Something that happened earlier this week have made me think a lot about how many people in this world believes in “forces” outside the purely physical realm. It can be the “power of pyramids”, power from idols or different sorts of “spiritual powers”.
And I won’t deny that there are such powers. The power of God is clearly a power that by far exceeds the physical realm.
The problem is that except from the power of God, there is no powers that will do us anything good in the perspective of eternity. Another problem is the fact that most things we humans may say have these kinds of power only has this kind of power because people GIVE them that kind of power.
The idols of old are a good example of this. A carpenter may go into the forest, find a tree and axe it down. Then taking the wood back to his home, he put some of it into the stove to make food for himself, and put of the trunk he carves out an idol. Then he polishes it and puts it up to worship it. As he worships it, he believes it to have powers; otherwise he would not have any reason to worship it. He may be praying for a good harvest, for a drought to end, or for good luck for himself and his family.
But the piece of wood that he carved out does not really have any real powers. Still, because he believes the piece of wood have this power, he is essentially giving it a power. The power does not live in the item, but in the fact that he puts trust in an item outside himself that got no powers of itself. This have the consequence that spiritual influences that does not shy away from lying can seek to confirm this kind of belief in the different ways these spiritual influences can. These influences have a good motif to do so; they want to ensure that this man won’t seek the real power. The power of God.
So what the man is essentially doing, is giving power to evil spirits to influence him. Some of his prayers may indeed be answered, although most won’t. But the evil spirits will do what they can do to strengthen tendency to worship his own creation, or for that case any item of this world he may be directing his worship to.
This also applies to items that are said to “strengthen” or “focus” the powers of God. Powers some people believe pyramids, crystals or for example amulets have. These are essentially a subclass of idolatry where our focus is actually brought away from God rather than towards God. This doesn’t mean that some items may be useful to use while for example meditating over the bible, but this is not due to any powers in the items themselves. They are merely tools similar to a saw. The saw does not have any power in itself which it can saw a piece of wood into two. It must be used by a human in order to work.
Thinking of “powers” and how things really does not have any power over us unless we give them to them, I realized that the same can be said about the things we Christians say prevents us from doing what we know we should do… or even those things we really want to do.
For example: I want to spend much more time praying and reading the bible. Still, even when I think at work that “When I have eaten my dinner, I’ll try to pray for an hour”, I usually get distracted somehow and end up never doing it.
Afterwards I may say that I was distracted by that phone that called, or that mail I got. The problem is really that I let these distractions have the power to distract me. Often the initial distraction that starts off our chain of distractions could easily be done away quickly and then we could’ve easily got started on what we wanted to do. Our problem is that we let our distractions feed the sinner part in ourselves, the power we have given away to our distractions can be used as entry points for negative spiritual influence. This is an influence that definitively does not want us to spend time with God. And the chain of distractions that we often encounter may very well be explained by negative influences ganging up against our plans in a small but effective way. We end up never spending that time with God that we intended to.
One kind of power that can work either way is our habits. If we get into a habit of reading the bible or praying at certain times of the day, or always immediately before or after something we do every day, like eating dinner or sleeping, can help us do ignore our distractions. But bad habits can provide for far too many kinds of distractions as well: “I just need to check my mail before I do anything.” Not necessarily a bad habit, but it can be a really bad habit to do if you always or often do it before a planned prayer time.
Worse is the bad habits that are of a more sinful nature, for example pornography, overeating, smoking, drugs or alcohol. Many Christians may have problem with something related to these, or other things we really shouldn’t do. We think to ourselves that our sinful habit got a power over us, and yes it does have a power over us. But WE are ourselves the one that gave this habit its power over ourselves.
Some of these habits can even have a real physical power over us, like drugs or alcohol, while other are often more psychical or even spiritual. Since they are habits, they can be hard to get out of in varying degrees, especially those that are connected to hard addictions or those that have become almost a part of your personality and/or character. Habitual swearing for example can be a very tricky habit to overcome, since it is something you may do so often and easily that it is hard to see it coming. It is simply second nature.
Still it is often easy for us to think that “God, I can’t do anything about this bad habit of mine… YOU must do it for me!” and then think nothing more of it and maybe not even attempting to do your own share of the job of getting rid of the habit or habits in question.
But the purpose of this little piece of writing is to tell you that you CAN do your part of this. You may not be able to get all the way all by yourself, but since YOU were the one to give your habit the power it have over you, you can also remove its power over you. It is quite possible that the devil will try to keep the hold your bad habits have on you, and it is quite possible he will whisper into your mind that you won’t be able to get rid of this habit. “What use is it to even try?” But know then that not only do you have the power to break your bad habits; you have also the power to stand against the devil. And if you do, he will fly! James wrote in James 4;4-8:
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
I tell you: Resist the devil! God have indeed given you the power to do so! In 1 Peter 4;4 Peter says:
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Greater is God in each and one reborn Christian, than the devil’s power over us. Fear not what the devil can do against us, because as long as we stay close to God, he cannot touch our soul, only our physical body. His rage against us will then only serve to purify our faith and to strengthen our dependence on God.
There is a LOT more to say about this topic, and I myself haven’t finished thinking through this for this time yet. I really wish I could sit down with someone with quite a few more years bible reading than me to talk through this topic. But that will have to wait until God puts that on my schedule.
God bless you all!