“No one has ever seen this, and no one has ever heard about it. No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. But God has shown us these things through the Spirit.” (I Cor. 2:9-10 NCV)
Years ago, my now brother-in-law Tommy had a poster on his office wall that, at first glance, just appeared to be a nice purple-and-blue pattern. I thought it was pretty but really didn’t see anything outstanding there. Eventually one day, I heard some of the others talking about the picture-inside-the-picture…and I was intrigued enough to press in closer. I saw nothing. It was one of those times where you wonder, “Should I be like the people in the Emperor’s New Clothes story, and pretend I see what isn’t there…or do I just admit that I don’t get it?”
Well, I ‘fessed up…I really didn’t get it. So Tommy said, “You’re trying too hard. You have to just relax and let your vision blur a little. When you stop trying to SEE it, you’ll see it!” And he was right. After a couple of tries, it was as if the hidden images materialized out of nowhere. Now, the theme of that particular poster turned out to be Star Trek…but after I discovered the whole “Mind’s Eye” picture series, I just became an instant fan. I sought out other similar pictures to peer into and enjoy.
As believers in Christ, many (probably most) of us breeze, at least in our fledgling years, right past situations that appear one way but have hidden spiritual undertones. It’s not a sin to be unable to read those signs; yet, we can miss some really important, even critical, messages God is trying to show us in the spirit realm. We can live a very superficial Christian life, saved as can be, but still not have a depth of understanding that will mature us and make our walk effective.
Now, to become spiritually-minded, we don’t have to become hermits, shave our heads, or adopt bizarre behaviors! However, our affections and appetites change as we draw closer to God. As we begin to savor the deep things in the Word, and as we spend time in prayer and just fellowship with our Father, a side to us is opened up which we didn’t know we had. Carnal mindsets start dying off, and we begin to understand a greater scope of what’s going on around us.
I’ll give you a little example, because becoming spiritually-minded has been and is an ongoing process with me, too. At one time, I might have looked at face values of situations which need changing, and might have only seen the visible problem instead of the hidden cause of it. The Lord has enabled me, over time, to become aware of the “picture-within-the-picture.” Rather than just seeing a geographical area full of drug-addicted people, and shaking my head at the astounding statistics, now I realize that there are territorial strongholds which exist on a different plane: addictive spirits which acquire dominance in a particular place…strongholds which can only be broken through prayer, through fasting, and through persistence. The problems we “see” in the natural realm are pretty much just the results, and not heart of those problems at all! So when we try to attack that growth from the stem up, it keeps coming back. We cannot do war against a spiritual entity by fighting against flesh and blood opponents! Try to rid your lawn of the clover and dandelions by mowing, and see how long they stay gone!
Now, there will always be a need for support groups,positive changes in the natural, etc., but until we see beyond the visible to the root of the problem, and begin to conduct warfare on the root-end of the situation, we will be at best just maintaining. We can clean out corruption by calling in the authorities, but unless there is spiritual deliverance—unless ground is taken by righteousness where once was wickedness—we will see different faces but the same problem, stemming from that original root.
There is a bit of a price to pay for becoming spiritually-minded. It comes right back around to time spent in God’s presence. You cannot think like God thinks if you aren’t willing to hang out with Him and let the mind of Christ rub off on you! Having His mind won’t make you weird, cultic, eccentric, or “out there;” although, folks may just not get you when you make observations from a perspective they can’t see. Being occasionally misunderstood is a very small investment, when going deeper into your relationship with God empowers you to pray and to see in a much greater way than before.
God doesn’t give us this ability just so we can feel “enlightened” above other people. No, that’s where we could dance a fine line of hypocrisy. It doesn’t make us superior to the average believer, so there’s absolutely no room to gloat in one’s spirituality. God gives us that deeper vision so that we can see as He sees–to respond as He responds, and so that we will be proactive to promote His righteous will on earth. To merely SEE on a deeper level would only drive us to despair, without God’s Word and without His instructions on what we are to do with the revelation He’s given us. Remember, the devil has his own counterfeit spirituality too, and some may confuse being psychic with the kind of spiritual sight I’m talking about. When Satan approached Eve in the garden, he said that God didn’t want them to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because God didn’t want their eyes to be opened to see what He sees. Why, that made the fruit even more delectable…to think, that she could become privy to something God was concealing from her; something with which she might then have a right to disagree! Therein lies the difference. When God reveals a matter to us, it’s to bring us into alignment with His will—not to consume our knowledge on our own greed, or form our own carnal opinions about it. Satan’s intent behind luring people into pseudo-spirituality is to cause them to think independently of God’s will. Eve managed to be duped into thinking that God was keeping her from something good. What she, and so many others have failed to understand over the years (to their destruction), is that outside of God’s will, nothing good exists in the first place.
With more understanding comes more responsibility. God doesn’t grant you the gift of discernment, for instance, so that you can peek into other people’s secret faults and frailties and use those weaknesses to harm them. It’s not given with the purpose of advancing you AT ALL. As a matter of fact, a person with special discernment may very well have to gird himself/herself up in the area of having judgmental tendencies. A person of discernment must also learn to be silent about what God does not choose to reveal to others. We must NOT reveal what God has confided in us, and certainly not with the motive of making ourselves look more spiritual to other people! There’s absolutely no room for a gossiping spirit or a manipulative spirit in the life of a Believer who walks on this level. Conversely, as our awareness of spirit realm is heightened, we must choose to become more humble, more consecrated, more surrendered to God. Our carnal nature, if not put under submission, will only make a mess out of what God’s wanting to give us for His good purposes. We cannot afford to try to use our gifts outside the realm of His Word and His will. We are called to prayer, and on one’s knees is the best place to remain when humility is paramount. Trust me…if you walk closely to God, there may be times when you discern things about other people which are going to disturb you, grieve you. You may enter places and sense the presence of a particular controlling spirit. Without holiness in your life, there are things you can’t bear! With holiness and a totally submitted-to-God’s-authority frame of mind, you’ll not only be able to bear these things, you can pray the prayer of faith against the influence of the enemy in the lives of people and over localities. We are not given the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound, calm, well-balanced mind! Any time God reveals hidden things to you, it’s always either with yours or someone else’s protection in mind, or for you to know what type of prayer must be prayed to bring situations in line with His Kingdom and His will. And it’s not always about identifying the negative! God can use our sensitivity to His Spirit to reveal good, wholesome, encouraging, holy truths. Just as important as not walking through wrong doors is the discernment to walk through the right ones!
God will even test us early on to prove whether we are trustworthy to walk on another plane. He may instruct us to speak out over something we don’t want to address; or He may order us to keep silent about a matter even though we feel we have the “low down” on the situation. In these times, it may be very tempting to try to make ourselves look good in front of others. If we disobey His instructions, we disqualify ourselves from certain realms of spiritual authority. Just as you love some people you wouldn’t trust for a minute, God loves us even when He can’t trust us…but He’d rather be able to trust us! He wants to love you, to bless you, to promote you to do great and mighty things, but much of that depends on your obedience factor. Remember, no matter what kind of pretty pattern we display on the outside, God uniquely sees beyond the window dressing and straight into our hearts. May He be pleased with what He sees…
Pray with me today: “Heavenly Father, I desire to be closer to You, and to want those things which You desire. I have some carnal affections I’m already aware of, and some I may not be aware of. Prune me of those tendencies toward unrighteousness. Mature me in the things of God! Help me to have healthy appetites and goals, and help me to have a pure heart with right motives. There is another level I’ve not attained in my walk with You, and that level is where You will for me to come up to. You created me for purpose, and oh, how I want to fulfill Your will in my life. I want to be a vessel You can TRUST. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit; baptize me through and through, and give me power for service. Help me not to see the world around me through the eyes of the flesh. If I walk after the flesh, I’ll only fulfill the works of the flesh. I ask You to enable me to walk after the Spirit! When I’m confronted with the sin and the despair around me, help me to see through Your eyes. Help me see people, even the most difficult ones, through Your eyes. Prompt me to pray and to intercede for the lost, for the bound, and for the hopeless. I want to be transformed today. Help me renew my mind to Your Word, and help me to bear You much good fruit in this lifetime You’ve appointed me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”