray with me right then. They prayed gently. I began weeping. Then, something that happened one night several months before came to my remembrance.
My father died in 1965, but on that recent night, he appeared to come and stand by my bed. I considered it a dream. It left me with an uneasy feeling, but I soon put it out of my mind. As the two women prayed, I suddenly knew it had been a familiar spirit impersonating my father. It had come to claim some ground in me that still belonged to the realm of darkness.
You see, my father was remote in my life. He always left me with a longing deep inside for his encouragement and guidance. My father had this same lack from his father, and it was passed on to me. Though I since became a grandfather, this longing still remained. The familiar spirit had come to my deep desire "to be fathered." It was appealing to that little boy in me who still wanted his love and approval. While this desire and need is not in itself evil, the intention of the spirit that came was evil. He sought to lay hold on the emotional wound in my human spirit.
As I continued praying with the women, something began heaving in my chest. I felt for a moment as though I might actually die. Then something came out with a roar. It was the seducing spirit whose intent it was to claim that weak inner part. As I renounced something that had come upon me through my ancestral line, the spirit lost the ground on which it hoped to do its evil work.
There came a peace that was not there before. Whereas I had been beholding all the negatives around me, I could suddenly look at things differently. A healing took place in my inner man--in my human spirit. No circumstance changed, but I could see the Light of God's Kingdom--and I had peace.
WITH AMAZING POWER TO CONTROL, our human spirit operates beneath the level of consciousness. Although it is the part of us to which many give little attention, it is the part most important for a full and happy life. It is the part most desired by the Lord, and at the same time most sought after by the devil. Our spirit is the control room of our life and bears the weight of our personality. It gives direction to the way we think and act. And, it dictates how we respond to one another. It governs how we feel about ourselves, especially when we are weary or something happens that is discouraging.
The spirits of many people are in trouble. They have stored in them the hurts of a lifetime. This is especially so of emotional traumas the conscious mind cannot handle on a long term basis. These are things like the problems of childhood, sexual molestation, humiliation in front of peers, the pain of a marriage failing and a home breaking up, the grief that comes from the death of a loved one, the horror of a serious illness, the shock of rejection by a friend, the loss of a job, and so on. Each of these brings painful emotions that, when held inside, damage the spirit of the person.
Emotions like fear, anger, resentment, anxiety, grief, and humiliation wear one out if they are not resolved. Since life must go on, they often get pushed down into the human spirit where they continue their work beneath the level of consciousness. The spirit becomes the dumping ground for the emotions. There we hold the hurtful things and go on with life--or at least we try to. Eventually, we adjust to having these things buried and life becomes fairly normal on the outside, but their cry and demand remain and trouble rages beneath the surface.
SOMETIMES WE WONDER why we repeatedly have trouble in certain areas. Many a person can ask questions like these: Why do my close relationships always go wrong? Why do I struggle with thoughts I don't want others to know I'm having? Why do I experience sudden mood changes? Why am I repeatedly drawn back to ways and practices I know are wrong? Why is my attitude so often negative about certain persons or things? Why does trouble follow me like a dark cloud? Why am I always thinking about taking my life?
It's because in our spirits we hold the unwholesome deposits of life that energize all the above. The most alarming thing is that these unwholesome deposits attract seducing spirits. These work on the inner wounds and buried rage. They intensify the unholy demands stored in us. They send signals, sometimes without warning, that incite the emotions to respond in regrettable ways.
The ideas and emotions released from spirits often seem right and reasonable at the moment, but they are always destructive. Sometimes seducing spirits, also called demons, become so active they drive people to say and do things so wrong that serious consequences result--like the destruction of relationships, property, and even life itself.
While the spirit can also be a depository for good things, it is usually the bad that gets shoved inside its delicate walls. Good things are kept nearer to the surface of the mind. The human spirit definitely is not surface.
The prayers we have learned from Paul call for the Holy Spirit to deal with the heavy and, sometimes, dirty work needed in our spirits. He alone can reach that stuff and set us free from the inner bondage and corruption that keeps attracting the seducing spirits.
TIME AND AGAIN, WE'VE SEEN the importance of the prayers found in Paul's Prison Epistles. Now, more than ever, we see the need for their work as they call for the healing of wounded and sick spirits. We find one of the prayers in the following passage.
14 For this cause 1 bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith...
The word strengthened in verse 16 holds the key to how we are learning to pray. Actually, understanding this word opens the way to a kind of praying that digs deep and lays hold on areas in us that cause trouble. Strengthened is from the Greek kratéo, a word having to do with government. We have looked at it before in other articles.
Kratéo could be used to speak of an army from one country entering another, conquering the land, and setting up a new government. But as Paul used it in the above verse, it speaks of the Holy Spirit entering a human Spirit, conquering what is wrong, and setting up the new government of Christ's Kingdom. We could translate Paul's prayer this way: "that you might be conquered and governed with might by His Spirit in the inner man."
Expanding what Paul said, and borrowing from the whole of Ephesians, I believe he meant: "I'm praying for you that the Holy Spirit will work in your inner man where there remain areas not yet brought under the dominion of Christ. These are the parts of you so deep you are not consciously aware of them. Yet, they send forth signals to your mind and emotions making many of your responses to life painful, both to you and to those around you. These unconquered parts are attractive to seducing spirits who desire to take you from God. My longing, as I hold you in prayer, is that you will be made free from all spiritual defilement so you can become whole, and Christ can be pleased to dwell in you."
Some persons have had so much trash--especially emotional trash--dumped into their spirits that every part of their life is overrun with the foul odor of its presence. This spiritual clutter and junk makes life, at its best, a drudgery. This condition need not remain in those whose lives are committed to the government of Christ's Kingdom.
HOW DOES DEFILEMENT get into the human spirit? It often comes in youth. Early shocks and emotional upheavals take their toll and leave their residue. Rejection, perhaps more than any other trauma, leaves many a one disabled with a contaminated spirit. With the prevalence of sexual abuse, many children are wounded inwardly and grow into adults with all kinds of spiritual, emotional, mental, and even physical disorders.
Emotionally delivered words have impact on a child's emotions--words like, "Get out of here! Can't you see I'm busy? No I don't have time to listen to you now!" When delivered with profanity and belittling names, they tell the child, "You're worthless" or "I hate you." Since children can't cope very long with rejection like this, they push it down into their spirits and get on with life.
Rejection, particularly when it comes from a parent, wounds a child's spirit. Throughout life he continues hearing, "I'm not important. I'm not wanted." Ideas like this, born in childhood, release poison into every relationship, opportunity, and circumstance as the person grows and has to assume adult responsibility.
Rejection can also enter an adult's spirit. It can come into a person fired from a job. It finds its way into persons going through divorce. It can lodge in a pastor who fails with his congregation, or a young man whose girl friend leaves him for someone else. There are many ways and many turns of life where rejection finds its way into the human spirit. The spirit becomes the dumping ground for all of this.
HATRED ALSO FINDS ITS WAY into a spirit in much the same way as rejection. I remember an example of three people from a congregation I pastored many years ago-- Maggie, Myrna, and Frank. Myrna and Frank were once married. Maggie was a widow. It was reported, and believed by many, that she broke up the marriage of the other two. They all attended church regularly. Myrna was the pianist and most religious of the three.
One day Myrna asked me for counsel. She said, "Brother Corley, I love the Lord, but I hate Maggie." This was evident; hatred had entered her Spirit and emitted a foul spiritual odor about her. It put an edge on her voice and came out in every encounter she had. I wanted to help her but knew of little more than simply exhorting her to forgive Maggie, which was a step in the right direction. But, she needed to be set free from the unclean spirit and healed in her human spirit. Even though I was her pastor, and had been trained in the college and seminary of my denomination, I knew nothing to tell her about being free from the poison in her spirit. Only through the bitter experiences of years have I learned there is an answer to trouble like she had.
Problems like Myrna's exist all over the world. I was asked to speak to a Pentecostal congregation of about 500 people in Southeast Asia, and to give the message published in Putting Off the Old Man. In it, I told of a man God used to set me free from a spirit of enmity by laying hands on me and praying.
Wanting to speak as simply as possible to the congregation, I decided the word enmity might not be easily interpreted into that particular Asian language. So I substituted hatred. Actually, that was what had been working in me. At the close of the service, I asked those who wished to be free from hatred to come forward. I was amazed to see nearly half the congregation come and stand in a long line. We ministered to person after person as each told of not being able to overcome hatred although all had become Christians.
Of note was a teenage girl who hated her mother. It was evident she wanted to be free; she was very broken. Her ability to humbly confess what was in her spirit opened her to healing as we laid hands on her and prayed. Later in the day, I passed her on the street walking with her mother. Both were smiling. The next night I saw them again in a meeting, both radiant. The girl's spiritual healing required her willingness to give up the hatred and submit to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Insecurity and resentment are two other culprits that find their way into many a human spirit. Insecurity is the result of fear, anxiety, doubt, unbelief, and discouragement as they accumulate in the spirit. It means not being sure about one's self or one's relationship with God. It means. being anxious and apprehensive about what is happening, or will happen. Resentment means carrying a feeling of bitter hurt or indignation arising from having been injured or offended.
Both of the above enter when a person is deprived of something he or she considers valuable. It might be some thing tangible, but more likely it will be something abstract. Take away being loved, cared for, respected, or being regarded as important from persons, and they must respond, usually with emotion. But since continued use of emotion becomes destructive, most find it necessary to push the rage of the insecurity and resentment down into their spirit and get on with life. Again, the human spirit becomes a repository for emotional trash.
But, our spirit can be cleansed. In II Corinthians 7:1 Paul said, Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Filthiness is a strong word to use when speaking of what might be in our human spirit. It means defilement, that which makes something unclean and polluted. It is significant that Paul was speaking this to the church. What he said meant, "Let us have a catharsis both of our outward and our inward man. Let us have nothing more to do with what defiles and pollutes our body or our spirit."
When our spirit is cleansed, its healing has begun. So powerful and important is our spirit that, when healing takes place in it, all our other ills diminish.
THE FIRST MAN THAT EVER taught me healing could take place in our spirit lived in a little borrowed room in the hills outside Adis Ababa, Ethiopia. My friend Tefferi took me there to see him, telling me he was a man much like Job, but some years before had been healed in his spirit. I was not prepared for who or what I found.
He lived in a sparse house where he remained as a guest because he had nothing with which to pay rent. I went to his room where there was a bed, two wooden chairs, and a wooden chest for all his belongings. He was a man who, until his thirties, was successful in business. But, he was taken with a disease that caused all his skin to dry up and flake off his body. No medical help could be found. Finally, after many years of desperate trial and no release, something happened in his spirit. There he was healed.
This man was not healed physically. His malady continued as terrifying as ever. But there was one difference: he didn't know it. Outwardly everything seemed as horrifying as before, and in actuality it was. Inwardly he was healed. I offer no explanation. I can only say that when I went into the room where this pitiful expression of a man sat, I came into the most profound presence of the Lord I had ever experienced. I looked into his eyes and began to weep. My every sin or thought of sin came before me, along with a greater desire for holiness than I had ever known. For a long period no one spoke. Finally, he broke the silence and said, "I am so proud to own Jesus Christ as my Savior."
Those words rang in my ears and heart. The impression of that moment remained with me. The cry increased within my heart, "Lord, heal me in my spirit."
The Lord was answering that prayer when Glenda and Mary ministered to me recently. I never knew how or when it would take place, I just knew it had to--and that it would.
THE PRESSURE OF INFIRMITY--or rejection, or insecurity, or any of the other ills we've mentioned--can drive a soul most straight and hard into the Kingdom of Christ. What could be retained in the human spirit as hurt or uncleanness can as well serve as a goad to drive one into the arms of the Lord. But this is so only if we become Kingdom persons, sold out to having Christ's Government set strong in our lives.
Together with Glenda I've discovered some things about the way of healing. We put our lives together out of the shambles of failure and loss. We both brought hurts into our marriage, with much negative force pushed down into our spirits.
Talk about rejection and insecurity--we had it! Sometimes we felt like walking away from our commitment to one another, but we were bound together not to. We both knew that to do so would only lead into situations more painful, and would disrupt the call of God on our lives.
In our hurt, we never turned from ministering to others, though we often had so much pain in our own spirits that it was difficult. In spite of this, God used us to help others. I think it was because we were standing in the same mud as others, finding that patent answers do not always work, but that a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ does.
Out of necessity to become whole, we have found two secrets, neither of which involves forcing the other one to change. They're simple; anyone can find them. One is allowing God to put enough of His love into each of us for the other so we can care how the other feels on the inside. Two is in praying for one another.
God's love makes us able to care. We've found that when one person really cares about another, he wants to see that one whole. It was here we started the discipline of intercession, using the prayers we found in Paul's Prison Epistles (Eph 1:15-20; Eph 3:14-20; Phil 1:9,10; & Col 1:9-12).
Our healing has begun. For years I never knew I needed any further work in my spirit than to be born again. It escaped me what Paul meant when he said, Be renewed in the spirit of your mind--Ephesians 4:23. Now I see it and I want it. I can see the difference in Glenda, and I know what is taking place in me. We're not a finished product yet, so we're continuing to pray, but we've seen so much that we know we cannot turn back.
Glenda and I counsel and pray with many who have inner wounds. Frequently they are persons who have received Christ, attended church and listened to sermons for years. Some are believers committed to serving the Lord--but with a fierce darkness gnawing at their inner man. This is often suppressed, in some more than in others. But one need only scratch beneath the surface of just about anyone to find spiritual ill. The roots of this often go so far back in a life the person has forgotten the incidents that planted them there.
What we're going to dare to do now is ask the Holy Spirit to touch the sore spots in us. With His help, we can lay our lives open before Him and submit to the authority and power of God's Kingdom.
We've found this: the hope we have of becoming whole increases as we're able to lay ourselves open before the Lord in the presence of a fellow believer who can pray with us. Such a person is not impossible to find. Ask God to help you.
The precision for this kind of praying comes to us from James 5:16. Confess your faults (lay your spirit bare) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
This means that much strong praying can break the strongholds of the enemy in a life and release the powerful energy of God's Kingdom instead.
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