One of the ways in which the enemy keeps the spirit of offense hidden is to cloak it in pride. Pride will keep you from admitting your true condition. It will have you pointing the finger at other people and never taking into account your own spiritual condition of the heart.
Often when people say things to hurt us, our friends say to us, "I can't believer you let him or her get away with that." Are you going to say something?" Don't you feel offended and hurt by what they just said or did?" When this happens, many of us are quickly to say, " Oh that didn't bother me, she says that to everybody." No, I'm fine. I'm not thinking about him or her!" And if we are spiritual, we know that it is wrong to hold grudges and be offended, so we deny and repress it. We convince ourselves that we are not hurt by others vicious tongue lashings, but in reality, we are devastated.
Pride is what mask the true condition of our heart. Pride keeps you and me from dealing with the truth. It distorts our vision. And the truth is that we will never change when we think we are fine! Pride hardens our heart and dims the eyes of our understanding. It keeps us from asking God to change our hearts because we want to put blame on somebody else. Pride causes us to view ourselves as a victim. Our attitude becomes, " I was mistreated and misjudged; therefore, I am justified in my behavior." Because we believe we are innocent and falsely accused, we hold back forgiveness. Our true heart condition might be hidden from us, but we must not be deceived into thinking that it is hidden from God! Just because we were mistreated, we do not have permission to hold on to an offense. We become like creditors and debt collectors when we operate like that. We desperately want someone to pay for hurting and abusing us.
The good news is that there is a cure for offense! In the Book of Revelation Jesus addressed the church of Laodicea by first telling them how they saw themselves as rich, wealthy, and having need of nothing, then by exposing their true condition--"wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked"( Revelation 3:14-20). they had mistaken their financial strength for spiritual strength. Pride hid their true condition. Many of us are like that in the church. We have gifts, but we are not bearing "fruit!" That's whey we can sing like Yolanda Adams and lie in the bed with someone else's husband! That is why we can preach, and fornicate with other women from the same church! That's why we can pray the roof off of the building, but we don't have enough power to get our own family members delivered from crack cocaine. Yes, you are anointed, but you don't have the character to sustain it because Pokey and Ray Ray know you real testimony. They know what you do when you don't have the "Coat of Many Colors On" after church on Sunday!!!
In my book, "Don't Forget To Say Your Prayers," I reveal how I was deceived as a result of the offenses that I experienced on my job, in the church, and in my relationships with my family. I believe I talk about it in the Chapter called: "Back to the Potter" Wheel." Pride and selfish ambition will hide the true condition of your heart. It will keep you from falling on your face and asking God to: "Create in me a clean heart, and restore a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51)
Jesus told the Laodiceans how to get out of their deception: Buy God's gold that is refined in the fire, and see their true condition. (Rev. 3:18). Refined gold is soft and pliable, free from corrosion or other substances. it is when gold mixes with other metals (copper, iron, nickel, and so on) that it becomes hard, less pliable, and more corrosive. This mixture is called an alloy. The higher the percent of other metals the harder the gold becomes. On the contrary, the lower the percentage of alloy, the softer and more flexible the gold is.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. A pure heart is like gold-soft, tender, and pliable. Hebrews 3:13 states that hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin! If we do not deal with an offense, it will produce more fruit of sin, such as bitterness, anger, and resentment. This added substance hardens our hearts just as alloys harden gold. This reduces or removes tenderness, creating a loss of sensitivity. We are hindered in our ability to hear God's voice. Our accuracy to see is darkened as well. This is a perfect setting for deception. The enemy has set its trap and we have fallen into it.
The first step in refining gold is grinding it into a powder and mixing it with a substance called flux. Then the mixture is placed in a furnace and melted by intense heat. The alloys and impurities are drawn to the flux and rise to the top. The gold (which is heavier) remains at the bottom. The impurities or dross ( such as copper, iron, and zinc, combine with the flux) is then removed, yielding a purer metal. Read Isiah 48:10 and 1 Peter 1:6-7), to see what the Word says about this purification process.
So what is the take away here, the life application? How does God refine us? He does it through things that we seldom want any part of. Lol! God refines with afflictions, trials, and tribulations, the heat of which separates impurities such as un-forgiveness, strife, bitterness, anger, envy, and so forth from the character of God in our lives. sin easily hides where there is no heat of trials and afflictions. In times of prosperity and success, even wicked men will seem kind and generous. But under the heat of trials, the impurities surface.
While I was undergoing the tremendous loss of both my daughter and husband, I could not believe that God was asking for so much more from me. I was devastated, hurt, tired, angry, bitter, and had un-forgiveness in my heart. And instead of leaving me alone due to the sorrow and loss I was feeling from the closeness in the deaths of my two loved ones; God collected my tears, but also let me know that He was not finished with me. It was as if He was saying: " Now that I have your attention Lydia, there are some things I want you to examine in your heart. They were hidden away and disguised through pride, selfishness, self-sufficiency etc, But now, I have you where I want you. and your mere existence, your survival is not left to chance, but a choice that you have to make to change what's in your heart.
I had come through such pain and sorrow, but I knew the only way I could rise again, and be whole again, was to listen to God, trust Him, and make the decision to seek help for these maladies. Yes prayer works, Yes, I had faith and cried out for God to increase my faith, Yes, I kept going to church, and I had the support of my family and my prayer partners. But listen to me people of God: The Lord has equipped and gifted His body with many secular skills and gifts that have been learned through schools of higher education. Doctors are trained to make diagnoses, prescribe medications, they can suggest support groups that will help you deal with loss, abusive situations, trauma, divorce and separation, among other social ills of our society.
Nothing replaces the power and anointing of a God that can if He desires to supernaturally heal and deliver instantaneously! But not everybody receives their healing that way. Some of us had to go through a process! Some of us had to get on some medication for a short period of time. Some of us had to go on a 12 step program. Some of us did have to keep going back to the altar week after week.But others of us had to to go through some holistic healthcare in order to help us maintain our deliverance.
My advice is to always talk to God, consult your family, find someone that you trust to recommend a spirit filled counselor that is trained in the area that you are seeking help for. We must also speak positive words of life from the life giving, life sustaining Word of God. We must continue to fellowship with believers, and we must be fervent and use effective prayer language. Lastly, it might also be necessary to have an accountability partner who can keep you focused and on tract. It is important to have some one to touch and agree with you in prayer. Also, I had to call my BFF and tell her when I needed her to prayer for me and give her specific details about things that I was struggling with. We cannot assume that people always know when you need them and then be come offended when they are unavailable to you! Therefore, make it clear to them and tell them what you need from them. Jesus followed that strategy whenever He encountered someone with an infirmity or affliction. he often said, " What do you want me to do for you?" and then they told Him, "To receive my sight," "To have this devil cast out my daughter,"" To get up and walk" etc.
The point here is, you can never see the impurities in gold before it is put in the fire. But that doesn't mean they are not there! Though you cannot see them," I can," says God. and so now you have a choice that will determine your future. You can remain angry, blaming your wife, husband, friends, boss, pastor or you can see this dross of sin for what it is and repent, receive forgiveness, and I will take My ladle and remove these impurities from your life. I am glad that I made the decision to change by admitting my sin, repenting and turning from it. It was the best decision I ever made. and it is a constant decision that I have to make everyday!
I hope this long blog, lol, had given you some hope in terms of understanding how deceptive the enemy of offense can be in the lives of a Christian in particular. I will continue with this topic the next time. but for now, I remind you to:
"Don't Forget To Say Your Prayers!"