Self-effort is the foundation of a Performance-Based religions, and out of its root stems many fears, inadequacies, judgments, and vain repetitions of religious prayers and actions. The reality is too few Christians even recognize the difference between a Grace-Based and a Performance-Based mentality within church teachings. While in the human mind, the difference between a foundation in self-effort and a position of Grace-alone cannot be clearly distinguished in most people. It is only when "push comes to shove" (during times of trial) that the fruits of these different systems are finally exposed. The various responses to the demonic encounter in part 1 clearly demonstrated the difference between these two opposing systems of operation, with most believers offering advice unknowingly from a self-effort point of view.
Examining the physical actions resulting from a performance-based mentality in other religions, Christians often call these actions "witchcraft." Perhaps it's easier to look externally at a pagan ritual, reciting a magic incantations, or talisman and recognize the placement of faith as wrong. It's easy to see a "witchcraft" label when it isn't being disguised by Christian terminology or symbols. But, throw in the name of Jesus, His blood, a cross, holy water, or repeated scripture to ward off the enemy, and many Christians wrongly assume it's biblical to perform these Christian witchcraft rituals.
When we advise others to perform an action like "pleading the blood" or praying a specific verse repeatedly, we are in essence telling them to rely on self-effort for protection. Seriously, how much more blood can be pleaded for you than all Jesus' blood poured out on the cross? His blood has eternally pleaded for everyone who will believe, and He is at the Father's right hand making intercession for you right this very moment. You don't receive extra protection because you "pleaded the blood" over your home, and another Christian received less protection because he believed and rested in God's promise of protection. All Christians are eternally safe in Christ. The enemy has no power over Believers except what may be given to him in ignorance. Re-read James 4:7 or the Gospels for direction if you need the enemy to leave. You don't receive extra deliverance from evil because you said the right prayer, the right number of times. In fact, Jesus called this type of behavior "vain repetitions" and spoke against it. All Christians receive the same amount of deliverance from ALL evil via their new nature upon the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. God our loving Father never plays favorites with His children. All of His promises are "Yes and Amen" in Christ Jesus. You have equal access to all spiritual blessings by faith alone and not on your own merit or effort.
Believers don't need to wear a crucifix for protection; the symbol itself does nothing to ward off evil. A Bible under your bed or pillow won't do you any good if its words have not been sown into your heart by the Author. Believers don't get to command Heaven's angels to deal with vast spiritual problems, nor do they have the right to rebuke principalities and powers over entire continents or cities because they think they can. We never read of Peter, John, Paul or the other apostles performing such an actions. Neither did Jesus. If the servant is not greater than His master, what makes you believe you have more authority than they? A Performance-Based mentality is what is causing these misconceptions and false teachings. It lies and twists the scriptures to "empower" people falsely. It encourages Believers to depend upon the strength of their own arm instead of resting solely upon the Grace of God. Ultimately, it leaves them hanging and helpless to deal with real spiritual problems.
The only way out of a Performance-Based mentality is through Grace. Christians usually like to say they accept Grace, but many of them are literally working for their salvation or working to maintain it but just won't admit it that way. What we need is to cultivate a Grace-Based Mentality of the Gospel where Believers know they cannot add to Jesus' works by their efforts. Believers cannot help God's keep His promises. God is faithful all by Himself to keep His promises. Additionally, nothing Christians do can subtract from Jesus' work. Even when Believers are unfaithful, Jesus remains faithful (2Timothy 2:13) to perform the good work He began in them. (Philippians 1:6).
No matter how we color or label it, any time we are depending or relying upon ourselves, we are not relying on Grace. The Truth of the Gospel of Grace preached throughout the New Testament states simply, Jesus did it all. Jesus does it all, and Jesus will forever do it all.
When you rest in the finished works of Jesus and your new identity in Him, there is no need for any self-effort. You do not experience spiritual warfare in the sense of you being required to complete a "To-Do or Don't Do List" to avoid being attacked by the enemy or to obtain "protection." As you rest in the promises of God, you operate from a place of peace and strength that are supernaturally imparted to you. When necessary, you can speak or move knowing the all authority was given to Jesus, and He, dwelling inside of you, has your back. Unlike Sceva's sons, you are a Believer. The demons openly admitted to knowing Jesus and Paul. They know those who truly belong to the Lord because the Lord is in us and with us.
That's why we never read about a demon physically attacking Peter, John, or Paul. I'm not counting the thorn in the flesh given to Paul to keep him humble because he was walking in resurrection power daily. I'm talking about the the kind of attack the lady in part 1 reported. The apostles were major leaders of the church, big targets of the enemy, far more than most Christians today. Yet, they did not experience demonic attacks on this level, and neither should we, not because of who we are, but because of who Christ is in us. This is the knowledge that stems from the foundation of the Grace-Based mentality the apostles lived and taught. It's the knowledge many Christians need today: to know Christ, your identity in Christ, and trust in Christ's finished works alone.
Our strength and authority come solely from the Lord. Do not rely upon an religious ritual or work to deliver or save you. The enemy has no power over a Believer in Christ. Satan tries to get people to jump through hoops, use religious ways to deal with him, and seek comfort in acts we can do. Yet, in reality, when we focus on Satan or seek to defend or protect ourselves by our own strength, we only empower the enemy in our lives. Our attention should be 100% focused on Jesus. Believers need to know His word and promises. Only there we can find rest, knowing Jesus protects us from every evil. In fact, Jesus prayed specifically for God to deliver you from Satan in John chapter 17. A prayer that was fully affirmed by God, I might add.
Nothing can touch a Believer that God doesn't allow. If your Heavenly Father has allowed something to come into your life, then it is for your good and being used to refine your faith. Even if you don't understand it and especially when it's painful, trust in God's character and promises. Do not lean on your own strength or understanding to deal with the situation.
On Facebook, I joined a group many years ago about prophecy, where people shared about dreams and supernatural encounters. Ultimately, the group was designed to help people who have experienced a vision or encounter that has left them confused receive interpretation and guidance. Ideally, people responding were to provide Christian feedback to those posting a dream, vision, or encounter. Yesterday for the first time in ages, one of the posts from that page popped up on my news feed.
This particular post was about a demonic encounter a lady had while trying to nap. In her encounter, she reported being physically attacked and choked by two evil spirits. The episode left her shaken and her throat hurting. During the attack, she called out to God to help her and the spirits instantly stopped and left. With her throat hurting, she continued praying and fell asleep. When she awoke the second time, all the pain in her throat was gone, but she reported feeling physically sick and believed she was experiencing spiritual warfare complications.
Obviously, not every person experiences a demonic attack to the level this lady reported. What was disturbing about the entire posting wasn't what the lady experienced, but how fellow Christians responded to her. Five people replied to her post before I saw it. After me, another seven also commented. Sadly, with the exception of my comment, the majority of replies initiated from a Performance-Based Mentality instead of a Gospel-Based Mentality. It made me realize the degree to which Christians have become ingrained in the depths of wrong theology. Our human nature thrives on our ability to do works for salvation. Yet the finished works of Jesus are completely contrary to a performance based mentality.
Here are just a few examples of the comments/advice given to the lady seeking understanding or a word from the Lord on what happened to her and what it might all mean, as well as asking for prayer.
WOW! I sat and stared at the comment list and thought to myself, "there was a time when bad teaching like this was fed to me in at least two different churches." My heart broke for the countless Believers trapped in false dogmatic mindsets where their spiritual protection, deliverance, or salvation rests primarily upon their own shoulders and works. Jesus might have gotten them in Heaven's door, but now they have to work to stay there and keep the enemy from causing them to fall.
Read the above list again, only this time see where the focus or faith is really placed. Too many Christians believe they must do this or that, pray just right, close a doorway, break a curse, cut a soul-tie, call for an elder, use oil, use holy water, carry a physical cross, plead the blood, and even use Jesus' name in order to experience spiritual deliverance and freedom. Sadly, too many Believers honestly think there's this HUGE "To-Do/To-Don't Do List" to perform before they achieve their desired results. They look to everything and everyone but the Author and Perfecter of their faith. It's all so reminiscent of the Seven Sons of Sceva in Acts chapter 19.
For the record, I'm not dismissing the power of the blood of Jesus, for by it we are completely delivered from our sins and raised above all the enemy to sit with Christ in the Heavenlies (Ephesians 2), neither am I underestimating the power in the name of Jesus for Believers. But, there is little power in "Pleading the Blood" of Jesus over your home like it's some sort of talisman you can pour out to cover you to keep the enemy from seeing you. Scripture clearly teaches all who walk with the Lord will suffer persecution, trials, and tribulations. There is even less power in using Jesus' name without an intimate relationship with the Lord, as the sons of Sceva learned. There is only power when you abide (rest, live, and move) in Christ.
The overall theme of the Seven Sons was they had head-knowledge of Jesus (knew who He was). They had even seen the power of Jesus operating through the Apostle Paul. They knew and believed Jesus' name held power, but their understanding was extremely limited by one major problem. Sceva's sons were not genuine Believers. They had never been reborn and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Seven Sons had no true faith in Jesus in spite of their knowledge of Him, His name, or His power. Thus, the Sons of Sceva had no authority backing up their words or actions when they used the name of Jesus to cast out demons. The results were disastrous for them and should be taken as a warning to all who would advise anyone dealing with demonic activity to invoke the name or power of Jesus without first making ensuring the person using Jesus' name had been born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Without the Lord as one's personal savior and indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, no amount of using Jesus' name, pleading His blood, or anything else will deliver you from evil. Often times, such actions without salvation result in evil spirits physically harming people, which happened to Sceva's sons. Other times, evil gives an illusion to acquiesce to human behavior, words, or rituals to reinforce the false belief in self: one's ability to do something to rid himself/herself of evil's presence. This is often seen in pagan rituals, but can happen to anyone at any time not operating from genuine salvation in harmony with the Holy Spirit's leading. The enemy's goal is to convince Believers to put their faith in their own actions, words, and ability to "spiritually" fight. Unfortunately, the moment anyone falls for the lie there is strength in self or self-efforts, that is the moment he/she is defeated.
To be continued in part 2.
With the treasure hunt to rediscover what Tiny's friend found years ago, I've been roaming all over the mountains, taking samples with the GPS. It's a hard job because unlike using a gold pan, which is made of plastic and very light, I have to climb with a sledge hammer and a variety of chisels. My hand sledge is an 8 pound hammer and the chisels are cold chisels, very thick and somewhat heavy too. Combining my food, water, rain gear, gun, and other necessary items, my beginning pack is at least 20 pounds. When I add rock samples coming down the mountain, my pack can easily weigh 40 to 50 pounds. It makes for a good leg work out, but can be hard on the back and shoulders at times.
When I sample and label everything, I have to note the difference between rocks that are float from load. Basically, the difference is a float rock is sitting on the top of the surface. Float rocks could have traveled from anywhere above or around the general area, traveling on a rock slide, snow slide, or even in a heavy rain storm. Load samples are taken from the mountain with a hammer and chisel, so I know EXACTLY where the source is located.
The above video is of a load sample my husband and I retrieved from the side of the mountain over 4,000 feet high. It's a beautiful example of gold, pyrite, and copper in a white quartz base. I found this exactly location by praying to God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit as my son and I tracked another green rock I found on the riverbed. The rock in the video is part of a vein that extends approximately 1 mile on our claim to where the peacock ore is located.
This claim as Tiny's mining friend from the 1940's believed has high copper deposits on the surface, showing about 8 ounces per ton. Additionally, which he probably never knew, the fire assays are showing the vein we located is a high-grade gold ore. Yet, as my husband always says, it takes years to get rich overnight. Prospecting is just one small part of the entire process from rock to money in your pocket. Granted, it is probably the hardest part of the process. Now, we have to partner with other people to obtain the right equipment and support necessary to harvest the minerals without destroying or harming the environment. Nothing is every easy... but to those willing to seek, you will eventually find.
I plan to turn the experiences I've learned in the mountains into an Alaskan devotional series in the future. I think it will give practical advice and insight not only to understanding traveling in the mountains but to applying scriptural principles to all aspects of our lives.
After finding the peacock ore, which I described in part 1, I knew the copper staining rock had not been on the creek bed long. There wasn't enough of the rock showing for that zone to have been exposed long. I asked Stella about the general area, since she'd grown up in there. She informed me much of the area used to be under small glaciers or snow year round, but over the past 40 years the higher altitudes had been clear of snow all summer long. Now it made more sense to me. The primary reason no one had thought to claim there area is few people would have seen the copper staining on the rocks below and understood enough to climb up and search for what it meant. Also, not many people in general hike in that area, and those that go up this valley are usually higher on the green slopes hunting for sheep not rocks.
As we were talking, Stella remembered an old story Uncle Tiny had told her about in the 1960's, which she had forgotten until that moment. Memories are funny that way sometimes. They can't be triggered until the right word or event brings them back. Stella wondered if perhaps the claim we found and were now on was related to the story. She said, Uncle Tiny who was born and raised in Alaska had a friend in the 1940s who had staked a very large claim. His friend believed he'd found the largest copper mine since Kennecott Mine. Of course, the miner hoped to find gold too, but then World War II broke out. The miner, like so many other men, were drafted and sent off to war. Most of the mines in Alaska closed during the war and never reopened. Around that time, the Glenn Highway was put in to facilitate military transportation. Sadly, the miner who went off to war, died there. His claim was never reestablished. Most people believe nothing can be found so close the the highway system that has not previously been discovered and mined. Ironically, this man's claim had been known, then it became essentially lost.
As I started traversing the section lines to place our claim markers, I began finding old 4x4 wooden posts. These posts were not dimensional lumber. They had to have been made off an old sawmill. There were occasionally rusty square nails found within the posts, not today's galvanized nails. Michael, a carpenter by trade, explained these types of nails hadn't been made since the 1950's. The posts were also exactly where they should have been for an old claim to be staked. Then we started finding more pieces of old wood ranging from 3x4 posts, to slat material, to thin old crate material or box tops. We've also found pieces from two different tobacco tins, proving we stumbled across Uncle Tiny's friend's old copper claim.
As you notice from my titles listed on the right hand side of the page, I'm an Alaskan prospector. It's a hobby I've been doing ever since I met my husband, Michael, in 1996. Together with our partners, one of which is my best friend, Stella, we have spent over 22 years in the Talkeetna Mountains exploring. Michael, Warren, and Stella had spent another 10 years or so involved in this hobby before I joined them. While we often use a gold pan in our prospecting adventures, the gold pan is not our primary tool. We are hard rock prospectors, not prospectors looking for placer gold in a creek. If gold were easily found in a creek, it's usually already claimed. Therefore, our treasure hunt takes us higher.
We usually have to start looking about the 4,000 foot level to find anything of value. Those who have been to Independence Mine Historical park, are probably aware that all the gold mines in Hatcher's Pass are located high in the mountains, way above treeline. Over the years, we have searched many miles looking for the right signs in the rocks. Then about 5 years ago, something changed... or should I say, we changed. On an unction and after much prayer, we decided to give up our knowledge and plans and simply start asking God where to look. Our current mining claim, the one I'm sitting on in the above video is a result of listening to the Holy Spirit.
The story starts when Stella asked me to go on a hike to find more malachite for her jewelry intentions. She'd located a small pocket in a particular spot, but it was difficult for her now to get up that high. She's almost 70, so I decided to go along to be the pack mule just in case we found more than she could carry. That day as we hiked, she pointed to where we needed to go, but I felt the Holy Spirit pulling me further up stream. I said to her, "Stella, I know you want to go over there, but I really feel the Holy Spirit saying keep going here." Stella, a true believer in Jesus, replied, "then on we go." We walked about another 500 feet when I spotted some blue and green rock on the ground. Not malachite but definitely of the copper crystal base. So, we tracked it upstream for about another 300-400 feet then the stone abruptly stopped. After searching both sides of the creek, one obvious conclusion remained. The rock had fallen from up above. I did the craziest and most logical thing, I climbed up the side of the rock face. It was steep, incredibly steep, and I probably wouldn't do it again, but it was worth it. At the top of the cliff were 4 outcroppings that were covered with copper staining from the backside. You couldn't see any of this from the creek floor or valley below. Only at the right angle could you view this incredible find. I traveled along the slide upstream, looking for a different route down the mountain, a safer route. Then I saw it. Not only did I see the safe route down, but I saw the last outcropping had a vein of pyrite showing.
That vein of pyrite was mixed peacock ore, also known as bornite. It was beautiful, with all the colors of a rainbow! Most importantly, it's a great copper ore. After taking samples and hauling them down the mountain, we returned home with joy to show our partners. Next, we legally staked our claim.
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.
I woke up this morning thinking about medical diagnoses and how many are given to us at times. A particular friend was on my heart, who has a listing of so many diagnoses that she could make alphabet soup. At that same moment I was pondering the list of disorders, I heard the Word of the Lord repeat the scripture of Matthew 9 in my mind, "Which is easier..."
It got me wondering, why is it easier for us to believe the magnitude of our sins are forgiven, or that we have eternal peace with God and a new home in Heaven when we die, but we get stuck at believing in Jesus' redemptive work of healing for our physical bodies here on Earth?
Which is easier to believe?
Probably it's easier to believe our sins are forgiven, because we often do not emotionally or physically feel the weight of all those sins in our body the same way that we feel pain or disease. It's easy to feel the difference between your healthy body and an unhealthy body, or know when an illness or injury affects you. With the physical body, we can measurably experience the difference between our good health and a negative health. With sin, people don't immediately feel disease impacting their souls. The eternal effects of sin are more intangible than say a broken leg, diabetes, or a stroke. Because humanity is more experienced with the physical realm via our senses (touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell), our spiritual plane of existence is more easily theorized than practically experienced.
Yet, if scripture is to be understood as true, than the healing Jesus offers to all who come to Him in Isaiah 53 is a package deal with the forgiveness of our sins. The fullness of Isaiah 53 is explained just one chapter earlier in Matthew (8:16-17), where it states all of Jesus' ability to heal disease and broken bodies and offer deliverance from demons was accomplished as fulfillment of Isaiah 53, by Jesus' stripes we were healed. Healing and salvation are two parts of the same coin. Isaiah 53 intertwines Jesus' ability to physically heal people with His ability to be the vessel for our forgiveness of sins.
Which is easier to believe?
If only we could see and experience spiritually the way we understand and relate to our physical world; it would transform our minds. Many of the roadblocks to healing for our bodies would fall away. Our willingness to embrace disease would be eradicated, and our ability to believe the Word of the Lord would grow and overcome the world.
Scripture states forgiveness of sins is just as easy as the healing of a paralytic body, and Jesus has the power to offer you both!
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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