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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>

Prayer-School Course #31

Thoughts From Teresa

By Teresa Seputis

Lesson 9
The Spirit Of Suffering

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7

There is a strategy that the devil has been using to try and keep His people ineffective. He has been releasing spirits of suffering into the Body Of Christ. These spirits are piggybacking on top of something that God is doing, and are so cleverly disguised that sometimes they are hard to discern and recognize.

God has been on the move in His people's lives over the past few years. He has been causing our issues to come to the surface so He can deal with them and remove them. At times, that can be a very painful process. When God does that, He expects us to yield to His spirit and submit to Him instead of resisting Him and trying to run away from the pain.

Let me give you an example from the life of someone I once ministered to. When she was a young teen, her older brother had sexually abused her, and that left deep scars in her heart and emotions. Even after she grew up and the abuse stopped, it continued to effect her, causing her shame and fear and difficulty in relationships. And her way of dealing with it was not think about it and to pretend that never happened. It was her dark secret that she did not want anyone to know. But the pains of her past would not stay secret and in the past. They would piggyback on top of present day events, causing her to react strongly in inappropriate ways that she could not explain. And it also interfered in her relationship with God because she would become terrified anytime she started to enter into intimacy with God.

She was in bondage and God did not want to leave her in that pain and bondage. So He caused the issue to rise up to the surface. Sometimes it took the form of shame, other times disproportionate anger. Then God began to remind her of the past and to meet her in it. He required her to forgive her brother from the bottom of her heart and He began to break the power of that past hurt and unresolved issues off of her.

The process of Holy Spirit surgery can last anywhere from a few weeks to months, depending on how deep the thing is that the Lord is going after. The more we submit and cooperate during the process, the faster it will go. But when we resist because we do like how painful that "surgery" is, then it will take even longer and we will experience even more pain.

God's deep healing is frequently a difficult and painful process. But the Holy Spirit will be strongly involved and will bring us to a place of victory. He breaks the power of that past hurt from effecting our present reactions, and He sets us free from it and draws us closer to Himself. And God has been teaching us how to recognize and submit to Him when He wants to touch a deep (e.g., painful) issue in our life. We have been learning that sometimes we have to face our pain so God can set us free and make us greater vessels of His glory.

Now that we have learned to submit to God in that manner, the devil is coming along to try to get us to submit to him in a similar manner. He does this by releasing spirits of suffering that bring up past issues or current failures and make us miserable about them. And we think to ourselves, "This is so painful! It must be God doing something in me." We submit to the suffering instead of taking authority over it, because we think it might be God doing a deep work in us.

These spirits of suffering intentionally imitate the Holy Spirit's inner surgery and hope we won't be able to tell the difference, so they can get control over us.

There is a big difference between the two, because the Holy Spirit's surgery leads to healing and restoration and freedom and victory and draws us closer to God. But the spirit of suffering's "ministry" just leads to more pain and suffering and bondage and defeat.

So how do you tell these two apart? How do you know when it is the Holy Spirit working on a deep issue and you need to yield and submit to Him? How do you know when it is the devil trying to make you miserable and you need to resist him and cause him to flee, as per James 4:7?

Sometimes God alerts you right away. He will speak to you personally or He will speak to you through someone important in your life who watches over you and prays with you. But much of the time, it is more like the wheat and tares. When they are small, they look alike and it is difficult to tell them apart. So sometimes you have to let the tares grow up with the wheat for a while. As they grow and mature, the wheat begins to bear grain (e.g., produce fruit) and the tares (e.g., weeds) do not. At that point it becomes much easier to tell them apart.

When God brings up the pain of the past, it produces fruit in our lives. There is progress and there is healing. God empowers us to forgive those who wronged us, to sincerely repent of any sins or wrongs we did, to break free from the power that this past hurt had to effect our present reactions and experiences. We find ourselves walking closer to God and seeing greater and greater levels of victory. God replaces that pain with His peace and His joy, and we begin to gain testimonies of God's touch and victory in that area.

But when a spirit of suffering brings up pain, there is no real value in that pain. It does not move you into personal victory and it does not draw you closer to God or strengthen you in your faith. You will not have testimonies of God's glory in your situation. Instead, you will only have stories of how you are suffering or experiencing torment in this. You will not experience the joy and peace and hope that God desires you to walk in, because you are under the subtle oppression of a demonic spirit who wants to break your will and render you ineffective. And your situation will start to feel hopeless.

There are times when we don't know right away if our pain is God doing surgery or if it is a demon trying to oppress. We may have to commit it to God and invite Him into the process and do our best to submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If it is God's hand, then over time we will begin see God's glory on our situation and we will begin to experience His victory. If that does not happen, then we need to start asking God "What is going on here? Is this Your hand, Lord, or the hand of the enemy? Do you want me submitting to you in faith or do you want me warring with Jesus' authority to rebuke an enemy attack against me?"

In fact, it does not hurt to start asking God those questions early in the process. I like to pray this way: "Lord, please show me how I can best cooperate with You in this. Is it a case where I need to submit to You as You bring up some painful things, so You can heal me of them? If so, how can I best submit to You in this process? What would You like me to do? Or is this a case where You want me to rise up in the authority that Jesus has given me and rebuke the devil? Are You teaching me to war? If so, will You please tell me Your battle plan?"

I have a friend who the enemy attacked in this manner. Before Satan attacked her, God did some deep healing in her heart/life. She had to face some painful issues and receive God's healing in them. Then she started to see positive changes. She grew in her relationship with God and she started experiencing success in her day-to-day life and she started to walk in victory in that area. Then a spirit of suffering moved in and began to take ground in her life. She had learned that God brings up painful issues so that He might heal them. So when the spirit of suffering started to attack her, she tried to submit to the pain instead of resisting it.

Last time the pain had been at God's hand. But this time, God was not doing a deep healing in her life. She saw no victory and over time she sank to the depths of defeat and despair. She got worse and worse, until she could barely function. She would pray and ask God to strengthen her in this so that she would not run from the pain. (She had a wonderful and yielded heart before God and the devil was trying to take advantage of that.)

She came to me for prayer. As we began to pray, the Lord began to release revelation. I began to prophetically proclaim the victory that God had ordained for her. As we prayed, the Holy Spirit spoke to both of us that she needed to renounce and rebuke this suffering because it was not from Him. At first she was so weak that she needed help, and I had to lead her in a repeat-after-me prayer. But as she began to resist the devil, she started to get stronger and to grow in her authority. Pretty soon she did not need me to help her pray any more. She listened to God's prompting and rebuked the spirit of suffering. She commanded it to leave her, and it had to submit to her authority in Christ. It left. When she finished praying, she said, "Wow, that felt great!" The oppression and hopelessness had lifted off of her life and she felt closer to God than she had in a long time.

I believe that God wants to make us wise about this strategy of the devil to make us suffer. God does want us to yield to Him when He does a deep healing in our life, but He does not want us to yield to any spirits of suffering. So we need to know what their method of operation is and to seek Him for discernment. When you find those painful deep issues coming to the surface, that is a very good time to ask Him to lead and direct you in your response.

James 1:5 tells us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." So don't just automatically submit to pain and suffering and mental torment. Instead, bring it to God and Him to show you if this is His hand of if the devil is trying to make you suffer. God may not show you immediately, but He will definitely show you, because He has promised to give us wisdom when we seek Him for it.

If it is God's hand working on some issue in our life, then we need to submit to Him and cooperate with Him to receive our healing. If it is the devil's hand trying to torment and oppress us, then we have to resist him and make him flee. The way that we can tell these two apart is to ask God. Then we need to act in accord with what He shows us.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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